It seems like, for me anyway, getting started with anything new is always tough. There are stops and starts and false starts and victories and stumbles and dull lulls that drive one to drink. Or to doughnuts. Whichever.
Let’s face it: starting sucks. The things I consider “normal” now were completely foreign to me a year ago. Some of them were downright abhorrent. All this made me wonder, what would I have loved to have known or heard back then? What would I want the “then” me to know? Is there anything that could have made the starting suck less?
Here’s my go at it, anyway…
First of all, congratulations. Whether you know it or not, just getting your butt to a Weight Watchers meeting and working on all of this points stuff is huge. You’re not thinking about getting to a healthy weight anymore. You’re doing it.
It can be tough in the beginning, no doubt. The food in the freezer isn’t helpful, but you hate to throw it all away. You don’t know what to eat or what not to eat or when to eat it. And exercise? Please! You can barely find time to pack your lunch these days, right?
Don’t worry. It gets better. I promise.
To help ease the road a little bit, I thought you might want the inside scoop on a few things that I’ve found to be pretty important along the way.
Don’t Put a Time Stamp On It. As soon as you put a time frame on it, e.g., “I’m going to lose X pounds by X date,” it’s a diet.* You’ve done the diets. This time, you’re getting off the diet tilt-a-whirl and learning how to create a healthy life for a lifetime. Do you really want to put a time stamp on that? Didn’t think so. You’re doing it right this time, and you’ve made the decision that you’re never going back again.
Get the Food Right First. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Figure out the food first, step by step, before you start thinking about an activity plan. Nail down some reliable breakfast and lunch choices, start stocking the fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, have fish more often for dinner. That part will all take a little while. Once you’ve started getting the hang of the food pretty well, then you can add in some exercise.
Activity Isn’t Torture. Start with 30 minutes of anything. Walking. Biking. Strolling. Something. Just plan to move through space for 30 minutes every day. You’re not trying to beat yourself into submission – just getting a little bit of a move on. Think about what you like to do. Dance? If you can walk for 30 days in a row, you can commit to a gym membership where you can dance like a party girl. Activity is just that – activity. It’s moving instead of sitting. And eventually, believe it or not, you’ll start to LIKE being active!
It’ll Take A While Before Anyone Notices. That can really stink, because encouragement from others – even seeing your own progress in the mirror – can be incredibly helpful and motivating when you first start out. Chances are, with more than 50 pounds to lose, no one is really going to notice your diminishing size until you’ve dropped at least 20 or 30 pounds. It’s okay. Just keep going. What matters most is your health, not your dress size or what others say.
People Won’t Always Understand. Um, right. Remember that whole thing about it doesn’t matter what others say? Well, sometimes, they won’t say the right thing. Sometimes they’ll be disappointed that you won’t go out to eat with them or that you’re not having dessert. They won’t always understand why you spend so much time at the gym or why you don’t stay up late. They’re not trying to be mean. They just don’t understand what you’re up to yet, and you may not be able to explain it to them in a way that they can get it. That’s okay. Just keep going. They’ll get it as they see you looking better, feeling better, laughing more and doing more. You don’t have to say a word.
There Will Be Ups and Downs and Stalls. This won’t be a straight line down on the scale. There will be weeks you gain and weeks you stay the same and weeks you have big drops. The point is, don’t let the ups and stalls and tiny drops (like down 0.2 pounds) make you give up. They’re just another puzzle to figure out along the way. And like our friend Teresa says, I might be a gainer, but I won’t be a quitter. The secret to success is to keep trying.
Baby Steps Are Enough. Every small step taken in the right direction is a victory. Every day that you stay on your points target, every time you courageously step on that scale, every meeting you attend, every activity you do for 30 minutes or more, every vegetable, every fruit, every good food choice. These are all victories. Don’t sell any of them short. Those small steps lead to big victories and big rewards.
It Is Totally, Totally Worth It. In a year’s time, believe it or not, you’ll be strong enough to run (yes, run) for 30 minutes without stopping. You’ll be eating healthier than you ever have in your life. You’ll be making healthy meals for your family. You’ll be living the vibrant life you wanted, full of energy and ready to meet new challenges. You’ll laugh more. You’ll have more get-up-and-go. Your knees won’t hurt. And girl, you can shakey shakey in a Zumba class like nobody’s business!
You can do this. You have all the tools and resources that you need to succeed. And anytime you start to give up, remember one thing: Bobbi has been your Weight Watchers leader for the last 12 years off and on. No matter how long it’s been since you last showed up at a meeting, she has always welcomed you because she has always known that you can do this. That’s an awful lot of faith in you, and believe it or not, you’re going to be developing that same strong faith in yourself. You’re going to discover during this journey, in ways you can’t begin to imagine, that you really can do anything you put your mind to.
Rockstar, go get it!
*Big props and thanks to my fellow member, Diane, for this great bit of wisdom! Diane knows from whence she speaks. She’s lost over 100 pounds. Go Girl!!