Okay, here we are, a couple of months into the new year. The resolutions have petered out, the gyms are clearing, the fitness-commitment honeymoon is over. And research bears it out, two months is about as long as most resolutions and new diets last.
We can’t be blamed. We have completely erased our old way of eating and exercising and replaced all our old comforts with new habits that don’t quite fit. We hate the food, hate the exercise, hate the expense, the time. The diet book is dog-eared, memorized, Xeroxed. We know the rules, signed on to support websites to learn more, cooked the recipes. And we’ve had just about as much vanilla-flavored ricotta cheese as we can hold. (We are so over vanilla-flavored ricotta cheese.) We’ve lost a little weight, but not enough, not what we hoped for, not like that first week. Forget this. We are bound for buttered bagels.
Okay but pause. Breathe. Remember back in that diet book where it talks about plateaus, where it mentions that the first weeks of the diet will be followed by a period of slower losses? Remember everything you’ve ever read that says a healthy rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week at the maximum? Yeah, I know, you’re capable of more, but aiming for more is exactly why most people can only diet for about two months. They take off about 8 pounds, exhaust themselves in the process, and slide back into their old habits.
But remember when you began? Wasn’t that exciting? You had your reasons. Now you need to reconnect, find a good reason to stay in the game. It would be a shame to quit now, because the hardest part is behind you. You’ve already learned a new way to eat and to move. You’ve already reordered your life around this effort. You’ve already invested all that energy and time into difficult foundation building. The rest of the work — sticking to your new program to build your health slowly over time — takes mere persistence. It doesn’t take courage, a leap of faith, hope, time, or money. It just takes persistence, clear goals, priorities.
If you’re thinking of giving up on your new exercise and eating program, stop and think — what goals did you have for starting the program to begin with? Was it better health, a trimmer body, to run faster, jump higher, endure more, sleep more soundly? Did you want to be able to keep up with your kids? To fit in the bathtub? To climb a flight of stairs without wearing out? Write all of your reasons down.
Now think about the importance of each of these goals in your life. For each goal, rate the importance from 10, a very high priority, to 1, a nice-but not life-altering goal. For me, avoiding diabetes gets a 10. Sleeping well every night gets an 8. Having enough energy for everything I do is an 8. Getting back into a smaller pair of jeans is a 4 (Should be a 2, but I’m vain). Now think about the other goals and priorities you have in your life right now. Your family. Your community. Your work. How do these health goals stack up against the rest of your life’s goals? How important are they compared with, say, getting a promotion at work, or teaching your kid to read?
See where I’m going here? I’m asking that you don’t quit because you are bored, but that you make a more informed decision. If your goals for exercise and weight loss are outranked by other goals and priorities in your life right now, then by all means quit, or better yet, scale back on the diet, but keep the exercise going. But if you need the exercise and weight loss to meet those other goals, as I do, then giving up is not the answer. Recognizing the priority your good health plays in your life right now may be the boost you need. Think about it. I will if you will.