One Pound Lost is Three Pounds of Progress

A pound is a pound, right? By any definition of weights and measures, one-pound equals sixteen ounces. It is very simple.

In a recent conversation with a friend who is on the same weight loss program as I am, she told me that she had been disappointed that she was only losing one pound per week… but she was finally at peace with that, knowing that she was sticking to the program religiously. She would have to settle for what she was doing.

I disagreed with her, much to her surprise. I told her that she had not lost a single pound, she had actually lost three. She – along with the others who were involved in the conversation – looked at me confused.

Let’s look at the math: Take the number 150. If you weigh 150lbs and you lose one pound, you now weigh 149lbs, right? 150-1=149. That is one pound actually lost.

Weight loss is extremely difficult. It would have been just as easy for her to have not lost that pound. She would not be 149lbs, but still 150lbs. 149+1=150. That is one pound potentially not lost.

My friend stayed the course of the weight loss program… but what if she had cheated just a little during the week? Say, rather than having two poached eggs and a salad for breakfast on Saturday, she had instead had the bacon cheese omelet with a side of buttered toast? All of a sudden, instead of losing a pound she would actually have been up a pound. 150+1=151. That is one pound possibly gained.

Every pound lost – nay, every ounce lost, is not only one ounce closer to your goal, it is one ounce you might not have lost, and in fact you might have instead gained. So in fact, every pound lost is not one pound, rather it is those three pounds – the one actually lost, the one potentially not lost, and the one possibly gained.

In 1990 Paula Abdul had a hit song called Opposites Attract… ‘I take two steps forward; you take two steps back. We come together ‘cos opposites attract.’ While we may support each other, but dieting is an individual event. There are no opposites; the forward steps are successes; the backward steps are setbacks. Staying in place is the eternal glass-half-full question… did I fail for not losing, or did I succeed for not gaining? It all depends on the individual perspective, but the optimist looks at it as a success and the pessimist sees it as a failure.

Who is right? Neither is… and both are. We all have different personality types. Some people will see the stagnation as a reason to redouble their efforts. “I stayed where I was, but I am optimistic that if I keep at it, I will get past this plateau.” Some will see it as a reason to quit. “I worked so hard on my diet and stayed the same… I might as well quit.” It is important for the pessimist’s support system to remind them how far he or she has come, and how a plateau is a temporary body adjustment. The optimist, on the other hand, might need to be reminded that too many plateaus might mean they need to make a change – in my case, they might suggest I stop adding milk and sugar to my coffee. The point is that both the optimist and the pessimist are right… and at the same time, both might need encouragement and adjustment.

Progress is what you make of it, whether it is forward progress or the occasional backward progress. The difference between seeing the one-pound weight loss as ‘I only lost one pound’ and ‘Wow! I lost a pound!’ Can be the difference in the future between long-term success and the alternative. Keeping a positive attitude is so important and can propel a stagnating dieter to ultimate success.

One response to “One Pound Lost is Three Pounds of Progress”

  1. […] not consider a single pound drop in a week to be a good week, but I have to remember what I wrote: One pound lost is three pounds of progress. There are days when I just find it so hard to be patient with tiny steps, when I want to take […]


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