Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Open Letter To Everyone With Weight Loss as a New Year's Resolution

For 37 years, I was like everybody else. On January 1, I was going to do it.  This was going to be the time. It was all going to be different.  A new year meant a clean slate.  A chance to start over.  To begin anew.

I was going to, at long last, lose weight.

Only it never happened that way. 

Sure, I tried.  I started whatever the latest starvation diet was.  I joined many gyms.  I was there January 1, working out like a maniac. I went several days in a row, several hours per day.

Except, like everyone else, I burned out and never went back.  By Valentine's Day, the gym was a ghost town and I was back to my old habits.

Oh well, maybe next year.  Millions of people take this exact approach and very few succeed.  Why?  I certainly don't have all the answers, but perhaps I can provide a little insight from my own experiences.

First, stop trying to lose weight.

When the losing of weight becomes the supreme, overriding goal, the battle is lost before it even starts.  I have come to realize that when I just focused on losing weight, I was only treating the symptom (not the cause) of my problem.  So what was the problem?

My lifestyle was a disaster.  I could lose weight for a short period of time by taking extreme measures, but I was not putting any new behaviors in place to ensure the results lasted.  As a result, any weight lost was immediately gained back.

You see, most people think you need 3 things to lose weight:

-Motivation
-Discipline
-Willpower

I have none of those things.  Motivation, discipline and willpower last a couple of weeks, at most.  They will allow you to "white knuckle it" or "gut it out" for a short period of time.  But then what?  You're right back where you were.  Temporary sacrifice gives you temporary results.

Over the course of 3 1/2 years and losing and maintaining a loss of almost 400 pounds, I have realized the 3 qualities that matter most for me are:

-Persistence.  Doing the same thing over and over again.  Never letting anything or anyone get into the way of your customized routine.

-Determination. Fall down? Get back up. Gain a pound? Who cares. Get right back at it.

-Follow-through.  This is the biggest one of them all.  Do what you say you're going to do.  For years, I did what a lot of people do.  I spent a lot of time and energy going around telling everyone that would listen what I needed to do:

"I need to lose weight." 
"Next year, I'm going to drop this weight."
"I need to start exercising."

But then one day, I realized: I was wasting my time.  There is no point in convincing anyone except myself what I need to do.  As the famous advertising slogan says, just do it.

So back to this New Year's Resolution business.  What do you do?

Think about the pressure we put on ourselves.  We decide sometime in November that come January 1, we are going to wake up and transform our lives.  Because of the date on the calendar, we will immediately start eating better, exercising daily and completely change everything all at once.

So here are some common-sense tips from somebody who's been there.  Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to lose weight.  My way may not work for you.  I'm not arrogant enough to think I have all the answers.  No one does.

Step 1: Stop trying to lose weight.  That's right, I said it.  For years, losing weight was my only goal. But that wears off after awhile. Eventually, the weight loss stops. Or the scale becomes frustrating.  What I had to accept, understand and realize was that the weight was not my problem.  The weight was a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle, not the cause of it. Make the changes in your life that will cause you to lose weight.  Changes you can live with the rest of your life. Nothing temporary.

Step 2: Do not repeat the last time you lost weight. I once lost weight in a very extreme and unhealthy way.  Naturally, I couldn't keep it off. But I spent the next dozen years thinking that was the only path to success, "because it worked before."  Actually, it didn't work.  I gained the weight back.  That approach was a failure and should not be repeated.  Don't be like I was.  Study your failures, but do not repeat them.

Step 3: Get professional help.  Make an appointment with your family doctor.  Talk about your health issues, get it out into the open.  Find out what exercise you can safely do.  And then, what was perhaps most valuable to me of all: visit a registered dietitian. Learning about how to properly eat, what nutrients I really needed, meals, snacks and portion control is all very boring...but it's the truth.

And you want the truth.  No more lies.  No more impossible diets.  No more quick fixes.  No more fat burning pills.

So don't be like I was and like everybody else is.  Don't have a New Year's Resolution to lose weight.  Start your new year off right: by taking common-sense steps toward a healthier lifestyle.


Bryan Ganey is a motivational speaker and author of "Impossible: How I Lost Nearly 400 Pounds Without Surgery," available in print and e-book from Amazon.com. He maintains a blog at http://www.BryanGaney.com.

11 comments:

  1. That is what I'm going to do. I'm fat broke and broken but it's time for a change and yes I'm being like everyone else who by next month will have given up but not me, because I'm changing how I eat and what I do and not falling for any fades.

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  2. As I look in the mirror,I realize that what I was trying did not work. Oh sure, I have lost weight time and again over the years. But,truth be told,I have had a net gain of way too many pounds. Losing the same pounds over and over is just plain dumb. I am not stupid,I know what I have to do to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Time to do it! Eat less,do more and pray for strength. Am not thinking in terms of Happy New Year. But of Happy You Year.

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  4. Just heard your story while listening to Dave Ramsey, brought tears to my eyes at work, while I am not overweight - I am in debt. Thanks for the motivation. - Alex

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  5. Thank you Bryan for sharing your own experience and tips with us. I am read your post carefully. Now my all doubts are clear about Weight Loss through your blog. This is very easy to take a positive thought for Weight Loss Clinics Miami. Thanks again for nice post.

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  6. I would like to say thank you for sharing very useful tips with us, also i want to share a link weight loss zone that will provide natural way to reduce weight.

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  7. This post resonates so much with me I have to say THANK YOU. I LOVE and needed to hear step 2. Do not repeat the last time you lost weight... it did not work. you are right IT DIDNT WORK. It seemed to work but it didn't. I think what I also love is that I am 36 this year and your age encourages me.
    Best of Luck to you :-) d
    Amanda in st Paul MN

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