Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wide-Open Weight Loss Beholdens Success

The latest Washington Post column from health and nutrition columnist Sally Squires debates the pros and cons of whether people who want to lose weight should go public with their intentions or not.

While I have warned you to be wary of any "expert" advice on weight loss, Squires brings up a worthy topic of discussion that I have a definite opinion about that leans to one particular side of the issue.

Squires referenced the world's most famous dieter Kirstie Alley and other Hollywood stars as evidence that coming out in the open about having trouble with their weight has been a positive thing. You also have the contestants from NBC's hit show "The Biggest Loser" and other such shows that literally shine the spotlight on people as they are in the midst of doing one of the hardest tasks of their entire life -- losing weight permanently!

For me, I decided going public with my desire to lose weight was going to help me become the eventual success I wanted to be. That's why I entered a local radio weight loss contest just one month after I started livin' la vida low-carb. You can find out more about my experience in this contest (which I won, by the way!) by reading this FREE chapter of my book. It's a pretty funny story actually.

I can remember calling into the show every few weeks giving an update to the radio listeners about my progress and what I was doing to shed the pounds off of my formerly 410-pound body. You want to talk about accountability, that's one way to do it. There was no way I was going to be ashamed of my performance in that contest and I gave it everything I had to win it. In the end, all of that hard work paid off.

But it does make me wonder, would I have been able to lose 180 pounds in 2004 had I NOT had that weight loss contest? There's no way to know for sure because we can't go back in time and repeat history (nor would I want to!). If I had to answer that question honestly, I would probably say that my weight loss in that one year probably would not have been as high as it was. The motivation for me was to lose as much as possible within the nine months of the weight loss contest.

The same could be said for the contestants on "The Biggest Loser." Their #1 goal is to lose as much weight as they can. For fans of the show, you know there are weeks that can be challenging, including the week Season Two winner Matt went through when he lost nothing as well as a week he actually GAINED several pounds. And yet he STILL ended up winning the contest. If he wasn't playing for all that money, would his weight loss result have been the same? Maybe, maybe not.

Squires noted that having a wide-open weight loss can help some people "thrive." You can certainly put me in that category for sure because I don't mind sharing with the whole world what I'm going through. While I didn't start blogging until after my weight loss, my blog has served as a way to keep me accountable in my weight maintenance. I have even shared quite openly about my slight weight gain struggles this year which allows me to hook up with people who care about me enough to see me continue to succeed. That's what it's all about (by the way, the weight is coming back down...slowly).

One of Squires' "experts" in her column said some people don't do well getting their weight business out in the open because they allow others to begin criticizing their efforts. People who are sensitive to this kind of thing are who I describe as weight loss wimps.

I call it the "American Idol" effect. You know what I'm talking about. Here are these 12 young people who have the pipes to make a professional recording contract today and yet they've got 30+ million people all critiquing, analyzing, and casting scorn and doubt about their ability to sing on that single missed note or "pitchy" performance. What right do they have to do this when most of these millions of dopes couldn't even carry a tune in the shower?!

The same goes for weight loss. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, who hasn't experienced what it is like to be fat and overcome that can EVER EVER EVER provide any kind of constructive or destructive criticism with any merit behind it in my book. You have to walk a mile in someone's shoes to know where they're coming from and you can't possibly know what it's like to try to lose weight unless you've done it yourself. Period. End of story.

That's why I get literally hundreds of e-mails a month from people pouring out their heart and soul to me about their weight struggles. They do that because they KNOW I understand and can hopefully help them with their own issues to become the success that I did. I do my very best to at the very least encourage and edify EVERY SINGLE PERSON who e-mails me because that's the least I can do to give just a little back for this incredible miracle in my life.

I was thrilled to see Squires mention by fellow weight loss buddy Dr. Nick Yphantides who lost 270 pounds and went on a public tour of major league baseball parks in the midst of his weight loss which helped keep him accountable.

"On my own, I am still a 467-pound slob," Yphantides said.

Today he has a web site where he asks people to make their weight loss public to help them be successful.

Doesn't that just stand to reason? If you have a bunch of people observing you during your weight loss, then aren't you going to try that much harder to prove to them that you WILL do this? Wanna know something that might surprise you, though? PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING YOU WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT when you are losing weight.

My friend from my book named Rodney, a personal trainer at the YMCA I visit, said he was watching me as I was losing weight for about six months before he said anything to me. He later revealed to me how much my dedication and commitment to getting my weight under control inspired HIM! WOW! Never lose sight of the fact that people WANT to see you succeed whether they ever vocalize it or not.

It sure is nice to hear the accolades for your weight loss, but you have to muster up your own kudos and accolades early on to keep you going. Most people didn't begin noticing my weight loss until after I had lost 100 pounds. Yoo hoo, look at me people! I'm shedding pounds and NOBODY'S taking notice!!! LOL! That all changed after I hit triple digits. Now EVERYBODY comments on my weight loss which helps me continue to keep it off. I even had a friend who I hadn't seen in a few years see me today and didn't even recognize me. That NEVER get old! :D

Squires' story said there isn't any scientific research on what impact going public with your weight loss has, but I would hypothesize that it makes a tremendous difference. If you keep it to yourself, then what's to say you're not gonnna get bored or discouraged with it and chunk your plans out the window? When others are watching, it's not as easy to just give up.

The conclusion of the Squires column is that it really depends on the personality of the individual trying to lose weight whether getting your weight loss out in the open is a good idea or not, but I strongly disagree. Whether you are very outgoing or meek and mild, a wide-open weight loss journey will only beholden success in my not-so-humble opinion. You need people who love and care about you to stand side-by-side with you through all the ups and downs that come with weight loss and letting others know about it can make the ride that much better.

Even now, I tell people to keep watching me to make sure I don't gain the weight back. I told them to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep me on the right path and to chide me if they see me going astray. It has worked for me so far, in part, because I have empowered all of these people around me to discipline me if I stop livin' la vida low-carb for even a moment. But now I'm in such a habit of eating right and exercising that the accountability is almost unnecessary. That's just the way I like it, too!

With weight loss blogs (the ones run by bloggers that Squires describes as "mere amateurs") emerging as one of the ways people are using to lose weight, I think it is great that people want to have that support system around them which I wholeheartedly endorse as a key plank in any successful weight loss plan. Don't ever fall into the trap of thinking nobody around you needs to be bothered by your weight loss attempts. Believe me, many of them would be THRILLED to help you improve your health by losing the weight you need to lose.

Of course, I am always available here at my blog to be a source of encouragement and hopefully inspiration to anyone and everyone who wants to lose weight. And if you start a blog about your weight loss, then let me know about it by e-mail so I can send people your way who will keep you from going astray. Weight loss is definitely within your grasp if you first begin sharing your intentions with the whole world.

Is anyone brave enough to announce their desire to lose weight beginning RIGHT NOW by commenting to this post? I PROMISE you there will be nothing but loving support for you when you do. Let that propel you to become another low-carb weight loss success story just like me. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

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Blogger Gary said...

Since March 21, I've been doing it! Jimmy, do you remember the time when, even if not at your goal, you felt you had reentered the realm of "normality"? I feel like that right now!

7/20/2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Congratulations, Gary. It took me a little while to experience that since I never knew what "normal" was supposed to feel like having been fat my whole life, but it is a great feeling. YOU GO BOY!

7/20/2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

I seem to have re-entered what I consider to be "normal", as of today... I actually bought clothes in the Misses department, instead of the Plus Size department.

Also, today when I stepped on the scales, I was only 2 pounds from a weight I haven't seen in at least 10 years.

Ok, I had to buy Misses size XL, which is probably the same size as the smallest Plus Size clothes - but it's so exciting to be able to finally buy a few "normal" clothes! (even if they do have to be the ones that run a little big, and have a lot of stretch to them.)

And yes, I still have a huge amount of weight to lose, which will probably take at least another year, possibly two, because I'm losing it soooo slowly.

But I'll take my victories anywhere I can get them.

7/21/2006 7:32 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

You go girl! I'm so proud of you. It really is a great feeling to be able to shop at Wal-mart or other "normal" clothes stores again after being in big and tall stores for most of your. Oh what a feeling! Keep it up!

7/21/2006 7:54 PM  

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