Gaining respect for slow weight loss.

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.

11 Responses to “Gaining respect for slow weight loss.”

  1. decemberkitty Says:

    thank you so much for your post. It makes so much sense. I lost about 20 pounds before hurricane Ike hit our area. I am hear to tell you that my weight loss was not on my priority list and of course gained it all back and then some. I am working on losing weight again and i am happy for every point i lose. I gained 2 week ago but i was okay with it. I had tracked everything i had put in my mouth and stayed within my points limit(yes attending WW). I did not feel really bad just that something was going on and i gained. I have not loss it back yet but i am looking forward to any loss. We have some very beautiful people in our world that are over weight and we need to celebrate them as much as we celebrate the thin ones. I dont want to be skinny just healthier. Good luck to you on your journey. thanks for the wonderful post that you have.

  2. Screaming Fat Girl Says:

    I think that people who feel you fail until you’ve reached the goal are focusing on aesthetic desires rather than health. Every pound you lose adds to your health, but doesn’t necessarily add to your beauty. The main problem is that people aren’t valuing health when it comes to weight loss, but appearance. All of the crying about fat people being a drain on health care resources is a smoke screen for a type of bigotry which says that “fat = ugly”. People don’t want to admit to others (or themselves) that their concerns are shallow and subjective, so they try to find something objective to hang their prejudices on.

    The worst part for me is that so many overweight people who lose weight buy wholeheartedly into these notions. Once they reach their goal (or below it), they become just as obsessed with thin = beauty as everyone else. Essentially, they forget the way they were judged and become part of the judging chorus that belittles, humiliates and undermines the self-worth of fat people. They are often less overt about it, but they still glorify thinness as an ideal to be achieved for the sake of appearance. Health rarely enters into it.

    Good for you that you’ve got the right attitude. Unfortunately, I think you’ll find few voices that authentically and wholeheartedly concur.

  3. delitaagain Says:

    Wow. What a great post! I feel like I could quote about every part of it as *good sense.* Thanks, I’m going to link to this one. Delita

  4. :: Free 2 Be :: the Odyssey :: » Blog Archive » Slow Weightloss: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and S-E-N-S-E Says:

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  5. beerab Says:

    Great post. I’m barely over 200 lbs and of all people my SISTER suggested I get the surgery. I looked at her and said “um no the risks outweigh the benefits and I’m not THAT heavy.”

    I know she was trying to help- but it really hurt my feelings! I’m not mad or upset at her- I shrugged it off- but I totally understand how you feel with respect to family members saying that sort of thing.

    BTW just wanted to say thanks for the advice you’ve given me at the forums 🙂

  6. kaplods Says:

    Glad I could help. I appreciate your support, it really means a lot to me.

  7. round Says:

    I love this post, kaplods.

    I spent years on the “should have” weight bandwagon – I did spreadsheets with trendlines & would calcuate and recalculate how much I needed to “make up” and every time I hit a milestone I felt like I was “behind” when I “should have” accomplished it.

    I’ve only in the past few years learned to be patient and accept that a slow small loss is good and frankly much more sane and normal.

    Your post really spoke to me – thank you.

  8. JustCallMeCow Says:

    Fast weight loss isn’t a cure-all. People, especially the ones who have never battled with their weight, don’t understand it. It’s just as much a mental battle as it is physical. Slow is the way to go. I congratulate you and you’re husband on what you have achieved already. =)

  9. onyyx Says:

    Thank you so much for your post. I think this was exactly what I needed to hear right now. I have often given up on doing things the healthy way because it “wasn’t working” as I only lost a pound or two and then stayed there for a few weeks. I am just starting back on my quest to get healthy because I just found out I have very high cholesterol and I will definately be keeping your words of wisdom in mind whenever I start to get discouraged. Thanks again!

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