Everyone is in such a rush to lose weight. It’s like we get to the point where we feel like we just can’t take the misery of being overweight for one more minute.
We feel like we would do anything, no matter the cost, to lose the weight as soon as possible.
Rushing to lose weight leads to weight loss that doesn’t last
I remember hearing about someone I knew a long time ago who had picked up a tapeworm from a trip in a foreign country and had lost 30 pounds in a short period of time. And I remember seriously having the thought that I would have liked to have a tapeworm and lose 30 pounds, even if it meant being in bed for a month.
I figured it would be totally worth it. Even if I was feeling terrible in the process, I would be skinnier! I was so miserable I thought THAT sounded less miserable.
This desperation for relief from our misery sets us up for failure as we try to rush to the goal, to get away from the misery.
We end up going on extreme diets that have us losing weight fast all so we can be somewhere other than here, in this body, feeling miserably.
But in all the rushing to escape, we don’t take the time to understand what’s really going on. And so the changes aren’t lasting and we find ourselves right back where we started, or sometimes worse.
This is what got us into trouble in the first place
Ironically, this escape strategy is the same strategy that has gotten us into trouble in the first place.
We feel the discomfort of self-loathing or loneliness or stress and we try a quick escape with food, which causes us to gain weight and feel discomfort even being in our skin.
So we then look for a quick escape from that discomfort through some sort of quick weight loss scheme. The same discomfort that has us looking for immediate relief or gratification with food is transferred to seeking immediate gratification in weight loss.
Attempting to escape discomfort
Do you notice a theme of discomfort? Look at the lengths we go to to avoid it and escape it. And think about all of this escaping and what it has created in your life. Have you actually gotten away from stress, worry, anxiety, sadness, inadequacy, overwhelm, all those things as you race around trying to avoid those feelings with food?
What about all of the rushing to lose weight? What results has that produced for you?
Think about your last attempt to lose weight. Why wasn’t it successful?
Why did you quit?
Was it because you felt like it wasn’t working fast enough or well enough?
Was it because it was hard and you wanted the hard to hurry and go away?
Was it because you felt restricted and you wanted to skip to the part where you could eat anything you want again?
Here’s the alternative to rushing to lose weight: small changes executed consistently
So what’s the alternative to rushing? Slow and steady wins the race, y’all.
Any change we make or any result we are after, including weight loss, is most effectively accomplished by small changes and efforts executed consistently.
We understand this concept. We apply it to lots of things in our lives, but for some reason, we struggle with it when it comes to weight loss. We wouldn’t start lifting weights and quit when we don’t see a six-pack within a few weeks. We know it takes time to build muscle.
We wouldn’t expect to be fluent in Spanish after one semester. We know it takes time to learn a language.
We go to the gym day after day and we’re still out of shape and six-packless for a while until we aren’t.
We study Spanish every day and we still can’t speak it fluently for a while until we can.
We build these skills little by little, one small amount of weight, one conjugated verb at a time, and as we stick with it and we build on it and practice, we start to see results.
Choosing what we want most over what we want in the moment
Weight loss is about learning to choose what we want most over what we want in the moment, and that doesn’t happen with a snap of your fingers.
It is not an overnight transformation. It’s a series of small decisions, individual choices made over and over.
It takes you choosing to get the salad that’s on your plan in a moment when you want a hamburger and fries because what you really want most is to feel proud that you kept your commitment to yourself at the end of the day.
It takes you choosing to just feel the feeling of boredom for 30 minutes instead of eating chips to entertain yourself. Because what you really want most is to keep showing yourself that you can feel uncomfortable emotions and not run away from them into a bag of chips.
These moments compound into new habits, new ways of thinking and doing that over time results in a whole new you with a whole new outlook on life and a whole new body.
The magic penny and the compound effect
There’s a story I love that illustrates this point.
Let’s say I were to offer you a deal where you could take three million dollars today or one penny that I’ll double every day for 31 days. What would be your first instinct? The get-rich-quick immediate gratification of the three million, right? No brainer.
Well, what if I told you that at the end of the 31 days, that one cent compounded, doubled every day, actually equals over 10 million dollars?
It’s hard to believe, right? I’ve done the math.
The crazy part is that the first few days, you go from one to two to four cents, right? But at the end of the 31 days, you go from 10 million on day 30 to 20 million one day later.
The compound effect works the other way as well. It’s always working, compounding your positive efforts to progress or compounding your negative efforts to struggle. And it doesn’t take much to shift the balance.
What if you commit to improving just 1% every day? It’s such a minimal amount. Not the 100% we usually expect of ourselves, right?
Getting up 1% earlier, eating 1% more foods that fuel you and 1% fewer foods that don’t. Doing 1% more work or being 1% more present, at the end of the year, you’ll be 37 times better than you are today.
Shift your trajectory by a tiny amount
I love the visual of shifting the route of a plane by just a few degrees at takeoff. Imagine you are flying from Los Angeles to New York and the pilot adjusts the heading by 3.5 degrees, which is about seven and a half feet.
If the pilot does that, you will end up in Washington D.C. instead of New York, which is a difference of 225 miles.
If you commit to a small change every day to better your health, your entire trajectory will change. You will see mighty changes over time.
The compound effect in weight loss
So let’s put that in weight loss terms. When most of you step on the scale and see you’re down 0.2 pounds, you have lots of thoughts about how that’s not enough and this is so slow and you’re so far away from your goal and you’ll never get there at this rate.
But if you were to lose 0.2 every day for five months, that’s 30 pounds. If you quit at month two because it’s not enough weight loss fast enough, you never get there.
The small efforts add up to big results, my friends.
I love this quote by James Clear:
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. Meaningful change does not require radical change. You don’t need unanimous votes to win an election. You just need a majority.”
There will still be discomfort
Small steps and small decisions compound to big results but it doesn’t necessarily mean that now it will always feel easy and be devoid of discomfort.
Anytime we try to move from our familiar, current comfort zone to make any sort of change, we’re going to feel uncomfortable. We’re moving into the unknown and toward the unfamiliar. That involves some discomfort.
But discomfort doesn’t have to be a problem when we know that on the other side is something awesome.
It’s like taking a long, uncomfortable flight to go on an amazing vacation or having a baby. You know it will be uncomfortable but you also know the results will be totally worth it.
We don’t have to fear discomfort. We don’t have to push it away. We can move toward it and decide how we want to experience it.
Our willingness to experience discomfort opens up amazing opportunities. Our journey through discomfort can allow us to become more than we were before.
You don’t know what it feels like to lose weight for the last time. You haven’t done it before. You know it will feel uncomfortable, but you have to believe that what’s waiting on the other side of that discomfort is totally worth it.
The bottom line is if we want different results in our lives, we have to do things differently. And that starts with a decision to make a change. Even a small one. If nothing changes, nothing is going to change.
A habit hack: the two-minute rule
There’s a habit hack I love from James Clear that can keep you from trying to do too much too soon and trying to rush to the finish. It’s called the two-minute rule. The idea is simply that when you want to make a change and start a new habit, you should begin with a smaller version that takes less than two minutes to do.
For example, “read before bed” becomes “read one page.” “Do 30 minutes of yoga” becomes “take out my yoga mat.”
The scaled down version is totally doable and helps you master the habit of showing up consistently.
And as we have talked about, those small steps executed consistently will compound to big changes. You’re casting votes with each small step for that person you want to be. And as he says, it’s better to do less than you hoped than to do nothing at all.
You may be thinking that doing two minutes of something is not enough, but what rushing or taking on too much ends up creating is quitting, which is in essence, doing nothing at all.
So a little something and building up to more is better than quitting in a few days or a few weeks.
The Break It Down bonus worksheet
So to help you apply this to your weight loss goal, I have a chart to help you map it out on a scale from very easy to very hard.
Download the free Break It Down bonus worksheet here.
I want you to think about all the things you need to do to get to your goal. Break it down into smaller, simpler steps and then put them into a category of very easy, easy, moderate, hard, or very hard.
Losing 75 pounds goes in the very hard category. Writing down what you’ll eat for one meal or eating a piece of broccoli goes in the very easy category, and so on.
The goal is to work your way up. Do the smallest, simplest things you can first. Show up every day for yourself and do them, and then add on at a consistent yet challenging pace.
Your success is inevitable as long as you keep going.
And if you’re ready to work with a weight loss coach and lose weight for the last time, learn more about my group weight loss coaching program.