Recently, I stumbled upon some noteworthy details.
First factoid: Supposedly (I say “supposedly” as I’m not sure of its veracity), the average overweight American needs to shed 38 pounds to level the scales at his correct weight. Obviously, some must lose more, and some less. Yet, should one take the collective poundage our citizenry must remove to be healthy, and divide it by the number of citizens who must drop those pounds; the resulting number would be just shy of 40.
Factoid two: That same “average American,” upon deciding to rid himself of the above mentioned 38 pounds, usually quits prior to 16 weeks; a shade less than four months.
The final datum is that - despite pie-in-the-sky claims made by “miracle weight loss cures” falsely proclaiming one can drop five to ten pounds a week - an “average” healthy, sustainable (two important distinctions) weight loss is between one-half and two pounds per week. Let’s split the difference down the middle and declare that number to be one and a quarter pounds every seven days.
From these bits of information, we can make a central deduction. If the “average person” desirous of losing the “average amount of weight” sheds the “average amount per week” and quits in the “average number of weeks,” he will be approximately half way to his goal when he throws in the towel. (Sixteen weeks multiplied by 1.25 pounds per week = 20 pounds; just the other side of the midway point of 38.)
This prompts a quasi-philosophical question: Is one a “success” or “failure” if she drops 20 pounds, when in actuality, her goal is 38? It’s one of those “half-empty, half-full” scenarios.
The greater issue is not how many pounds one might lose, but how one views how many pounds she has lost. Does she get to be proud because of her successes (even if she has more to go)? Or must she berate herself because she threw up her hands prior to achieving her stated goal? Let’s be honest, 20 pounds is 20 pounds. It’s the same number no matter how one looks at it. But how one analyzes that number is what makes the difference in whether one perseveres or surrenders.
Should she compare herself to where she “should be,” she provides herself yet one more opportunity to beat herself up emotionally. Feeling bad about such shortcomings, she brands herself a “failure.” With such a label comes an overbearing feeling of being disheartened, ashamed, and defeated. These three emotions make her disinclined to persevere, the result most likely is she completely “gives up,” decides it is a fool’s errand and reverts to previous, self-destructive behaviors. Of course, that means she regains the weight she lost (and probably more), and becomes forever stuck in a Sisyphean lose-gain-lose-gain cycle.
More positively, by merely tweaking her internal dialog and focusing on the equally true reality that she took concrete (albeit small) steps to move forward - despite cumbersome obstacles and lifestyle changes - she supplants negativity with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
They say, “Nothing breeds success like success.” Equally accurate is that nothing breeds failure like failure. Results are what results are. What is so exhilarating is you are the person who chooses how to label them.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website to support folks frustrated with making promises and ready to make a change in a supportive environment. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. Contact him for coaching, consulting, workshops, and speaking at (707) 442-6243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His first six years of these columns are now available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/StrivingBooks.