Weight Loss

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Lap Band Talk has revamped their website recently. They rearranged some of the forums, added a few, and started a section of articles written by members of LBT on a variety of topics surrounding lap band and weight loss issues. Frankly, most of them frustrate me. They are good topics, but most of them are written by people who have been banded less than 6 months. Even when I was starting out, I really wanted to hear from the people banded AT LEAST a year, preferably much longer. I want to hear weight loss secrets and experiences from people who have successfully lost their excess weight and kept it of for a period of time.

But today I read a good article about willpower, what it is and what it isn't. It's written by a psychologist in private practice, and it's simple and practical. He basically says that willpower is a myth. When we feel like we have willpower (like in the initial phase of a diet or a weight loss plan) what we really are experiencing is a high degree of emotional motivation. Eventually that starts to fade, and our desires to do the thing we are avoiding overcome our emotional investment in not doing it. We haven't lost willpower, we've just run out of compelling reasons to avoid what we are attached to.

The author then basically advises us to make short- and long-term goals, and analyze what we get out of achieving them--asking ourselves, "What's in it for me?" Then he offers this gem:
This is the real definition of willpower: being able to tolerate frustration or discomfort in the present in exchange for a desirable outcome in the future. Perhaps a better phrase for willpower is discomfort tolerance or frustration tolerance.

Maybe there's something in that idea of "frustration tolerance" in losing the last 20 lbs. What I've been doing for the first 60 doesn't seem to work anymore--I'm more fit, and my body uses fewer calories because it's smaller (and my metabolism is probably lower, exasparatingly, because that happens when formerly obese people lose weight). I don't want to drop my calories more, and I don't know if it would help if I did. I don't want to be uncomfortable--I'm happy with how and what I eat now. It's definitely frustrating, and how have many of us dealt with frustration in the past? Eating. Guilty as charged. It seems the last 20 lbs are a puzzle that a lot of people who set out to lose a significant amount of weight have trouble solving, because it's a setup for old habits to come roaring back.

I'm sure the last 17 (that's how many I have left today) pounds will come off eventually, especially as I'm able to run further and better. My eating is okay, and if I continue like this, I should very gradually continue to lose more weight. For sure, stress is a factor. There are some issues going on right now that I have no control over and that are quite stressful and depressing (and too personal to blog about). And anesthesia school is hard--it's an endurance test not unlike large-scale weight loss. (I don't consider myself quite in the "massive" weight loss arena--I think that's at least 100 lbs to lose.) So is long-distance marriage. So I have to make friends with sloooooowwww weight loss, I think. I'm not willing to tolerate the kind of stress that it would produce to try to speed things up significantly. I'm a realist. And being less than 20 lbs from goal isn't a bad place to be, really. My real "dream" goal is another 10 lbs from my current goal, and I think it's likely that I will get to that point eventually, but I can't kill myself over it. I guess I don't know how much my last 17 have to do with "willpower". When I look at the "what's in it for me" aspect of pushing to lose this weight sooner, I don't see anything attractive enough to tolerate the discomfort and frustration I think it would add to my life at this time. There are worse things than staying a size 8 all summer, for sure.

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