Don’t despair if you’re struggling to lose weight – it isn’t easy. A weight-loss / fat-shedding update

I’ve written about my need to lose weight on at least 3 previous occasions, the first back in September 2019, and here I am yet again, revisiting the same subject. The reason being that weight-wise, I’m in the same situation today as I was 29 months ago and I’ve recently been questioning why that is.

I’m going to contradict a line from my most recent blog post, which looked at what a successful life may mean to people. That line was:

Objective 1 – getting healthier / losing weight. One of the easier objectives to achieve as the ability to do this lies solely with each of us.

In the context of that full post, this was one of the easier objectives I wrote about. However, the reality is that losing weight / shedding fat / getting healthier is bloody difficult. Really bloody difficult. If it were easy, many of the weight loss organisations and diet trends we see on a daily basis wouldn’t exist. Many of the celebrity weight-loss videos wouldn’t exist. Many of the tens of thousands of diet / weight-loss books out there right now wouldn’t exist.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I still haven’t got anywhere near to where I want to be physically and I’m pretty confident in saying that it boils down to 2 key factors for me – habit, and not being able to handle the discomfort. There are many more nuanced reasons behind it but these 2 are certainly the root causes preventing me from losing weight. I’ll expand on both:

Habit:

Such an easy and frustrating trap to fall into. I have both good and bad habits when it comes to food. The good habits include eating lots of relatively healthy home-cooked meals, drinking plenty of water and eating plenty of fruit and veg. Sadly, there are two really toxic habits which seem to render the good habits null and void. The first is snacking at night. This is a real killer for me. When it hits 9pm (my witching hour), whether I’m hungry or not (and I am, most of the time), I feel compelled to go and raid the cupboards in a desperate scavenge for whatever sweet treats are lying around. I can’t help it. I’m sure this is mainly down to habit but also a slightly bizarre feeling that I’m rebelling and, let’s face it, rebelling nearly always feels good, doesn’t it? It’s a twisted combination of being on auto-pilot and stomping helplessly toward the biscuit cupboard, and knowing that I really shouldn’t be doing it but, being the maverick that I am, I can and I will. Usually at this time of night my wife will have headed off to bed and that just adds to the feeling of naughtiness when I sneak around the kitchen in the dark like the guy from the R Whites Lemonade ads all those years ago (a nice, modern reference for the under-40s there). Knowing that she won’t be there to roll her eyes and tut at me just prompts me to do it even more. The instant gratification that comes with scoffing a Kit Kat or 3 is wonderful but it doesn’t take long – usually a matter of seconds – before I slump back on the couch, reflect on what I’ve done like an errant primary school pupil, and the self-loathing inevitably kicks in again. I realise I may be completely on my own here though I’m sharing this in case it does somehow resonate with anyone else.

Discomfort:

This is a tough one. Losing weight is difficult because of the associated discomfort. Reducing the amount I eat and doing so in a way that suits me best is uncomfortable. Not eating after my last meal of the day (which is usually between 5pm-6pm for us, as a family) is difficult as the hunger pangs tend to kick in mid-evening. Fasting has previously worked really well for me but it is hard, particularly during the early stages of trying to maintain that discipline. When I do fast, I try to aim for 4 or 5 days a week where I don’t eat for 16hr periods, which are typically 6pm until 10am the next day. It isn’t so bad a few weeks in but those first few days are hellish. On a couple of occasions, I’ve gone full months without eating any sugary snacks such as chocolate, biscuits, cake and ice-cream. I felt much more alive and alert, and less bloated, on both occasions though those initial days were very difficult, with headaches proving to be an issue as well as the hunger pangs. There is no easy way around it though – if we truly want to lose weight and fat, there will be a period of significant discomfort. Quite often, that can derail any prolonged period of dedicated focus and I can be back to square one before I know it. This may be hard to comprehend for anyone who is naturally thin / toned / sporty but it really is the case for so many people.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is please don’t worry and beat yourself up if you’re in a similar position to me and it just isn’t working. Any significant change in life can be difficult to deal with, especially so when it comes to weight loss. It’s hit and miss and it nearly always takes time to get it right, often over many years. It is certainly very common to think you’re failing and for self-loathing to kick in. Those are the most dangerous times of all as it is so easy to reach that stage, think ‘what is the point when I’m always going to fail’ and go straight back to comfort eating every day. There are two pieces of advice which I always try to bear in mind. The first is that weight-loss will not happen over a short period of time. You’re in it for the long haul, especially if weight loss is to be sustained for a lifetime. Please remember that and don’t be a slave to the scales every single day and beat yourself up if you go a day without losing an ounce. The second is that you, and only you, will know the methods which are best suited to you in your desire to lose weight. Please take the time to sit back, think what they might be, and consider the best way of approaching this. Some get heavily into running whilst others prefer to exercise in the relatively safety and privacy of their own homes. Some like fasting whilst some prefer to make gradual reductions in our diets rather than going hours without eating. Some need the boost and support that weight-loss groups bring whilst others prefer to address this quietly and in private. Find the methods which you truly believe give you the best chance of succeeding and work at them but please don’t despair if it takes a long time – these things usually do.

As always, thanks for reading, stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. But especially yourself.

Best wishes.

Mick

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