A Marathon - Not a Sprint
If you have 26 odd miles to run, common sense decrees that you don't set out at a flat-out dash. You pace yourself, that's what marathon runners do; and the pace of a marathon-weight-loss runner is 1-2 pounds a week.
Even if your best friend sheds 5-10 pounds the first week and shares the news with an astonished world in no uncertain terms, realize that she will never sustain that pace, and that she will more than likely relapse and regain the weight she lost.
For the not so comfortable truth is that long-term, permanent weight loss is difficult to achieve, and that about 95% of repeat dieters fail, regaining lost weight.
What about the 5% who succeed?
The Magic Bullet
The sad thing, according to the Director of Nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is that "people keep believing that the magic bullet is just around the corner... if they only eliminate food 'x' or combine foods 'a' and 'b,' or twirl around three times before each meal..."
Well, there is no magic bullet. There is only our-by now familiar-First Law of Thermodynamics (1LTD), however boring that news may be.
The reality is that most successful dieters lose weight without the magic bullets on which Americans spend $30 billion each year. In fact, the largest survey ever undertaken on long-term maintenance of weight loss (done by Consumer Reports) found that the vast majority of the 5% who succeed lost weight without expensive gimmicks or magic diet pills. Go, 1LTD!
Fruits and Vegetables
Not only are fruits and vegetables considered more healthy, but studies have now also found that the greatest dietary difference between those who lose weight long term and those who do not, but rather continue to gain weight, are one of fruits and vegetables vs. meat.
Worth taking to heart.
The Very Long Ditch
Long-term weight loss is not unlike digging a mile-long ditch. The first few yards are interesting and immediately gratifying as you see progress right away. But the novelty does wear off, and as the yards begin to add up to hundreds of them, well, let's say that very little, if any, of the novelty sticks around.
The same is true with long-term weight loss. It is not for the faint of heart. Not for the "I'm really good at starting things, but not so good at keeping things going" crowd, for once you have gotten a third of the way-and still may have a year to go: you can't make out where you started from, nor can you see the other end. You find yourself out there in the middle of ditch-digging nowhere.
But don't lose heart.
Weight Not Regained
The long-term dieter should recognize that (even if the progress is slow and tedious) as long as that weight graph is dropping by a pound or two a week, you are also achieving something easily overlooked: You've kept the lost weight off!
That bears repeating: you have not regained any of the weight you have lost so far. This is an achievement, and a major one-and perhaps you've never managed to do before.
You're winning-please recognize that. It will help un-dull the tedium.
Some Other Tips
Whether with friends or family, a support group of some kind, or even a dietician, it is always helpful to share highs and lows with experts or others who can relate. These ears may also be a good source of ideas you might have overlooked. And, most importantly, they prove that you're not alone.
Deprivation is the bane stalking the long-term dieter. One way to shut him up is to eat your favorite foods now and then-in moderation. Only 100-200 calories worth at a time, but even this will him at bay.
Be advised that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach-brain partnership to realize (and signal) that your stomach is full. This, of course means that if you gulp food down you will manage to overeat significantly before the brain goes: stop! So, eat slowly, chew well, and enjoy your food.
Water-And Lots of It
Fluids make the stomach feel fuller, decreasing a tendency to overeat.
But, more importantly, when the body gets insufficient liquids, your kidneys will compensate by in essence conserving water, holding on to what it has. This means water retention, means weight you don't want.
Health, Not Appearance
Above all, keep in mind why you are out here in the middle of weight-loss nowhere, digging away: it is not for appearance. Well, perhaps a little, but the overriding reason is your health. Never lose sight of that.
To combat the sheer sameness of long-term weight loss, you may want to map out interim milestones, each of which brings a reward. Say, allow yourself a treat for every five pounds you lose. Nothing extravagant or calorie-inflated, mind you, but reward nonetheless, for a job well done
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