Thought of the Week

Put up in a place where it's easy to see
The cryptic admonishment "TTT."
When you feel how depressingly slowly you climb,
It's well to remember that Thing Take Time.

- Piet Hein

How are those New Years Resolutions coming? I'd like to add one to them for you, if you don't mind: Be patient.

Impatience is the death of most diet and exercise regimens, whether undertaken for New Years, or any other time. All those stupid ads for diets, diet pills, and exercise equipment promise ridiculous results, like "We guarantee you'll lose two dress or pants sizes in 10 days, or your money back!" Of course they know that only a teeny fraction of purchasers will A) follow their instructions to the letter, or B) bother to ship the thing back.

I'm here to tell you that losing one dress or pants size in 10 days is rare, much less losing two. Furthermore - and this is important - whatever you do to lose that dress or pants size is what you have to continue to do for the rest of your life if you want to maintain the loss. There is no finish line.

But these ads put ridiculous ideas in people's heads, like that they can undo two decade's worth of neglect in two weeks. And with low carbing, often people really do lose 5-10 pounds in the first week, as they dump all their stored water. Some people expect this rate of weight loss to continue. The vast majority of them are destined for disappointment. I have had a reader write me, wanting to know why a low carb diet wasn't causing quick weight loss - she was "only" losing two pounds a week. I had to tell her that two pounds a week is quick weight loss - and point out that if she continued to lose at that rate, she'd lose 104 pounds in a year!

Unfortunately, for too many people the discovery that - surprise, surprise! - losing forty or fifty or a hundred pounds might take them six months or a year, they give up. Similarly, when they start working out, and don't have six-pack abs after a month of going to the gym three times a week, they decide it's just too much trouble.

Cut it out, folks.

Think of another sort of physical change - straightening teeth. How would you react if you took your child to the orthodontist, and he or she said, "Hey, I can straighten those teeth today!" - and whipped out a hammer. You'd grab that kid and run! You understand, you accept, that teeth only move gradually - and that anything that could move them quickly would be disastrous, not to mention painful. It takes constant, steady pressure over time.

That's what it takes to change your body shape and size, too. Trying to do it quickly is doomed to failure.

As a massage therapist, I have seen repeatedly the pain of people who, after years of slacking, decide they're going to get into shape today. It's not pretty; they end up aching all over, and often by pulling something or causing an old injury to flare up. And they quit.

Likewise, I see what happens to people who decide that if low carb is good, no carb is better, because they'll lose their weight fast-fast-fast. After two weeks of nothing but fried eggs and bunless cheeseburgers, they become hysterically sick of the diet, and that's the end of that.

So I challenge you to make realistic goals - like a smaller size by somewhere between Groundhog Day and St. Patrick's Day, two sizes smaller by May Day. Remember the old adage - "Slow and steady wins the race." It's true. Learning to eat a varied, interesting, tasty low carb diet will, in the long run, get you much farther than eating no carbs at all, not even veggies, for a couple of weeks. And a reasonable workout goal can become an enjoyable part of your life, while beating yourself up will only discourage you - and cost you $55/hour visiting people like me.

Here are my New Years Fitness Goals:

* Fifteen minutes of breathing exercises before breakfast every day.
* Thirteen minutes on my Total Gym (great machine!) 5-6 days a week
* Five minutes on my Bun and Thigh Roller (I also like this, but it's not being made any longer) 5-6 days a week
* Walk 30-45 minutes any day the weather allows
* Incorporate my Heavy Hands and hill sprints into my walking at least every other day that I walk.

This, for me, is do-able. You'll notice that most of this stuff doesn't take a ton of time - if I start my breathing exercises, by the time I think I might quit I'm halfway through, and might as well finish. Same with the resistance work on the Total Gym and Bun and Thigh Roller - and I really do set a timer. When I'm done, I'm done.

Do I expect this stuff to make me a size smaller by January 15th? Not on your life. I'm 48 and hypothyroid. If my clothes are loose by the end of the month, I'll be a happy girl. If, by spring, I can buy smaller jeans, I'll be ecstatic.

But I already feel stronger and taller, and move better, so I know I'm on the right track.

(By the way, that Bun and Thigh Roller? The one that's no longer made? It's one of the machines that promised "lose 2 dress or pants sizes in 10 days." This result was not forthcoming. But since I never expected it to happen in the first place, I could appreciate what the thing did do - give me a good lower body toning and strengthening workout in five minutes flat. Which is what I bought it for in the first place. Shame they stopped making it.)

My diet goals? Well, since I've been eating low carb all along, they're pretty simple - try at least three new recipes a week. Which should help you guys out, too, since I'll pass the good ones along.

Anyway, the point remains: Remember that things take time, especially body changes short of surgery. Remember that there's no finish line; to be effective, diet and exercise must be lifelong pursuits. Find your "braces" - the way you can put slow and steady pressure on your body to change for the better. Embrace what progress you do make, instead of bemoaning that it's not an instantaneous process.

And have a Happy New Year!

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