Recently I read an article in USA Today entitled, “Loosen Your Belts: U.S. Waist Sizes Keep Increasing” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/16/waist-sizes-expanding-study/15723771). The author wrote in the conclusion the following statement: “Just go to the mall and watch people walk by. There’s belly spilling over the waistband on almost everybody.” You know what? As much as we hate to admit it, the author is correct. Have you ever felt frustrated when trying to lose weight? Just about all of us have been on a diet finding it beyond challenging as we are confronted daily with situations that try to sabotage our efforts. Personally, I know there is nothing more difficult than losing weight. I’d like to unfold what a typical day for a dieter looks like. My next blog (hopefully coming within a week or two) will provide ideas on how our dieter could have done things differently. No matter what anybody says (and it would be tough to convince me otherwise) the environment in which most of us live does not make it easy to shed those unwanted pounds.
Let’s take a look at a “typical dieter” and what their day-to-day challenges are when attempting weight loss. My pretend dieter is going to be named “Sally.” Sally has been fighting the battle of the bulge for years. After a recent visit to her doctor, she found her blood pressure to be elevated, borderline high blood sugar, and a body mass index of 34 (25 is normal, above 30 is considered obese). Let’s estimate Sally to be approximately 50 pounds overweight. I want to stress that Sally would be considered at risk for health complications based on her BMI. This is not simply an aesthetic or appearance issue. This time she is going to track her food and activity with Weight Watchers. She feels extraordinarily motivated as her recent health stats have scared her. Let’s get started and see what Sally’s first day looks like.
The Weight Watchers app is loaded on her phone. Sally is going to track her food intake and exercise. She is all set! Sally gets up in the morning and works out for forty-five minutes before she goes to the office (thirty minutes treadmill, fifteen minutes weights). She makes herself a green smoothie and as she gulps it down, documents her food and exercise for the morning into her phone. So far so good. On the way to work, a customer calls regarding an ordering dilemma and while she is on the phone with her customer, her daughter’s school is calling but she can’t answer the phone. She tells her customer she will look into the situation and get back to them. Meanwhile, school calls again and her daughter has a fever and needs to be picked up. Sally has a meeting as soon as she gets to work and simply cannot leave to do this. Fortunately, her neighbor is able to pick her daughter up from school. Sally is riddled with guilt feeling like a bad mom for not being able to pick up and be with her daughter.
After arriving late due to a traffic standstill , Sally scurries into work and heads straight to her meeting. Planning to prepare for the meeting when she arrived at work, due to the traffic jam, there is no time. She is near tears. Frazzled, feeling guilty, unprepared and quite frankly, exhausted at 8:30 in the morning she puts on her best poker face. Uh-oh, in the middle of the large, mahogany table is a tray of bagels, doughnuts, and muffins. Sally hones in on that as if her eyes had a zoom lens like her Sony Nikon camera. There is nothing Sally would rather do than bite into a mouth-watering Crispy Kreme doughnut. Paying attention to the meeting as best she can, her mind is distracted playing should I or shouldn’t I. The self talk goes on until she finally grabs a doughnut. Attempting to justify it, she says I had a hell of a morning I deserve it (and we’ve all done this). I’ll add this to my food log, and compensate for it later in the day. Sally enjoys her doughnut while she’s eating it but feels angry at herself the rest of the morning.
Shortly after that, Sally is approached by a co-worker attempting to collect money to get pizza for lunch. She is feeling tired, bloated, and definitely not in the mood to think about lunch. Fortunately, she had thought ahead and packed her lunch. Just past 1 pm, after she finished her turkey sandwich and apple, her daughter called frantically crying wanting her mom to come home. Sally still hadn’t resolved the earlier customer issue and had a 3 pm conference call. This time she had no choice but to get home. She could feel her blood pressure rising and the beginnings of a slight headache.
When Sally got home, her daughter was sleeping. Phew, she thought. She was able to get her conference call in and wrapped up by 5 pm. Ready to begin dinner, she glanced at the wall calendar and saw she had book club at her girlfriend’s house that evening. UGH, not good! At around 6 pm, Sally called her husband who was able to come home early from work to care for her daughter. Shortly before 7 pm, Sally flew out the door. In the car, she realized how hungry she was now. Sally got to book club, was greeted at the door with a margarita (how do you say no to that) only to see appetizers upon appetizers on the large coffee table – and she was ravenous. Tired, hungry and anxious Sally decided to eat what she wanted vowing not to track the rest of the day because she had eaten so poorly and surely exceeded her points for the day. This is what leads to the picture at the top of my blog.
I don’t think this is an atypical scenario for any of us. The venues may change. The circumstances may differ. Just about all day every day we are bombarded with food. Quite often food and/or eating cues coupled with runaway emotions make the weight loss process very difficult. Must we wonder why so many people are overweight in the United States today? I think not! What can we do about it? That is a complicated question. How could Sally have handled her day differently? Check out my next blog to find out….