Monday Motivational Memo: Track it to Change it

That which is tracked grows (or shrinks).

pencils_and_diary

It’s proven time and time again. If you want to build something up, keep track of it.

  • If you want to make more money, track your finances.
  • If you want to improve your attitude, track how grateful you are.
  • If you want to be more fit, track how much exercise you do.

And of course, if you want to lose weight, track what you eat.

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 2)

upset-woman-on-scaleLast week in this space, I posited the theory that, with almost seven out of ten people overweight (including over 30 percent obese), the reason most people don’t stick with their diets long enough to reach goal weight is because they give up when the pounds don’t drop “fast enough.” Logically, that makes no sense. After all, a slow weight loss is still preferable to no weight loss, which is the inevitable result when one throws in the towel altogether.

Of course, the motive for quitting isn’t rational; it’s one of two emotional reasons. The first reason we are so desperate to speed diet is that we fear motivation will vanish before we reach our goal, and we’ll end up spent, frustrated, and still fat. That is born of the false belief that motivation leads behaviors. Last week, I explained how motivation follows behavior and therefore we can motivate ourselves whenever we desire by engaging in behaviors. Due to limited space, I couldn’t address the second reason we quit, which I’ll do today.

That second reason we are in such a hurry to lose weight — as opposed to in a thought-out, healthy, and sustainable manner —

is complicated, but in part due to the fact that “fat shaming” is still accepted, even when so many other tactless slurs are now considered loutish and vulgar. The humiliation and guilt of being overweight casts its sufferers as lesser and out of control. The overweight are recipients of ignorant, countless wagging fingers — in person and throughout the media — proclaiming boorishly that if they possessed better willpower and a stronger moral character, they’d be thin. Condescending, hurtful, and hateful messages are hurled without end.

The unfairness of how society treats its citizens of size however is not the issue.

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 1)

Jaw droppedI remain gobsmacked by a statistic I recently learned.

By this time of the year, north of 80 percent of people who — at the beginning of the year — said, “This time I mean it! This is the year I’m going to lose those extra pounds,” have given up. Done. Over. Wiped their hands and walked away.

The Centers for Disease Control says that, as of 2012, 69 percent of our population is overweight or obese, with almost half of those folks classified as “obese.” Those extra pounds underwrite a multitude of health conditions, both physical and emotional; and we all know about them. Therefore, one might think that the urgency to shed an expanded waistline could be enough incentive to stick with a program longer than six weeks.

One might think that. One would also be wrong.

The number one reason people quit their program is that they don’t feel they’re losing quickly enough. Granted, if they could slow down racing to the refrigerator long enough to realize that a slow weight loss is faster than a no weight loss, they might stick with it a tad longer. Yet, in all fairness, it’s difficult to remain cold sober logical about your progress when the scale won’t budge. “Get-thin-quickly” scam artists are partially to blame for the false expectations that drive the frustration, but they are actually symptoms of a deeper problem fostering the unrealistic drive to drop weight faster than a brick can fall from a six-foot wall.

So, why are we in such a hurry?

There are two factors at play.

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