Recently, I Tweeted something about being happy that my jeans were fitting more loosely and that I would be sharing my "Weight loss secrets" in an article.
Let me warn you ahead of time. There is nothing for you to buy, nothing for you to subscribe to and, yes, there are no real secrets to weight loss or pretty much anything else you want to accomplish.
Shedding that excess weight, whether it's a few pounds or even a huge amount, starts, like everything else, within you.
"As within, so without" is as true for weight loss as it is for the condition of your finances or your relationships.
Within your own mind is where you begin.
Start seeing yourself differently
When I was struggling to shed that last ten pounds, after having, over time, lost twenty-five, the main reason I wasn't succeeding was that I kept looking at the fact that I had not lost the weight.
Only when I stopped doing that and stopped obsessing about it, did I begin to make progress.
Self-help authority, Maxwell Maltz said, "Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become."
Begin by seeing yourself as a healthy, lean person
Invest some time each day visualizing yourself the way you want to look. You may even get a photo of yourself looking the way you'd like or, as motivational master, Zig Ziglar did, paste a photo of your face on the body you'd like to have. When he did that with an ad for underwear, he commented that "they don't put fat boys in underwear ads."
Of course, as with anything you want, you don't stop there.
Remember the Bible quote, "Faith without works is dead" You need to take a proactive position.
What worked for me was making simple changes.
I began by paying attention to what I was choosing to eat.
Since we attract more of what we put our attention on, focusing on making better and healthier food choices led me to doing more of the same.
I took control of my food instead of the other way around. I stopped eating things out of habit.
I vividly remember one day standing in front of an ice cream freezer in my local organic food store, Kimberton Whole Foods, where by the way, you can buy my book, "52 Ways to a Happier Life."
My "typical" habit was to pick out a pint of ice cream and toss it into my shopping cart. On this particular occasion, since I was paying attention to my choices, instead of blindly tossing in the ice cream I stopped and asked myself what I really wanted.
In this case, what I wanted was a specific flavor, Mocha Java. Since they didn't have it at the time, I chose to take control of the situation and opted not to buy any ice cream. For me, this was a huge change - going from buying ice cream just because it was there to choosing only to buy what I really wanted.
This simple act has resulted in my cutting ice cream down from once or twice a week to once every two or three weeks. The net result is the loss of a few pounds, easily and effortlessly.
An added benefit is the sense of empowerment from taking charge of my decisions instead of blindly responding to habits. Feeling good about this simple action has enabled me to start focusing even more on healthy choices.
Start noticing even the slightest progress
Weight Watchers members acknowledge and celebrate even a quarter of a pound loss. They've realized, over time, that reinforcing positive behavior contributes to success.
Again, since like attracts like, paying attention to the "evidence" of your success will attract more of it.
One of the reasons I was stuck trying to drop that last ten pounds was that I kept noticing how hard it was to do it. Only when I stopped doing that and just relaxed into a "knowing" that I was reaching my ideal weight did I begin to succeed.
Stop obsessing over how long it will take
Permanent weight loss is not something that one can accomplish with crash diets. The billions of dollars spent on weight loss products and programs, some as absurd as the old "Grape" diet have done nothing other than exacerbate the obesity problem in America.
What worked for me was taking an approach of "I'll get there when I get there," and putting my attention on making intelligent choices, rather than being concerned with losing X pounds per week. As it turned out, I've been averaging about one half to three quarters of a pound each week.
Track your progress
Since I use my iPad and iPhone regularly, I'm using an app from Tactio. For a minimal charge it will maintain a backup copy on the company web site and send updates to all my devices. I weigh myself once a week and track it there.
Whether you use an app or simply pen and paper, keeping a record is one of the keys to long term success.
Virtually all people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for more than a decade keep track of their weight and, should they go above a predetermined threshold, return to whatever program helped them succeed in the first place.
Do weight loss programs work?
A decade ago, when I had reached my own personal "weight threshold," I joined Weight Watchers and, after losing twenty six pounds, became a lifetime member.
Though I had gained some of the weight back over the passing years, I never did go back to where I started.
The reason I chose Weight Watchers is that I had met people who maintained their goal weight for over twenty years. Also I liked that it was a lifestyle change rather than a "diet." I've never liked the first three letters in the word "diet."
Something else I did that seems to have helped quite a bit is add a simple amino supplement to my morning routine.
It was suggested by a body-builder friend of mine. The product, Amino Fuel made by Twin Labs gives me a shot of complex amino acids first thing in the day. I have no connection to this product or company other than being a customer of their vitamins for many years.
I don't know the exact science behind this but am told, since it's a protein supplement, it speeds one's metabolism which, in turn, burns calories.
Whether you follow a formalized weight loss program or simply do it on your own, hopefully the ideas I've shared here, and the tips listed below, will help you take charge of your own health.
Tips for successful weight loss
- Create a clear vision of yourself looking the way you want and being at your ideal weight.
- Determine, with your health care professional, your ideal weight goal and write it down.
- Allow yourself sufficient time to reach it, assuming one half to a pound per week of weight loss. Select your goal date and write it in your journal. By the way, should you miss the date, as I did several times, don't quit. Simply move the date and get back on track.
- When choosing what to eat, stop for a moment and ask yourself if your choice will help or hinder your weight loss program.
- If it feels right for you, explore some of the leading weight loss programs and consider joining one. One of the big pluses to programs like Weight Watchers is the sharing that occurs at meetings. It's a huge help to see you're not along in this challenge.
- Work with a nutritionist or health professional to determine what vitamin supplements are right for you. Be sure to buy high quality supplements. This is not something where you want to sacrifice quality.
- Keep a food journal and track your progress, noticing only what is working. Do not obsess on what's not working, it will only sabotage your success.
- Take your time and celebrate your wins. Reward yourself with non-food treats whenever you reach a milestone.
- And, in the words of Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never give up."