Today we’re talking about slow weight loss and, in particular, the problem with slow weight loss.
Let me start off by saying that the big problem is that slow is all relative. Slow and fast are just descriptors. What is slow to me, and slow to you, and slow to her could be entirely different.
It is interesting that slow weight loss, however you define it, seems to be a problem.
The problem isn’t really that your weight loss is slow.
The problem is that we, as humans, make it mean something:
- It’s not working.
- Something’s wrong.
- I’m working way too hard for this.
- It should be more.
- I must be missing something.
That is the problem, the meaning we give to how rapidly or how slowly we lose weight.
As humans we’re constantly judging everything. We’re not just evaluating and assessing, is this working?
- Let me check the data.
- Let me check the scale for the last four weeks.
- Let me check my food log.
- Let me do all the things.
No, instead, our human brain is looking for what is wrong. When the scale does not go down, or it does not go down fast enough, we have a problem with this. And I get it.
First and foremost, I’m going to tell you, that’s okay. It is okay to have all the feelings that there’s a problem. You could be thinking all the thoughts; maybe I’m doing it wrong, I don’t know enough, I gotta get to a different diet. You can have all of those thoughts but I’m going to ask you to pump the brakes a little bit.
Hear me out on this before you abandon your goals.
That’s really what’s happening. If it were that you said, “I just am not getting as far along as I had hoped, I’m gonna get a professional to help me.” That’s not generally what we do. We generally just give up. Throw the scale out the window, stomp on it, hide it, yell at it, and we stop.
Often what we’re actually doing to lose weight is really hard. It is restrictive.
You are working too hard!
Maybe you are:
- Over restricting.
- Over exercising.
- Not sure what you’re eating.
- Have an expectation that might need some alteration.
The diet industry wants to sell us on fast weight loss, fast results, fast success, fast life changing outcomes, etc. I find it interesting because in most situations in our lives nothing huge comes that fast, that instantly or overnight.
If you think about it, we don’t gain weight that fast. I’ve worked with 1000s of women, and while the scale does go up and down, when not dieting we’re not trying to lose weight. We’re also not gaining weight at one two or three pounds a week. Weight gain is fairly gradual. Sometimes I will use the word almost insidious because it sneaks up on you.
I am all for using the scale if:
- You can use it in a way that is for data.
- It feels neutral.
- You’re not only happy when it goes down.
The scale is going to go up and down all the time. Even if you stick to your plan that you know works.
- Get sick.
- Sprain your ankle.
- Have a really tough workout.
- Have a really salty meal.
- Have a terrible sleep.
- Have more carbs yesterday.
There are a million different reasons that the scale is going to fluctuate.
For example, let’s say you lost 20 pounds. Wonderful, right? But here’s the thing, when you continue to use the scale, the next day you might be up a pound and then down half a pound and then down another pound and then up two pounds and then down a quarter of a pound.
Do you then change it every day?
- Oh, I only lost 19 pounds.
- I actually lost 22 pounds now.
- No, I only lost 17 pounds.
You could do that but I think it’s why we find ourselves feeling really stuck and frustrated with our results. That’s how we get into “slow weight loss is a problem. Slow weight loss isn’t going to work for me.”
- It is sort of black and white.
- It’s either slow or fast.
- It’s either good or bad.
- It’s either enough or it’s not enough.
I’m just here to tell you my opinion on slow weight loss.
To me, slow weight loss isn’t a problem.
Do I actively try to sell people the idea that they need slow weight loss? No, I think I’d be shooting myself in the foot if I was preaching all the reasons why you should want slow weight loss. Although I could come up with some reasons.
Reason number one, if you had slow weight loss, you would probably preserve more muscle mass. Probably I can’t guarantee it, but you probably would.
When we do have fast rapid weight loss, you are going to lose more muscle mass. That I’m pretty sure of. Also slow weight loss gives your brain a chance to catch up with your changing size, your changing reflection. It gives you time to work on the mindset piece.
When we’re trying to lose 30 pounds in three weeks. We are still the same person mentally that we were three weeks prior. Three weeks is not a long time to change:
- How you view yourself.
- How you view dieting.
- How you view the scale.
- What your relationship with food is.
All of that.
That’s why we often gain the weight back fast and then some. We also set back our metabolism with fast weight loss. Our body perceives that there’s a problem.
- This bitch is trying to starve us.
- Let us shut down all of our hormones.
- Let’s just slam the brakes on thyroid.
Let’s just slow down!
Many of us have done the lose weight, gain weight repeatedly looking for that quick fix. The fast weight loss. The fad diet. I need to lose 12 pounds in 12 days kind of thing.
When we do that repeatedly, you can guarantee that over time your metabolism is downregulated and you are losing more muscle mass. This is not necessarily the healthy way to go.
In many ways I want to sell you on slow weight loss. I kind of do but I get that from a sales and marketing perspective it is probably not going to be a big winner. If I put out a big ad that said sign up with me for slow weight loss, I would be just talking to myself.
I want to give you some other perspectives here about slow weight loss.
As I see it, slow weight loss means that over time I’m losing weight. I’m continuing to lose weight. I’m developing a lifestyle and whether I lose 10 pounds in two weeks, or I lose 10 pounds in six weeks, what is really the difference?
I know we all want that fast weight loss. But why?
We’re impatient. I have to have it now, even though we didn’t gain the weight that fast.
I’ll give you an example. Pregnancy is about a nine and a half month journey from beginning to end. Now out there in the world of pregnancy weight gain, there is an idea that a woman pregnant with a single baby would gain about 30 pounds. That’s on average. There are a lot of women who gained less weight. There are a lot more women who probably gained a lot more weight than 30 pounds. Even 30 pound weight gain as you’re growing a human over nine and a half months, I mean, it’s pretty, pretty amazing.
When you have a baby, you’re just like, I can’t wait to get back. Why aren’t I celebrity skinny after I give birth?
Well, if your doctor was doing you a solid, they would have told you that you’re probably going to need about a year for your body to come back. I mean, it took you nine and a half months, maybe even longer, leading up to that. Trying to get pregnant, maybe you did IVF. There’s a whole bunch that goes into this, which they never tell you in high school. I use that just as a baseline for weight loss and weight gain.
Here’s something else to think about. Weight loss, although we want it to be fast, our weight gain is usually very gradual. Sometimes, like I said, insidious. It’s sneaky, it creeps up on you.
One of the issues for many of us is that we don’t know exactly how many calories our body requires, on average, to maintain our current weight. We can guess.
There’s enough calculators out there where you could plug in your age and your height and your current weight. Oftentimes, those calculators will ask for your body fat percentage, which you may or may not have. They’ll ask about your activity level. And you’ll get kind of a baseline.
Of course, those are calculators. They don’t have your blood work, they don’t know your genetics. If you’re guessing at your body fat, well, all bets are off.
Since we don’t really know it is easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.
I give this example because it’s a round number. If you think about it, if I ate continuously 100 calories a day over what my body needed to maintain my current weight. So if I just ate 100 calories, extra, just 100 calories.
You know what 100 calories is like:
- A Yasso bar or
- Three bites of chicken or
- Those 100 calorie snack packs or
- A small to medium apple.
If I continue just to eat that extra 100 calories because I didn’t think it was very much. And in truth, it’s really not that much. I’m looking at on average, depending on my hormones and a lot of factors, but if I did just straight out math,about a 12 pound weight gain per year.
This might make sense for you. Every couple years, you feel like I need to lose 20 pounds, I already did this. I do this every couple years.
I throw that out there because we’re looking for that fast weight loss. I’m pointing out that we generally have very slow weight gain.
So what if we flipped the script?
- I’m not trying to tell you to have low expectations.
- I’m not telling you not to have big goals.
- I’m not telling you not to work your ass off.
- I’m not telling you to be average.
If I just flipped some of my thoughts a little bit about how fast my weight loss had to be.
What if, instead of focusing on making the number go down, I just focused on the activities, the actions, the things I needed to believe? The identity I needed to lean into in order to lose weight and keep it off. What if I just focused on doing the things and thinking the things and being the woman who loses the weight? And it doesn’t matter how fast or slow it is. I don’t live and die by the scale.
What if we did that instead? Then there wouldn’t be a problem with slow weight loss. We would know that we are losing weight.
We know how to lose weight. If this is working, I am losing, I can always lose weight. If I need to make a change, I will always be able to figure it out.
There’s many ways to lose weight, and none of them needs to be fast.
- Slower weight loss is easier on my body.
- Slower weight loss allows me to enjoy birthday cake and Christmas cookies and wine with my friends.
- Slower weight loss allows me to keep more lean muscle mass.
- Slower weight loss is less stressful to my body and my life.
What about that?
I know if you have thoughts sneaking in there about how that’s not good enough. This will never work. I get it. We’ve had those thoughts for a long time.
When you notice it creeping in, you can just thank your brain. “Hey, thanks, I get it. I’m glad we’re all on the same page. We have goals to hit and things to do and pants to fit in. We’re going to get there.”
When we live and die by the scale, and we measure our success purely on how quickly that number goes down, we’re going to just keep coming back to the same place.
- It’s not good enough.
- It’s not fast enough.
- I’m not good enough.
- I don’t know what I’m doing.
- On and on and on.
So today I’m making a case for slow weight loss. Maybe you needed this message. Let me know if it resonated with you.
NOTES IN ANCHOR
Have you ever noticed how slow weight loss seems to be a problem? Like just because it isn’t happening at warp speed that means something is wrong? The problem isn’t really that your weight loss is slow. The problem, as I have experienced it, is that we, as humans, make it mean something.
Here’s why… The diet industry wants to sell us fast weight loss, fast results, fast success, fast life-changing outcomes, etc. I find this interesting because with most situations in our lives, nothing huge comes that fast, that instantly, or even overnight.
We don’t gain the weight that fast.
It is usually a gradual process over the course of months or even years. Yet a problem arises when the weight is slow to come off.
Because we live in a world full of instant gratification, we want results NOW…TODAY!
We think that because the weight isn’t coming off faster that we must be doing something wrong. We think that it’s just not working so we might as well give up all our goals and abandon ship. We have all been there whether we want to admit it or not.
I’m going to ask you to pump the brakes for a minute and tell your toddler brain to shut the hell up. Now, what if instead of focusing on making the number on the scale go down, you really just focused on the activities, the actions, and the things you need to believe in order to lose weight? What if I told you that slower weight loss could be better for you in the long run?
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on. Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience.
Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you unf*ck your diet brain.
She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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