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The Only (other) Weight Loss Secret You Need to Know

Updated on July 25, 2009

I recently wrote a hub that promised a guaranteed secret to weight loss (I promise it works) that, no surprise to some of you, tried to emphasize that there really isn't a secret beyond your ability to commit to making real life changes. I wrote that hub with the intention of it being a starting block to success because, if you aren't in the right frame of mind, you'll never succeed regardless the diet program, exercise regimen or equipment you employ. But, it might be a bit too simplified for some of you so I'm writing a follow-up. Hence the title of this hub, The Only (other) Weight Loss Secret You Need to Know.

Every year, usually on December 31st or January 1st, we make a resolution to make a difference in our lives. The problem is that we often go about it the wrong way. Either we tackle to broad or we target too vague. By that, I mean that we set unrealistic or impossible-to-attain goals. Think about it, folks, it all it took was a resolution to diet, we'd all be healthier, thinner or more successful at just about everything. But we aren't, are we, or you wouldn't be reading this.

Baby Steps
Baby Steps

Making a resolution to "lose weight" is entirely too vague. You may think it's a goal, but is it sustainable? Just as bad is over-defining your goals. "I'm going to go to the gym everyday, eat only salads for dinner, drink 8 glasses of water a day and nothing else, ride my bike to work every morning, save a child from a burning building, rescue all the homeless animals, resolve the world's economic woes and bring about world peace." If you set the goals too high, you're almost guaranteed to miss. That leads to disappointment and disappointment most often leads to our giving up.

That saying, "a leopard doesn't change its spots," is grounded in a bit of reality, but it isn't absolute. It would be more accurate to suggest that a leopard doesn't change its spots overnight, and neither will you. Making sweeping, all encompassing changes in our habits is extraordinarily difficult and it's the unrealistic expectation that we'll be able to make those changes and sustain them over a lifetime that has us all yo-yoing in weight before we finally give up on ourselves and our efforts.

But you can change. You just have to approach weight loss with a realistic process and realistic goals. The best way to succeed is by first identifying that one weak link in your armor which, more than anything else, is responsible for your weight problems. Yes, you may have several, but there's probably one that is worse than all the others.

Mmmm... soda
Mmmm... soda

Drinking my way to success

My big weakness is soda. I can't get enough of the stuff because it is my energizer, thirst quencher and sugar satisfier all in one. I consume a lot of the stuff. No, really, what ever you're thinking when I say "a lot," add a couple cans. Sure, I could stand to exercise more, eat healthier foods and get better sleep too. All those things would make me healthier and would mean I wouldn't have to "refresh" my efforts once a year to remain fit, but they aren't the crux of the problem. It's my rabid soda consumption which, more than anything else contributes to my not maintaining my ideal weight.

So, if you read my previous hub and are wondering where to begin, it's by taking a look in the mirror and being totally honest with yourself. No, not with how you look, but by facing yourself down and acknowledging the one thing that most contributes to your weight gain. Perhaps you have a chocolate fetish you constantly feed. Perhaps not a day goes by that you don't eat something deep fried. Perhaps you eat moderately well but absolutely never get off the couch. Or, like me, you just can't consume enough Mountain Dew in a day to satisfy the urge. Once you've identified the weakest link in your routine, make rational plans to change it.

Using my own weakness as an example, the simple and obvious solution would be to stop drinking soda. But is that realistic? Not for me. The migraines I would suffer from the cold-turkey change would be unbearable and I'd be back to chugging sodas in just a matter of days. But what about reducing my consumption? That's certainly doable. To do so, I just need to fool my body a bit. My plan would be to replace every other soda with a glass of water. I would allow myself a soda, but my next visit to the fridge would be for a glass of water instead. Next trip, a soda, next trip, water. By making a small modification I could easily adopt into my routine, I'd cut my soda consumption in half immediately.

Once my body (and mind) adjusted to the new habit and reduced caffeine and sugar intake, I could build on that success. Perhaps I could schedule my soda consumption so that I could only have one with meals. Now I'm down to 3 sodas a day. Later I could further adjust that to no soda after noon. Now I'm down to two sodas and I'm not sucking down empty calories before bed. I'll probably sleep better for it, too, since I won't have any caffeine after lunch.

How you make the adjustment isn't as crucial as identifying the culprit and making some (any) kind of efforts to change just that one thing. Some people buy bags of small candy bars thinking they'll only eat a tiny bar and the bag will last weeks. Two days later, the entire bag is empty and they've gained a pound. Rather than buying a bag of small candy bars at the grocery store, only buy one full-sized candy bar. That's it until your next shopping trip. You might eat it all in one sitting or perhaps you'll break it in half and stretch it out over a couple days. Either way, you've gotten away from devouring an entire bag of candy. From there you might commit to buying a bar of candy only every other trip.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Lao-tzu
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Lao-tzu

Every accomplishment needs a beginning

If exercise is your crux, make small changes. At home, for example, you could commit to making two trips up the stairs for every trip you require. If, for example, I wanted to run up to the fridge for that tasty soda, I would run up the stairs, run back down, then run back up again before allowing myself to go to the refrigerator. From there I would build on my efforts by adding in more trips or some pushups. The absolute last thing I would do would be to buy a Bowflex home gym or free weights because, if I can't even commit to running up the stairs in my house, I'm sure as hell not going to commit to using exercise equipment.

Whatever your key problem is, tackle it before you make promises to yourself you just won't keep. Commit to reducing and then eliminating that one obstacle to success you've been struggling with. When (and only when) you have successfully defeated that enemy should you move on to the lesser hindrances to success that you've placed on the back-burner. You want to succeed and then build on your success.

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