There are many reasons people fail at weight-loss attempts. But many of my patients admit their biggest problem is this: They cannot keep the commitment they made to themselves.
They may start a new diet and exercise plan, and even feel psyched to lose weight. Yet they give up, regain the lost weight (plus a few more defeating pounds) and have to start all over. That is, whenever they can muster the emotional energy to renew their commitment.
Millions of people lose millions of pounds each year but fail to maintain the healthy lifestyle that lasts for life. Why is that?
Perhaps too much focus is put on the weight-loss portion of the equation, rather than the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve long-term success. Watching the numbers drop on the scale is exciting; keeping them down may not be.
But just being tired of the roller coaster doesn't mean you know how to stay off it.
This type of commitment requires a few important steps:
-- Easy does it: Diets cause weight loss, not the means to maintain that weight loss. That's especially true for rigid, quirky diets. Nobody can subsist on cabbage soup or boiled eggs indefinitely. Sooner or later, the dieter falls back on the behaviors that led to the weight gain in the first place.
So make sure you enjoy the food you'll be eating and the exercise you'll be doing during your weight loss, because you should plan on doing it (with minor variations) for the rest of your life. After all, who wants to waste time on something that's destined to fail?
-- Roll through the rough spots: Rough spots are a part of life, so we need to accept that fact if we want to stay committed to our fitness intentions.
-- Bench the judge: Let go of harsh judgment about your performance with weight loss and fitness. Punishing yourself is the quickest way to get derailed and lose commitment. Focus on praising yourself for your efforts and achievements.
-- Be real: There's no room for perfectionist expectations in life because life isn't perfect. If goals and expectations are realistic, staying committed becomes possible.
-- Be a perpetual student: We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Therefore, we shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes or to face them. The key is to own your mistakes, not beat yourself up over them.
In the end, commitment to a healthy lifestyle is like commitment to a good marriage. Difficulties need to be addressed in a constructive manner for the marriage to stay healthy and for the partners to stay committed happily.
Being committed to a fit life is not supposed to look perfect either. It has its ups and downs, but by accepting those and continuing on, we can maintain the commitment.
Lavinia Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a Tampa, Fla., psychologist and expert in weight management. She is the author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Psychological Barriers to Weight Management."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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