I’m not the first person to say, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.” But maybe I’m the first person to really lay out what that means. When someone tells me they want to lose and keep off a significant amount of weight (to me that’s over 50 pounds), here’s what I wonder if they realize it means:
It means becoming an exercise obsessive. You’ll spend every day finding a time and place to exercise. You’ll spend time every day deciding what, where, and when. You’ll feel like crap if you don’t do it. It means that every day, every single one for the rest of your life, EVERY DAY, exercise is going to be a factor. You may not exercise every day, but you’ll think about it, you’ll decide whether a rest day is reasonable for you today or not. And if not you’ll have to do something about it. Every day. FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. There’s no end date. You’re going to become the kind of person who needs to get their workout in.
It means planning your food out, and making sure your choices are supportive of your weight goals. Every meal for the rest of your life. Every meal you’ll have to weigh the choices, and decide what you can and can’t put in your mouth, based on a myriad of factors you’ll be conscious of that may have never occurred to you before at mealtime. EVERY MEAL. When did I last eat? How much is left in my calorie budget? What’s the least horrible thing on this menu, that’ll blow the smallest hole possible in my food plan today? Can I get the dressing on the side? Do I have enough lean meat and veggies in my fridge to make a supportive meal at home? Oh god the company is bringing in pizza can I get away with a piece or do I have to settle for salad today while everyone else munches away? FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. There’s never gonna be a time again when you get to eat mindlessly and without a second thought.
It means never letting up, until you die. Every day you’ll have to make these calculations and every day you have to choose the path anew.
If you let up for a day, you’ll probably be ok. If you let up for 6 months…disaster. You may have to start all over again, and it’s harder the second time.
Why does anybody want this? Oh right, because the alternative is unbearable.
I hate it, I hate that I have to do this every single day until my last breath. As boring as it is to my friends to have to deal with my annoying food rules and preferences, it’s more annoying to me. As tedious as it is to observe my on-going love/hate affair with running and kickboxing and MetCon and super-setting and zumba and HIIT and cycling, it’s more tedious to have no choice but to keep at it, day after day, bored or not, enthusiastic or not.
Because I hate the alternative more. My alternative is 400+ pounds, limited mobility, and an early death. Screw that.