If I had to choose one factor that derailed my clients and prevented them from meeting their weight loss goals, it would be speed. We all have certain expectations when it comes to the speed of change and if these expectations aren’t met we become frustrated and it causes us to turn to return to old habits. However, the idea that I want to introduce is that it is in fact that expectation that keeps you stuck in the same spot.
Let me share the story of Robin to help explain this point. Robin came to see me after struggling with weight loss for many years. She feared that she had actually caused damage to her body and her metabolism because recently no matter what she did she was unable to lose even a pound. I looked over what she was eating and we came up with a plan of action.
Almost immediately she started feeling better. She found the ideas easy to follow and said that she felt normal and like she wasn’t on any sort of diet. She radiated confidence and said she was starting to feel a sense of peace. She had decided not to weigh herself but after a few weeks she couldn’t resist and stepped on the scale. She was devastated. Although she had experienced some weight loss it wasn’t the number that she had in her head so she again felt like a failure.
This lead her become extreme and restrictive with what she was eating. She was only able to maintain this for a few days, fell off her plan and stopped coming to our sessions because she was ashamed. A few months later she contacted me to come back in and meet. During our time apart she had tried various cleanses and quick fixes and again come to the realization that it wouldn’t work. She also shared that if she had stayed on a more moderate path she would have been at her goal weight by now. She was ready to let go of her expectations of speed.
During my career as a nutritionist I have worked with over a thousand people, almost all of which I have weighed. I can tell you that there is no normal or acceptable speed of weight loss. Some people lose weight consistently, some hold on for weeks at a time and then see larger drops, some see drastic weight loss at first and then struggle.
Weight is a symptom not the problem. Behaviors are what lead to weight gain or loss and that is what needs to be changed. If you focus on changing your behavior everything else will fall into place. I know that this is not exciting or sexy. There will never be a reality show called “Consistent Weight Loss and a Healthy Relationship with Food!” However, from my experience, this is a critical step towards successfully improving your health.
Robin realized that focusing on the symptom and having expectations of speed that didn’t necessarily apply to her and her body was actually triggering her to fall back into old habits. The tool that she had always used to “keep her on track” or provide motivation was actually keeping her chained to her old cycles.
Robin ultimately did reach her weight loss goal, although it wasn’t nearly as ceremonious as she originally expected. In fact, she may have never known had her doctor not weighed her at her annual physical. Although she was always conscious of what she was eating, she was not white knuckling it through her day and therefore there was an ease the way she was losing weight.
I am like everyone else and want things done immediately – yesterday if possible! This is especially true for my clients as well as the members of my community. Next to you, there is no one more vested in your success – and yes, I want your success yesterday too! However, getting too wrapped up in speed can cause you to jump around to different or extreme ways of eating, make you feel hopeless and give up, and ultimately keep you stuck in the same place you have been for years. This year, try to take a step back from your expectations of 1-2 lbs. per week and focus on the behaviors. I promise that you will still reach your goal and feel a lot better doing it!
Happy New Year!