Staring at the red LED numbers on the scale, she appeared as if she was willing them to change. If she glared enough, they might, just maybe, morph down to 172, 158, or better yet, 137.
"This is too frustrating," she said, exhaling the annoyance with a blast. "I only lost a quarter pound this week. At this rate, I'll be 60 before I reach my right weight!"
Whenever I hear that comment, whether the age referenced is 30 or 90, I want to point out that he or she will hopefully be that age irrespective of what she weighs. One version of the future, however, will come wrapped in health, joy, and a sense of accomplishment; the other arrives beaten, unhealthy, and remorseful. Healthy weight loss is not about a number; it is what your body can sustain while thriving, and - if done correctly - will not be reversed by the passing of the calendar. After all, health is not about being "skinny;" it's about being happy and healthy. Lose your weight, damage your health, and what did you achieve? I wanted to put in her picture all this vital information, hoping she can come closer to peace with the process, and let loose from the wretched number. Yet, I also understand unsolicited advice is worth exactly what one pays for it; so instead, I listened.
Speed, at the expense of results, is too often the focus of weight loss. Change is an unwelcome intruder in our lives, so we fight to maintain our comfort, rituals and habits until the last possible moment. When change finally rears itself upon us, we react with frustration, fear, or shame. Hateful of this painful, foreboding place, we scramble for security, to get to the other side NOW; immediately; as quickly as possible, assuming, "When I lose this weight, I will be free of this horrendous, fetid, putrid stew of raw emotion."
Yet, that view is backwards. Excess weight (and other harmful habits) is not the source of the pain; it is a symptom of an underlying hurt left untreated. Disregarding that hierarchy is akin to applying a bandage on a laceration without removing the knife.
Paradoxically, the same drive to "go quickly," in reality causes the process "to not go at all."
She never returned, triggering in me the realization, "A quarter pound a week is too slow, but zero is fast enough." Isn't that odd? The craving to get "there" hastily generated the counter effect; never arriving at all.
Success is not built on erratic, awkward, irregular steps. It is the drip-drip-drip coalescence of time, desire, and action. The acquisition of wealth can be viewed as earning one dollar, repeated often and with improved efficiency. Great relationships focus not on long-term anniversaries but on day-to-day thoughtful minor actions. Daresay, those big celebrations will not happen if one loses sight of "the little things."
Small steps done repeatedly achieve more results than large steps done periodically. Stated else wise, 'tis better to walk a block now and actually do it, than to swear you'll run a mile later - and do nothing. It's healthier to drop a quarter pound this week than lose 20 next year.