What’s the first step in losing weight, and how can you ensure a successful long-term weight loss? These questions are answered with this first in a series of articles.
Former professional football player and running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Emmit Smith, adopted a credo from his high school football coach,” It’s a dream until you write it down, then it’s a goal. However, writing down your goals along with an elaborate, detailed plan for reaching those goals is not an achievement in itself.
Until you actually carry out your written plan, it’s just a “dream” on paper. Although you may expend a great amount of time and effort in fashioning, writing, and developing a plan for attaining your goals, all of the elaborate details, time, and research invested in formulating the plan are valueless if you don’t actually put the plan into action. This principle applies to implementing a weight-loss regimen as well.
To achieve a weight-loss goal, you must act, not just make plans to act. Although a plan for weight loss provides details of how to lose weight, your actions determine success or failure in your endeavor; thus, the specific weight-loss and/or diet regimen that you choose to lose weight is not as important as your motivation or will to lose the weight.
Accordingly, your motivation (and reason) to lose weight is paramount to success in weight loss because your motivation provides the impetus to action. A perfect diet plan or workout routine that is written down but never actually utilized is valueless.
Although the planner may believe that the effort involved in creating an elaborate weight-loss plan is a noteworthy accomplishment of itself, the individual’s actions will ultimately dictate success or failure. The weight-loss plan itself is important, but a poorly planned weight-loss regimen can still yield positive (though short-lived) results if the planner has a single-minded obsession with losing weight.
The diet regimen adopted by actor Christian Bale in preparation for his role as an anorexic industrial worker in the movie, The Machinist, serves as an example of how an individual executes an ill-planned weight-loss regimen with single-minded determination may still result in success.
According to People magazine, Bale’s weight-loss diet consisted of “coffee, cigarettes, and an apple a day.” This atrocious diet was successful for a period of time. The actor eventually lost 63 pounds; however, this diet could only be maintained for a limited period of time and certainly not for a lifetime. Nonetheless, Christian Bale’s diet plan worked; he lost weight.
The lesson to be learned from the example is that even the most horrendous plan may result in a successful weight loss. The actor, Christian Bale, was motivated (or maybe obsessed) by his desire to convincingly portray the character in The Machinist.
Oftentimes success is more dependent on the individual’s resolve and actions than on the written plan. The first step in losing weight is establishing the correct mindset. The mind is the most important “muscle” that you will utilize during a successful weight-loss regimen because the mind controls your body and your actions.
Anorexia nervosa is defined in Tabers Medical Encyclopedia 20th Edition as “an eating disorder marked by weight loss, emaciation, a disturbance in body image, and a fear of weight gain.” Anorexia nervosa is classified as a psychological disorder, and the disorder is an example of how powerful a weapon that the mind can be. The individual with anorexia nervosa decides to lose an extreme amount of weight, and he or she is disturbingly successful in the endeavor.
Although researchers cannot ascertain an exact cause of anorexia, some researchers believe that anorexia is closely linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder (2000, Gordon, p. 33). Whatever the underlying cause, an individual with anorexia certainly has a single-minded compulsion to lose weight, and writing down his or her goal of weight loss is not the determining factor for transforming (or rather destroying) his/her body.
The reason for mentioning the disorder, anorexia nervosa, is to emphasize the power of the mind in transforming the body. Anorexia nervosa is an extreme example of the mind’s influence on one’s actions and self-perception, but it is an effective example precisely because of this extreme.
The old adage, “work smarter, not harder,” is the rationale for developing plans for weight loss or any other endeavor. However, if one is obsessed enough – working harder may produce dramatic results despite a mediocre plan. Accordingly, the first step in successful weight loss is achieving the right mindset, i.e., you must have a good enough personal reason for losing the weight to motivate you.
An individual possessed by a maniacal obsession to carry out a poorly conceived, barely efficient plan is likely to have more success than an individual with an excellent plan but a lack of will to carry out the plan. In conclusion, to be successful at weight loss, you must first have a purpose and motivation for losing weight. Your ultimate goal is not to regain the weight that you lose and to maintain your health.
As far as planning for weight-loss goals, your weight-loss plan should be just detailed enough to ensure that you receive enough nutrition to maintain your health and enough calories to maintain your metabolism. The next article in this series addresses some of the necessary elements of long-term weight loss in more detail.
The most important thing to remember is that you must be motivated enough to lose the weight for successful weight loss. As the series continues, examples of individuals with the proper mindset and planning will be presented.