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Honesty Is The Key To Successful Weight Loss

Jonny Bowden
From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

Listen carefully: weight loss begins in the mind.

I see people in my online counseling practice all the time who are searching for the perfect strategy, the "correct" combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate, the diet secret of the stars or the magic pill that will help them burn fat and get the body they want. Many of these people fail -- but not necessarily because they don’t have the right information. More often they fail because they haven’t taken the first step, a step I’m going to discuss in this column. And, it’s a step that is absolutely necessary if your plan (whatever it turns out to be) is to succeed.

All actions start with a change -- no matter how small -- in consciousness. And here’s the first step toward making that change: a scrupulous, meticulous, soul-searching inventory of exactly how you really feel about losing weight and exactly what you are willing (and in many cases, not willing) to do.

Far too often I hear from people who really want validation for what they’re already doing, even though it’s clearly not working. I ask them if they’re willing -- really willing -- to change some basic assumptions about what it takes to lose weight, and I’m going to ask you the same question right now.

See, everyone thinks losing weight is a good idea in principle, but when they find out it’s going to take more than just walking on the treadmill a few times a week and cutting back on dessert, they suddenly remember a million reasons why their lifestyle just doesn’t permit them to do anything differently than they’re doing right now.

And you all know the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

So, the first step to losing weight is to ask yourself if you really want to. Give yourself permission to say “no.” Lots of people are really comfortable in heavier bodies, for many reasons way beyond the scope of this article. (And by the way, you can be fit and fat!) Others are fearful of change. Still others don’t want to really contemplate all the serious changes they have to make in the way they think about food, time management -- indeed, self-care in general.

So, be honest: no one’s looking and no one’s judging. If you’re not ready, I’m OK with that, and you should be, too. Only if you give yourself the space to say “no” can you really choose, in a meaningful way, to say “yes.”

This rigorous honesty is going to serve you well as you begin your weight loss journey. And, it’s going to start with the food diary. People absolutely hate the food diary. Believe me, I know. Yet, it’s vitally necessary. Unless you’re able to look honestly and dispassionately at what you currently consume, your chances of making meaningful changes are significantly diminished. We’ll talk about the food diary in the next column.

Meanwhile, here’s what I want you to do:

1. Buy a journal. You’re gonna need it, and it’s going to be your best friend on this journey. Feel free to start writing in it, but I’ll give you more specific instructions next time. For now, just make sure you have it on hand.

2. Make a list of three things you most dislike about your body. (No more than three!)

3. Make a list of three things you could do right now that would make a difference today. (Hint: these things could be as simple as refusing dessert just for tonight or cutting portions in half for just one meal. And here’s a note to your inner voice: Don’t invalidate whatever you come up with by saying “Well, that wouldn’t make that much of a difference.” That’s not what’s important here. What’s important here is that you list something -- some tangible action -- that would be a step, no matter how small, in the direction you want to go. We’ll worry about how big or important it’s going to turn out to be later.)

4. Make a list of three things that you are giving up by not being fitter and having a body you can be happy in. What is it costing you? (If you’re really ambitious and want some extra credit, try tackling this one as well: What do you gain by keeping things the way they are? What’s the hidden payoff?)

Are you ready to let Jonny and eDiets help you get started on the road to weight loss? Join eDiets and you'll be able to participate in Jonny's September chats. Don't forget that eDiets has online and printable journals to help you stay focused. Let the weight loss begin!

Jonny Bowden is a certified nutritionist, longtime personal trainer and Associate Editor, Total Health Magazine. He has been answering reader questions on weight loss, exercise, and nutrition for the last three years on his weekly iVillage column and has the most highly rated daily online radio show on e-yada. He is the author of Living the Low Carb Life: Choosing the Diet that's Right for You: from Atkins to the Zone (Sterling 2004) and Jonny Bowden's Shape Up! The eight week program to transform your body, your health and your life (Perseus 2001) and Shape Up Workbook: Eight Weeks to Diet and Fitness Success with Recipes, Tips and More (Perseus 2002). Jonny lives with his wife in New York City.

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