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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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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. Report
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! Report
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! Report
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! Report
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 Report
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. Report
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. Report
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". Report
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. Report
Can totally relate to both mind sets. Thanks for the post. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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! Report
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. Report
A pound down would be fine with me. I want to create a lifestyle, not a race to the finish. Trying to run that race in the past found me never getting to the finish line because I'd lose a lot of weight but the deprivation of food would de-rail me from continuing. I'm in my fifties so hopefully with age comes wisdom :)
l loved your blog! Thank you for sharing. I recently retired and had gained weight over the last couple of years big time. I decided it was time for me so I began walking and then stepped up to using Leslie Sansone's DVD and increased the pace. I then added strength training. It's a nice slow weight loss but the greatest part of this is my clothes are getting too big and I'm fitting into some jeans that I bought 2 yrs. ago and had good intentions of losing weight. Now I can wear them! My journey continues, but I love myself more for what I've done and continue to do. I love healthy foods and how beautiful they look on our plates. Report
Thanks for the encouragement. At 56 yrs., I am working on losing 50 lbs. It is slowly coming off, but the important thing I am learning is to choose my foods more wisely and that some exercise is better than none! Report
Wow, great blog. I like the way this argument is presented. I have tried to explain my success by saying "I don't know how it happened, it was just a mental switch that happened in my brain". But now I can say that I define my journey as more challenging and fun and not so much as hard work and a limiting diet. It's hard to do at first but as you gain momentum, it gets easier.
Don't let those excuses get you to quit. This is a lifetime journey, not a quick-fix diet. Get back up and try again! Report
What a lot sense a loss of 1lb adds up to 5lbs in four weeks and 10lb in eight weeks. I would love a 10lb loss and your post as motivated me. Thanks Report
I have definitely been at the JJ place, but now I am so at the Marian place. For me, I don't have a scale, never even look at one or weight myself, because it is way too easy to obsess about it. Weight fluctuates 3-5lb. per day anyway, so the scale is really pointless, except for every now and then, at least for me. I gage my progress on how I feel, and how my clothes are fitting, when I feel new muscle tone in my legs, or measure my waist and see I have lost a few inches. I keep track of what I eat, and set my goals higher than they need to be so I can hit them where I should be, same with exercise. This has become a lifestyle for me, not just a quick fix. Report
I have definitely been at the JJ place, but now I am so at the Marian place. For me, I don't have a scale, never even look at one or weight myself, because it is way too easy to obsess about it. Weight fluctuates 3-5lb. per day anyway, so the scale is really pointless, except for every now and then, at least for me. I gage my progress on how I feel, and how my clothes are fitting, when I feel new muscle tone in my legs, or measure my waist and see I have lost a few inches. I keep track of what I eat, and set my goals higher than they need to be so I can hit them where I should be, same with exercise. This has become a lifestyle for me, not just a quick fix. Report
Oh yes, I relate! I think the "more for less" drive must be in our DNA. It's certainly promoted by our advertisements! It's a long, slow journey with backsliding from wanting quick and easy results so I can return to my degenerate ways and wanting to enjoy a different way of living. The good news is that if I keep on taking those baby steps, change does come! It feels like nothing to run for 30 minutes. I love the taste of fresh veggies; most of the old junk foods are unappealing. And I'm still learning.

So maybe JJ is just in a necessary phase. I hope so.

Thanks for a great blog!

To be very honest I am more like Mariane but I do have a small treat or even two every day. I work towards being healthy and love to exercise. Eating healthy is more of a challenge for me. That is hard to stay consistant for the long haul. I figure that even 1/2 lb weight loss in a week will get me where I want to go. Report
When I read this, my thoughts were that J.J. equated eating well and exercising as "hard work." If we rely on will power and depriving ourselves in order to lose weight, giving up is the easiest way out. If we consider it a game--a challenge--fun, it is much easier to continue on, even when the scale does give us a "winning number." Report
This has been great for me today. I work with people who are very much on the JJ side of things, "Not eating carbs because I'm going to a wedding in a few weeks" kind of thing as they sit there looking lovingly at my big bowl of veggie soup and slice of homemade bread. They didn't seem all that impressed when I described the site to them, so I might not be sharing my journey with those particular friends very much...thank goodness I've got some realists around me too - and all of you fellow sparkers! Report
I have been trying to do the slow, healthy weight loss (for the last 3 or four years), but I understand how J.J. feels. I am so tired of being fat and ugly. I am tired of being put down and called ugly and lazy and stupid. I have lost and gained the entire time and am struggling the entire time. There are sometimes reasons why people feel the way that J.J. does. I am not blaming others at this point, I know it is my fault that I am struggling with it. I just do feel like giving up sometimes. Report
I have certainly had my moments of feeling and thinking like J.J. I have hopped on the scale after watching what I ate all week and walking almost daily and saw I actually gained a pound! I was so frustrated I wanted to give in right then and there. But here I am again, knowing the truth about how to make successful changes in my body that are for the long run and for the better! Report
Thanks for this important information! I struggle with the ability to exercise due to many injuries and disease. I've allowed these circumstances to impact my attitude about exercise! Yesterday, I took a half-hour walk over lunch, the first time in a long time. Across the street was heavier woman who jog/walked down the sidewalk. Soon, she was far ahead of me. I thought "Good for You! If you can do this so can I." That experience and this blog have given me inspiration to rock on! Report
Losing over a pound in a week would make me shout with joy! Most weeks for me are .5 pounds and I'm good with that.

I have found so many benefits just from eating better and exercising that I would never want to go back to junk food for every meal. When I lived that life I had heartburn, digestive distress, and felt either bloated or famished all the time. Report
I am really glad to read this blog today. Like others I have batttled weight gain for longer than I care to say. Although I have not seen the sihns on the scale I am sure I can feel them. It is reassuring to to be reminded of how slow this real process is and to not give up. JJ does not live here. Report
I don't know how much I weigh at the moment, but do it by how my clothes feel on me, especially after I wash them, and how much the braclet on my watch is moving up and down. Being on my own and not much of a cook is a bit more difficult, as most things are geared towards those with families. And even though I have made small changes in the past two months, mostly do to with a health scare related to allergies, I have noticed small changes and yes, I do try and walk each day for at least 20-30 min. Report
I go through the same thing. I have lost 70lbs but it has taken me 18 months. I have periods of losing, then hitting a plateau, then gaining a few pounds. When you have a bad week, or day you just need to pick yourself back up and keep going forward. Report
I just spent $139.93 on a program on how to eat right and loose weight. I stuck to it (really) for 30 days. Drove my wife crazy. I do the cooking so she realy doesn't care. I try to exercise, but my ex jock 66 yr old body does not react to exercise like it used to. By the way I lost 1.5 lbs in 30 days. I might as well eat the goodies and be happy. Report
I'm happy to lose any weight each week, though I shoot for 1-2 lbs. For me, though, the hardest part is being consistent. One week I can lose 2 lbs and the next week gain 1.5 lb. It's the up and down that's hardest for me. Report
I definitely am totally with the slow loss and staying and getting healthy camp. Whenever I am tempted to think like JJ I remember that a lb. of butter is substantial and losing a lb. is huge. Report
Thanks SO much for posting...really needed to read this today! :) Report
When people ask me how I, at 64 years old, lost my 121 lbs, and I say "diet and exercise," it's like a light clicks off and they go on to try to find a miracle sad....but I understand because I have been there!! It's not always easy and fun, but I love being more healthy (diabetes does not show on blood work, off blood pressure meds, blood work great) more than I love, took me long enough!!! I look at being at goal at HALFWAY - the other half is keeping it off!!! (just had my one year maintenance anniversary) - "Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. It's not about losing weight, it's about a lifestyle choice." (don't know who said that, but how true) Report
Boy this blog really hit at the right time. If you think about it - none of us gained this weight overnight. We didn't eat a big meal and suddenly gain 20 lbs. So it makes sense that this process IS a process. We've all seen stories about people who lost weight quickly only to gain it right back. When I'm sick in bed for 3 days, I can drop 5 lbs....but when I start eating again, its right back on. I've struggled with weight all my adult life. At 61, that's a long time. I've spent loads of money on diet plans, cookbooks, exercise videos and weight loss suppliments. Every year, I've added weight till now I've got over 100 lbs to loose to get where the doctor's say I should be. I flash back to being in high school at 160# at 5'7" and the teachers saying I was 30 lbs. overweight. Lots and lots of "headgames". It's hard...we all KNOW that. If it was easy, we wouldn't be a nation of overweight (and probably under nourished) people. I found out last week as friend of mine went in for bariactric surgery - it didn't go well for her - had a reaction to meds and was in a coma for almost a week. Look at how desperate we are to loose weight. My thinking on this is that we have to focus more on what goes on in our head, and not so much on what we carry on our body. I know I use food to console myself, to deal with emotional issues. Even on Biggest Looser, not every contestant stays as slim as they were when they finished at the Ranch. So why does it work for some, and not for all. It seems to boil down to desire - it has to be a priority - a no excuse, moving straight ahead goal. But its all little changes....having an apple instead of a cookie - walking around the block instead of sitting watching TV. And 1# a week - every week - will do the job. Report
The two "M"s have got it right. They are our SparkPeople. Losing weight is about changing your attitude not the number on the scale. Thanks for the reminder and the great blog! Report
I can actually identify with both..having been down that road many times, I'v come to be happy finally with the smallest of weight-loss as long as I'm eating healthy and working out on a continual basis, I know that I will reach my goal. Great blog! Report
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have to tell you, I am really grateful for your POSITIVE perspective. I stand up and say, "I want to be on Team Marion and Michelene"!!! Report
People like JJ are the same people who hear a wonderful rendition of Moonlight Sanata and say "gosh I wish I could play the piano" but never actually SIT on a piano bench. Nothing is magic, nothing is free, and nothing worth having is easy. Report
I have been losing about a pound a week, and have been frustrated. But I was feeling success and skinny (skinny for a 400 lb person) I got to appreciate the recovery of myself, pound by pound. Report
Wow... 1.5 lb loss in a week would be a HUGE success for me. I have lost 50 lbs, but it took me 5 years!!! To be honest though, my losses came in "spurts" when there was a major event that drove me to crack down and lose quickly (by that, I mean losing 1 lb per week over 10 weeks, for example). Then, I've had to focus on lifestyle changes to maintain the losses. So I guess I've got a little of both perspectives in me. Report
Up until seven months ago, I had JJ's attitude. Now I have Marianís. Not sure what exactly happened in my head....maybe I started to grow some mitochondria there, too! ;) Report
i so needed to read this article today; i started over with SP mid January and had only lost 4 lbs in 8 weeks, or 1/2 lb per week. Boy am i frustrated because the first time i started SP, i had lost double that amount in 8 weeks. The difference is this time, is that i am starting out more fit, but unfortunately at about the same weight, because i gained EVERYTHING back after i quit smoking. There are days that i just want to throw in the towel and say screw it my body just doesnt want to cooperate.... Report
we live in a society of immediate gratification - I feel sorry for JJ because that person is not reaping the rewards of hard work X smart work X patience. I am 52 and have lost 52 lbs thus far, it has not come off overnight although I am shocked at how quickly "clean eating" and exercise has brought me back to health. But to be able to reverse years and years of unhealthy habits in just 5 months? I can't imagine scoffing at that. Report
Lots to think about Report
Thank you for the blog. I have been that JJ before, reaching a point where you say why bother. However at 41 I know better. When I started this process last July, I 366.2 today I am 317 that is almost 50 pounds and now i know it comes off one little pound at the time. I dont know know what my average is try not to worry about it . I feel better, have more energy and find so many changes in my body that I know I am on the right track for me. Report
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