Saturday, December 28, 2013

Getting Started on Your Diet - Finding Motivation to Lose Weight

Two extremely irritating quotes that screech across the chalkboard of my conscience have been the most motivating weight loss words in my life.

"Eat to live, not live to eat!"

I don't know who said it, but I first saw this phrase on a refrigerator magnet, featuring a hefty-looking pig. It was given to the person who lost the least amount of weight in our weight loss club, and the magnet changed hands from week to week. The pig was a real motivator, partly because no one wanted to accept the humbling "prize," but mostly because it was good advice!

When I find my scales tipping the wrong way, it's because my hourly thoughts are consumed by where I'm going to eat this weekend, what sounds good for supper, or whether I have enough Peanut M&M's to munch my way through the day. I live to eat!

The main focus of my life should not be food. I should be eating just enough so that I am no longer hungry-and hunger pangs between meals is not a bad thing. That is the premise of the Weigh Down Diet, an inspirational weight loss book written by dietician Gwen Shamblin.

Gwen encourages readers to begin a small group book study, focusing on weight loss and spiritual support. Her weight loss plan is simple-eat smaller helpings, find support in like-minded people, and find your motivation in God. I've seen the results in one of our local churches. Like most good weight loss programs, it works-if you follow the plan. Eat to live!

"...Whose god is their belly" (Phillipians 3:18)

What a humbling analogy that I stumbled across in my Bible reading! Is that what my rolls of fat says to the world...I worship food so much that I can't get enough of it? To me, that paints a picture of an extremely large person seated at a 24-hour buffet table, who never gets up to leave. He can barely breathe, yet he keeps stuffing more food into his mouth. The analogy portrays an addiction that will surely lead to an early grave.

Is that me? Is that where I'm headed? Perhaps that is an extreme picture, and most of us have not reached that point.

But if my belly is my "god," it still means that food is my main focus in life. What caused my focus to become so imbalanced and unhealthy? What took my thoughts off of helping other people and making a positive difference in the world?

Stress is usually the culprit behind excessive weight gain. And allowing ourselves to fall into depression is the most common response to stress-which adds to our stress. This creates a downward spiral in our emotional and physical health which actually causes our bellies to get fatter!

Dr. Pamela Peeke addresses the fact that stress causes fat to form around our bellies. In her easy-to-read book, Fighting Fat After Forty, she offers a highly detailed description of your body's internal response to emotional upheaval-and how damaging stress can be.

In a nutshell, Peeke's book tells readers how we must change our response to stress. She then gives very specific and practical guidelines for losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The book is based on research from the National Institutes of Health, and includes case studies of clients who have sought out Peeke's assistance.

I have found this book to be extremely helpful in pursuing my own fitness goals, and lost 10 pounds in my first month of applying the principles from her book (which may not be the case for everyone).

Keeping a Journal: Chart Your Weight Loss

Weight loss experts say that keeping a food journal and an exercise journal is very important in a weight loss program. Dr. Peeke says that keeping a journal provides "valuable feedback about how we are learning to care for ourselves."

If you are reading this article, you probably desire a healthier lifestyle; you want to look and feel good. Now that's the kind of motivation that gets results. Your journal will serve as a travel diary toward your destination-a written record of the smooth highways on which you made good progress (weight loss) and those back roads that slowed you down with detours and potholes (too many calories and not enough calorie-burning).

What should your journal include?

Your Exercise Journal:

o Type of aerobic exercise

o Type of weight-bearing exercise

o Number of minutes or reps

o Distance walked or ridden on bike

o Comments about the weather or feelings

Your Food Journal

o Write down each meal, and each snack, being as specific as possible

o Keep track of daily calories, using a calorie counter

o Keep track of fat grams, for each food eaten

Here is the ultimate fitness tool that combines your exercise journal with your food journal, and allows you to keep track of not only your weight, but also how many inches you have lost-which is what really counts! is a unique fitness web site that provides a quick, easy way for your family members (or friends) to track their progress.

The original fitness software program has received top reviews, in providing the most complete picture of your progress. Printable weight loss charts and graphs offer hard evidence of your efforts over the course of a week, month or year, showing which meal plan has worked best for you, and which exercises have had the most proven results.

The web site lets you select the specific foods and supplements you have eaten, and automatically calculates your intake of calories and fat grams.

If you are part of a weight loss support group or member of a fitness center, you will want to check out the Open Fitness web site.

I trust you have found something here to motivate you. Some weight loss groups offer money incentives-if you lose weight over the course of a week, you don't have to pay the collective pot. If you gain weight, however, you pay!

That has never worked for me-I just get discouraged and publicly humiliated! Keeping a written log of my weight loss and fitness journey is the motivation I need. True, a journal forces me to focus on eating. But it also reminds me that food (combined with exercise) is simply the necessary fuel to reach and maintain a healthy life.

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