The Secret to Effective and Successful Weight Loss: Persistence
I get asked often about my weight loss. “How do you do it?” someone will ask, their eyes hopeful I’ll unlock some deep, guarded secret. The hopefulness fades when I say, “Diet and exercise.”
People are searching for that one thing that will help them lose weight. There has to be some diet program, pill, super food, procedure, supplement that makes the weight fall off, right? I know, I searched high and low for that magic thing and never found it.
My road to weight loss is littered with the detritus of failed attempts. Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Atkins, Dean Ornish, grapefruit, liquid, fasting, medically supervised weight loss, Slim Fast, Dexatrim, Hydroxycut — if someone made a product or wrote a book that extolled the secrets of weight loss, I was in. Heck, this is my third try at Weight Watchers. It’s also the longest I’ve been on the program, and my most successful effort at following the program.
About the only thing I haven’t tried is surgery. I don’t have anything against bariatric surgery, but it never appealed to me. Deep down, I know that if there isn’t an attitude change with the physical change, you’re right back where you started. I know of too many people who had the surgery and lost the weight, only to put it all on again. I have done that many times without surgery!
The thing is, there is a secret to weight loss. It’s called persistence.
I know. There’s no magic there. And, yet…
It feels incredible when I realize my body has changed to the point that I have to cinch my belt a little tighter, buy a new pair of jeans or drop down a new size. I get a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I can run farther or faster than I ever have before, or when I complete a hard-core super-physical workout. The smile on my face when someone tells me “I look great,” or “You’re half the man you used to be” is all the magic I need.
Persistence pays off over time. It means you have to put in the time — to exercise, to make the right decisions about food, to focus on living a healthier life. Persistence doesn’t require perfection, though. I enjoy food. A lot. And I still get to eat and drink the things I enjoy. Today, for example, I had a Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. It was non-fat with no whip, let’s not be crazy, but I got to enjoy one of my favorite flavors of the season.
The key is to moderate. Dessert isn’t required at every meal, but you can still enjoy dessert when you eat it. Chicken wings? Pizza? I love them, and I do eat them, but not every day. Most days and most meals are pretty tame and healthy, but I do enjoy “cheat meals” as long as I’m prepared to pay the piper. That means exercise.
Foursquare gave me bonus points today for checking in at The Wellness Center for six weeks in a row (tied with my previous record, apparently). I work out for at least an hour five or six days a week. Most of those days, I ride the elliptical for all it’s worth. I’m a runner but I have old man knees so I try to stay off the pavement as much as possible, except for long runs and races. I also take the occasional cross-training class, or spinning, or Zumba.
I’ve been at this latest attempt at weight loss for nearly two years now. I’ve lost close to 90 pounds in that time. The weight loss has been slow, but I know when I reach my goal I’ll have a better chance of keeping it off than if I had lost the weight quickly. Additionally, I like how my body has changed and I think I will be far less likely to let it change back. Or, God forbid, be worse off than when I started.
It’s all about being persistent. It’s no big secret.