No, I’m not going to launch in to a tirade about how great bicycles are for exercise (although they certainly are one option for moving your body more and having fun at the same time)…no, I’m talking about the similarities between learning to ride a bicycle and have real weight loss success.
Almost everyone has had the experience of learning to ride a bike. During that process we experience a myriad of emotions–fear, trepidation, anger, nervousness, excitement, exhilaration, joy, freedom…not in a straight line, but a zig-zag or swirling of emotions.
And we are not typically thrust on a 2 wheeler without any warning…we grow into it. We start by watching others on their bicycles and we get a tricycle, then we move to a bike with training wheels, and then one day we are on our bike…untethered by excess wheels.
Weight loss success–meaning permanently dropping excess fat–is like getting rid of those excess wheels. And it too is filled with emotions-scary and exhilarating…sometimes bouncing back and forth between these two as well as many other feelings.
We can’t do it all in one fell swoop. In learning to ride our bikes we had to gain certain skills, like balance, how to hold our bodies and the bike so we don’t fall, how to get on the bike, how to pedal, how to stop, and even how to get off.
Some of these skills came easily to us, others…not so much. Our friends and siblings may have had very similar experiences-or ones that were extremely different. And our perception of their experience may have been quite different from what they actually experienced. For example, my brother was two years older than I, and so it seemed to me that he learned to ride his bike quite easily…as if by magic. In reality, I suspect he fell almost as many times as I did. Now, he had a big advantage-when he was learning to ride we lived on a flat street and he had a big area in which to practice. When I learned to ride we lived on a hill so I was, for safety reasons, restricted to our own long, narrow, driveway for practice.
Similarly, we have to learn skills in order to successfully lose weight. Some of these skills will come easily-or we have already acquired them. Others may be quite challenging for us. And it does us no good to compare our skill level with anyone else’s…because we don’t really have a full picture of where anyone else is on their journey to health.
Some of the skills we must learn in our weight loss journey deal with basic nutrition. That is like learning to pedal…what foods fuel us, allow us to move efficiently forward, and what foods slow us down. This is where most diets focus-on the pedaling-but pedaling won’t do you any good if you can’t first get on the bicycle and if once you are on the bike you can’t stay on because you are out of balance.
Instead of putting all the emphasis on pedaling, let’s get on the bike! That is dealing with our mindset…we have to get over our fears, our past failures, our hesitancies…we have to believe that we can have success. Other kids learn to ride bikes, and so did we…other people can lose weight, and so can we! It doesn’t matter if we haven’t been able to get on the bike in the past-at some point, we will get on it successfully as long as we believe we can!
Once we are on the bicycle we must have some balance while we move forward, otherwise we will fall again. We must encourage ourselves repeatedly that we can do it…over and over, day after day, until we just do! We believe we can, and we begin to pedal. Learning to pedal is one of the easiest, most natural steps in learning to ride…we learn to pedal long before we get on a two-wheeler.
We can also learn about nutrition right now…while we are still on our tricycle, before we have our balance figured out. Learning about nutrition can help guide us as we shift from walking to pedaling…but the biggest challenge in achieving weight loss success is getting on the right track and maintaining balance. This is what mindset is…and that is where we must focus in order to have permanent weight loss. Once we have the proper mindset and we believe we can lose weight then we will begin to make more healthy food choices-because they feel good…we feel energized, thrilled, joyful with these choices…it becomes the most natural thing to do, not an effort at all!
Once we learn to ride a bike, we never forget how. It may be scary at first if it has been years since we last got on a bike…we may think we will crash and burn…but generally, we get back on and after a few bobbles we are moving along at a wonderful pace once again.
The weight loss success journey can be like that, too. Once we acquire the mindset of success we never really forget it. It may be rusty from lack of practice, but we can dust it off by repeating to ourselves again that we can. We’ll swerve a bit here and there, but quickly we will be back on track and on the path to the healthy body we want and deserve!