The ideal approach to losing weight and getting fit is based on positive preference rather than harsh self-denial. The key is to consciously choose to weigh less and be in better shape as a preference over the old habits of over-eating and avoiding exercise.
It is much more powerful and effective when you choose how to relate to food and exercise, as presented in a previous Sixty and Me article, “The Positive Choice Model.”
These techniques can be applied in a variety of daily life situations, and I’ve taken the time to introduce them in my book, The Best Diet Book Ever: the Zen of Losing Weight.
It’s natural to base your diet on your personal preferences rather than having to follow rules and regulations. Seems simple, but as my mindfulness teacher liked to say, “Easy to do but hard to accomplish.”
Why should it be hard to accomplish? The reason is habit. It’s challenging to choose to eat less and exercise more, especially when we’ve usually opted to eat more and exercise less!
But if we truly want to be healthy and feel good, why is it so difficult to motivate ourselves to change our habits? To make a positive choice about changing your habits and losing weight, you need to have a strong desire and intention to do so.
The problem comes from knowing that food can bring us immediate gratification, while it takes time to experience the benefits of dieting. You won’t see a lower number on the scale or fit into a smaller size overnight. It will take time.
That means a delay of gratification: putting in the effort now, and not getting rewarded for it until later. Easy to say you’ll do so, but the challenge comes when you face temptation – and immediate satisfaction usually wins out.
The target number on the scale often seems far away and even unrealistic. Telling yourself it will be good for your health is a nice idea, but it’s easy to rationalize away.
We often think, “Even if I lose weight I could still get sick. Or I could get hit by a bus. I’m going to die someday anyway, so why not go out with a belly full of chocolate ice cream?”
Just hearing that you’ll feel much better won’t be enough. No matter how many times anyone tells you that dieting is good for you – that you’ll look and feel better – those are simply words, and to a frustrated dieter they can sound like a lot of “Blah, blah, blah…”
Promises of a better future can’t match the comforting feeling that food gives you now, especially if you are eating to soothe your stress, depression or boredom. It’s just hard to imagine being lighter and thinner.
Words won’t convince you, only experiences will. You need an experiential bridge from where you are to where you could be, a demonstration that will prove to you that the effort to start a weight-loss journey and change your habits is worth it.
You must get a real feel of how much better it will be to weigh less and be in better shape. You need to know that in advance – a glimpse of the future.
The following exercise gives you a true glimpse of the future, an actual experience of what it will feel like to weigh less! That feeling will reinforce your intention to lose weight while inspiring you to overcome inertia and simply go for it.
The weight-less exercise is a vivid way to immediately experience how good you’ll feel when you are literally lighter on your feet.
Put 10 to 15 pounds of groceries in a shopping bag. How heavy a bagful you choose depends on your weight. Please be careful not to use more than 10% of what you weigh, and no more than 20 pounds.
Sit on the front edge of a stable (not rolling or rocking) chair and hold the bag against your stomach. Then stand up and feel how hard you have to work. Repeat three times. Next, put the bag aside and stand up without the extra weight.
Feel how much easier it is, how good it feels with less weight on your legs and knees. Now you know – maybe your legs aren’t so weak, and your knees aren’t so bad. Maybe they’re just overworked!
Next, carefully pick up the bag and walk around for a minute or two. You can climb a few stairs as well, as long as you don’t strain yourself.
That’s what it will feel like if you put on those extra pounds. So, if you’re not sure you’re ready to start losing weight, this might at least inspire you to make the changes that will prevent you from gaining weight.
The weigh-less exercise is the direct experience of feeling lighter, encouraging you to make the positive healthy choices of eating less and eating better. Athletes often use a similar technique called resistance training to make their actual performance feel easier.
For example, baseball players swing extra heavy bats, golfers swing heavy clubs and cyclists ride with weighted belts or vests. Kate Hudson wears ankle weights during leg and core exercises.
While you don’t need to do the weigh-less exercise daily, if you notice that you’re losing inspiration for your nutrition or fitness program, it is a great way to remind you of the direct experience of feeling lighter.
It will encourage you to make the positive healthy choices of eating less, eating better and working out.
The weigh-less exercise is a motivator that will inspire you start the weight-loss journey without delay and keep going through periods of no-change or discouragement. It will also help you to maintain your weight once you’ve reached your target.
What challenges have you experienced on your weight loss and fitness journey? How do you find the motivation to stay focused on maintaining a healthy weight? Have you tried the weigh-less exercise? Let’s discuss what strategies have worked for you.