Losing weight successfully, as in true permanent weight loss, not the yo-yoing up and down that most of us experience much of our lives is an acquired skill. Actually, a set of skills learned, similar to those needed to scale mountains.
Mountain climbers intent on climbing Mount Everest-all 29,035 feet of her, know they have lots of skills to learn if they want to reach their goal. They recognize starting in Nepal, while it seems like a shortcut, will not lead to the desired outcome. They know taking shortcuts will surely result in injury and even death. So they start with the basics and they start small. They gather quality equipment. They study with teachers who have been where they want to go. When they need a different teacher of tool they get it. They do not allow their fears of concerns for the feelings of others to get in the way of reaching their goals.
Reaching a healthy goal weight is like climbing Everest. It is a great long-range goal, but achieving that goal requires learning and small steps. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts-radical diets that may yield rapid weight loss but results that don’t last. Studies prove that yo-yo dieting causes more weight gain that loss, damages your health and recently has also shown to actually reprogram your body to want more unhealthy foods!
Dieting is like going from Base Camp and returning without ever reaching the summit. Reaching our goal takes putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again, patiently, knowing the path we are on leads to the top.
Start with the easy stuff. Learn the basics. If you don’t know the nutritional difference between a simple carb and a complex one-learn it! If that is as clear to you as the back of your hand but you don’t know how to move your body without injury, then find someone who can help you with that. Find the right teacher for the level you are at right now.
Climbers often form groups. Clusters of people sharing a common goal can encourage, teach and inspire. On your weight loss trek, the group might be walking buddies, a support person you call when you want to eat for emotional reasons, or a cooking group where you learn and share healthy recipes. Your groups may change as your skills and fitness grows-gaining or losing members. Or you may decide that a group no longer is a fit for you.
Just as the climber may start on a rock wall at the local gym, and she must face a real mountain at some point, you, too will face new challenges and learn new skills. Life is not contained in a gym or even your own home. You need to learn how to handle a variety of situations and stresses-and develop a plan to get you through.
Mountain climbers prepare for emergencies. They practice getting out of tight spots. They learn that while a team helps, ultimately their success is an individual feat and they can’t rely on being pulled to the top. They have to take each step themselves.
Losing weight takes that same realization and determination. There isn’t someone who will force you to move your body or keep you in a health food bubble. You must come up with a plan on how to handle your “tight spots.” Is your danger zone certain foods? Facing emotions? Specific people? Write down where you’ve struggled in the past and give yourself some alternate routes to take that can lead you through, around or even over that obstacle. Practice saying “NO” to requests for you time if you eat rather than upset someone-or if you don’t have time to eat in a healthy manner or move your body because you are overcommitted. Mountain Climbers know they have to put themselves first if they want to make it o their goal alive. Your journey is no less perilous and is far more important!
Mount Everest can only be climber certain months of the year, and it takes years of practice to have the skills necessary to make the attempt. A climber may only get one chance.
We are lucky-our weight loss success journey doesn’t have to be timed perfectly. We can start anytime, anywhere. We can reach our goal no matter the weather as long as we keep putting that one foot in front of the other. And this weight loss journey is much more forgiving, too. Our bodies are our Everest. If we fall, we will hurt our health, but probably not to the extent of losing limbs or our lives-at least not immediately. We certainly run that danger if we take too long to get on the path, but most of us have the luxury of being able to take as small a step as we need, without the pressure to reach the apex at a specific time. Additionally, we can pick ourselves up and plunk our bodies back on the trail as many times as we need to!