All of my life I’ve focused on the end result when dieting, measuring my progress by how close to goal I was getting.
As a result, maintaining the loss I already had managed was always still “failing” if I wasn’t moving closer to the ultimate goal. I felt like a failure more often than a success.
When I was 13, and weighed 225 lbs my doctor prescribed an amphetemine diet pill. By junior year I wasn’t taking the diet pill any longer (they’d stopped working long before) and was struggling just to maintain my weight loss (I’d gotten to 155 lbs, and my goal was 150). I was yoyoing around that 150, and my doctor decided to change my goal weight to 140. I suspect he thought it would “motivate” me. It had the opposite effect, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I was now 15 lbs “further” from my goal rather than just 5. Not only did the new goal seem impossible, because I measured success only by how close I wasw to goal, I didn’t see any way for me to succeed. I was only 16 or 17, so I didn’t have the maturity to look at the success I’d already accomplished. I saw only my failure and the likelihood (it seemed) that I would never see success.
I kick myself even today (because I was a very smart kid. My IQ measured at Mensa level, for Gosh sake) that I wasn’t smart enough to decide that regardless of what the doctor said 155 was worth maintaining even if I never reached 140 or even 150.
I didn’t learn my lesson until THIS attempt, that every pound loss IS a celebration-worthy success. I don’t have to worry about whether I will eventually lose all the weight I would like to. Every pound lost is a success – no matter how long it’s taken me to achieve . Another mind game I find a hard habit to break, is thinking that my weight loss doesn’t “count” as much as someone who is losing those pounds quickly. If the message wasn’t coming only from myself it would be bad enough, but I get the same harsh message loud and clear from many outside sources (family, friends, other dieters, acquaintences, doctors, magazines, books, television) – only fast weight loss is admirable weight loss.
Most people don’t find a loss of 5 lbs (especially when you start with more than 250 to lose), very impressive (even to those who have never done it themselves). I think everyone assumes “well anyone could do that,” and losing the 5 lbs is easy, it’s maintaining it that is a lot harder, and most dieters don’t do that. If you know the statistics, maintaining a 5 lb loss for 4 years is VERY impressive.
I impress the heck out of myself when I realize that I’ve gone 6 years without a significant gain; that I’ve maintained a 20 lbs loss for about 4 years; a 50 lb loss for about 2 years, and an 80 lb loss for several months.
My husband and I are just starting to get a little respect from our families about our weight loss, because we’ve each lost about 80 lbs now. Though we have family members on both side who keep pushing us towards gastric bypass surgery because “it would be so much quicker,” even though we’ve explained every time the reasons our doctors have discouraged us from the surgery.
“Oh I’m sure you could find a doctor willing to do the surgery,” we’re told. They don’t get that we agree with our doctors that the risks outweigh the benefits of the surgery for us. We do not believe that being fat is worse than being dead.
My mental state has much improved since I’ve chosen to focus on how far I’ve come, rather than how far I have left to go (and when or whether I’ll get there).
I don’t have to have confidence in the next 175 lbs, only the next one. And on days when I don’t have confidence in the next pound, I can have confidence in maintaining the loss I’ve already achieved. Even on my worst day, I do have confidence that I can maintain the loss I’ve already achieved. I realize that’s something I never had before. I never looked or thought to maintenance, only loss. Now my prime focus is maintenance and further weight loss is a side benefit (but each pound I’ve lost, hasn’t yet shaken my confidence that I can maintain that loss too).
I don’t know where I’ll end the weight loss, and it really doesn’t matter. I only have to be confident in the current and next pound. If I focus on that, everything else will fall into place without my worrying about it.