When you first set out on a weight loss program, one of the first things you do is set your target weight goal. To help you achieve that goal, a helpful motivational technique is to visualize what life will be like when the pounds come off. But be careful. While it is certainly true that living at a lower weight will yield terrific health benefits, which will enable you to go on to achieve multiple other goals, you will want to avoid setting unrealistic expectations.
With that, we’d like to impart three pieces of wisdom to help you happily reach and maintain a healthy weight for life:
- Weight loss is not a cure all for everything in your life. For instance, you may catch yourself thinking things like, “Once I lose the weight, I’ll find the love of my life!” Or, maybe even, “When I’m thin, I’ll be able to eat and drink anything I want.” This type of magical thinking is harmful in a couple of different ways. First, it defines you by your weight and not the whole, wonderfully layered person you are. Second, it has the potential to set you up for failure. Losing weight does not give you carte blanche to indulge without consequences. In fact, that is the worst possible thing you can do. You are still going to be you after reaching your weight loss goal, not a perfect version of you.
- The work doesn’t end. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could lose weight and freeze yourself in some sort of protective shield that would prevent it from coming back? Until science catches up with science fiction, the truth is that you will still need to work at managing your weight for the rest of your life. The good news is that during your initial weight loss period, you will have already learned core weight management skills. Most of these apply to weight maintenance, with a few additional tweaks. But the bottom line is, just like everything else in life, you’ll need to work at it every day.
- Your appreciation grows. Believe it or not, even if you entered your weight loss program kicking and screaming, in an inexplicable way you will actually not mind the work needed to maintain your weight after you reach your goal. In fact, you might even enjoy it (or at a minimum, appreciate it) because at this point you will have experienced the very real benefits of weight loss. You will have realized all the good that choosing vegetables over french fries did for you, so those vegetables take on a whole new positive meaning. The same goes for taking a long walk over a Netflix binge marathon or calling a friend instead of falling head first into a tub of ice cream. All of these things helped to get you where you needed to be, and with new appreciation, you’ll be able to continue on the right path.
If you are a CMWL patient who has achieved or are near your target weight goal, we have the SMART Maintenance Program. This program provides a simple, easy-to-follow set of guidelines to help you stay within your healthy weight range for the rest of your life. Your weight should never be an excuse for falling short of your dreams, and that is the most important lesson of all.