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Reader Question: Weight Struggles

Hi Katie. I have been struggling for a long time with my weight. I used to be 200++ pounds, and thank God I've not gone up that high again! Recently, I have noticed the desire to drop the weight quickly becomes an obsession - and ironically, I end up eating more than when I don't worry about it. I'm not losing weight either way. I don't like exercising, and it's hard to fit in around everybody else. It's all very frustrating. Any tips? -J

J, thanks for reading the blog, and for your question. Your question brings up issues that so many people are facing, that I thought it was worth posting a response here instead of just directly back to you. 

It is amazing how fast many of us go from "I think I want this" to "this is all I think about" when it comes to losing weight. It's not just about mustering up the willpower. I read a great article in the Chicago Tribune that really delves into what willpower is - and isn't - when it comes to weight loss. When we get focused on what we can't have or shouldn't have, we can get myopic about it, only thinking about the forbidden fruit.

One of the most important things (in my opinion) that she says is to make self-care a priority. Any moms out there struggle with this?! It's hard to find a balance between the demands of your kids, spouse, or home (the joyful demands included), and finding time for you. I'm not telling you to be selfish or ignore the kids. Just to give yourself a little grace to know how to be your best self - for the sake of everyone!

It's also really important to set realistic goals for yourself, both in how much you should weigh, and how fast you can get there. When people embark on a new weight loss plan, they often want to see major results right away. Think about a 1-2 pound weight loss per week, or about 5-8 pounds per month. It might not be mind-blowing progress, but you're more likely to keep it off that way, and be healthier (body and mind) in the process.

To get an idea of a realistic weight for your body, use your height. For women, take the number of inches above 5 feet and multiply by 5. Then add 100 pounds. For example, a 5'3" woman would multiple 3x5 = 15. Then 15 + 100 = 115 pounds. Consider a 10% swing either way to factor in your frame, which means somewhere in the 104-127 pounds would be realistic for our 5'3" woman. That's not a perfect number, but it gives you an idea. If the math stresses you out, use this online calculator.

Let's talk a few practical tips.

1. Know what you're eating, and enjoy it.

Put your food on a plate, don't eat out of the packaging. Don't eat in front of the TV, or while you are otherwise distracted. Stop what you're doing - even if it's just for 5 minutes - and ENJOY YOUR FOOD. You'll be much more satisfied with less food, and won't feel deprived at the end of the day

2. Eat the best, just enjoy it in moderation.

What I mean is, don't cheat yourself to be healthy. Want real bacon? Great, just have one slice. Not willing to cut out chocolate? Enjoy the highest quality chocolate you can afford, and just have one square. You don't need to fill your plate more than once each meal - don't forget to practice tip #1!

3. Exercise doesn't have to suck.

When I hear people talk about hating exercise, they often mean they're not gym people. They don't want to get on a machine, and they don't want their whole day consumed with it. Think outside the box. Adding activity to your day - no matter how you do it - is helpful. Even 10 minutes at a time. Just in time for June, here's a resource by SparkPeople on how to get more activity in your day.

4. Make it a family affair.

Finding time "around everyone else" IS hard. So re-think it. How can you involve everyone? Play with your kids. Encourage a family bike ride, walk, yard work day, dance party, back yard Olympics, technology time-out. Or just include your spouse and use it as an opportunity to connect away from the kids!

Keeping it real with Neil Patrick Harris!

Keeping it real with Neil Patrick Harris!