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The Weight Loss Success / Failure Star

A couple of years ago, while I was doing very well on my program (and before my total collapse and backward slide into total failure) I came up with this logo – the Weight Loss Success/Failure Star. Please believe me that I did not design it to look like the Star of David with the Palestinian colours, but yes, that is what it looks like. Ooops.

I still think the message behind the star is correct. There are many ways to fail, but three main keys to success are solid: Caloric/Nutritional Intake, Water Intake, and Physical Activity. Without these three, success is unlikely.

The three ways to fail that I enumerated are absolutely true, with Attitude, Stress/Lifestyle, and Work being three big factors to failure. Of course, there are plenty others… but these three are key.

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As I looked at the star today, with its two interlocking triangles, I had a bit of an epiphany. By inverting the red triangle, we would be left with only a triangle. If that sounds simplistic and obvious, let me explain why I felt this important:

Attitude: The wrong attitude is a surefire way to fail, in weight loss as in so many aspects of life. By flipping our attitude, we can turn it to green, and make it a success factor. Attitude.

Stress/Lifestyle: There are so many different ways to deal with stress. Most people who have obesity issues often deal with stress by turning to food, and bad foods at that. When we look at the habits of myriad people who stay in shape, we learn that a lot of them deal with stress by integrating physical activity into their life. I have met many people who look at exercise as a way to destress. In fact, any medical professional will tell you that exercise is an antidepressant. By changing our habit of turning to food into turning to exercise, we can turn our stresses and lifestyles into another success factor. Stress/Lifestyle.

Work: It is easier for people with jobs requiring physical labour to be healthy, but those of us who work in office environments – sitting at desks staring at computer screens – are prone to the ill-effects of eight to ten hours of sitting on our bums. Every company is different, every office. If you go into an office or you work from home, or if you are on the road visiting different sites, every work environment and schedule will have different requirements. With that said, if you are able to find a time – either during your lunch or during your breaks, or whenever it will be, it is possible to integrate physical activity into your routine. I have worked at companies with great gym facilities, which allowed employees to work out during their breaks, and even shower before returning to their desks. Others have simply had staircases that employees could use to exercise – up three floors, down three floors, repeat. Some have nothing but leaving the building during the day to go for a walk is always an option.

A lot of companies provide snacks to their employees, and these can be a real stopper. Yes, many of the unhealthy snacks are a good way to test your willpower, but you only have to falter occasionally to fail at your diet. A friend on a similar journey as mine cried to me this week that one of her coworkers has been bringing in cookies from Tim Hortons every day. I told her how proud I was that she did not succumb to the temptation, but on one of these days she might. The good side of this is that a lot of companies recognize the value of healthy snacks, ranging from fresh fruit and granola bars to yogurts and salads. Even if you only make the decision to stick to water in lieu of diet soda (which is deceivingly un-weight-loss-friendly, you have chosen positive over negative. There are choices that we can all make to turn the negative work experience green and make it a success factor. Work.

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All of a sudden, we see that all of our points are green, and failure, while still present, is a lot lighter than our success factors. If we are able to flip our downward (red) triangle, our star (upward and downward) now looks more like two forward-facing arrows. If we are able to take control over all of these points, then we can move in that direction (forward) to losing weight, and to better health.

These are simple concepts that are not easy to implement. If they were, all of us would be slim and in great shape. The psychology behind all of this is far beyond my basic understanding, but I know that every time I have failed at losing weight and keeping it off, it has always come down to psychological factors. With that said, we can all benefit from getting help. I don’t mean speaking to a psychologist on a regular basis, but a weight loss buddy – either someone who has gone through the sort of weight loss you are working toward, or someone who is currently on the same journey.

The advantages of someone who has been there before are that they know the pitfalls, they know what you are going through, and they have been there… and succeeded. The advantage of someone who is on the same journey is that there is no judgement, only encouragement. Of course, the downside is that if they fall off, you are left alone.

Asking for help is hard, but the benefits of the help are tremendous. If you think you don’t know anyone, then let me assure you that social media is replete with support groups for anyone who looks. You may have to look, but you likely won’t have to look too far.

Do not rush it, but do not dawdle. If you follow the arrows, pretty soon you will be the star of your new, slimmer life.

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