How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on August 30, 2017.
When people ask me what is my biggest achievement, they expect me to speak about my eighteen honorary doctorates or about my twenty books in twenty-six languages or anything else from my professional career. Or maybe about my family life that I have the most wonderful wife and children I am very proud of.
I say, “I lost ten pounds and kept them off.” That is my greatest achievement.
They think I am joking.
I am not.
It is my greatest achievement because it has been the most difficult thing I have ever done.
I have been trying to lose weight and keep it off for years. Actually, forty years. I have tried every possible or known diet except taking pills to lose weight. I was scared of the side effects.
I tried Weight Watchers and Atkins and Zone, and even eating only watermelon with feta cheese all day long. I would lose some weight and get it all back with a vengeance. I was getting heavier over time rather than lighter.
And I had a very serious reason to lose weight. I needed to lose weight to lose blood pressure, which was killing my kidneys. Good enough reason and still could not do it. Forty years of trial and error. Wrote blogs about it. Read everything I could find about it. No success.
Because of being on dialysis I have to be on a strict diet. It is forcing me to become an accountant in personality style which is one hundred eighty degrees the opposite of who I am.
I have to plan my meals in detail. Measure everything. Plan how much of sodium, potassium, phosphorus I can have. I plan my meals every evening and eat exactly what I planned to eat and voilà, surprise: it works. I lost weight because while measuring sodium, etc., I started to measure also calories.
But why does it work? I used to count calories before and it did not work.
This time it works not because I am scared that if I do not follow the diet I might die. I had this scare in other instances and still did not follow the diet.
Why does it work this time?
Here it is:
To stay on a diet requires willpower.
Willpower is like a bank account. You use it, you lose it. The more you test it, the weaker it becomes.
In my case on subject called food, my willpower bank account is very, very slim. In other words, I have none. I can’t say no to food that gives me pleasure. I have millions of explanations why I must, absolutely must, eat pleasure food, although I know it is not good for me. Willpower? Nada.
When I PLAN—notice, this is the secret of keeping weight down—when I PLAN what to eat for the next day ONLY, the willpower needed to stay on the diet is only for twenty-four hours. Actually twelve, because the rest of the time we sleep or are very busy.
To have willpower for just one day is possible. Enough willpower for just ONE DAY.
This reminds me of one of the lines in the Reiki prayer. “Just for this day, I will not be angry.” Or “Just for this day, I will have gratitude.”
To have a lifetime commitment to a diet that is not as pleasurable as we like our food to be, to exercise, to live with gratitude, ah, that is too much to expect. At least too much for my willpower “bank account.”.Can’t do it? One day? Just for one day? OK. Sure!
There is nothing more permanent than temporary continuous.
Just commit to one day. That is all. And repeat it every day. It works. Try it.
Wish you well.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes