Are you ready for some weight loss?
Before you answer, consider giving it some thought. In my case, multiple factors converged to steer me into a re-invention of myself 60 pounds lighter. Medical problems appeared on the horizon and I hated my appearance.
When my weight reached an all-time high -182 pounds spread over 5-feet, 2-inches – the bathroom scale broke when I stood on it.
Although the decision was my own, I recruited support – husband, fitness trainer, physician, nurse (Debbie Wagner at the Wellness Center), and later readers who followed the transition. Even with help, though, I struggled to maintain equilibrium because of the magnitude of the changes and also because of events swirling around me – a daughter’s near death, the Sept. 11 attack, my own medical crisis, and a wedding trip for a son in France.
Belatedly, I discovered Dr. Kelly Brownell’s test for readiness in his book, “The Learn Program for Weight Management.” His book, incidentally, is an authoritative resource both for professionals and laypersons like myself.
Through extensive clinical experience at Yale University, Brownell suggests you ask yourself the following questions:
• How committed am I, not just today, but for the months ahead?
• Can I handle the stress of making changes in eating and exercise and still manage other responsibilities? Obviously, you can’t stop living, get fit, and then return to living. You must achieve fitness while life goes on.
• Will I feel deprived or upset when making different food choices? Or will I feel challenged?
• Am I willing to make lifelong changes? To give up forever the yo-yo cycle of overeating followed by strict dieting? Since I can never get enough of what I don’t really need, am I willing to replace flawed choices with mindful decisions in my best interest?
• When I stumble, can I recover my balance?
• Instead of eating over them, am I willing to face and deal with difficult emotions, like anxiety and loneliness?
• Can I find ways to celebrate other than eating?
• Can I comfort myself after a difficult day without resorting to food?
• Do I have realistic goals?
• Am I willing to exercise regularly? For the rest of my life? With whatever disabilities, handicaps, financial or time limitations I encounter?
• Can I find exercise that entertains me? Helps me make new friends? That relaxes me and lifts my mood? One that creates more energy for me?
Taking control and facing life head-on are essential. Complete ownership of eating and exercise choices is necessary. Excuses – genetics, medical problems, lack of time or support – must be forgotten.
None of these questions can be mathematically scored. Answering them honestly can, however, help you assess readiness.
If you decide to proceed, I can tell you that you won’t just lose weight. You’ll also lose the baggage surrounding the issue.
You’ll find yourself more cheerful and positive. You’ll have more energy, think more clearly and have a stronger sense of well-being. Going forward, the quality of your life will be better. You’ll have more fun and experience more joy.
I can’t even begin to place a value on how much I’ve gained from losing weight. By far and away, it’s the best gift I’ve ever given myself. And everyone I’ve talked to who’s undergone this transformation is unabashedly enthusiastic.
Yet when neighbors and friends approach me seeking help with their fitness efforts, I’m ambivalent.
On the one hand, I’m excited to share the transformation and want everyone to enjoy the same wonderful benefits. On the other hand, if the person isn’t ready, expectations may be dashed by reality a few weeks from now.
Consequently, my typical response is neither to promote doing what I did, nor emphasize the difficulties and potentially discourage the person. Instead, I pose Dr. Brownell’s questions.
Each of us is, after all, the best expert when it comes to knowing ourselves.
Are you ready for some weight loss? Only you know the answer.
Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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