When it comes to weight loss, too many people think the activity I’m referring to means working out, going to the gym or walking or some kind of exercise. While exercise has its place in weight loss, what I mean is that you must take action to lose weight. Reading a nutrition or diet book is not action: it’s research. I can read every diet book that comes out this year and still not lose a pound unless I actually do something such as implementing the strategies in those diet books.
This distinction confuses a lot of people and it’s completely understandable. We take the time to read the diet/ nutrition books; we buy the yoga CDs (I’ve got dozens of those- still in the wrappers!) and we think we are ‘making progress!’ As in, “I’m planning to lose weight and exercise more and I’ve got my strategy all mapped out!” But until you put that strategy into action, you ain’t gonna be losing weight! Take my yoga CDs: I really really want to start yoga, as evidenced by the CDs and books stacked on my bookcase. How good am I at yoga? Not started it! I’ve got the mat and strap and bolster literally buried in my closet but I’ve not used them. So how good am I at yoga? I’m guessing I pretty much suck since I’ve not tried in the last 15 years or so. But I really really want to! Little clue here: you have to do it in order to make progress!
So why haven’t I done anything with my yoga practice? Oh, the usual excuses: “I don’t have time”; “I don’t know if I’m doing it right”; “I’m afraid I might hurt myself”; “I can’t afford the classes”; blah blah blah. The point is that while I have all the resources and tools to practice yoga, they are gathering dust and I am making no progress at all really fast! However, I don’t expect that I’ll be magically good at yoga just because I have all the tools and information at my fingertips, but when it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of people who get lost in the research and strategizing.
I’ve got another confession here: I really love research! I love reading a new book or magazine about health or listening to a new podcast about being healthier. The problem is that reading about health and weight loss and listening to other people talk about getting fitter does not improve my health and fitness unless and until I actually put these ideas into action. I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard and read about the ketogenic diet and Intermittent Fasting, but I can also tell you that I am most definitely not in ketosis! Why? Because I haven’t made the changes in my diet necessary to get into ketosis. [I did try keto and decided I didn’t like it very much, ergo not eating keto!]
It seems simple: if you want to make progress, you have to take action. Research, although it feels like you are doing something, really isn’t action. It is accumulating information. What you do with that information determines how much progress you make. Too many of us get lost in the informational weeds because we want to lose weight ‘the right way,’ or we just plain don’t know what to do or where to begin. Those are all good starting points but we have to remember they are only starting points! Once we have a plan or a beginning, we have to begin doing something with that information we’ve so carefully accumulated.
Which brings us back to my yoga non-practice. The honest real reason I haven’t tried yoga? It intimidates the bloody hell out of me! Despite reading all the books and watching the CDs, I truly don’t know if I can get into some of those poses and if I get there, how the hell do I get out of them? What if I get stuck or hurt myself? What if I just look stupid? Hello! That’s why we practice! No one can reasonably expect a beginner to do anything perfectly the first time or even the hundredth time! It’s a progression and until we actually begin doing it, we aren’t making progress!
This is one of the pitfalls of too much information gathering: we are afraid we won’t do it right or that we’ll be unable to do it. Seriously, not-doing it is the biggest way to mess it up! Allowing yourself to be intimidated is a sure way to keep you from making any progress towards your goals or even from trying anything new. Aside from not making any progress, it can keep you from doing something you turn out to enjoy. And as for doing it ‘wrong,’ every professional started out as an amateur. Mozart may have been a prodigy, but the first time he stepped up to a piano, he still had to figure out which key was what note! Even failure can teach you since now you know what not to do! Everything takes practice!
While we may learn the basic framework through information gathering aka ‘research,’ it only benefits us when we put that knowledge into action. This is why doctors spend years in residence: book knowledge is so very different than actually doing the procedures. I can read all about Intermittent Fasting and learn all the tips and tricks for getting through a seven day water fast, but again actually fasting for seven days only drinking water is a whole ‘nother experience! And that’s the key word: experience. Experience is true knowledge and it only comes through action. The more experience you have with your weight loss process, the more you know about your body, what works for you and what doesn’t (i.e., me & keto). It’s great to read about different supplements, different fasting regimens and different recipes or eating plans, but unless and until you put that information into action, you are only wasting your time and not making progress! If you are serious about weight loss, you need to do something about it, and reading about it doesn’t count! [Now I need to get off my butt and dig that dang yoga mat out of the closet!]