Thursday, March 1, 2012

Losing Weight Is Hard Work!

As I mentioned in an earlier post I'm dropping weight right now to get ready for a triathlon.  It's been going really well, but it has reminded me how slow weight loss is and how patient you have to be.

I was 134.4 about two weeks ago, and yesterday I weighed in at 132.2-which means I am losing about a pound a week.  This is as fast as people recommend losing weight if you want it to be sustainable.  Any faster, and you risk losing muscle along with the fat, which you don't want to do as an athlete.  But even these modest losses require a lot of discipline; I'm watching what I eat very carefully, getting plenty of fruits and vegetables and cutting everything else back during my two mid-day meals.  I'm full after I finish eating, but hunger pains definitely creep in after a couple of hours.

Ads for weight-loss supplements will say you can lose weight without being hungry, but that is impossible.  The only reason your body would burn fat is that it looked for sugar in your system and didn't find any; that feeling is hunger.  You cannot cheat the system.

One reason I can imagine people get discouraged is by how slow it is.  I'm only dropping five or ten pounds, but if you were 50 lbs over-weight, 50 weeks of being hungry is almost an entire year; that would be a daunting task indeed.  Something that helps is having a really good scale, one with increments as small as one-tenth of a pound.  With only one pound increments, you could work hard for several days and not see any change, which could be frustrating enough to make you throw in the towel.  The scale I use is a nice digital one in the school locker room, so when I see those fraction of a pound drops every couple days, I know that I'm on the right track and it encourages me to continue.

Something else you need going into this is a good reason, a clear goal to motivate you when things get hard.  I know that in three months I will be toeing the line of a grueling off-road triathlon; when that day comes, I want to be as light and as strong as I can be.  If weight-loss is one of your goals, think about it carefully and ask yourself if it is really worth it.  There are a lot of bad reasons to want to lose weight, so some honest self-reflection can be helpful.  If you decide that it is worth the sacrifice, then charge ahead knowing that you have the strength to do it.

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