Hint: It's not the weekly 7 - 20 pound loss you see on reality television!
We tend to see the same thing over and over at PEERtrainer: people can actually be on a successful weight loss track, but because they don't KNOW what a successful track looks like, they think they are failing.
Once they believe they have screwed up, then they say "screw it" and really screw up. If only they knew how well they were doing! While success does depend on your specific goals, starting point, body type and regimen, there are a few things that are consistent across the board. Once you measure your weekly weigh in against this checklist, you'll know if you're on the right track.
1. Weight loss does NOT come in the form of losing 2 pounds every week until you reach your goal, no matter how well you've stuck to your food and exercise plan.
When you were gaining, you didn't gain 2 pounds every single week in a measured fashion. You're not going to lose it in a measured fashion no matter how well you stick to your plan. You might lose 2 pounds one week. You might even lose three pounds in a week. Then, you might lose 1 pound the next week.
Some weeks you might lose zero and there are weeks you even gain. These weeks are the most frustrating and we all have these kinds of weeks where we feel like we're doing everything right and the scale doesn't give us what we want.
Keep track of the weekly weigh-ins but take a look at the month and see the overall trend. You might have gained a 1/2 pound one of the weeks but take note if you lost 4 pounds overall for the month. If the month is trending downwards, you are in the right place.
2. Nobody is perfect 100% of the time.
Sure, there are a few people that are perfect. I haven't seen them but I'm sure they're out there. There are also a few people who can eat 3000 calories a day and have a perfect figure and that's just the way it goes. Just because you went out drinking and ate all the bread, stuffed your face with pasta, and had 2 desserts, and then woke up and had a cheese omelet the next day does not mean you have failed.
Everyone does this.
We all make a committment and we all slip up. Just like Vince Lombardi says, it's not if you fall, it's if you get back up. You fell. So what? Learn what will work for you to get back on track. You can fall and still be on a successful weight loss track by simply making the decision to get back there.
3. You've been doing everything right and you're not losing anything. (aka The Dreaded Plateau)
We rarely see members who don't hit a plateau in the weight loss process. Some can last for a few weeks. I was on one for an entire year!
It's so easy to say to yourself, "I'm doing everything right so this is where my weight should be." That might be true, but it might not be true. It wasn't for me. Once I changed my approach and made the decision to be thinner, no matter how long that would take, I dropped the weight. I increased the nutrients. I changed my exercise approach. I kept the principles of optimism by Martin Seligman in mind. Plateaus do not mean you are done. They are usually a sign that you need to make a change. Do you have the courage to figure it out and keep on going?
Keep in mind that a real weight loss track of ordinary fluctuations are boring to watch. The double digit weekly losses you see have to be created somehow, which is why it's television. Sometimes the loss is real and lasting. Many times, the weight loss results are usually over once the 6 week "sprint" has come to an end.
Real life is more like a marathon, some miles are effortless, some are excruciating and the only way you really fail is if you quit.
Thank you, thank you thank you for this post. I was just complaining about how I'm doing everything right and still not losing weight. Fortunately, I was able to give myself a pep talk and continue on my weight loss journey by eating healthy and keeping a journal. I refuse to give up. My theme song is "I'm a Survivor" by Destiny's Child. I ended up losing 1.5 lbs this week because I didn't give in to the perceived failure of the last few weeks. Thanks for the encouragement.
Posted by: SDG | March 26, 2011 at 09:04 PM
THis article is so true and so awesome. I'd like to add that even maintenance of a major weight It just means that one needs to continue to learn what works for them to maintain a healthy weight until they reach that point of no return. And getting to that final point of no return just might involve some major ups and downs!
Posted by: Wendy | December 15, 2010 at 07:39 AM
I stumbled on this site a few months ago and didn't really pay much attention until a week ago when I really wanted to commit to losing weight and getting healthier.
I lost about 6kgs (13.2lbs) last year and have been able to keep the weight off. But this year has really taken a toll on me and I feel like I haven't been getting anywhere. After reading the daily posts, it's really kept me going and I'm getting closer to achieving my target weight of 45kgs (100lbs)
I can really relate to this post as I felt like I'd been getting no where. But the past week has been great. I can already feel the changes.
Posted by: Sarah | December 08, 2010 at 11:32 PM
Thanks for the encouraging reminder that weight and healthy weight maintenance are life-longs and that the key is to get right back on track when we veer off. I joined WW in May and lost the 25 pounds that I had wanted to lose for a very long time over the course of 3 months. It was hard work, and I had a stress fracture, which limited my activity, but I felt good and learned to swim laps. Maintenance has been more frustrating, because I do see the scale go up on occasion and/or stay fairly even, which is not as intrinsically exciting or rewarding as when I was losing. I started to train for a marathon, but my foot is reinjured, so once again I am back in the pool and having to regroup to stay on track. Maintenance (staying within 2 pounds of my Lifetime goal) has been just as hard, if not harder, than weight loss, but I know it's a lifetime lifestyle change and that it requires mindfulness and dedication. Peertrainer, WW, and the hypnosis CDs have been wonderful tools.
Posted by: Tami | December 07, 2010 at 03:28 PM
Wow, this post could not have come at a better time. I'm making a long story short here. I have been on this journey for probably 2 years now. I had the "Realize Band" procedure done back in July of 09 and I had no idea how much work this would be. No complaints, it's the most fulfilling work I have ever done and I have achieved so much. I am extremely active and make pretty decent food choices now. My total weight loss is 120 pounds but i'll tell you this, i went the entire summer with no weight loss even though i was running 6 days a week and eating relatively healthy. I just recently joined Weight Watchers as I have goals and they do not include stopping here. I am glad to report that thru WW I have lost 14 pounds and i'm back on the weight loss track. Unfortunately due to scheduling I have missed the last 3 meetings. I was on vaca and the leader of the group was off as well. I gained 5 pounds (not during my vaca but after). My goal during this time off was to simply maintain and i ended up gaining! I spent all last week trying to get the weight back down and only succeded at losing 3. So here i am feeling like a failure. I skipped my WW meeting today due to embarrasment. It's funny.. I still feel good, and know i look so much better. I cant believe I was thinking the way I did. I'm up two pounds.. Why am i being so hard on myself!! Well, i just wanted to thank you for posting this. What you wrote makes sense and i shouldnt be so hard on myself. I know i will reach my goal of just 25 more pounds. If there is one thing I've learned it's that there is no rhyme or reason to all of this..I just cant believe i've forgotton that fact over the last three weeks. I could be working harder than ever and not see the results i want on a weekly basis and on the other hand i could go home and eat something i ordinarily wouldnt.. miss a day of exercise and then wake up to a 1 pound weight loss ... it's all so strange.. I will just keep on track, stay focused and enjoy this journey with all of it's Down's AND Up's.. Thanks Jackie :-)
Posted by: Susan | December 07, 2010 at 02:13 PM