January 18, 2012
BEFORE: Gina in 2001
BEFORE: At her heaviest, Gina weighed 312 pounds.
AFTER: After two years of portion control and exercise, Gina lost a total of 172 pounds and weighed 140 pounds.
In a season filled with New Year’s resolutions, I say, Bah Humbug! Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to have goals that result in improving one’s health, but setting unrealistic expectations at the beginning of each year is a recipe for disaster.
A majority of us resolve to lose weight every year and vow each January that this will in fact be the year to finally shed those extra pounds!
From personal experience, I know what it’s like to be on the cycle of short-term “New Year” commitments and consequent resentment when I didn’t reach my goals.
Personal weight challenges have given me a bit of insight on this matter. Having once weighed over 300 pounds, I have found that maintaining a healthy weight is about lifestyle changes more than anything else. You have to be open to adopting a healthy approach for the rest of your life as opposed to following an overly regimented diet for short periods of time.
Let’s be honest here: If quick-fix diets truly worked, there wouldn’t be an entire industry profiting from people who keep returning to try the next fad in hopes of seeing success. The fad diet industry brings in millions of dollars every year from folks who are willing to continually spend their hard-earned money in hopes of finding a short-term solution to a lifelong problem.
I’m sure you’ve heard the mantra, “a good weight loss plan is one you can do for the rest of your life.”
Maintaining weight loss is nearly impossible unless you have incorporated those healthy lifestyle habits that you learned along the way and helped you lose the weight in the first place.
One of the main reasons why people often regain the weight they’ve lost is because they somehow missed this idea or perhaps got caught up in the excitement of losing weight around an event (such as a New Year’s resolution) as opposed to losing weight for life.
Event-based weight loss leads to a phenomenon commonly known as yo-yo dieting: We lose weight for an upcoming event then consequently gain it all back (and usually more) after the occasion passes.
Long-term weight loss requires a realistic plan and more importantly, a good fit with your lifestyle.
This should include foods that you enjoy eating in moderation and physical activities that you not only enjoy, but are willing to do on a regular basis.
Steer clear of extremes such as overly restrictive meal plans and fitness routines that include excessive amounts of exercise. These programs fail to produce long-term results because of their difficulty to sustain and translate into the real world.
It’s best to concentrate your efforts in the beginning on slowly building healthy lifestyle habits. For instance, if your goal is to begin an exercise routine, start off by committing yourself to one workout per week. Once you feel comfortable with this commitment each week, add an additional day and so forth. You’ll find that this gradual slow-building progression is much easier to maintain in the long run as it gives you the opportunity to adjust your lifestyle around these healthy habits.
A healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Extreme diets often lead to negative experiences that you will chalk up as yet another failed attempt at losing weight.
Remember, weight control is a lifelong journey, not a short-term destination. This journey spans the entire course of our life and should continue to take us to new places and discoveries.
Ready to commit to leading a healthier lifestyle? Kick start your journey today by first setting SMART goals!
Gina Crome is a Registered Dietitian and ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach. She holds a dual Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology as well as a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from Loma Linda University whereby she received the Selma Andrews Award for Excellence and Professionalism. Over the past 20 years, Gina’s mission has focused on guiding individuals towards gaining a better quality of life. She has previously struggled with her own weight issues and has since lost a total of 172 pounds, driving her passion home to promote healthier lifestyles. Gina is available for media interviews and community appearances and she is the author of various online nutrition and fitness columns.