The dieting bible preaches a healthy weight loss as one to two consistent pounds a week. But what if you want to keep your sanity and the weight off? That best weight loss rate, the one that preserves your metabolism and motivation depends upon how much weight you have to lose.
If you have:
Under 10 pounds to lose, under 1 pound every two weeks or about two pounds a month.
15-20 pounds to lose (or want to), 1 pound per week or about four pounds a month.
25-30 pounds to lose, 2 pounds per week or about 8 a month.
And then for every 10 pounds above, add an extra pound a week.
But that’s an average.
The reality is you could lose nothing for two weeks and then four pounds at the end of the month. While formulas make you feel in control, they often end up controlling you.
As Brandon Mentore, a Truce with Food Master Class instructor explained, “There are too many factors that play a role in weight to measure weight loss weekly. Weighing yourself multiple times a week is like holding a magnifying glass to the ocean. Zoom out and go with a monthly overall goal. Set it and forget it; we’ll see you in 30 days. Losing weight is not an equation but conducting an orchestra of diet, exercise, healing and lifestyle adjustments.”
You see, weight loss is often a side effect from the body’s healing. Take the gut microbiome. Research is discovering that these bacteria play an important role in weight. In one study, researchers estimated that 20% of the effect of gastric bypass surgery is because the bacteria profile changes post-surgery. When I map a client’s weight history, some realize their weight went up a good 10 pounds after heavy or repeated rounds of antibiotics. Their gut biome is altered and will take time to rebalance.
Or consider stress. This includes the hatred-frustration-stress stew from weighing yourself too often. I spend equal time diagnosing the stresses in clients’ lives as in exploring their food choices. When they feel like that “huge weight is off their shoulders”, the mental lightness reflects on the scale as they’re no longer dipping into the chocolate drawer due to stress.
Thinking about the “me” from eight years ago who had one foot cemented in traditional dieting and one foot desperate for an alternative, I’d have appreciated some sort of metrics aside from once-a-month weigh-ins. So here are three new metrics to create harmony in the body, with weight loss a side effect:
1. List the ailments you feel (i.e. fatigue, bloating, joint pain, insomnia) and then focus on progress, not perfection. Joint pain or arthritis? Consider a 21-day elimination diet. Bloating? Experiment with a probiotic supplement and add in prebiotic foods. Insomnia? Cut caffeine by 12 p.m. and/or switch from coffee to green tea to help heal your adrenal glands. Focus on healing your gut and blood sugar; feeling satiated, having no cravings and no aches and pains will keep you motivated.
2.” Fun and Done” trumps “No Pain, No Gain”. Are you bored of your work-out routine? Tired of eating the same breakfast? Habit plateaus mirror mental plateaus. Measure how much novelty is in your health routine. One client of mine was “unmotivated” to work-out. A closer look revealed she was uninspired. She’s a really adventurous person, so we brainstormed a 30-day challenge for her to try 20 different work-outs in 30 days. Now mentally and metabolically, she’s on a work-out adventure that’s exciting versus boring. Or maybe you need to experiment with some new healthy recipes. This keeps many of my clients engaged with healthy eating.
3. Are your “I don’t care moments” shorter and less frequent? Learning resilience, not perfection, is a weight-loss super power. When you’re “bad” or go “off-track”, measure how long it lasts. Maybe at first you will measure your “off-track” time in days; later the interlude may only be measured in meals. Or can you eat healthy on the days you skip the gym or work-out even though you ate a Snickers bar after lunch? If you have to have dessert, can you try to leave two bites and not eat the whole thing? As long as your getting back on the proverbial horse more quickly, you’re on track to being healthy more consistently.
Remember the one secret to all the extraordinarily successful people in life is that they have usually “failed” more. The sciences call it data. I call it research.
By being realistic, you’ll remain optimistic. Weight loss is a physical, emotional and spiritual endeavor. Give yourself space to make it your own.
Who wants to end up average?