Rapid weight loss is what everyone seems to want and expect from themselves, in spite of the fact that it never seems to actually happen. Don’t you love TV shows where people go from morbid obesity to a relatively normal weight, losing what amounts to a couple of small children within a year? It gives hope that you can probably shed that extra 15 lbs in a week. Two at most, right? If those people on the television can lose 300 pounds in a year then surely 15 lbs in a week is reasonable. Except that in real life it doesn’t ever happen and the sad part is that it’s really easy to fall into the trap of beating yourself up about that.
Why Doesn’t Rapid Weight Loss Happen In Real Life?
Please be gentle with yourself – it’s not that you’re not strong enough or not dedicated enough, or sacrificing enough. It’s not happening because it’s darn near impossible. When you lose weight the first weight you lose is water. If you’re starting out at 450 lbs then there really are 20 lbs of extra water hanging around to lose in the first week. If you’re starting out at 250 lbs, all of your extra water is probably 8-10 pounds. If you only need to lose 15 pounds then maybe there’s only four or five pounds of water weight. It’s a whole different ball game. Of course you can lose the water weight quickly – just take the most inflammatory foods out of your diet. Lose the grains and dairy and processed foods and usually those pounds will drop off. But after that? Things turn real.
There is a common misconception that fat weight doesn’t do anything, but research has shown that the fat in your body plays an important role in hormone balance or imbalance, toxin processing and storage and metabolic weight. When you go for serious weight loss you are asking your body to re-distribute those tasks to other tissues. That means detoxifying and eliminating the toxins stored in the fat tissue you’re trying to lose, re-adjusting your hormone balance (usually for the better, but it’s still a slow process) and changing your basic resting metabolism. Not to mention that for every pound of fat you lose your body needs to re-organize, eliminate or reabsorb A MILE of blood vessels. Whaaaa??? Literally a mile of blood vessels are necessary to properly feed and circulate each pound of fat and your body has to deal with that each time you gain or lose fat. Rapid weight loss sounds do-able but rapid elimination of a mile of blood vessels? Not so much.
The Unreality of Reality TV Weight Loss
I am in no way trying to minimize the accomplishments of the people who go on reality TV and actually do the hard work to lose weight and keep it off. Just remember that most of the people on TV reality weight loss shows are going from 6000 calorie all fast-food diets with absolutely no activity to 1500 calorie diets (usually cooked by someone else) with personal trainers pushing them around for hours of every day. Even if it’s possible for you to quit your job and devote your life to weight loss, it’s probably not possible to also pay a personal trainer, motivational coach and personal chef. It’s just not real life – which of course is what makes it fun to watch on TV.
Real Life Weight Loss vs. The Rapid Weight Loss Dream
Today all I want you to know is that real-life weight loss is different than “reality TV” weight loss. It happens in fits and starts, there are pauses in progress. Some weeks you might lose two pounds and some weeks you might not see the scale move at all. In fact, six weeks might go by where you’re doing everything right and the numbers on the scale aren’t changing. That is totally normal. It’s so easy to get discouraged and to be aiming for the numbers without paying any attention to how you feel, how your clothes are fitting or the tremendous amount of work your body is doing in that six weeks to normalize and re-adjust to this new you.
Even if you’re only losing two pounds a month, you’re still losing weight and getting healthier and making positive change. The best part is you’re learning the behaviors as you lose to help you keep the weight off for the long run. Just be gentle with yourself, be forgiving that you have to work in weight loss as a side activity and not as your whole purpose in life. That isn’t a bad thing. Rapid weight loss isn’t real life and setting that as your expectation just sets you up for failure. Celebrate every progress and take time to admire how much hard work your body is doing in the times that the number on the scale isn’t changing. It really is a big deal. Your body is an amazing tool and an amazing gift – sometimes it benefits from a little appreciation as well.