Prepare For Weight Loss, Part 1: Motivation

New Years Day 2013 will be here before you know it. And with it comes New Years Resolutions, often including loss of excess weight. 10 PM December 31, with a couple glasses of champagne on-board, is not the best time to flippantly add “4. Lose weight starting tomorrow” to your resolution list. That’s a set-up for failure.

Success requires careful forethought. Questions beg for answers.

Which of the myriad weight-loss programs will I follow? Can I design my own program? Should I use a diet book? Sign up for Nutri-System, Weight Watchers, or Jenny Craig?

Should I stop wasting my time dieting and go directly to bariatric surgery?

Can I simply cut back on sodas and chips? What should I eat? What should I not eat?

Do I need to start exercising? What kind? How much? Do I need to join a gym? What methods are proven to increase my odds of success?

How much weight should I lose?

Should I use weight-loss pills or supplements? Which ones?

What’s the easiest, most effective way to lose weight? Is there a program that doesn’t require willpower?

Now, what were those “top 10 super-power foods” that melt away the fat? Am I ready to get serious and stick with it this time?

Today I start a eight-part series: Prepare for Weight Loss. The series will answer many of these questions and get you teed up for success. Teed up like a golfer ready to hit his first shot on hole #1 of an 18-hole course. [For non-golfers: a tee is a little wooden stick the golfer places his ball on top of for the first shot of any hole.]

We start with Motivation.

Immediate, short-term motivation to lose weight may stem from an upcoming high school reunion, swimsuit season, or a wedding. You want to look your best. Maybe you want to attract a mate or keep one interested. Perhaps a boyfriend, co-worker, or relative said something mean about your weight. These motivators may work, but only temporarily. Basing a lifestyle change on them is like building on shifting sands. You need a firmer foundation for a lasting structure. Without a lifestyle change, you are unlikely to vanquish a chronic overweight problem. Proper long-term motivation may grow from:

  • the discovery that you feel great and have more energy when you are lighter and eating sensibly
  • the sense of accomplishment from steady progress
  • the acknowledgment that you have free will and are responsible for your weight and many aspects of your health
  • the inspiration from seeing others take charge of their lives successfully
  • the admission that you have some guilt and shame about being fat, and that you like yourself more when you’re not fat [I’m not laying shame or guilt on you; many of us do it to ourselves.]
  • the awareness of overweight-related adverse health effects and their improvement with even modest weight loss.

Appropriate motivation will support the commitment and willpower that will be needed soon.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I’m thinking of how Dave Ramsay, when he’s counseling people who have gotten way overhead in debt, tells them they have to get mad at the debt. Then they can attack it. Maybe you have to get mad at your fat. It’s your enemy, dragging you down, trying to kill you. Now attack it!

Updated December 19, 2009

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