Skinny Daily Post


A weight loss client of mine mentioned something very profound to me this weekend. I had asked her how she had managed to lose ten pounds over the past few months. She explained that she had lost weight before and gained it all back (welcome to the club!) but that this time around, she had changed her approach. As she told it ‘In the past I was focused on instant gratification at the scale. When I couldn’t get that, I gave up. This time around, I’m trying to enjoy myself as much as possible, while still maintaining at least an incremental amount of weight loss.’

While I have experienced first hand the dangers and futility of rapid weight loss, I found her attitude to be a very helpful way to reframe my mindset about it. In the past I have at times struggled to deprive myself so thoroughly that my weight would assuredly go down. Unfortunately, I’ve generally had great/dramatic results… results which never lasted. My current weight maintenance journey is really the first time in my life where I haven’t been constantly gaining or constantly losing.

At the moment, I weigh more than I wish to. I’ve mulled this over a great deal and I’ve written about it frequently on this blog. There are many strategies I’ve explored that worked, a few that didn’t and even a few that backfired. But this weekend I began to spend some time thinking long and hard about how I felt and what I was doing the last time I was at my personal ‘dream weight.’

Sadly, the answer I came up with is that for the time I was able to hold the line at a particular number on the scale, it was my strong obsession with that number and my unquenchable need for ‘instant gratification’ from those results that kept me there. Up a pound? I’d spend a week cutting back on food and exercising more. Down a pound? Yippee! Think about lowering my goal to an even smaller number!

I was ‘instantly gratified’ by those results on the machine. But to be perfectly honest, I was not at all focused on feeling good about the foods I was choosing and with the results in my heart. My obsession with not gaining caused me to be edgy, irritable and unsociable. After all, there was only ONE thing that could make me feel happy.

So at the moment, I’m ticked off about having gained some weight, depressed at seeing a couple of pairs of pants I can’t wear, and annoyed at some of the things I’m seeing in the mirror. But there is no way that I’m going to use ‘instant scale gratification’ as a way to get back to my goal. In fact its my very fear of what I had to do before that is clearly keeping me from doing it again.

So this week I choose to eat well, love myself for who I am and lose just the TINIEST amount of weight possible. I’ll keep you posted.

7 thoughts on “Instant Gratification

  1. Eh... not so much says:

    Good post! The scale game is part of the reason I stopped going to Weight Watcher meetings. I found that there was too much “loss = good week, maintain or gain = bad week,” not so much from the people who worked there, but from the other members. Lots of talk about “Oh, I was so good this week,” or “I was SO bad this week.” Now I just stay accountable to myself. The scale is certainly the easiest way to track, but I can even see that I’m trimming and firming up. Shweet!

  2. sandy says:

    Jonathan –

    I’ve been reading the skinny for quite some time now, but no post has quite hit the nail on the head for me until this one. I have been below goal for over three years now (lost about 70#) and I am all about the “instant gratification” on the scale. I am one of those obsessives who weigh at least once daily, sometimes twice (like after exercise, to cheer myself up with the number). It is so difficult not to BE the number on the scale!

    At this point I am a few pounds above my dream weight, partly due to weight training and partly due to inattention. Perhaps I can think about your strategy and not beat myself up each time the scale fluctuates 0.8 up and down…

  3. Denise says:

    I lost 35 lbs in 40 months… which sort of makes me the poster child for slow losers.

    Lost 10 in 2001
    Lost 5 in 2003
    Lost 20 in 2004
    Lost another 2 in 2005

    Most significant (to me), I kept it off…!

    I figured any day I wasn’t gaining was a good day. 🙂

    It wasn’t the fastest or most dramatic weight loss in history… but I learned a LOT!

  4. Mark says:

    Good post. I too am a slow loser. I’m at 51 pounds in 8 months. I had originally set higher goals, but a trainer at the gym I go to explained the “Wheel Of Fitness” and how everything has to fit together in life for long term weight loss. Eat healthy and exercise are all you need. Staying in a reasonable caloric intake helps me too.

  5. Denise says:

    PS… I think that your essay is also makes a VERY important point that it is important to choose a goal weight which one can comfortably maintain. Our “dream” weight number may not be that weight.

    I know that I could weigh 10 lbs less than I do now… but those 10 lbs would reduce my resting metabolism rate by about 45 calories. (It takes less gas to run a compact sized human… even when the engine is only idling…) At this time, I’m not willing to exercise more and burn up those 45 calories, so I’d have to eat that much less.

    And those 45 calories a day… 315 cals a week… are the difference between my being happy and satisfied or deprived and resentful.

  6. jonquil says:

    The only “instant gratification” trick I know is to cut back on salt. A while back I had gained several pounds of “scale weight” for no apparent reason. It finally dawned on me to look at the label on a package of sliced roast beef I had been eating on salads and sandwiches. Sure enough, this stuff was loaded with salt, sodium nitrate, and sodium nitrite. I threw it away, and the next morning I was 4.2 pounds lighter. Stunned, I realized it was all water, retained due to too much salt unwittingly consumed over several days. And the beef did’t even taste salty. Who knew?

    I’m glad I’ve got my scale to give me a heads up, but it’s not always telling me I’ve gained fat. And I now know that any “instant” weight loss, or weight gain, is almost certainly just water.

  7. stretchy says:

    great post
    the scale is a slippery place for me to stand.
    to stay sane
    I will go by how my jeans fit and what my abs look like, and get weighed at the doc’s office every 6-12 months.
    and I’ll keep moving.

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