Friday, June 4, 2010

Sam's guide to weight loss: Part 5, Steady Burn

"If you want something to happen, begin by creating an environment where it can happen"

That's where we started, and it's where we now end.

Are we products of our environment? Or do we get to determine who we are?

Yes. Yes to both.

Your Environment (capital E - meaning the physical and social environments around you, the environment of your physical body and health, your internal psychological environment, all of it) is always going to shape you. However, you have the power to act on that Environment.

As such, you have the power to author who you are, and who you will be. But to do it effectively, you have to let go of the idea that it's as simple as a decision.

The reason people have trouble losing weight, the reason they get so frustrated by it, is because they're trying to start a fire while standing in water. We are convinced that failure is a function of flaws, that if we can't accomplish something it's because of our own personal weaknesses.

If you are overweight, it's probably because your Environment made it easy for you to become that way. If you struggle with losing weight, it's probably because that Environment is fighting you.

And It may, in theory, be possible to overcome that Environment by sheer force of will, but isn't that demanding too much of yourself?

It may, in theory, be possible to start a fire with damp wood on wet ground. But if you tried it, you'd just wind up frustrated and dejected.

Sound familiar?

This isn't a quick fix. It's difficult*, and anyone that tries to tell you otherwise probably has something to sell. But it can be done. And you know what?

It's worth it.

*Believe me, I know it is.


Anonymous said...

What's your advice for someone with a lot of weight to lose? I'm at 300 pounds, at only 17 years old, and - to put it bluntly - I'm done being fat.

I've started myself on a plan to lose two pounds a week, meaning to reach my goal - 200 pounds - I'll be at it for a year. I've already been doing this for two weeks, and I've seen the success I've hoped for. I've lost five pounds, one over my two-week target, just watching my caloric intake, cutting soda, ice cream, and chips entirely, and swimming for an hour a day.

But to reach my goal, I have to maintain this success for a full year. That means I need to keep my motivation for a full year. My biggest fear is that halfway through, I'll become complaisant. I'll look at myself at 250 or 240, compare it to where I used to be, and say 'eh, good enough.'

What advice do you have for someone like me? I've got the plan, and I've got the motivation - for now. Great. How do I keep it?

Sam Cook said...

That's great that you're doing well so far.

My main suggestion is to find some regular physical activity that you do with other people. For me, it was martial arts and (later) swing dance. For a friend of mine it was street hockey. But it can be anything, so long as it has a social component and it's something you enjoy, or have always wanted to do.

This is a good idea for a few reasons:

1. It gives you a "purpose," a reason to lose weight aside from looking better. If every pound you drop makes you better at something you love, that's a serious motivation.

2. It introduces you to people who are active. People expect me at swing night. They expect my friend at hockey. It's a lot harder to skip those things when there's a social group involved.

3. It makes your lifestyle more active, outside of your workout sessions. Even if I stopped working out on my own, I'd still have those elements of my life that required me to be active. So even if I found myself less motivated, the "hit" on my weight wouldn't be nearly as serious. And, when my resolve kicked in again, I wouldn't be so far gone that I'd feel like giving up.

It's tempting to want to do this all yourself, it's part of that "shame" element. But it's extremely difficult to accomplish anything (in life) by yourself. People need each other, it's just how we roll.

Feel free to email me directly if you have any other questions, or post back here.