“Magic Pill,” “No Diet and Exercise required,” “Nature’s Secret”….Enough already! There is no magic pill, and nature does not have a secret that it’s keeping from you! Throughout the years, our culture has been conditioned by deceptive advertising to believe that losing large amounts of weight can and should happen overnight. Not only do we see people lose 30 pounds a week on TV, but there are ads everywhere claiming to get you in the best shape of your life.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, during the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one–third of U.S. adults struggle with obesity, yet why are expectations still so skewed? More importantly, why do so many Americans place judgment on individuals in the process? After all, this is hard work!
The following examples are common misconceptions and questions you may encounter along your weight loss journey:
“How much weight can I expect to lose?”
This is one of the most common questions I receive when someone is starting their weight-loss journey. Although I never feel it is my place to tell someone what they SHOULD weigh, I am able to help them focus on their goals and expectations. You may lose weight more rapidly at the start of your program, but a healthy rate of weight-loss is one to two pounds a week. Losing this amount of weight is sustainable for the long term and it allows your body to adjust to your weight loss in a healthy manner so that you don’t damage your metabolism.
“Just consume fewer calories than you burn!”
Unfortunately, it takes more than calories in and calories out to lose weight and keep it off. Consuming 1,600 calories of highly processed food will be sure to give you different results than 1,600 calories of green leafy vegetables, complex carbs, and lean protein. Make sure the food you eat is nutritious and if needed, talk to a registered dietitian about a well-balanced plan that meets your specific needs.
“I’m exercising, so why aren’t I losing weight?”
As a fitness professional, I’ve learned that there are many factors that play a role in my client’s weight-loss. If you are stressed out, or not getting enough sleep, your hormone levels may be off. If you ate a large burrito with extra cheese and extra sour cream last weekend, it’s going to take a while to burn off those 1,200 extra calories. Exercise cannot undo damage that is done in the kitchen! If your eating well and managing your stress, it may be time to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Expectations Suitable for Your Journey
Often times I see clients creating expectations for themselves based on other people’s success. I want to emphasize that every individual’s weight-loss journey is going to be different. You can’t know where someone is in their journey unless they tell you. I experienced this firsthand a few years ago while I was teaching a class on the Pilates Reformer. A middle aged, physically fit man would frequently attend my class and he always had a gracious smile on his face. One day during a private lesson and I asked him, “Why do you always have a smile on your face when you’re exercising?” It turns out, two years prior, this man couldn’t climb up a flight of stairs without getting winded, had been in and out of rehab, and made the commitment to take control of his health. I had a major “Don’t judge a book by its cover” moment. This man, to me, was the type of individual who would come off as intimidating to people who were just getting started on their journey. In reality, he had worked hard for two years to get into the shape he was in and was consistently grateful for all he was able to accomplish.
You never know if the person in class next to you has gone through a significant weight-loss journey, or if this is their very first time stepping foot into a gym. If you find yourself creating expectations for yourself based off of the person next to you, stop now. Your greatest competitor is yourself and although it may be challenging, do not compare your progress with others. Embrace your individual journey and allow yourself to have moments of content. Everyone has their ups and downs in life; in fact, expect to have many ups and downs. Your journey is your own!
If you have expectations you are struggling with that I did not touch base on, leave your questions in the comments section.
About the Author
Jillian McAfee is a Personal Trainer and General Manager for Downsize Fitness in Illinois. Jillian also coaches individuals all across the country in an online program called Downsize@Home, powered through Helpouts by Google. She received her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Indiana University and is a Certified Personal Trainer through The American College of Sports Medicine. She has played a large role in many individuals’ weight loss journeys and hopes to do so for many years to come.
Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of the OAC, the National Board of Directors or staff. Information contained in this blog post is not based on scientific research and has not been validated. The OAC does not endorse any merchandise or program mentioned in this blog post. Before starting any exercise program, please consult with your healthcare provider.