Why do I get on a healthy path with my eating and/or exercise but can’t seem to stick with it?
Why can’t I stay committed to something so I can get what I really want?
This is the issue that I hear over and over from women trying to manage their weight. They don’t have any problem getting started making healthier choices, but they struggle to continue making those choices consistently and for long enough to begin to see the “fruits of their efforts”.
There are several reasons that this is a prevalent and persistent problem for all of us, but especially for women and even more especially for “women of a certain age” because we’ve been on that stupid diet roller coaster for way too much of our lives. And we’ve not learned how to use the scale as a feedback tool to help keep us going in the right direction but instead we let it almost define us, in the negative sense of the word. So it means that we’ve started and stopped more times that we can count or ever want to admit! Why do we do this?
The first reason that this continues to be the pattern for so many women who “know what they should be doing but just aren’t doing it” is that the expected results aren’t worth the anticipated effort required. AND because the “expected results” are delayed. It sounds something like, “I just can’t give up wine in order to lose 10 lbs.” or “I’m not able to exercise because (fill in the blank here) so what’s the point?” But the reality is that the results of shedding unhealthy weight can be not only life altering, they can be life enhancing…even life saving! So while the rewards are in fact “worth it”, they are delayed; it takes 3 weeks for the body to begin to lose fat and you must “Allow at least six months to realize most physiological changes and an additional six to nine months for final adaptive changes in body composition”* from consistent healthy eating choices and exercise activity.
The second reason that this “on and off” diet behavior continues to be the modus operandi of so many women is because 1) that is all they know. i.e. if you want to lose some unhealthy weight, you need to go on a diet (BTW statistics continue to prove that not to be true over and over) and 2) everyone believes that for big weight loss or big health improvements (lower blood pressure and/or blood sugars, etc), radical and grandiose change is necessary. Actually, the efforts required are not monumental. Small, incremental habit changes are the most powerfully effective. The catch is that they need to be repeated consistently enough to create the desired outcomes. Small, incremental changes that can actually be adopted as new habits. This is what is going to create the long term success. It is through gradually and patiently trying new food shopping, prepping, cooking, taking to work, walking, taking the stairs, using a step tracker, getting better sleep, taking quality down/devotional time and self-monitoring and stress management strategies ….a little bit at a time…that will ultimately produce that healthy, fit and able (i.e. “sexy”) person you are striving to become.
“3 No kidding, Sure-fire Strategies to keep you from quitting”
1. Take a few minutes to figure out your “Big Why” and write it down (better yet, post it on the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror). Being very, very clear about the big, most important reasons that you want to get to and maintain a healthy weight will make a huge difference in your ability to ‘stay the course’ when the obesogenic culture you live in tries to lure you off track.
2. Start to track/journal/record your eating/water and activity. We manage what we monitor. Getting good at self-monitoring is so powerful because it starts with you becoming self-aware. You can’t change the bad habits if you don’t even see them.
3. Get support. Enlist a friend (make a written contract if you’re going to keep each other accountable…it will help you both), or spouse (especially if they can benefit from the healthy changes you’ll be implementing), or get a coach or join a group to keep you accountable, support you when you slip up, and help you with your self-management when it lags.
This is why My Monthly Reboot, Millie’s regular “get yourself back on track” coaching, supporting, teaching and training spa-like workshops are a perfect way to make sure you stay the course. It’s worth it!
*Ralph La Forge, MS (at the time of publishing he was the director of health promotion at the San Diego Cardiac Center Medical Group)
*Daniel Kosich, PhD (at the time of writing was president of Exerfit Lifestyle Consulting and consulting senior director of professional development for IDEA, the Association of Fitness Professionals)