Seven Steps to Weight Loss Success

Recently, an insightful reader emailed me saying, "Did you know that if I just lost one pound a month since I started trying to lose weight, I would have lost 150 pounds? But I have not seen fitness advice that says, "Take your time. Relax! Flow into the program." That's why I stopped buying Shape and other fitness magazines because you have to work on goals others have for you. I guess pace yourself is the operative word."

Around that same time, cyberpal Rhenz Jazul sent me the "Seven Steps to Success" from the book "Success One Day at a Time" by motivational author John Maxwell. The gist of Maxwell's message is that the secret of success is found in your daily routine. He believes that most people are not successful in their endeavors in life because they don't understand that the only way to achieve success is to do it one day at a time.

During that same period that I was receiving these two messages, I had just bought Maxwell's book "The Winning Attitude". Too much of a coincidence, I thought. This is obviously meant to be the topic for my next column.

Maxwell's observations about daily routines are true for all aspects of life, including weight loss. Many people fail because they want instant success. Fitness magazines, TV infomercials and diet gimmick marketing have led them to believe that losing weight is all a matter of buying a specific product or program. It's relatively easy to lose weight through crash dieting or diet pills. It is maintaining the weight loss that is difficult because it has to be sustained on a daily basis.

Of course, like my perceptive reader pointed out, weight loss is "a cycle and web of a lot of issues that does not end with a simple formula". There are many other factors involved in losing weight, especially the psychological and emotional aspects that cause people to overeat. Nevertheless, being impatient with their weight loss progress is a significant part of why many people fail.

Many successful "losers" I know have applied the seven steps outlined by Maxwell without their even realizing it. By "successful", I mean that these people have maintained their weight for at least five years. Using Maxwell's work as inspiration, I have modified his seven steps to apply to weight loss.

Make a daily commitment to your goal
Success does not come by losing a large amount of weight rapidly and then trying to maintain the weight loss. It comes from making a daily commitment to slowly change unhealthy aspects of your lifestyle. Instead of dieting, commit yourself to eating more fruits and vegetables. This will replace some of the unhealthy food you normally eat. Make a commitment to get at least thirty minutes of physical activity (start with ten minutes). This is more realistic than jumping into two hours of exercise daily when you haven't exercised in ten years.

Value the process more than the end result
Learn to enjoy eating healthy food. Take delight in the simple joy of moving your body. "Forget" about your weight loss. Do not obsess over it. If you focus only on the end result of losing weight, you will look upon sensible eating and exercise as "punishment" - something to be stopped when you lose your weight. Is it any wonder why people lose and gain weight in cycles?

Don't wait for inspiration
Maxwell quotes basketball great Jerry West as saying, "You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good. People who go far do so because they motivate themselves and give life their best, regardless of how they feel. To be successful, persevere." If you stick to your workout program only on the days when you feel like it, I can guarantee that you will miss many days of exercise.

Also, many people lose weight for the wrong reasons. I know too many women who lose weight only because they suspect their husband is fooling around. When the marriage crisis is over, they promptly put back all the pounds they lost. Lose weight for yourself and no one else because you are worth it. You deserve to have a healthy and fit body.

Be willing to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity
Maxwell writes, "One of the greatest lessons is: Pay now, play later. For everything in life, you pay a price. You choose whether you will pay it on the front end or the back end. If you pay first, then you will enjoy greater rewards in the end - and those rewards taste sweeter."

"Sacrifice" now in your younger years by eating properly and exercising regularly and you will reap the rewards later when you are older by being able to enjoy a quality life instead of being sick, tired, and miserable.

Dream big
Maxwell believes that "the potential that exists within us is limitless and largely untapped. When you think of limits, you create them." You have to have faith in yourself that you can change your lifestyle and take control of your health. People who, from the outset, think that they aren't going to make it are going to fail. Your attitude determines your performance.

Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to weight loss, your "dreams" have to be realistic and healthy. Your dream will turn into a nightmare if you come from a stocky family and you wish to be as thin as model Kate Moss. Aim for a weight and measurement that is appropriate for you.

Plan your priorities
Maxwell observes that "one thing that all successful people have in common is that they have mastered the ability to manage their time. First and foremost, they have organized themselves."

Weight loss and fitness have to be one of your life's priorities if you want to succeed. Successful people organize their busy schedules so they always have time to exercise. They plan ahead by eating something healthy before going to a party. They make an effort to bring "baon" to work if the cafeteria serves only greasy and high calorie food.

Nothing of value comes without sacrifice
Nothing in life comes for free. No one achieves success without some form of discipline and sacrifice. This concept is so important that Maxwell stresses it twice. Losing weight doesn't mean starving yourself or depriving yourself of 'goodies' like ice cream and cake. After all, what would life be like without these simple pleasures? However, to lose weight and keep it off forever, you cannot eat these things on a daily basis (unless you are blessed with a very fast metabolism and good genes to prevent high cholesterol levels). There will be more days when you have to make a choice to eat healthier and lower calorie food but there will also be a few days when you can indulge and enjoy them without any guilt.

The best weight loss is slow
Traditional weight loss advice says that two pounds a week is a realistic amount to aim for. This is usually true when you first start to lose weight but after the initial ten pounds, researchers say it is more like half a pound a week. So, relax. Take your time. Every day, you are getting closer to your goal. Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? Success goes to those who do it one step at a time, one day at a time.

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