The other day a friend of mine was complaining to me about this recent diet she was on. She has been struggling with weight for a better part of her adult life, and tried diet after diet after diet. She lost quite a bit of weight on the low carb diet, but whenever she started to really see results, she got an unbelievably strong craving for chocolate. Rollo’s to be specific. Personally I find rollo’s to be pretty tasty, but I’d be hard pressed to eat more than a couple.
She was telling me that she has a tremendous amount of willpower at the beginning, and she is able to maintain this willpower, but for some reason it begins to fade after a couple weeks. She says it’s like a contest in her mind between the positive idea of seeing herself in the mirror a little bit slimmer, and the intense physical cravings that start to grow out of control when she has gone a couple weeks of really sticking to her diet.
Diets are an amazing thing, when you think about it. If you walk into any major bookstore in the United States, you’ll a huge section of diet books. Low carb, low fat, the Hollywood diet, the popcorn diet. You name it, and somebody has written a book on how get thin when you try their diet. Most Doctors (and most people)Â realize the simple truthÂ that if you limit your food intake, you will lose weight. ManyÂ haveÂ noticed that all these fad diets are merely a tricky way of limiting your intake.
One of the things I think they miss out on isÂ how you should pace yourself, whenever you start a new lifestyle change, which any certified dietician will tell you that is exactly what a diet is, a lifestyle change. But the problem most people run into is they start off too quick. Like when you go to the gym, and you haven’t worked out in a long time. If you try really hard the first day, you are going to be sore. So naturally, most coaches, and fitness trainers will tell you that it is important to start slow.
People really want to get in shape, and that’s fantastic. If they use this desire to train too hard, too early, they will become sore, and stop training. So their strong desire can have the paradoxical effect of thwarting their progress. I was overhearing a personal trainer coaching a new client at a gym once, and I heard her say:
“You need to start slow. The most import thing is to do something, anything. Don’t make the mistake of going for too much, too soon. That is what people that get stuck in that yo yo effect do. If you start slow, and increase your activity slowly over time, you will build up an incredible amount of momentum that will slowly but surely become part of your lifestyle so much, that you will feel completely lost if you don’t do something physical every day.”
I could tell this girl was a fantastic trainer, because she was incredibly fit herself, and her new client was exclaiming how excited he was because the trainer had such a long waiting list. She must have discovered some secret someplace that kept her in so much demand.
I guess it’s kind of like when I was in high school physics, and I learned that to get the maximum distance from a projectile, you need to launch it at a forty five degree angle. If you throw it steep, it will go high, but won’t go very far. If you throw it too shallow, like a baseball pitch, you will get a lot of speed, but it will fall to the earth rather quickly, and you won’t get much distance either. The secret is to throw it at just the right angle, to maximize the distance. If you don’t take the right angle, you will put in too much effort at the beginning, and it will fizzle out too quickly, and not give you the distance that you need. Balance is key.
So I suggested to my friend that she set her sights a little bit lower, instead of trying to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. When I suggested that she lose ten pounds in six months, she looked at me as if I was crazy. When I asked her to imagine herself two years from now, and what her life was like after she’d made it a habit to live so losing ten pounds every six months was a piece of cake, she smiled.
“I’d be in pretty good shape, for life!”