In Tuesday’s blog “Diet vs. Eating Plan” I said that “diets with expiration dates don’t work” and that to be successful at weight loss for the long haul you must instead find an eating plan whose “rules” make sense to you. Remember, every diet has it’s own set of rules that you must abide by (count points, eat like a caveman) in order for it to be successful.
But here’s the difference between white-knuckle, deprivation dieting and lifestyle change:
When the “rules” of your eating plan become internalized it’s no longer called a “diet.”
It’s just called your life.
This is exactly how you win at weight loss, my friends.
So I promised I would tell you what worked for me and why. How have I lost 120 lbs. and kept it off for more than 6 ½ years?
In 2007 I found myself completely stressed out – I had a demanding full-time job, four kids at home, a very busy working spouse, and I was 100+ pounds overweight. I felt like I was failing at everything. At 5’6” and 265 lbs. I was morbidly obese and had a BMI of 43. In fact, I had been morbidly obese for about 20 years at that point. I was 44 years old.
No surprise, I had tried nearly every diet on the planet to lose weight. I tried all of the mainstream ones (multiple times in many cases) and several of the kooky ones too. None of them resulted in significant or lasting weight loss.
My crazy, frantic life all came crashing down around me on one (really bad) day. I could not take another step in that life. The status quo had become impossible for me and I knew something had to change.
My weight seemed to be the one thing I could change. It also seemed to be the cause of much of my unhappiness as well as the manifestation of that unhappiness. Maybe you know the feeling.
I knew that this time I wasn’t messing around. I wasn’t just going to “try” to lose weight. Nope, this would be my lifetime plan.
So after careful consideration and consultation with my doctor and family I decided to have adjustable gastric band (aka lapband) surgery. It was the right decision for me then and it is the right decision for me now.
If you’re unfamiliar with how the band works, think of it essentially as a funnel. The surgery removed none of my internal organs and it doesn’t interfere with the absorption of nutrients that I get from food. It does not prevent me from eating anything. I have learned to do that on my own.
The band is a tool that worked for me because it slowed me down. Maybe even more important, it worked for me because I was very, very ready to succeed at weight loss.
My weight came off slowly, has plateaued a couple of times and seems to have settled now at about 145 lbs. Am I model thin? No. Am I much, much healthier than I was before? Yes, and heck yes! And to that I would add happier as well.
I have embraced healthy living and incorporated it into everything I do now. I don’t go to restaurants that serve unhealthy food, I only bring nutritious “good fuel” foods into my house and I exercise vigorously six days a week. My entire family has joined me in this lifestyle change. It works best when everyone is supportive and on the same page.
My eating plan for life includes my band, but on a day-to-day basis it involves the hundreds of strategies I have learned to be successful. Surprisingly, weight loss surgeries have a “failure” rate that is alarmingly high so clearly it is my lifestyle change strategies that have made all the difference for me.
Those strategies are my healthy eating plan. They are my “diet.” They are the “rules” that I live by. They work for me because I constructed them myself and they reflect my values.
It is those hundreds of strategies I have learned that I look forward to sharing with you. I learned them through trial and error – mostly error! But I want to share them with you because I know they work.
It’s my hope that you’ll consider each one and decide for yourself if my “rule” makes sense to you. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Maybe you prefer to count points. And that’s great! If that works for you then by all means, do it!
More than anything though, you must be honest with yourself. I have learned to play to my strengths and manage my weaknesses. I don’t know of anyone who has accomplished transformational change who doesn’t abide by this principle.
So giddy up if you’re ready to do this. And remember, you’re never alone; I’m right here cheering for you!
Losing weight is hard. Really, really hard. I get that. But it gets easier, and you’re so damn worth this!
Let’s go get it!