By Brenda R. Deere, MA, CPLC, CPWLC, CSRC –
Let me share a little about my personal experience and general weight loss philosophy. I struggled with weight issues since I was about 10 years old, and have probably been on most of the diets and programs that have become available throughout the past 40 years! I went to a summer camp for overweight kids when I was in high school, only to quickly regain the weight upon my return home. I have lost and regained weight more times than I can count. This is technically called yo-yo dieting, and I learned through my studies and research that not only is this devastating for one’s health, it makes losing weight and maintaining the loss more difficult in the future.
The next thing I discovered is that it is actually easier to lose than to maintain weight loss. It has been shown that fewer than 5% of those who lose weight are able to maintain the loss…not very good odds, and certainly not encouraging if you’re just starting out.
The 3rd thing I learned is that you can be overweight (I’m not talking grossly obese) and still be healthy. My weight got as high as 235lbs. and my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were fine until I finally lost 110lbs. (the “old fashioned way”) when I turned 50 years old. It wasn’t until after I lost the weight that I developed high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The 4th thing that I came to accept, and something I tell all my clients prior to beginning work with them, is that you has to be “READY” to lose the weight. Obviously, “ready” means different things to different people. I was not “ready” until I turned 50, at which point I made a decision that I was going to “do this thing once and for all.” That was almost 8 years ago, and I have been able to maintain the majority of that weight loss since then. I say “majority” because my goal weight was set unreasonably low for my height…a common mistake many of us make.
Remember, the goal is to achieve a healthy weight, not an impossibly unrealistic Barbie doll image! I actually had considered bariatric surgery, but discovered, not surprisingly, that the long term success rate for bariatric patients isn’t that much better than that of those who lose through nutritional eating and exercise.
The 5th thing I teach is never to use the word “DIET.” Going ON a diet implies, even if subconsciously, that one day you will be able to go OFF the diet. My learning and advice to all my clients is to use the phrase “LIFESTYLE CHANGE,” because that is exactly what it has to be…a program that you are willing to commit to for the rest of your life. This doesn’t mean you can never have a drink or two, eat cake or ice cream, etc. It means that, in general, you stick to the healthy eating pattern and exercise plan on most days, while allowing yourself the occasional (what I call) “planned diversion.” As an example, if a wedding is coming up, plan ahead, exercise a little more, cut back somewhat on your eating, and then enjoy the wedding…not “pigging out” but having normal amounts of the food and drink served.
The 6th obstacle that must be considered in advance are the emotional issue/issues that may have led you to overeat in the first place. As one book title phrased it, “It’s Not What You’re Eating, It’s What’s Eating You.” Emotional eaters need to learn alternative activities to engage in, other than eating, when they are experiencing uncomfortable emotions.
The 7th thing I have come to believe is that binge and emotional eating can be placed into the “addiction” category. Research has actually shown that given a choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine! Good thing I was never one to try illicit drugs, (although I did finally give up my other vice, smoking, in December).
A very interesting 8th phenomenon I discovered, and was NOT expecting, is that after losing all the weight, I still looked in the mirror and saw my “old” self. Body image is a major problem for most women, not just for those of us who are (notice I still use the present tense even after 8 years!) overweight. As I recently learned in a class, followed my more personal research, people who have been overweight most of their lives have that image ingrained into their subconscious minds. Even after 8 years at a “normal” weight, I still look in a mirror and don’t see myself as others see me. Overcoming this takes a particular form of Life Coaching, and is very difficult, but I am slowly learning the process. What’s odd is that when I see myself in a photo with my friends, I can easily tell that I am they same size as they are (which still amazes me!); but when looking at my clothes, or in a mirror, I see an overweight 57 year old female. This can be discouraging unless it is discussed and understood DURING the weight loss phase.
An 8th item that I was surprised to learn is that in order to lose weight, you should make sure that you are getting at least 8 hours of solid sleep each night. Research has confirmed this fact and it is certainly something of which I was unaware until recently.
Number 9 would be to weigh yourself no more than once a week. All of us seem to be looking for daily changes. I even went out 20 years ago and bought a “doctor’s scale” so I could track my weight exactly! I still have that scale today, although I seldom get on it. Your body weight can fluctuate due to many reasons, and believe it or not, you don’t always weigh less in the morning as we all have thought for years as we slowly (and nakedly) stepped onto the scales in the morning! Who knew you could gain weight overnight, without eating anything???
I will end this article with Number 10, although there are certainly many more numbers I could cover. Even if you only lose ½ pound in a given week, you should be proud that you were able to stick to your lifestyle change program and tell yourself out loud “That’s ½ pound gone forever!” Then walk to your refrigerator and pull out two sticks of butter and decide where on your body you’d like to put them…because those two sticks of butter are equal to that ½ pound you were feeling so badly about a minute ago. So hold one up against each arm and then ask yourself if ½ pound makes a difference! Visuals are very useful in losing weight. See how long you can hold a 5 pound bag of sugar or flour open palmed in the air and you’ll quickly realize just how heavy 5 pounds really is! So, don’t be discouraged or tempted to say “I only lost 5 pounds this month.” It’s more than you think!
My goal as a former Psychologist and current Life Coach is to help encourage others through the difficult process of losing weight, in a healthy, often humorous way, and teaching them how to maintain that loss for a lifetime. I would love to be a part of your program, as this is truly my life’s passion and calling, and I feel that my personal experiences over the years can be of immense help to my clients. My own before and after photos are posted on my website: www.WeightLossCoachForWomen.com
Brenda Deere is a Certified Professional Weight Loss Coach and Life Coach and works with clients both in person and via the telephone and Skype. In addition to Weight Loss Coaching, she works with other issues including grief, menopause, separation/divorce, relocation, empty nest syndrome, to name a few.