Our world is a fast-paced entity. We can travel from one side of the globe to another in less than a day, access information on the internet more swiftly than you can open a book, and cook food in minutes instead of hours. While getting things done quickly is often a positive, when it comes to weight loss, faster is not necessarily better. If you are in a rush to get to your final weight, take the time to consider what you are doing and how the process will affect your life forever. Most of my clients and people I talk to about weight loss want to lose weight yesterday. They are in such a hurry to get to a smaller size or lower number on the scale that they will do anything to get there. Although I certainly understand the feeling behind this, I also know from experience that rushing through the weight loss process usually results in problems instead of progress. Here are some of the potential problems that come when you rush the weight loss process:
- No long-term change of habits
- Unhealthy food choices that can harm your health
- Choosing to take supplements or weight loss drugs that don’t work in the long term and may be dangerous
- Exercising beyond your capabilities and becoming injured
- Health concerns such as gallbladder attacks, eating disorders, suppressed immune system, and thyroid problems
- Imbalance of nutrients if you don’t eat the right types of foods
- Excess skin may not tighten up as well if you lose weight very quickly.
Although rapid weight loss isn’t always bad, I advocate losing weight in a sustainable way that gives you plenty of time to prepare yourself for maintenance in the healthiest way possible. When you lose weight at a reasonable pace you give you mind a chance to catch up with the changes that are taking place in your body. For example, if you lose 10 pounds in two weeks by drastically cutting calories and exercising like a fiend, you will likely drop a dress or pant size, but have you learned anything? Probably not. All you’ve learned is how to drop weight quickly—not how to prepare nutritious meals day after day or exercise in a way that you enjoy and can keep up. Nor will you learn what long-term weight maintenance might look for you. In my experience, people who rush through the process of weight loss are more likely to gain it back. That’s exactly the opposite of what you want to happen. If you find yourself trying to rush the process, I want you to slow down and do the following:
- Take time for yourself and get in touch with the whys of your weight gain and why you feel ready to lose weight at this time in your life.
- Practice planning a week or two of meals and stick to your meal plan the entire time. This gives you practice for planning later after you reach your goal.
- Break down your weight loss goals into 5-pound increments. Be satisfied with every 5 pounds you lose and reflect on what you did to lose those pounds. Examine what worked and what didn’t and apply the lessons to future maintenance.
- Monitor your physical and mental health. Be on the lookout for improvements in both as you gain control of your eating habits and see the scale drop at a reasonable pace. Seeing improvements will help you convince yourself that you are doing the right thing by taking your time losing weight.
Embrace new experiences that you wouldn’t or couldn’t have done at a higher weight. I loved being able to hike and swim with my kids, walk without being winded, and shop for regular-sized clothing with my friends.