A Shift of Focus

I’m five months into my weight-loss journey and there’s one thing I know for sure: Losing weight, at least for me, is like watching paint chip, grass grow or snow melt. And, quite frankly, I’m frustrated.

To this, my nutritionist, Merle Shapera, M.S., R.D., says, “You’re just a slow loser. But you’re losing!”

Sifu Dino Spencer, my martial-arts instructor, says, “Hey, but look at how many more steps you can climb and kicks you can do without getting winded.”

My trainer, Michael Logan, C.P.S.T., M.E.S., says, “Yes, but every pound of weight you lose is really like losing two because you’re building muscle.”

My physician Mari Egan, M.D., says, “But look how you’ve shaved almost 20 points of off your cholesterol!”

My friends and family say, “You look like you’ve lost more weight than that!” and to all of them I say respectfully of course, “Blah, blah, blah.”

I can live with how much I weight, my new addiction to massage and the fact that I no longer eat dinner in my car. But I’m having trouble managing the fact that I work out like a dog, eat like a saint and lose only a whopping 1 – 2 pounds a month. Don’t get me wrong. My support system is fabulous. And I appreciate all the encouragement. But don’t these people realize I’ve got to lose 40 pounds by the end of the year?

Or do I?

Not according to Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD., the body-image expert I’m working with (and the others, too, I’m sure). On the contrary, she says women who start with unrealistic goals (uh, hello?) tend to give up midstream. Feeling like they’re not getting anywhere, they make matters worse by going to extremes. They either start overeating or stop eating altogether, both of which end in disaster.

I can relate.

“People who set realistic goals from the beginning lose the weight and, motivated by success, keep it off,” Kearney-Cooke says, reinforcing the point by claiming that it I’d set a goal of 18 pounds instead of 40 at the onset, I’d be feeling pretty good right now.

And to that I say, “Touche!” So, I’m making the following changes, per her counsel. I’m now aiming to lose:

  • 18-20 pounds this year.
  • 10 pounds next year.
  • 5 pounds the year after that, and so on.

While people in their late 30s like me are starting to gain weight, I’ll be losing weight and body fat slowly and methodically, making good habits an almost spiritual practice and employing them as a lifestyle instead of a temporary fix. I’ll give new meaning to the phrase “shrinking as you age.”

Now that’s a fact I can live with.

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