Three Motivational Steps to Lose Ten Pounds Over Six Weeks
“It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.”
It’s a quote often credited to Mark Twain. W.C. Fields delivers a similar version of this statement regarding his quitting drinking. It’s a great quip, regardless of its origins. And it’s one I can claim myself when I think about my attempts at losing weight over the years.
I need to make clear before getting into the action steps because I am not an expert in nutrition, physiology, or food science. To look at me, I’m not what most people would consider overweight. Being a guy, I get it that weight drops more quickly and less effort than it generally does with women. That’s mostly a matter of hormones, as I understand it.
The tips I provide are also nothing new. In fact, you’ve heard them all before. All I’m really providing is something to think about — a spark of motivation that can be fanned-to-flame as we slide into the holiday season. With the recent spike in positive Covid-19 cases, many of us feel unmotivated, housebound. Maybe there’s a sense of gloom and doom that pervades.
1. Get Moving
It boils down to making a new habit. Often it means talking yourself from one step to the next. I promise, once you get into a routine for about two weeks, it will become a practice that you will look forward to with anticipation.
Moving doesn’t mean you need to be sweating like a pig or crushing it to death on an exercise machine. I do have an elliptical, but I use that as a supplemental alternative when a brisk outside walk is not an option due to bad weather or other constraints.
Find a nice walking route — preferably in a greener area. Time is more important than distance. Start by mapping out a thirty-forty-five-minute course. When you’ve taken your daily constitutional, I guarantee you’ll feel all the better for it.
Some days it won't be easy to get started. The best thing I’ve found to overcome lethargy is to take one step towards your goal. Each subsequent step leads to the next.
For example — first get dressed for your walk. Once you are in your walking clothes, it will be easier to talk yourself into a short walk. I promise, even if you tell yourself that today you will only commit to a short 10-minute stint, you’ll likely go beyond that and never finish with regret.
Once you start going, you’ll continue going. It happens to me at least once or twice a week. And if possible, get some sunshine. It’s a bit of a challenge during the winter months, but you can do it. You’ll feel energized for chasing it.
2. Motivate Your Move with Story Time
I finally surrendered and subscribed to Audible. I somehow had this notion that listening to books through digital means would either put me to sleep or that it would be difficult to focus my attention.
A part of me even felt like it was cheating. As if the act of reading the actual words on a page is somehow more honorable than consuming the same content through my ear gate. Rubish. The production quality of many of these books is amazing. Many of them are read by the authors themselves. And some books have a cast of notable celebrity actors doing the voiceovers. Some are enhanced with sound effects and musical scores.
I just finished listening to Bram Stoker’s Dracula on the app. The characters are performed by a host of reputable actors, including Tim Curry and Alan Cumming.
When I first saw the listening time was going to be a commitment of more than 15-hours, I thought it perhaps too daunting. Then I figured, if I listen during my hour walk every day, I will have a bit more than two weeks of great story-time.
I like to end my session with a cliff-hanger. This gives me something to look forward to the next day as I pick up the story. Next up is The Old Man and the Sea, read by Donald Sutherland.
Blinkest is a great app when you want a shorter read. This app is designed to get the key points, or “Blinks” from non-fiction books. Their library is extensive. These books are condensed into about 20-minute reads or listening time. I prefer Blinkest for quick motivational and self-help content. Think of it as increasing your knowledge while decreasing your waistline.
Both Audible and Blinkest are subscription-based services and require a monthly/yearly fee. I feel they are reasonably priced for the excellent content they provide.
If you’re not ready to commit to a money output yet, thousands of great podcasts are free. Humor, entertainment, true-crime, writing, politics… the categories are endless. Many public libraries now offer digital access to books on a limited-term basis through such apps as Hoopla and Kanopy. Invest in a nice, comfortable pair of walking shoes and earbuds.
3. It’s a Matter of Eating and Treating
Yes, I know that eating right has to be part of any multi-step weight-loss program. That’s if you’re serious about dropping some pounds. But do we really need to starve ourselves to achieve our goals? Absolutely not.
There’s a ton of press these days touting the myriad benefits of intermittent fasting. Now I’ve done plenty of juice-fasts over the years, and I attempted a water fast once. That was rough. I felt weak and depleted. Juice-fasting is challenging but manageable.
You are always hungry but feel those waves of energy from the fruit and vegetable nutrients afforded throughout the term of the fast. I generally did these fasts for about 5 days.
The 16/8 Fast Method
I read about a trendy intermittent fast called 16/8 fasting. Without getting into all the science surrounding this fast, I can tell you that it works. Again, nothing comes overnight, much like the regular walking routine— you must practice until it becomes an established habit.
The 16/8 refers to fasting for 16 hours and an 8-hour window of eating. Those time frames can be built into any 24 hour day as it works for your schedule. I generally eat between the hours of noon and 8:00 pm. It’s a schedule that works for me. This is a much easier fast than the others I mentioned.
I do drink coffee and water before noon. What usually happens is I get into my workday and get distracted with other tasks to think much about eating. When giving myself a limited timeframe in which to eat, I find that I’m also more mindful about what goes into my mouth. I feel like I make smarter choices. I appreciate the food more. I eat more slowly and enjoy the experience.
I still eat my share of “junky-food.” This is mostly in the form of salty snacks, pizza, and carbs. I do not drink any sugary drinks, and I try to avoid sweets. Sensible portions with a focus on plant-based, high fiber, nutrient-dense is key. Refraining from second helpings is also good practice.
I do enjoy a good IPA beer and red wine — probably more regularly than I will admit. When I indulge in something sweet, I try to find those sweets that have something nutritionally redeeming about them.
Dark chocolate-covered almonds are one of my go-to’s. I’ve made it a practice that I allow a real indulgence along with the rest of my family on Sunday. Pie, ice cream, cake. Whatever.
We still want to enjoy the good things, don’t we? It’s less about being restrictive and rigid with ourselves than it is about finding a sensible balance that works for us over the long haul. I find practicing some discipline in some areas of my life spills over into other areas.
We don’t want to beat ourselves up or put unnecessary guilt on ourselves when we occasionally slip — and you will slip at times. I have lost more than 10 pounds over the last several weeks by making a few small, incremental changes. I’m enjoying the results. I sleep better. I feel more energized. I’m less stressed and anxious.
And always keep in mind, the path to success can often be a squiggly line.