Two Weight-Loss Perspectives: Which One Do You Identify With?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  192 comments   :  28,580 Views

I was so stunned by something I recently read in a magazine, that I decided I just had to write about it. I sat and pondered the opposing viewpoints for several days, because one of them left me speechless.  I’m a writer and am seldom speechless.  I wonder when you get to the end whose decision you would support, and whose life would you like to model yours after. 

In this magazine was a letter to the editor from a person named J.J. This person wrote: “I lost barely one and a half pounds, and except for our Thanksgiving meal, I wasted a whole week eating clean. From now on, I’m going to eat the junk foods I truly love – and I’ll enjoy life even if I’m considered an outcast by my ignorant neighbors”. 

A little back story – I’ve gone through three Thanksgivings now on my healthy lifestyle journey. Two of those were on the weight loss side, and one was on the maintenance side. If I ever made it through the week of Thanksgiving close to maintaining or even losing a little, I would check that off as a success. My best friend and I spent the last two Thanksgivings running the Turkey Trot with 19,000 of our closest friends before eating the meal. That is definitely a change for us. So I was surprised by J.J.’s attitude that her loss was no good.

The second story in the magazine is the story of Marian Ferguson. She has lost 101 pounds. What I realized as I read her story and looked at the numbers is that she lost an average of .98 pounds a week during her journey. That is less than 1 pound, folks!  It took her two years (104 weeks) to lose the 101 pounds.  What she said was, “I stopped making excuses!”  Even more impressive is she did this in her mid fifties.  How many of you have said “I’m just too old?” She changed her habits from eating cake for breakfast to working out and eating healthy. She says that fitness feels effortless now. 

If she had the same mentality as J.J. she could have given up any one of those weeks, and resorted to blaming others for her lack of progress. My weight loss journey was pretty similar to Marian’s.  I lost an average of one pound a week during the course of a 95-pound drop.  Were there frustrating times during that trip?  You bet, and I blogged about them many times. I learned along the way all the things I personally need to do to get and stay healthy – one freaking pound at a time.

We are blasted all the time by marketing on how to lose the weight fast, shape up our abs in six weeks, etc., and I think it’s impacted our ability to be rational about what losing weight is really like for the majority of us. I’m quite sure that if you polled any of the SparkPeople who are mentioned in the Success Stories section, that none of them would say, “Well you know what, I decided to lose weight and eat right and in one week, I lost 25 lbs!”  It takes hard work to reverse years of being out of shape, unhealthy, and obese. 

Did you know that if you start working out, it can take your body 2-3 months to show the results on the outside?  Your body starts making changes on the inside at a cellular level, adding something called mitochondria to individual cells. That is essentially an engine for your cell.  So it starts by creating the capacity to do more work. It will also improve your cardiac efficiency, increase your respiratory capacity, and increase maximal oxygen consumption.  All those things have to happen in order for you to be able to work out efficiently because your muscles need oxygen and energy to function.

If you add strength training to that cardio work, the body will also work internally to improve bone density.  Added benefits include better control of blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol, and improvements in lean body mass. Healthy recommendations for losing weight are to stay in the 1-2 pound loss range per week.  What J.J. didn’t realize is that he/she had a very successful week. Marian had it right all along to lose weight in a healthy fashion and to stop making excuses.

So next time you jump on the scale and you see that one-pound drop, remember there are dozens of improvements going on underneath the skin that you cannot weigh or measure.  You can either choose to learn how to eat healthy and work out for the long haul in order to do what is right for your body like Marian and many others here on SparkPeople, or you can sit around eating junk food and call your neighbors ignorant. 

What is your reaction to the two individuals from the magazine? Has your attitude been like J.J.’s?  Can you switch it to be more like Marian’s?

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  • 192
    I think the writer of this article hit the nail on the head with part about how we are bombarded with advertisements that tell us that we can lose a huge amount of weight in no time at all and with no effort. Apparently, JJ never learned that a safe weight loss occurs at 1 to 2 lbs./week and that this kind of weight loss, which is usually accompanied by a host of changes in diet and exercise, is the most sustainable. I not only look forward to every 1lb dropped, I even enjoy 1/2 lb weight loss...especially when I know I haven't been doing all I should to eat healthy and/or exercise. Do I have my moments when I get a little discouraged and want to actually see the fat disappearing? Of course. But that little bit of disappointment isn't enough for me (and shouldn't be enough for anyone else) to totally give up on the effort. - 2/1/2017   10:02:01 AM
    I'm kind of in an in-between mindset. I feel like my weightloss should be rapid, but even after 2 weeks of eating semi-clean, most of the junk I ate before doesn't even taste good. - 9/17/2012   10:56:56 AM
  • 190
    Maybe JJ is too young to know that eating clean brings more benefits than just weight loss. When you get to be my age, you don't feel as good if you eat junk! - 6/21/2012   6:35:27 PM
    I stopped using a scale. I decided to let my mirror be my judge. Now, I didn't have hundreds to lose, but it was enough, and I'm not far from 50 myself. I started with one small change, which led to another, and another. Today 5 months after I started my exercise program of running 4 days a week at first (no I was NOT a runner EVER) and slowly added going to the gym lifting weights, I went from a size 12 to a size 4. A change to my eating habits came into play naturally from all the hard work that I had done, and you know what I'm not perfect. I still eat like crap every now and then, but the secret is it's every now and then. One thing I have learned, there are those who do and those who don't. I feel like I did when I was in my 20's and I am FOREVER one who will DO. - 4/29/2012   10:20:44 PM
    1-11/2 # per wk is for me 35# in the last 20 wk! That is at least 3 sizes in less than half a year. It is life-changing, HUGE! AND it is realistically achievable. Thank you SPARKPEOPLE! I'm not in my 50's yet, but mid 40's, and plan to be even healthier in my 50's. :) - 4/28/2012   10:55:57 PM
  • 187
    Unlike JJ, when I eat clean for a week, I make sure not to mess that up with ONE BAD MEAL. Why waste all that effort--erasing any loss you might have with a few bad choices? It just is NOT worth it. Like Tish (Tublady) says, you are NEVER too old to change. I was almost 60 when I started my journey. Also like Tish (I too weighed well over 300 lbs.)--I realized this was a new lifestyle, and when I hit my goal weight I didn't revert to old eating habits. I just kept doing what I had been doing to lose the weight. Donuts and potato chips are not a part of my life anymore. I ate them for almost 60 years--and I figure I had more than my share of them--giving them up forever is a small price to pay for the life I have re-gained! - 4/19/2012   10:12:08 AM
  • 186
    Thanks for sharing. I've lost 18#; and NOBODY has noticed. Sometimes it's a little bit depressing, but then I remind myself that I'm no losing the weight for anyone else. That keeps me on track.

    Becca - 4/4/2012   3:07:43 PM
  • 185
    I totally understand the frustration of working so hard and eating healthy and not seeing the results on the scale. In order not to let the JJ attitude monster get a hold of me, I think of being able to run around the backyard with my little girl and have her stop because she is out of breath before me.
    I agree with the posts that it is a slow and steady process, but also have seen major improvements in myself in other ways. I used to say "I gotta get up early and do my workout." with my shoulder shrugged and looking like the vulture from Looney Tunes. Now I look forward to getting up and "busting it out". My energy level is amazing, and I am sleeping so much better now.
    Good luck to all of you "Sparklers". You guys and gals are on this site for a reason - to make a change in yourself. Don't let the JJ Attitude Monster get you! - 4/4/2012   10:54:39 AM
  • 184
    Fortunately, i have wisdom, ie age plus experience, on my side and understood that although i had made DRASTIC changes in my eating habits while increasing commitment to working out and only saw the scale and some of my inches go UP, i knew that it was temporary and things would level out. When i was younger a few small adjustments in eating and physical activity would melt off the pounds. Since it was so easy, i never stayed committed. Now, my husband and i have made lifestyle decisions as a team to enhance our future together...
    - 4/3/2012   2:55:34 PM
  • 183
    I'm happy to see the scale go down even a little bit. JJ should have stuck with the plan! To each his own I guess but most people I know who have succeeded in weight loss actually lost it very slowly. The tortoise won the race, lets remember!
    Thanks for sharing a great blog! - 4/3/2012   11:42:02 AM
  • 182
    i was like JJ. I had an all or nothing attitude and I am sooooo thankful to be more like Marion now. I have changed my whole way of thinking about weight loss and eating and excercising and I feel soo good everyday...not only if I have a certain weight loss. Who knew? Thanks for the post - 4/3/2012   10:34:49 AM
    I've come to understand that we know very little about metabolism and how to successfully maintain a "healthy" weight. I've stopped worrying about the numbers and instead I'm concentrating on eating healthy and getting enough exercise to make me feel good. I can't control the numbers on the scale but I can control how I treat my body. - 4/3/2012   9:06:31 AM
  • 180
    I like the part where the big weight loss was from someone in her 50s--I'm in my 50s and boy! it's harder than it used to be.

    And as we've all said--It's a lifestyle!

    And also--one pound a week would be just fine with me! - 4/2/2012   10:06:35 PM
  • 179
    I read this same magazine and could not believe what J.J. had written. I could not believe that someone would be so obtuse as to believe they could lose all their "X" extra pounds in one week of "eating clean". Did you gain X pounds in a week? NO! Then how do you expect to lose it all in a week? Baby steps... :) - 4/2/2012   1:08:57 PM
  • 178
    Being able to understand and empathize with someone struggling with the frustrations of small weight loss is most necessary in being able to help them.

    A person takes a big risk first step. Their friends lose 2-4 pounds on their first weigh-ins and then they get hit with 1 pound loss. That can be disappointing.

    I totally know the frustration. When I see blogs where someone asks "What's the point. I might as well....". I always start my response with "I know the frustration of a weak number".

    I've been there. It took me 5 years to lose 50 pounds.

    The empathy of "I know what it feels like" can give one the credibility to say "I hung on and it's paid off for me". Without the first part, the second will make it seem like one can't relate to their struggle. - 4/2/2012   9:31:19 AM
  • 177
    there have been times that I have found myself on both end of the spectrum.. constant work in progress :D - 4/1/2012   11:24:29 PM
  • 176
    Been on both sides of this journey!!!!! Thanks for putting it down for us to read and think about!! - 4/1/2012   9:27:19 PM
  • 175
    Great entry! Wonderful motivation for everyone! - 4/1/2012   9:04:34 PM
  • 174
    I think the difference is that, when I was younger, I was trying to reach some goal, please some guy, look special for some occasion. Now, I am trying to be healthier and happier for *ME*! Even if I don't lose any weight today or this week or whatever, I know that I am doing what's best for my body--instead of abusing it by following stupid crash diets that deprive me of nutrition and have negative effects on a good deal more than the number on the scale (such as my metabolism, my hair, and my skin). I'd *rather* lose weight slowly and keep it off than yo-yo (which is bad for the heart). "Slow and steady wins the race" is especially true in this battle. I don't feel deprived or punished, because though I'm making lots of adjustments in what I eat and how I think about it, if I really, really want a Burger King Whopper, I have one--only now I'm satisfied with the Whopper, Jr., and won't go overboard because I've "failed" if I have one. I haven't failed: I've allowed myself to have a pleasure I enjoyed, and can move on. I don't have to have another, then, or the next day, or until I really, really want one. - 4/1/2012   6:46:25 PM
  • 173
    I'm going to show this to my friends who "poo-poo" any attempt at a healthy lifestyle. ANY weight lost that gets you toward a healthy range is a victory. Our bodies are complicated and don't always shed pounds the way we think they are going to.

    I've hit my goal of 60 pounds lost, but am still pretty unhappy with my physical appearance. I don't look very "toned".

    Instead of throwing my hands in the air and declaring the whole effort a failure (in other words going to an extreme), I'm adding strength training to my fitness plan, and variety to my cardio routine.

    If I could only say one thing about weight loss, it would be to make sure you keep perspective. - 4/1/2012   5:29:42 PM
  • PROJECT285
    I am very proud of myself for having joined sparklepeople and for losing the weight I have lost in a healthy slow manner. I started changing my lifestyle for health reasons and in the first six-weeks, I have lost 20 pounds! I am a breast cancer survivor and I am pre-diabetic. I exercise Monday thru Friday so that I can feel better. I was never a clothes person and I am enjoying being able to were the clothes I could not fit into before. This month I will be seen for my plastic surgery and I am looking forward to having my body back! God has smiled on me and that's what really counts. - 4/1/2012   2:31:37 PM
  • 171
    Right on! We have to stop with the excuses, and get to the living part. Yes we have not so good days, and then we have awesome days, but as you say, maintenance is as good as a loss in my books.
    I totally agree with the ridiculous advertising schemes of loss X number of pounds/inches in a short period of time. Just doesn't work. And one thing that I have learned - life is a journey - enjoy the trip, smell the roses, see the birds and the bumble bees, listen to children playing...slow down in life, take time to learn and watch. Rome wasn't built in a day. - 4/1/2012   8:37:55 AM
  • SUMMER2812
    Thank you for sharing this! I didn't know a lot of that information and it's added motivation. Keep doing what you're doing! - 3/31/2012   9:47:04 PM
  • 169
    I have dieted for decades, and always insisted on 3-5 pounds lost a week. I yoyoed up and down and always ended up quitting and weighing much more than my starting weight. Now I am old and am in the last diet of my life; one pound a week is fine with me and it is so much easier to attain for the long term. I need the time to adjust to new eating habits. I feel great, and not like I am starving. And I know I will have times when I might even gain a little, but I will not go on the binge train this time! - 3/31/2012   9:17:02 PM
  • MELENA82
    Thanks for posting this! One of my issues has always been my desire for the weightloss quick fix, so I can relate to JJ. I am determined to defy my critical, extremist inner voice that so loudly tells me 1-2 pounds is not good enough, that I might as well give up, that only "perfect" is OK. When I allow that critic to take over, it never motivates me to have more willpower or do better. So, stories like Marian's and others on Spark are really helpful to remind me that a misstep is not a catastrophe, and my longterm efforts will count more than my Monday morning agonizing about an extra slice of pie. Thanks everyone for helping me to give myself a break. - 3/31/2012   6:59:59 PM
  • 167
    I have been working on my weight forever (at least 50 years) and have it so in my mind that you must lose X number of pounds per week to be considered a success that it is really hard to turn my attitude from one like J.J. to one like Marian. I don't have much to go so am losing very slowly, and even sometimes having small gains, but I know I'm working toward my goal more realistically. My husband and I are in it for the long haul and have been riding our bicycles and walking. Still need to work on the strength training though! - 3/31/2012   6:44:56 PM
  • 166
    It has taken me almost 3 years to lose 49.2 pounds, the last 18.2 with SP(since October 1, 2011). I have another 55.6 to reach my goal weight. I WILL REACH MY GOAL WEIGHT! It may take me another three years. But, hey! The next three years are going to pass whether I am taking care of me or not. So, I CHOOSE to take care of me. I am not the numbers on the scale, nor am I the size of the clothing I wear. I am going to enjoy my journey to better health and fitness. For me, the battle is really between my ears. SparkPeople is helping me not only win the battle of staying positive, but it is giving me all the tools I need to actually WIN the war against poor helath and obesity!
    Tomorrow is my 6 month SPARKversary, and what I have gained in improved mental and physical health is far more important and fulfilling than any weight I have lost. - 3/31/2012   4:14:13 PM
  • 165
    I agree. You can't get side tracked by one bad week. In fact, I allow myself to have those weeks. It's not the Thanksgiving meal that gets me, it's eating EVERY meal like a Thanksgiving meal that gets me! :) I allow myself to have celebrations and not worry about it.

    When I get discouraged, I take a look at something besides the scale. I look at my overall body fat percentage, or I take my measurements. Sometimes, I even go back and just look at my over all progress. We all need to remember that it isn't just the scale that tells us what is going on.

    Thanks for the reminder! - 3/31/2012   4:10:07 PM
  • HEAVEN40
    Thank You , that's where I am right now. One pound a week. I will endure. - 3/31/2012   2:55:16 PM
  • 163
    Wow thank you so much for writing this. it does get discouraging when you're not losing weight in the rate you wish. it is important that even though the number on the scale doesn't go down it's important to that one doesn't give up. - 3/31/2012   1:53:15 PM
  • 162
    To all of the JJ's of the world - my cardiologist challenged me to lose 1 pound per MONTH. There are some months when that is doable and others when I'm faster, but the weight is coming off slowly and staying off. - 3/31/2012   12:41:54 PM
  • 161
    JJ didn't understand that weightloss does not happen that fast. If she understood that it takes time, she would be on her way to a healthy lifestyle! - 3/31/2012   11:22:02 AM
    I'm more like Marian, i get so excited and happy when i lose 1 -2 pounds. That means what im doing is actually working. YAY! I'd like to say I've never been like J.J but I think everyone has had a moment like J.J's at some point in time. Not exactly like it , but some form of excuse or thought that made you want to give up. Like Marian, I've given up on the excuses! And I'm ready to be a healthier more confident me! Go me! Lol - 3/31/2012   11:12:08 AM
    WOW! Never thought of weight loss that way before. Thanks! - 3/31/2012   9:15:53 AM
  • 158
    I never really thought about weight loss on a cellular level, I usually only gage my success by the scale or by measuring tape. Your article gave me some perspective. - 3/31/2012   8:06:57 AM
  • 157
    I am working on being like Marian. After reading these comments, I see that most of you are losing at least one pound a week. I would be happy with that! No weight loss for me in about 8 weeks. Talk about frustrating. I know changes are going on inside, which is more important. It sure is hard to see no change on the scale week after week. I started last October and hit this plateau the first week of February and am still struggling with it. Will it ever end?!!! Lost 26 and will continue on with all I have learned here. This is a path to be healthy. - 3/31/2012   6:36:36 AM
    Thank you so much more your stories. You are right- I also only lose about a pound a week and I start to "wrong' thinking- maybe I can't go any further. Maybe this is my plateau weight. I do feel better now that I am exercising regularly and being more attentive to portion sizes and quality of food.
    I have my evenings when I stand in front of the food closet thinking, "Boy would I like a whole bowl of pretzels right now!" So I stand there looking and talking myself out of it and trot off to bed. Or I drink a glass of water and count out 10 pretzels and eat them slowly without reading a book. I never wake up in the morning thinking, "Boy, I wish I had eaten more of those pretzels!"

    Keep up the good work! - 3/31/2012   4:40:41 AM
  • 155
    thank you so much for writing this. I have been frustrated b.c my weight loss has slowed to a crawl and I still have about 35 pounds left to lose, BUT in the old days I would yoyo up and down, which is terrible on the body. Now I can say I am exercising, eating healthy and maintaining a large weight loss, and that's the bigger picture! - 3/31/2012   2:51:03 AM
  • 154
    I found the part about the changes going on at cellular level underneath, really helpful. I have been talking a lot but still a little disappointed about my weight loss rate to date. I seem to have a steady pattern I'm identifying of about 3.5 kg a month or about 7-8 lb. Still I haven't been satisfied. As I've gotten a few weeks under my belt I've had to admit that the steady stream has a satisfying element to it but I'm always wanting more. I feel that reading this article has helped me somewhat in turning that disappointment to happy acceptance which is where I want to be! - 3/31/2012   12:30:58 AM
  • 153
    Great blog - even though I would really like to see the weight just be gone I know that's not reality and I think more like Marion for sure - 3/31/2012   12:05:04 AM
  • 152
    I am definitely a Marian. I have always said you are never too old or too heavy to start a healthy fitness program. I was 68 and way over 300 lbs. The early months I lost more, due to the vast amount I had to lose. But then it was 1 or maybe 2 lbs a week. But even a 1/2 lb was a loss. I was in this for a life time change. There was no end, even when I reached the goal I set, I wasn't going to just stop and revert to former habits and eating.
    J J didn't need much of an excuse to stop. They were not mentally ready to make a change. Some people aren't. It takes some to hit rock bottom before they realize they need to make a change.
    There is no 1st place, it isn't a race. Just work at losing and getting healthy and fit at a pace you are comfortable with. You will know when you are there and believe me it's a wonderful feeling. I am now 70 and in better shape than I was 20 years ago. - 3/30/2012   10:38:47 PM
    I used to be a JJ, but now I'm a Marian. I have finally figured out that I am not on a "diet", I am learning how to live a healthy life. I do cardio and strength training, and if I happen to gain 1/2 pound, I don't get upset. I know it's because of the muscle I'm building. I no longer judge my success by the scale. I judge my success by how I feel and how my clothes fit. - 3/30/2012   9:32:10 PM
    At times it is easy to be both J.J. and Miriam. There are weeks when I don't see a loss that I am ready to give up but I know that it all takes time. The most important thing for me to remember is that it is a lifestyle change and not a "diet". - 3/30/2012   8:00:56 PM
    When I first read that JJ lost 1.5 pounds during the week of Thanksgiving, I was thinking how successful she had been! Sad that she expected so much more weight loss. Marian has it right - slow and sure. - 3/30/2012   7:24:46 PM
  • 148
    Can totally relate to both mind sets. Thanks for the post. - 3/30/2012   6:33:36 PM
  • 147
    Thank you for being a voice of reason. My weight loss averaged only .6 pounds per week, but I've kept the 55 pounds off for 9 years now. It's not the weekly number that matters, but the overall, long-term trend! - 3/30/2012   6:14:25 PM
  • AKIMA06
    I have to say a week ago when I was up 1 1/2 pounds and haven't lost anything in the past 3 months I was like JJ for a day. I took one day off from tracking and exercising but the next day I got back on sparkpeople and I started tracking again. I lost 20 pounds easily before I started sparkpeople and now I am not losing anything but I am gaining on the inside. I did a blood test a couple of months ago and the only thing wrong was that my good Cholesteral was down and at my weight that is amazing so I am happy. Not so happy with the scale but happy with what I am doing to better my body. - 3/30/2012   5:28:38 PM
  • 145
    I am happy to report that I am more of a Mariam person. I know that changing my fast food life style to a healthy life style is the right way to successfully lose weight and become healthy. I agree that it took years to get this weight on and I am not looking for instant gratisfaction; I'm in for the long haul of losing and keeping it off and I know that change is the answer. - 3/30/2012   5:20:36 PM
  • 144
    Wow! Interesting Blog - I had a JJ attitude until health issues caused me to realize that I CANNOT lose quickly. I have become a Marian by necessity and know that I can do it, but JJ thoughts creep back in every now and again! - 3/30/2012   4:44:49 PM
  • 143
    I have the thought process that JJ has, but am working on developing the healthy lifestyle change attitude that Marian has. It has been difficult, especially since I have dropped a lot of weight really fast on other diets. I have already lost 29 lbs in 10 weeks on this diet, but I keep reminding myself it will slow down. Blogs such as this one are inspirational as I work towards my goals, both on the inside and the outside. - 3/30/2012   4:25:13 PM

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