Anyone who has gained weight, then gone through the process of trying to lose it again, knows that it is not a situation of “equal and opposite”. Somehow what it seems to take mere days to gain, takes weeks or even months to lose. There are reasons for this, some of them scientific explanations, but the ones that cause us the most problems actually have to do with PERCEPTION. From the science side of things, the simple equation is we must burn off MORE calories than we ingest in order to actually lose weight. Which goes back to healthy eating habits, and frankly, will power. It takes a lot more time to burn of calories already turned to fat than it does to turn them to fat in the first place. Especially if we can’t keep to that all important formula. Of course it is not impossible, or no one would ever lose weight. It just takes some commitment and follow through. But there are a few psychological issues that we all face that make it more difficult at times. Perception is key.
Time is relative. Not just because Einstein said so, but because we MAKE it so. How long something SEEMS to take is entirely dependent on our mood. By the same token, how we appear to ourselves is also strongly dependent on how we FEEL about ourselves. This is a very demonstrable phenomenon. In the treatment of certain eating disorders like anorexia, the person suffering might be asked to draw a life-size image of their own size on a piece of paper. They will then lay in the image, and their ACTUAL size will be traced. As one might imagine, their self-image would usually be vastly larger than the reality. While this may be an extreme example, many of us actually suffer from similar self-image issues.
So what is my point with this? Beware the mirror! What we see in the mirror will directly reflect what we EXPECT to see. If we are feeling good about ourselves, then we will not only like what we see, but we will also focus on the good points. However if we are having a bad day, we might not only not like what we see, but focus on the negative things we find. Since even a fast paced exercise program may take a few weeks to truly manifest the benefits, the mirror can be mighty deceiving. Have an awesome workout, and we might look in the mirror and see the inches have dropped away; see the muscles forming. On the other hand, have a bad day, or a less than ideal workout, and we look in the mirror and see the flab is still there, or something seems to have gone in reverse. Do NOT rely on the mirror for proof of progress.
The only thing worse than a mirror is a scale. Scales, no matter HOW accurate, will deceive you completely. They will give you different numbers within five minutes of each other. And you will fluctuate as much a 5 or 6 pounds throughout the day. What you eat, how well you sleep, how much water you drink, the weather, even WHERE the scale is can ALL affect the number. They can be useful tools, but they again, should not be the ultimate guide of progress. Don’t use them more than once a week, and if you fluctuate by a couple of pounds, it really means nothing.
Really the best judge of how much progress we are making is how we feel, and our own capabilities. It is the nature of the process to have bad days, or even periods when we seem to stall or even go backwards. As long as we keep trying, and don’t allow ourselves to be discouraged by such times, we will ultimately obtain our goals. It has often even been my experience that those “off” moments often precede some great change. Like we seem to stall, then all of a sudden shed pounds like clothing.
Attitude and perception are as important as the effort itself. Positive thoughts breed positive action. And positive results.