The weight management group had a large turnout tonight and an animated and productive discussion of how to get started on and keep moving successfully on the path of weight control.
Many members of the group have had mixed success over the past two years. They lose small amounts of weight and then stall or fall backwards, even though they truly need to lose substantial weight to protect their health either right now or in the not-too-distant future. Why?
We have discussed the issue of motivation many times in the group, especially focusing on members who clearly know that they need to lose weight for their health, who are educated about proper eating and healthy but tasty food choices, and who learned proper portion control techniques — but who simply do not act in accordance with that knowledge. When asked what stops them from taking action, they say they don’t know. They say they want to do better, they come to meetings to work on the problem, but at home, at work, in real life they take no consistent corrective action. Again, why?
Our surprise guest speaker tonight was a middle-aged member who had seen me in early May in the office, when he weighed 198 pounds. He was counseled at that visit on weight and closely related medical issues with an educational and motivational discussion for probably the fifteenth time, the first 14 attempts having made no discernible impact. When he returned in follow-up in early September, to my pleasant surprise he looked noticeably different, weighed 177 pounds (a 21# loss in 4 months), and showed substantial improvement in all his biological markers (sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure being the obvious ones). He of course received a gold star on his hand.
The Start Button Discovered
How did you do that, I asked? What got you motivated? How did you find your start button at long last? I requested he join the group to discuss his transformation.
Tonight he answered succinctly that he finally decided that controlling his eating and reducing his weight was his priority not just his desire. To him this meant it would come in front of many other desires and nice-to-haves. It was a must-have if he wanted to live a normal, healthy and long life and not die young like many of his close relatives. Desires are wonderful, but they compete with other desires. We make such choices every day. But your priority remains at the top of the heap and is not traded off for lesser desires.
This commitment to reforming his entire approach to nutrition as his absolute priority has been his motivator and guiding principle for the past four months. It has helped him to explore new foods and ways of eating that are tasty and nutritious and satisfying to him but offer sensible nutrition, and to throw aside or fend off those truly pervasive foods (you know, the unneeded bread, pizza, miscellaneous junk food, high-calorie “snacks” and so forth) that were killing him slowly or not so slowly.
The notion of priority, that proper eating is the priority above all, as an organizing and thereafter motivating principle was understood by and resonated with most of the group members. Many members observed or implied that their lack of progress, or backsliding, reflected that weight control was not really their priority. An important nice-to-have, but not the absolute priority.
So we are thankful for one excellent example where the Start Button was discovered by the person declaring weight control his priority, which enabled him to sustain important behavior change that will almost certainly improve his well-being and simplify and lengthen his life.
Other members were clearly listening and participating. Is weight loss their priority as well? Will they similarly find that decision to be as motivating and sustaining as did our guest member. In short, will they also find their start buttons? We meet again in two weeks.