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For the first time in years, losing weight will not be one of my New Year’s resolutions. After several years piling on the padding, which only accelerated when I started working from home, I’ve lost 38 lbs. in the past 98 days. Gee, Jon — what’s your secret? Read on, for all will be revealed in Five Simple Steps.
Google “weight loss” and you’ll get 232 million hits. Everybody is searching for the silver bullet that will replace their pony-keg belly with six-pack abs. And it seems like half the people who are happy with their size are hawking some miracle diet, high-tech fitness equipment, or psychological trick that will restore anyone to their teenage figure. (All for 18 easy payments of $119.99!)
As most adults have learned, there is no magic formula. But now that I’ve achieved a moderate level of scrawn, and with Peter’s prompting, I wanted to share my counter-intuitive observations about shedding pounds.
1. Every diet works.
South Beach, Jenny Craig, Atkins, Paleo, Medifast, Zone, Modified Zone, Nutrisystem, Jared’s Subway Spectacular — each one of these mainstream diets works like a charm. As will any diet or exercise program that takes in less calories than it expends.
After failing at a couple of the above plans, I decided that they didn’t work. But now I know that it wasn’t the diets that failed — it was me. If I would have stuck with their program(s), the pounds would have fallen off. So read about a few different options and choose the one you think will fit best with your lifestyle. Then choose a second option.
2. Every backup diet works too. Say you’re driving to an important meeting and a bad accident blocks your usual route. Do you just go home? No, you use a different route to get to there. If weight loss is an important goal, you’ll act accordingly. Since failure is always dispiriting, pick your detour diet ahead of time. Creating this fallback actually helps you stick to your original plan by changing your choices. No longer are you choosing between a protein shake and a DQ Double Mint Oreo Blizzard with Xtreme Spr!nklz. Instead you’re choosing an Isagenix bar or a Paleo meal.
3. No one has ever cheated on a diet. You can’t cheat a diet, but you can cheat yourself. If you sneak in a greasy cheesesteak, the diet plan is going to be fine. You are the only one who will suffer since you’re further from your goal. And although we all fall short sometimes, don’t pretend you’re getting away with something.
4. Develop a healthy negative attitude.
When going through various diets’ promotional literature, I read a lot of happy talk about the various plans. “The food is delicious!” “I was never hungry!” “It’s so easy!”
Lies all. I don’t care which diet you choose. The food often sucks. You’re desperately hungry, at least early on. And it’s harder than hell to stick to the plan when your friends and family are scarfing down donuts for breakfast and pizza for brunch.
Obviously, I maintained a positive attitude about achieving my ultimate goal, but I didn’t lie to myself about what a breeze the diet would be. I decided that my food would be a drag for a few months, but the result was worth it. And every time I sort-of enjoyed a lightly seasoned plate of lean meat, organic wild rice, and veggies, it was a pleasant surprise.
5. And finally, the secret to losing weight (and keeping it off): You’ll lose weight when you want health more than you want that pile of donuts. It’s just that simple — and that difficult. I was overweight for several years and had several failed attempts at lasting weight loss. But it wasn’t the fault of the diet, my metabolism, genes, body type, or anything else. There was no rare medical condition that was keeping the pounds on. I just didn’t want to lose weight as much as I wanted another plate of buffalo wings.
I could list 20 more tips and tricks that helped me along with way, and I’ll probably add a few in the comments. But ultimately I had to make the choice for myself. And once I made that decision, I had little choice but to lose weight.
So, I chose the plan best suited to me and selected a backup plan. I wrote 17 reasons why I wanted to be healthy and read them often when my willpower flagged. I planned my meals days in advance and tracked everything on a fitness app. I gave away my XL clothing like Cortez burned his ships.
And I’ll keep the weight off as long as I opt for health over heartburn.Published in