Obviously with weight loss, most of us are eagerly anticipating the day we reach our goals. We just have to get there first! I can hear you groaning out there, because I just groaned myself. Ugh! How long is this going to take? It would be easier if we didn’t have so many problems and setbacks, but they are a sad fact of life.
It’s called a Weight Loss Journey for a reason: we need to get ourselves from Here to There. For anyone who’s never had to go this route, it looks straightforward, but when you’ve started down this road a few times, you know it’s never as easy as it looks! It’s a lot like entering the Dark Forest at the edge of Hogwarts: who knows what’s in there just waiting to get you? It could be cookies or holiday treats or birthday cake or something else that’s deliciously fattening and unhealthy!
I am the first to admit that whenever I get in the car to head somewhere I’ve never been before, I am filled with anxiety and trepidation. Thankfully, I learned from my dad: when you don’t know where you are going, get a map! While it’s not always the answer, at least you have some idea of the landscape: “if I can get to X, then I’ll know where I am and how to get where I’m going!”
I like to use driving analogies mainly because I drive a lot during the week. One of the things that annoys me a lot are people who suddenly realize that this street is their turn and they are in the wrong lane: “I need to make a right turn but I’m in the middle lane!” Their options are: 1) continue straight, change lanes, turn around and come back to the street they need; or 2) try to crowd over/ cut in and make that turn. So what do they do? You’d be surprised how many try to wedge over sideways to make that turn, cutting off others and leaving their tail end blocking the middle lane, so now they’re in both lanes and no one can get by until they move! They do the same thing when they’re on the freeway and realize halfway up the exit ramp that it’s the wrong exit and cut across back into traffic! For someone who gets nervous driving to unknown places, these can seem like ‘logical’ solutions to the errors, but in reality, it’s unsafe and dangerous. It may seem okay to crowd in to keep from missing your turn when you’re afraid of getting lost, but seriously, I’ve missed my turn several times (and also taken the wrong exit in the dark on a strange highway in the middle of the night.) You really can drive up to the next street and turn around to make a left turn to take that street and when you get off the highway, you can get back on to make it to the correct exit!
You can do the same with weight loss! It only feels like it’s time to panic or freak out, but really it isn’t. How many times do we feel like giving up or panicking when we realize our weight loss plan isn’t going the way we think it should be going? We wanted to have a healthy sensible lunch and ended up at the sandwich place– somehow!– and now we’ve eaten a foot-long sub and some potato salad. “That isn’t what was supposed to happen! Now what?” Do we do the equivalent of turning around to go home and start again tomorrow? Or do we make the radical lane change and skip dinner? Or do we keep on going making appropriate changes to our route?
Weight loss is not that different. We are heading somewhere that we really don’t know and we don’t know the pitfalls we may encounter on the way, so at least we should have some idea of how we are going to get there. The most important part of this journey, apart from getting there, is not giving up!
If we did miss our turn or get lost driving somewhere, we don’t go all the way home to start again, nor do we just start driving aimlessly trying to find where we need to go. We pull over somewhere safe and take stock of our location: this is where I am and this is where I want to go, so how do I get from here to there safely? Just because it’s a weight loss journey instead of a car trip doesn’t mean we have to do something drastic or unsafe to reach our destination. When we realize we made a wrong turn or went off our route, we need to calm down enough to make a sensible decision. There are a lot of people who will skip a meal after overeating or will fast the day after bingeing. Whether those are safe or sensible options depends on you. If you had a huge lunch and later that evening still aren’t hungry, then why eat? If you are eating because “it’s dinner time” and you really aren’t hungry, then maybe skipping that meal is a good idea. Too many people try to make up for ‘being bad’ by fasting but it’s not always the solution to overeating. The solution for overeating is not to overeat! Fasting every time you binge isn’t really practical and doesn’t solve the underlying problem! It’s like constantly dawdling at home, then jumping in your car and racing to work trying to make it on time! Do you really make it on time when you leave late? Usually not!
The same thing happens when we decide to overeat because it’s a holiday, or an event, or “I’m stressed,” and think we’ll “make up” for it by fasting the next day or two. That’s not a realistic plan for reaching our goals and even if we reach our weight loss goal, do you realistically think we’ll stay there? We need to map out our route, figuring out what works best for us and what isn’t realistic for who we are.
Some of us do really well skipping breakfast, having a bigger lunch and then a light dinner. For others of us, having a big breakfast, skipping lunch and having a sensible dinner works better. Some of us like having our meals broken up evenly. This is where we have to make some decisions based on what works for our unique bodies rather than what ‘professionals’ say is best. I know a lot of people who love and swear by Bulletproof Coffee or the Keto Diet. I really don’t like ‘buttered’ coffee and while I like eating keto, I also like fruits and veggies. That doesn’t make those people wrong or me right, unless I am talking about my own journey to my own goals. Following another’s route to their weight loss goals isn’t going to get me to mine!
There also isn’t anything wrong with trying a new “route,” especially if yours isn’t getting you there. If Bulletproof Coffee, keto or Paleo isn’t giving you the progress you want to make, then it is time to try a new route, but don’t ditch what is working just to try something new and different. Think about your goals and the progress you are making right now and how something different or new might help you get there. I know it sounds silly to remind you to stay calm and think clearly, but seriously, have you or anyone ever made a good decision based on panic, fear, or impulse? Probably not! Fasting for seven days might sound like a good idea when you want to drop five pounds quickly, but when you’re drained, foggy-headed and starving on day three, I’m betting the thought of stopping by the drive thru on the way home sounds a lot better! The problem is that your impulse decision on the seven day fast drove you to the drive-thru, and not to where you really want to go.