If you’re following the slow carb diet, chances are you’re also pretty keen on weighing yourself, and hopefully measuring yourself too. They’re both good ways to gauge your progress, and get the reassurance we all want that your hard efforts all week are rewarding you, by changing your body composition.
If you have a week where you lose 2 lbs, or lose multiple inches, you might feel like you have a special reason to celebrate, but if you happen to not change on the scale, or ‘only’ lose 1 inch, you might not feel so great. So, why do we celebrate the results, and not celebrate the habits? Why don’t we take a look at the week, and decide to feel great based on our hard work?
If this title of this blog post was ‘Lost 2 pounds!?’, it might not have been nearly as impressive. Yet neither of these titles mentions a timeline. If they read ‘Lost 30 pounds in 3 years’ and ‘Lost 2 pounds overnight’, then you might have different thoughts about which one is more impressive.
That’s because we gauge things relatively, and we all have trouble looking beyond the near-past, or the near-future, and feeling great about things. We are all living here and now, and for that reason, things that are closest to us now, either in time, or in our environment, are the most important to us, most of the time. There are obvious exceptions, like a loved way away on a business trip, or an extraordinary event in our past, but for the most part, the feelings we have are related to things that are ‘nearby’.
So then, when we look at fat loss results, we are much more interested in what happened this week, than what happened last month. After all, last month has been and gone, and no matter what we think of it, there’s no changing it. When we analyze this past week, there’s a sense that we could change things today, and positively affect things now (and perhaps make up for lack of progress recently). This is especially true if we have a goal in mind and we’re nervous about achieving it by a certain date (if you’re really nervous about losing fat, you might be slowing down your progress, check out this article on Relaxing and Losing Fat).
Try this simple exericse: For a moment, think about a great achievement you had, in the past, and feel how great it was. Really enjoy it. Now, think about something great that’s happened in the last month, and feel how great that was. I’ll bet last month’s achievement felt better, even if, from an outsider’s perspective, it wasn’t nearly as big a deal as what you were thinking about in the past. The point here is that a relative perspective is great for some things, and not great for others.
Fat loss happens to be an activity that needs a long-term view. Fat loss isn’t done today, or tomorrow, or yesterday, unless you have 1/4 pound to lose, in total. Fat loss is a gradual, consistent process that yields a desired result over a period of time. It doesn’t require action this minute, or this hour, it requires consistent, constant attention, over weeks, months or years. For this reason, a short-term, relative perspective can make those long term results more difficult to achieve.
So what’s the solution here? Obviously, it sounds like achieving fat loss is more difficult than doing something now, that requires action now, like changing the color of your living room, or finding a job you love (both of which offer things you could do right now, like looking at paint samples, and renovating your resume). This is true, to a degree, but that’s because sometimes the things we can do for fat loss, now, are overlooked.
One of the most effective things we can do, now, for fat loss, is to count our achievements, and to really focus in on, and appreciate, the progress we have made. I’m not talking about comparing this week’s thigh measurement to last week’s. I’m talking about look back a month, looking back 2 months, or looking back to where we started. Then taking a look at the progress that has been made, in total pounds, in total inches, or any other measurements you have. It’s with these measurements that you can feel the true momentum of what you’re doing. If you’re constantly focussed on an inch this week, and 2 lbs that week, you’re not going to feel the cumulative achievement of fat loss and changing your body.
So, take a look at 2 months ago, and see where you were. Now, take a look at 1 week ago, and compare the two. I believe comparing to a time in the recent past is more powerful than comparing to now, because it removes any element of doubt your brain could manufacture, about you somehow ‘undoing’ the result in the here and now. Take two points in the past, and they are locked in history. You can’t undo that, so you instantly see the achievements you have made, and better still, there’s no way your brain can ‘undo’ or argue against true progress.
Now, concentrate on your progress, and feel great. Make yourself feel great if it doesn’t come naturally. You won’t give up if you feel like you’ve achieved something. This is a common concern of people, that if they celebrate their progress, they might somehow then lose their will to continue. In fact, I think it is the opposite. You see the result, you feel great from it, and it gets easier and easier to keep going, and you start to believe that you are now a person who is losing fat, not an overweight person who is ‘trying’ to lose fat. There’s a lot of power in that.
So I challenge you to take 5 minutes and think about this, and really feel it. For anyone who uses Excel or similar in their jobs, a quick spreadsheet with a graph can be a very powerful tool to show you, in no uncertain terms, just how great you’re doing. Check out these simple example graphs of 2 weeks of progress.
Do you find you get momentum from celebrating your wins? Or do you find great ways of measuring your progress? Share them below, or your thoughts, in the comments below!
This is a guest post from Luke Starbuck at The Four Hour Body Couple