Falling Off the Wagon

A commitment is characterized by a series of ups and downs.

A commitment is characterized by a series of ups and downs, successes and failures

I had an interesting experience that I think speaks to a major problem with weight loss. I was attending a fundraiser for a charitable organization I support. This was a high class affair and as such, I was out of place.  The nice thing about being out of place is that it give you the opportunity to notice things. The nice thing about high class affiars is that the food was unbelievable. In the beginning, there was an outdoor portion with hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries. We then moved locales for the appetizers – sushi, london broil, sliders, onion rings, cocktails, and more. There was so much unbelievable food here that I thought this was the actual dinner, but it wasn’t. We then went to the dinner where there was roasted lamb and potatoes arranged like a work of art on a plate. I ate until I could eat no more then I ate some more. Then there was dessert. Tables full of crepes, ice cream with toppings, cakes, mousse, and on and on. I ate to the point where I was almost sick – but it was sooo good. I shudder at the thought of the calorie counts.

I went home and thought about all the people out there struggling with weight. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work so hard to watch everything you eat – to struggle with the intense cravings and temptations – only to have it all fall apart in a day of disastrous binge eating like the one I had. There are many ways to respond to this breakdown. One of the most common is to throw in the towel and give up. Just listen to the ever-present voice in your head that tells you you’ll never be thin so why bother. Maybe you’ve been here before – you wouldn’t be alone.

Another option is to remember your commitment to weight loss.

I would like to redefine what a commitment is. To do that, we have to clarify a great misconception about commitment that exists in the world today. The following is taken from The Weight Loss Counter Revolution book.

Many people make the mistake of thinking they are creating a new commitment to something when in fact they are actually creating an expectation—an expectation of perfection. The distinction between a commitment and an expectation is especially important with respect to your commitment to weight loss. You are embarking on a lifelong journey. Nobody expects perfection and neither should you. Commitments are characterized by ups and downs (just ask anyone who has been in a committed relationship for many decades). On your weight loss journey, you too will have ups and downs. There will be moments when you are not at your best or giving your all. Those are the moments that you are most susceptible to losing your focus and falling off the tracks. Those are the moments when you absolutely must remember your commitment and get yourself back on track and back in action.
So what’s the difference?
A commitment is made over time. It is by nature characterized by a series of successes and failures, of ups and downs. When you do not fulfill your commitment you are left temporarily down but, since you know your commitment is over time, you are prepared to take action to get back on track.

An expectation, on the other hand, is created for a single moment in time. When the expectation is not met, failure is the result and there is no undoing the failure. When you do not fulfill your expectation you are left with nothing but disappointment. There is no action to take.

As an example:
Jenny Downer has tried every diet plan there is and they all have failed. She never knew how her body worked and never understood the importance of high intensity exercise and calorie counting. She just bought this amazing new book about weight loss called The Weight Loss Counter Revolution. She is now fully aware of how the fat is hurting her body and what she has to do to get healthy. She starts counting calories and gets a personal trainer. After a few months, however, things at work get stressful and she stops counting so strictly and stops logging her workouts. She starts gaining the weight back. She gets depressed and, after gaining a significant amount of weight back, she realizes that she has totally failed and gives up completely.

Sarah Sunshine has struggled with her weight her entire life. She was raised in a home that was full of junk food, fast food, and couch potatoes. She never learned how her body works and why she has such a hard time losing weight. She sees a seminar by this doctor who is crazy enough to think that his book can revolutionize people’s relationship to their weight. He thinks that the solution to the obesity epidemic is rooted in ending the ignorance that is rampant across the country. Being generally optimistic and giving him the benefit of the doubt, she gives the book try. She is taken by this ‘counter revolution’ and commits herself to a permanent lifestyle change. She realizes that it will take a long time to overcome her genetics and bad habits and that she may not always live up to her expectations but she gets to work nonetheless. Things are going great and the weight is coming off but, after a few months, her boyfriend dumps her and she gets depressed. She stops calorie counting and her workouts aren’t as intense. She starts gaining the weight back. She looks in the mirror and is not happy with what she sees. Remembering that her commitment is for the rest of her life, she picks up her copy of The Weight Loss Counter Revolution and reads it again and gets herself back on the train. After a few years, the ups greatly outnumber the downs and she weighs as much as she did in high school and the pounds are still coming off.

You are embarking on a lifelong journey. Nobody expects perfection and neither should you. You will have ups and downs. There will be moments when you are not at your best or giving your all. When you have the downs, remember your commitment and get yourself back on track and back in action.

As for me, I remembered my commitment to motivate and inspire others to life a healthier life. To do so I need to participate in the lifestyle change I am advocating.  So this morning, I went on myfitnesspal.com (the calorie counting app I use) and decreased my daily calorie intake 1650 a day.  I’m still living my commitment to a healthy.  Today is a new day.  What would your day look like today if you were living your commitment?

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19 thoughts on “Falling Off the Wagon

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  6. I think this is probably the most challenging obstacle for someone trying to lose weight. Many of us, myself included, find it all too easy to fall off the wagon, throw in the towel and just eat the ENTIRE bag of Doritos!! This is an eye-opener and I realize that it’s not about perfection, but it’s important to refocus and get back on track when we experience setbacks.

    • The source of the majority of our disappointment in life comes from the world not meeting our unrealistic expectation. If we can live our lives by creating commitments that empower us instead of expectations that disappoint us we can drive the wagon instead of falling of it. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Great Post. Everybody can make mistakes.. but everybody also needs to know they aren’t alone. Some people are fortunate enough to experience great things in an instant but the majority of us know great things come with hard work, time, and dedication. Keep up the good work

    • I agree completely. Hard work and dedication can only be effective over time. If you’re looking in the mirror or on the scale every day, you’re not likely to see changes and you’re more likely to get discouraged.

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