As a trainer, a potential client who had about 100 or more pounds to lose, asked me a really tough question. “Have you ever worked with someone with my weight loss goals and had success?”
The question is yes (but only to a degree) but otherwise no. There is so much that goes into large weight loss goals that a trainer alone cannot guarantee success. The physical limitations, the problems, habits and issues that contributed to the original weight gain, attitude toward food, resistance to change, long held beliefs, culturally based habits…the list goes on. Weight loss is 80% diet and only 20% exercise. You can’t just exercise your way into weight loss, no matter what the commercials say. You have to change your diet. You have to change how and why you eat and it needs to be permanent. Or as we like to say in the fitness industry ‘you need to make a lifestyle change’.
Well, this is not an easy task. In fact, it’s probably the hardest task for any one professional to assist with and best suited for a team of professionals in addition to your own personal support systems. Food is used as a social card, its therapy, a much deserved reward, even punishment but rarely nourishment. And yet that is what food is: nourishment. When food is what makes you happy in life and all about the pure enjoyment you also have to accept flip side which are flavors and ingredients detrimental to weight loss. When a big greasy burger with cheese and mayo spread between two toasty buns and a side of crispy salty fries dipped in sugar laced ketchup is what you eat because its tasty and you deserve the grand prize of flavor, you also must suffer the consequences. Because you missed the point of food and you are now over-indulged. So the real prize is weight gain, lack of nutrients and other possible health concerns (cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure). You factor in that a sodium and sugar laced diet will make any vegetable sound bland and boring. Eating a salad would be miserable and possibly tasteless for that person. It’s a big challenge for any trainer and weight loss client.
So if you have a large weight loss goal can you lose weight? YES. But please really consider your relationship with food and how you need to recreate what that relationship is. You can reinvent your food thinking, but don’t do it alone. You will need a team. Get your friends and family on board, your trainer or workout buddy, co-workers, etc. They do not have to make the same changes but they absolutely must honor yours. Explain to them where you struggle, what exactly they can do to support you and what is dangerous behavior.
Seek books and magazines that support healthy food choices. Follow blogs or cooking sites for recipes and ideas. Take a healthy cooking class to get ideas and learn how to cook if needed. You need to actively seek ways to incorporate healthy food choices into your life and daily meal planning. It’s a lifestyle change so it’s not going to happen overnight but you need to actively pursue behavior and options that support the change.
For those bad habits that you know are not helpful, start replacing them with healthy options. They do not have to be similar. So if you are watching tv and often want a snack after all those food commercials consider a couple other options. Commercials are muted and you are doing a chore or even an exercise move. Or you get a glass of water whenever you walk into kitchen ‘seeking a snack’. Only you will know what works for you. But you have to start addressing the behaviors that do not support your goal. Don’t focus on what you are taking away but what you are adding.
This is small step in a line of many steps needed. But this is a good start. When you make good healthy choices you naturally want to make more. Best of luck, it’s worth it.