One Step Closer: A Journey for a Lifetime

By , SparkPeople Blogger

One of the valuable lessons I learned during my track and field days was the importance of running the correct pace for the distance. When running 100-meters, I would run as fast as I could right out of the blocks. If I were running 800-meters, I needed to start out at a slightly slower pace to be certain I could sustain the pace for the entire distance.

Sprinting requires a very fast pace sustained for a short distance. A marathon on the other hand is a longer, more arduous undertaking. Is your weight loss journey a sprint or a marathon? If you are not sure, perhaps that is where part of your barrier to success originates.

A sprinter approaches the line, sets their form, and takes off as fast as they can when the starting gun sounds. Many people approach their weight loss journey the exact same way. Something takes them to the starting line. Perhaps it is a doctor visit or an inability to fit into their clothes comfortably. Regardless of the reason, they step to the line ready to run the weight loss race. They start with their finish line clearly in sight, dedicated and committed to go all out to reach it. The line does not seem that far away and they do not question their success as they start. They take off fast, doing everything they can to make every step count so the scale will drop. Halfway to the finish line fatigue sets in, muscles tighten, doubt sets in, and the question of quitting enters their mind. They have burst into the weight loss scene at an unsustainable pace for long term success.

A marathon runner approaches the starting line with a finish line that is far from sight. Runners know they will have to rely on mile markers and directions throughout the race to navigate the course. As the runner prepares to start the race they take a deep breath, start their stopwatch to help them stay on pace and set off at a comfortable pace. Since the distance is longer, tough times are expected and the runner has trained to cope with them. Support from others along the way helps the runner endure and water stops are necessary throughout the course. This is a better approach for a successful weight loss journey. Starting slow, finding the right pace, using tools to help you stay on pace, relying on support, and expecting stops before the finish line are keys to success.

One of the biggest weight control mistakes I have seen over the years is people starting too fast with a finish line firmly fixed in their sights. Their commitment and eagerness for results takes them off the starting line at top speed. They change their life drastically in commitment to their goal. They dig in, push hard, and keep their eyes on the finish line at all costs, weighing themselves frequently and getting upset when the needle doesn't fall quickly. Unfortunately, they forget one key thing. This is a new routine for the long haul not something drastic for a quick fix. When that reality sets in, they soon realize their pace is unsustainable and begin to slow down and give up in defeat because it was just too much. If they reach the finish line, many of them quickly return to the life they had before the race began because they felt they were missing out. Oh, they would willingly attempt to run the weight loss race again, repeatedly. They may try a different racecourse (diet plan) but they take off in that weight loss race at the same pace and it quickly ends like all the others.

To find success you have to accept one important but simple truth. This journey is for the rest of your life! Yes, I said it and I know it is hard to let sink in. The finish line or reaching your weight goal is far down the road and does not mean the end of the race. It only starts the next one. There is no going back to how things used to be unless you want your weight and health to be what they used to be. It is very important to start the race in the manner you are comfortable finishing it and ready to start the next. Set yourself up for success by understanding that the journey never stops. Disaster can strike when you drastically change your life to reach a goal. This is especially true if you believe the change will only be for a short time before going back to activities and routines you love. We can do anything for a short period but when that time extends, it becomes a burden. When things feel like a burden, we lose our motivation for them and can give in to temptations and returning to our old habits and routines much more easily.

Accept that you are on a journey for your lifetime. Don't start restrictive routines and practices if they are not something you can sustain. Begin with the end in mind. Learn to crawl on your way to walking. When you have walking down and it feels comfortable with the rest of your life goals, then you can think about picking up the pace to a jog and then a run.

Do you feel like other life goals are on hold until you reach your weight goals? Do you think you have a healthy balance in your life or do your health and fitness goals tip the scale? Could your pace for weight loss/maintenance be too fast to keep your life in balance? What are you willing to do to change things?