I've been around the dieting block a couple of times myself. OK, more than a couple. Right now, I'm in that unenviable spot of having no clothes that fit comfortably while I'm in a stare-down contest with summer. Who's going to blink first: My need to lose my winter poundage or that bathing suit I won't wear unless I do?
Of course I know what to do to lose weight. But since muumuus are showing no sign of achieving runway status, I thought I should remind myself of the 5 mistakes that lead to dieting failure:
1. Buying some expensive toy to help me reach my fitness goals.
The thinking goes that when you "invest" in something connected to your diet program, you are, well, "invested." Investing in measuring devices like a Fitbit is the current rage, so of course, I have one nestled in my bra right now. My Fitbit measures how many steps I take each day. The problem, of course, is that it doesn't cause me to take any extra ones unless you count the steps I am taking each time I run into the bathroom to make sure it's still attached to my bra. (And to those who have inadvertently washed their bra with the Fitbit still attached to it, I can totally see that happening.)
In the past, I have also bought expensive jeans a size smaller believing this will motivate me to work harder to fit into them. I think this is a fine thing to do because thrift shops really love getting unworn clothes with the tags still on them.
Dieting and fitness starts in your head, not your pocketbook. You eat less, you move more. Einstein physics, this isn't.
2. Spending money on the same thing over and over.
Insanity has been defined as repeating the same action/behavior over and over and expecting a different outcome. Trying a new gym when you didn't go to the previous six you joined just says you aren't gym material. While investing in a gym membership may show the world you are committed to the cause, if you don't actually go to the gym, the only thing getting thinner is your wallet.
Personally, I have joined a gym just once. It took me a year of not using it to come to the acceptance that I likely never would. I think gyms -- at least those in Los Angeles -- are for people who are already in good shape, not those of us who aspire to be. People like me need more hand-holding and fewer flat-stomached 20-somethings on the treadmill next to us. Plus I prefer to sweat in private. What I really want is a personal trainer who will come to me. More realistically, what I have are two dogs who know how to put their leashes in my hand. Don't ever underestimate Puppy Guilt, by the way; these two are the masters of it.
3. Do nothing but talk about how much I hate my current weight.
Actually exercising your jaws is very important. And since I'm well-mannered and don't talk with my mouth full of food, this actually could cut down on my caloric intake. No, not really.
For me, talking about dieting is part of the buildup. I'm psyching myself up for what I know will be hard. I love food and I hate exercise but accept that this can be a lethal combination -- literally. I know I will get there, but for now, let me talk your ear off about my game plan because I just may not be ready to leave the bench yet.
4. Wait for a big scare.
There is nothing like a doctor telling you are going to be dead in a year if you don't lose 50 pounds. That's what it took for a dear friend to stop making excuses and get with the program. The scariest numbers come from your cholesterol and blood pressure, not your dress size.
Nothing makes a bag of potato chips less desirable than a Lipitor prescription. Tell a diabetic that they are going to need to start shooting insulin every day and suddenly that craving for a chocolate bar disappears. It's amazing how with the right motivation, our behaviors can change. Ask any smoker why they stopped and you'll never hear "I just lost my taste for cigarettes." Big scares are motivational.
I make deals with G-o-d every time my husband takes his rebuilt ticker to the cardiologist. What I really want the doctor to say is something like "Cute kids you've got there, sir. Were you thinking you might want to be around to watch them graduate? Then use the treadmill in your garage for something else besides storage!" OK, maybe the doctor could deliver the same message to me too.
5. You don't like water.
I happen to love water. I like it very cold, sparkling, and without ice. I don't mind a slice of lemon, but generally am too lazy to add one. Water is my favorite drink and I mean that in the face of the really good Pinot Noir I enjoyed last weekend.
My husband looks at water and his eyes start darting around the room for stuff to add. I've seen him add flavored sugar-free chemical lemonade packets that taste awful and just kind of make the water cloudy. Straight up water makes him gag, he says.
Water is so good for you. Water is life. You have to drink water, like it or not. Not drinking water is an automatic diet fail.