Have you ever walked into a home or office where the air is stagnant and stuffy? It’s one of the things that bothers me the most: it’s almost like I can smell the dust! Nothing is moving; nothing is fresh and everything is stale.
The same thing happens to us when we get stuck in a rut. We feel safe and we feel at home so we essentially stop there. We cease forward progress and stop looking at anything that falls outside of that safe comfy rut. We begin to stagnate and stagnation is not a good thing!
It’s not that we want to be close-minded or stagnant: we’ve heard so many times“do what works for you!” That really is a good idea since so many of us bounce from one thing to another simply because it’s trending on Instagram. If you’re constantly trying one thing or another, how do you know if something is working out for you? So we find the eating plan or work out plan that works for us and we stick to it like we’re victims of a Permanent Sticking Charm out of Harry Potter. “Sticking” to something that works is a good thing as long as it doesn’t keep us from discovering something else that might work better!
I know people who glom onto whatever is new and trending. They remind me of a starfish on a clam because they are just as hard to get off. The problem with most of them is that they stay on it whether is works for them or not. They tell themselves it “should” work for them since it’s the Idea of the Day and everyone they know on Facebook or Instagram is getting great results! That is, everyone but them.
As usual, the answer lies somewhere in the middle: we don’t need to be Permanently Sticking Starfish and we don’t need to be ping-ponging from one to another either. We need to be open to new ideas and be sensible about it. I know: how much more common sense can it get?
But when it comes to weight loss especially, most of us are really not very ‘common sense’ oriented. We want to have lost weight yesterday! It can’t come off fast enough! And it’s because our emotions are involved. Being emotional usually means we’re not being very sensible since our logic went out the window along with the bags of potato chips. So when someone suggests we only drink high protein smoothies because someone they know has a friend on Facebook who lost 40 lbs in three weeks doing that, the logical part of our brain says “hmmmm” while the emotional part of our brain shouts “go for it!” We start rationalizing how safe or effective this practice should be: it’s protein and it’s low sugar, low carb, low fat so it certainly sounds like it’s healthy. There’s lots of low carb veggies in it, so there should be plenty of vitamins. How bad can it be for me?
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum where we’re suspicious of everything that hasn’t been “proven” to our satisfaction. We examine everything like it’s evidence in a murder investigation: Clinical trials? Independent corroboration? Evidence of efficacy? Any outliers we need to know about? What’s the success/ failure rate? And before we know it, the door of our mind has slammed shut on that idea! Granted, not every idea that comes down the highway is a good one– we all know there are some real losers out there! But until we keep an open mind long enough to gauge which camp this New Idea falls into, we can be shutting the door on something that could help us.
I see this so many times on My 600 lb Life. One of the key components to Dr. Nowzaradan’s program is psychotherapy and about half of his patients are very resistant to the idea. They don’t see a connection between “talking about my emotions” or “talking about my past” and their eating. There are many who refuse to go to therapy until the doctor makes it a mandatory part of the treatment: either they go to therapy or they leave the program. Even some who aren’t resistant don’t completely understand how much help it can be: “I already know I’m an emotional eater!” It isn’t until they have started therapy that they realize its benefits. For those who are resistant or don’t see the connection, if it were up to them, that door would stay closed and in doing so, their weight loss struggle would continue to be much harder than it needed to be.
By keeping an open mind (and not being a ping-pong ball) we allow ourselves to move forward while keeping an eye on what’s worked in the past. It’s hard, but we need to remove the emotions from the weight loss process. I know from personal experience how difficult that is: the sense of urgency is almost overwhelming! But it’s that “hurry up” feeling that gets us into trouble by sending us from one practice to another as fast as we can bounce. We need to turn off the emotions and turn on the logic: is it safe? is this practice something that is doable for you? Then you need to put a clock on it: how long do you plan to stick with it? and you need to set some parameters. If it’s weight loss, weigh yourself or take a photo or measurements. If it’s a workout routine (lifting for example), how much can you lift now? You need to decide what your definition of success is. Many times people define ‘weight loss success’ as a lower number on the scale rather than just looking and feeling better and healthier. Many of my fitness friends have been confused by the fact that their clothes fit better or they’ve gotten into a smaller size but the number on the scale is only down a few digits. They’re not sure this new practice is a ‘success.’
You get to decide if it’s working for you or not. How many of us have struggled to keep our calories ‘super low’ so we can lose weight as fast as possible? Does it ‘work for us’? It depends on our definition of success: if losing weight really fast is worth being hungry all day, then yes, you can call it a success, but if your definition includes not starving all day, then it’s a big NO! Many of my fitness friends with the slimmer body or smaller jeans call their new practice a success even if it’s only ten pounds instead of the twenty they wanted. Apparently, it’s 10 lbs in all the right places! (I’m with them!)
I love a new idea as much as everyone else on Instagram but it comes down to how hard are you willing to work, how you measure success and what you deem is reasonable. A new idea is only a good one if it meets your criteria. There are lots of weight loss gurus who tell us to remove all carbs or keep our calories under 1000 or to work out seven days a week or whatever the trending idea is in the media. Some of those practices may actually work for you as far as losing weight, but for me, if I am completely miserable or utterly exhausted, then it’s not a good idea for me. How thrilled can I be over my weight loss if I’m too worn out or too unhappy to enjoy it?