I am 32 years old, 5’2″ tall, and have over 100 pounds to lose. I have tried everything: liquid diet drinks, every commercial weight program you can think of, low-fat, high-fat, high carb, vegetarian, gallons of water, and have walked and walked and walked.
And yet here I am, even more overweight than ever before in my life. I am so confused; I don’t know what to try. Is there anyone out there who has walked my path and found a way to get off it
Yes, yes, there are countless people who walk in your shoes, and it is such a painful way to live. But take heart, for there are also numerous people who have found a way out of your situation. I’ve located more than 200 of them — they’re masters of weight control, for they’ve lost an average of 64 pounds and have been maintaining their losses for an average of more than 11 years. And the news gets better: the National Weight Control Registry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine now has enrolled more than 3,000 people who have lost substantial weight and kept it off. Experts say that one of the best ways to boost your belief in your ability to accomplish a task is to turn to others who have “been there” and succeeded.
So what can we learn from these masters — how did they do it? First, few of them lost weight with fad diets — about half had help from such sources as weight-loss programs, including TOPS, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig. The other half seemed to have had it with dieting and came up with their own strategies, often using techniques they’d learned from their many past weight-loss attempts. Note that nearly six out of 10 of them had tried to lose weight at least five times before they were finally successful; close to another 20 percent of them had dieted three or four times before finding long-term success. So there is hope for even the most jaded veteran dieter!
One of the masters said to me, “You get to be an expert only because you had so many failures.” However, I’d suggest you turn your previous weight-loss experiences around and see what you can learn from them. Instead of saying, “I failed at this, and I failed at that,” go back and examine what worked for you and what didn’t work for you in the past. If it didn’t work to set the alarm for 5 am to go walking and it didn’t work to eat cabbage soup five times a day, then these things probably won’t work for you this time either! But if it did help you to get up 10 minutes earlier so you had time for breakfast, or if it helped to eat more fish and chicken in place of red meat, then these strategies are good ones to try again.
Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself, and don’t dwell on the 100 pounds that you’d like to lose. As I used to say to my weight-loss clients, “You didn’t gain the weight overnight, and you can’t lose it overnight, either.” But you can take the advice of Yale University’s Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., who once told me that he sometimes advises people to take weight loss 10 pounds at a time. That is, just try to lose the first ten pounds, then ask yourself if you can continue the food and activity changes you’ve been making. If you can, then set another 10-pound weight-loss goal and so on — until you reach a weight at which you feel comfortable.