Thursday, April 30, 2009

Diet and a lifestyle change....

Differences among a diet and a lifestyle change.........
As happy as I was to only gain two pounds last week, of course, I'm much happier to have lost six this week. And it's hard to ignore a pattern I've seen over the past 14 months - almost every time I've posted a gain for a week, it's been followed by a loss, and often a significant one.

What's it mean? I can't really take much away except "Stick to it!"

When I gained last week, I focused on the other ways that I had succeeded and forced myself to start my new week with a good attitude and a clean slate. This week was a really good one regarding both food and exercise and I even managed some indulgences -- nachos, a mozzarella stick, a half of an egg roll and ice cream were my splurges of choice.

Again, I think it all comes down to the same thing I keep harping on - this is a lifestyle change. And I find a lifestyle change mindset to be very different from a diet mindset.

Here's what I mean:

On a diet, there's a start, which means there's also an end. How you act after you feel like you've reached the end could undermine all the hard work you've done.

With a lifestyle change, you're committing to permanent change. You have to work to find the changes you can live with for the rest of your life. Results may be more gradual because you're not cutting out everything "bad," but I think they'll also be more lasting.

On a diet, you're either on a program or off it. Every time you slip up, you might feel like you've screwed it up, which could trigger feelings of failure and cause you to give up entirely.

With a lifestyle change, ups and downs are par for the course. We see this in our entire lives, why wouldn't we see it with how we eat and exercise?

On a diet, the main measure of success is often the numbers on the scale. A loss is a reason for celebration; a gain is a reason to wonder what went wrong and judge ourselves.

With a lifestyle change, it's easier to put things in perspective. Yes, reporting my loss or gain is the first thing I do here each week, but I also try to look beyond the numbers on the scale to gauge my success. There are so many reasons that you might gain weight in a given week that have nothing to do with if you did anything "wrong"... our bodies are confusing things! Sodium, exercise, menstruation - they can all complicate what the scale tells you. But when you look at your changes in the context of your whole life, successes are easier to find - going down in clothing sizes, feeling energized, breathing better, etc. And when you focus on the big picture, it's easier to put temporary gains in perspective and get past them - I may have gained two pounds last week, but that's no reason to undo more than 80 pounds of loss! And this week I'm especially happy that I didn't let last week derail me!

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