Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind

 Recycling Blog Photos--Good for the Earth,
 and Cheaper than Getting Sued for Copyright Infringement!

There is a lot of advice out there about how to lose weight, some of which is helpful and some of which is just plain creepy. Anyone else catch that recent tip about infesting yourself with roundworms?

So this isn't a post about how to lose weight. Instead, this is just a few of the 9,700 thoughts I have about the psychological aspects of weight loss.  It's my impression that a determined, focused, lifelong quest to shed excess pounds and keep them off can make most normal people at least slightly bonkers.

Including me! I have certainly not figured out the perfect formula for craving only healthy food in reasonable portions and enjoying complete happiness and joy with every aspect of my physical form. Yet, as usual, not being a perfect role model won't stop me from offering up a few words of advice, 'cause I'm hypocritical like that.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Herbal Magic Weight Loss and Nutrition Center, and per FTC requirement I am revealing that they compensated me with actual money (yippee!). Feel free to click on their links below if you're curious. Hint: they are not the obesity-fighting worm people.

But hey, I'm little and cute and will help you lose weight!

Three Thoughts for Retaining Your Sanity While Trying to Lose Weight

1. Manage Expectations

The problem with weight loss is that for most people, it's really freakin' hard.

If you expect yourself to stay on track every single day of your life and never mess up and keep making progress week after week after week... well, good luck with that. And do I make this same obvious point nearly every time I write a blog post? You bet I do.  Many of us need constant reminding.

So how do you use the Biggest Loser type success stories and inspirational weight loss bloggers and impressive "before" and "after" weight loss photos for encouragement, without setting expectations so high that you end up feeling discouraged and weak and lame?

My suggestion: Go ahead and indulge in sparkly shiny amazing expectations!  Envision continual breathtaking awesomeness if it helps you motivate yourself.  But then when you miss your targets, settle for any sort of forward progress, however halting or sporadic.

There is no reason to be all logical and consistent about goal attainment. You can go back and retroactively redefine "success" to be whatever you did, and praise the hell out of it, even if it was all about "learning experiences" and not about calories or pounds or inches.  You're training your mind for the long haul, which will include failures as well as successes.  Staying with it and not quitting is going to be a lot easier if you don't catastrophize and beat yourself up all the time.

And if you've hit a weight loss plateau?  Revisit Shadowduck's insightful post and read some of the comments therein.

2. Gals: Tame, But Don't Demonize, Your Vanity

Does this collar make me look fat?

We all know the sanest, healthiest motivation for weight loss is to be healthy and strong and fit, not just to try to "look hot." It is best to love your body for what it does, regardless of size, and stop trying to live up to hilariously unrealistic ideals perpetuated by our looks-obsessed media and popular culture.

And yet... we are human.  We are affected by those images.  Even if we believe passionately otherwise, it's hard not to internalize the constant brainwashing that the most important thing about a woman is the way she looks.  And she's supposed to look young, skinny, and flawless. So as much as we talk about staying slim for our health, it's hard not to be additionally motivated by vanity.

Which is fine when all is going well, because the two goals are served by the same healthy behavior: eating nutritious nonjunky food in reasonable portions and exercising.

But what about when it's not going fine?

Feeling 'ugly' and getting all depressed, stressed, and angry because we feel unattractive...  that's a bad idea.  Mental health is part of physical health, and having body image issues messes with your head, big-time.

But here's the thing: feeling crappy because we don't look like those magazine women, and then feeling crappy on top of that because we even care that we don't look like that... it doesn't help.  We just end up feeling twice as crappy as the women who are only obsessed with looks and don't even realize they shouldn't be.

And hey, it's human to want to look nice.  We want our homes to look nice, our kids to look nice, our work environments and clothing and even our mp3 players or grocery tote bags to look nice.  It would be unrealistic to carefully choose the perfect napkins to match your dinner plates and yet not give a crap what stares back at you in the mirror when you venture a peek.

So how to arrive at  a "reasonable" level of vanity that lets you appreciate success in both terms of both health and aesthetics, but that doesn't put your appearance at the center of your identity?

Suggestion: Think Like a Dude!

Guys don't obsess about looks and weight loss, though most would probably prefer to look buffed and strong and handsome rather than large and flabby and dorky.  Some make an effort to improve their health and appearance and some don't.  Some succeed and some quit. But, for most guys, looks and weight are not their entire identity.

They figure out what they are willing to do or not do, and then they do it or they don't do it, and then they just say, f--k it, there's a game on, and let it go.

Picture an average male of your same age and physical shape.  Would he say things to himself like:

"Oh my god I look like a whale in this outfit,  I can't go the hardware store until I find something more flattering!"

"I'd love a steak, but I'll just order salad for dinner so I don't look like a pig in front of the rest of the guys. I can stop for ice cream when no one is looking."

"I can't party on the pontoon boat with all my pals, I'd have to wear a bathing suit in public!" 

Seriously gals, you are a lot more than what your ass looks like in a pair of jeans. And you are going to regret the hell out if it if you don't figure this out until you are 95 by which time a pair of Depends is gonna have to fit in there too.

So try picturing yourself as a happy-go-lucky guy, who is going to make an effort not to croak from a heart attack prematurely, but is not going to spend a whole bunch of precious brain energy and time obsessing over what size pants he's wearing.  Life is short!

3. Seek Support and Help and Encouragement

One of the best things you can do about weight-loss induced stress or despair is discover that it is normal. You are not alone.  And there are tricks and tips and strategies to better your chances of success and keep you feeling good about yourself no matter how distant your goals seem or how sucky your progress is.

There are free things like blogs and forums and best friends. Reach out!  And if you're open to try to fit additional support into your budget there are all kinds options, like, gosh, wellness coaches! Or weight loss centers that have various nutrition programs! Or reality TV programs with big prizes and millions of people to cheer you on or laugh at you depending on how you handle yourself! Some options may be slightly less realistic than others.

Are you at peace with your weight and/or strategies for weight loss or maintenance? Or are you a little bit nutty? 

Photo of dog in mirror: jk3us

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