Motivation to lose weight can often be hard to get. But the New Year always seems to provide it, even if for just a short while. The key is to maintain this motivation.
I was doing some errands around town last week and was listening to NPR (National Public Radio). One of the topics was on New Year’s resolutions. Not surprisingly, one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. Almost any new beginning, such as the start of a new year, can be a very powerful motivation to lose weight…at least for a while. Several personal trainers at gyms were interviewed and the general consensus was that there is always a big rush to get gym memberships in January but most people stop going by the middle of February. Gym attendance often increases again in April since people want to get in shape to flaunt their “beach bodies” but after this, the crowd dwindles again…until next January and another new year.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, I go to the local community activity center for yoga class on Monday and Wendesday evenings. This community center also has an exercise room with free weights, weight machines, and aerobic equipment (Stairmasters, treadmills, elliptical trainers, etc.) inside. Unlike most of last year, this exercise room was packed with people as I passed by to go to my first yoga class of the year last Wednesday (January 2). Just guessing after observing how empty this room usually is for most of the year, I attribute this crowd as having the New Year’s motivation to lose weight but predict that, like mentioned by the personal trainers interviewed on NPR, attendance will die down.
If you look on the Internet, tips on getting the motivation to lose weight are everywhere. Sadly enough, this motivation to lose weight can be very short-lived. We humans are creatures of habit. After our initial bursts of good intentions, we tend to settle back into our comfort zones of whatever we typically do during most of the year.
How hard could it be to maintain our motivation to lose weight?
Humans have the “mindset” of most other living things like other mammals, and even on down to lowly bacteria, in that we want to get the most results for the least amount of energy expended. Most of us only want to tend to our issues after they occur rather than apply measures of prevention to keep them from occurring in the first place. This attitude is probably what prevents our ability to maintain any motivation to lose weight as well.
In another previous blog post, I wrote that losing weight is simple, just expend more calories than you ingest. Note that I said it is “simple”, not “easy”. It’s not rocket science to lose weight but it’s not easy either. If losing weight was easy, our nation’s much-publicized obesity epidemic wouldn’t exist, and weight loss products and services wouldn’t be the multibillion-dollar industry that it is now.
There are some hardcore people who say that losing weight is just a matter of willpower, i.e., getting more exercise and eating less food. I disagree. At the risk of offending the Creationists who stumble into this blog post, I think a lot of human development has to do with evolutionary changes over time. In short, the concept of “natural selection” accepted by most biologists that has allowed the survival of some species while others have gone extinct.
Humans have been programmed to overeat by evolutionary needs to survive during times of famine. There have been cycles of feast/famine throughout human history so when food has been plentiful, it had been necessary to overeat and store the excess food as body fat to use as energy during famines. As you can imagine, this evolutionary programming of our brains can wreak havoc on our motivation to lose weight.
In the past, I wasn’t a big fan of nutritional supplements for anything, much less to lose weight. I thought that my fat a$$ was a result only from a lack of discipline on my part to get more exercise and stop stuffing my pie hole with junk food. But after reading more and observing others, I’m now of the mindset that good nutritional supplements are very important for those who just don’t have time, or like me are too lazy, to prepare and eat well-balanced meals. Given the time to properly prepare good meals, we could all get along fine without nutritional supplements but in this fast-moving world, nutritional supplements can provide the missing pieces in our nutritional puzzle. For starters, a good daily multivitamin can give us vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that would otherwise be lacking in our often-unbalanced lives.
While I mentioned that the best book I ever read on the technical aspects of losing weight was by a computer programmer named John Walker, I don’t think this is the best book, overall, for those who wish to lose weight in a healthy manner and for the long term. Walker’s book doesn’t do much to address the motivation to lose weight other than by sheer willpower, it mainly gives the technical aspects of weight loss.
The best book I ever read on overall nutrition and weight loss, not just the technical aspects, was by Barry Sears, a former research scientist in the medical field. His approach is that food is the most powerful drug we will ever use. He gives ways to maintain our motivation for weight loss through our food choices. His book, Enter The Zone, gives a thorough explanation on what triggers our feelings of hunger and what foods help to suppress this feeling in a healthy manner. In contrast to Walker’s book, this book is much better in helping us keep our motivation to lose weight alive. Considering how different foods can make us feel and behave in different ways, I believe Sears’s approach to be valid. His teachings are also in agreement with those of the ancient Greek physician who is considered to be the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, who stated, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Knowing which foods will help us maintain our motivation to lose weight and actually eating these foods are two different things. As mentioned before, many of us either don’t have enough time in our lives or are just too lazy to prepare these foods. This is where good nutritional supplements can be invaluable, especially for keeping our motivation to lose weight.
There are good nutritional supplements on the market that are available both with and without a doctor’s prescription. The key is to find the one that works for you to help maintain your motivation to lose weight for the long term. I use an appetite suppressant that has proven to be the most successful for me in helping me shed about 35 pounds in less than a year with very few changes in my lifestyle but, as each person has different metabolisms and needs, there may be others that work better for other people. It’s really a matter of trial and error in finding the best ones to use. Just be sure that what you try is really safe.
There have been dangerous appetite suppressants that have either been pulled from the market or that will remain on the market until people start having pesky little side effects like severe discomfort and death. Back in the 1990’s, there was a drug combination of fenfluramine/phentermine, also called fen-phen, that was approved for sale by the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) that was very popular until people started dying of heart failure. This is not the first time the FDA has approved dangerous drugs and it won’t be the last time. Whenever you get away from whole foods and into the realm of synthesized drugs like fen-phen, you increase the risk of having adverse effects on your health so the best way to lose weight, from a nutrition point of view, is to use natural foods or nutritional supplements made only from natural foods as aids to keep your motivation to lose weight.