Via Don Watkins at Anger Management comes this article on people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for more than five years. I’ve been working on losing weight myself for about the past four months. As of today I’ve lost just under 20 pounds, which takes me to my first medium-term milestone. I haven’t been following any particular diet; I’ve just been using what I refer to as the ‘traditional method’, i.e. eating less and exercising more. (Pretty much every diet program I’ve ever heard of seems to ultimately reduce down to this. Losing weight is kind of like getting rich — the fundamental requirements are simple and obvious, but everybody wants to find a shortcut. To lose weight, eat less and exercise more. To get rich, earn more money and spend less. But I digress.)
The thing I find fascinating about this article is how many of the characteristics common to the “Successful Losers” I seem to have stumbled across on my own. Specifically:
- No quick fixes. Losing weight is not a project with a completion date. It’s a lifestyle change. I’ve approached it not so much in terms of reducing my weight directly as altering my lifestyle in a way that results in my weighing less.
- Exercise. It doesn’t even take that much. I’m just putting in about 90 minutes a week on treadmill and exercycle. It’s really just a matter of making the time, systematically and regularly.
- Weight tracking. I check my weight every day. I consider this a concrete aspect of a larger issue — increasing body awareness. I was really surprised to discover how frequently I was eating when I didn’t need to, once I started paying attention. And now that I’ve stopped doing that, I don’t miss it. Habits can be sneaky little bastards once they’re automatized.
A couple of the other points in the article also map onto my own experience, such as being motivated to start losing weight by hitting an all-time high, and the experience of hitting weight-loss plateaus followed by rapid loss down to another plateau.
As with many things in life, I’ve found that simple focus and willpower is the key ingredient to success. Once the decision to act is made, the action itself is fairly straightforward.
(And speaking of decisions to act, I’ve been meaning to add Don’s blog to the blogroll for about a month. This seems like as good an excuse as any, so in he goes. And while I’m in there, since Eric Raymond has started blogging again he goes back in the blogroll too, along with Belmont Club’s new location and a new Ayn Rand forum I’ve started reading. Whee! Minor site maintenance is fun!)