Weighty Wednesday -- Lifestyle Change or Behavior Modification?

I'll start off this post letting you know exactly which corner I stand in.

I HATE the Dr. Phil coined go-to term of lifestyle change. I abhor, deplore, dislike, and overall loathe that pretentious little phrase. Dr. Phil might not have been the instigator of it, but he's the one I remember first saying it years ago. Personally, I blame him.


Because in my mind a lifestyle change has a feeling of immediacy behind it--the birth of a new baby, being in a car wreck and losing a body part, or finding out you have cancer or some other life-threatening disease. These events are truly life changing.

Let's face it, when we are on the weight-loss journey, there's nothing immediate about it! It's a freaking slow process! Let's take a quick gander into my own recent experiences.
  1. I gained 7 pounds of weight on a two-week vacation in late July-early August. Admittedly, I was literally licking my plate clean in some restaurants. Yes, the food was THAT good.
  2. It took me 9 weeks to lose that excess baggage and return to my pre-vacation weight.
What I had gained in two weeks took nine weeks to lose. There was nothing immediate about that! And when you start this journey, if you expect to drop your excess weight is as simple as downloading a new song from Itunes, you will be sadly disappointed.
Granted, I wasn't killing myself to lose my vacation weight, but I had to slowly change my behavior and my mindset into thinking about how I ate again. And this segues very nicely into my preferred, though outdated, terminology of behavior modification.

When you start your weight loss journey you need to be in the right place mentally. It all starts with small changes, which is why I truly love the new Weight Watcher program. If you are seriously obese, they don't force you to survive on only 26 points (the lowest amount of daily points) a day. NO. They start you up on the high end of the point system and adjust the point values as you lose weight, which allows you to modify your eating habits.

With the amount of weight I had to lose, my point values remained constant at 26, but I know of others who when they reached a certain weight, they had to lose a point or two. By this time, they were usually ready for the next step in the process and it wasn't as painful as going cold turkey.

When you start to change your habits, you have to make choices. Sometimes you have to forgo eating at your favorite restaurant for a month or three to get into the correct frame of mind to make good choices at those restaurants.

After I found out I was pregnant, I had to stop eating at three restaurants because I ALWAYS ordered an alcoholic beverage (wine, beer, or margarita). I had to modify my choice of restaurants to allow myself to be successful so I wouldn't imbibe at those places.

All that boring stuff involving weighing and measuring of your food will eventually pay off when you eat out. You will learn what a real portion size is and modify your eating no more than one real serving.

You aren't going to run a 5 K when you decide to lose weight. Why do you think there are conditioning programs called, "Couch Potato to 5K in X weeks"? Because you can't just start exercising if you haven't done anything in years. It's a slow process to modify your ability to exercise. You have to slowly build up flexibility and strength.

I didn't start power walking my first time out. I walked around the block for 20 minutes. That was all I could do at the time. When that got boring, I extended my walking time. And then when that didn't seem to give me what I needed, I increased my pace. I learned to tighten my muscles (especially abs!)with each walking step. When my pace was fact, but it felt like I wasn't getting the exercise I needed, I increased my stride length.

It was a slow process. Now I have been known to walk and pass joggers (I walk between 4.0-4.3 mph). For such a small person (I'm only 5'1"--with a big hair day!), I have a huge stride and can keep up with my 6'2" hubby.

Again, this didn't happen overnight. It took time to modify all my behaviors to get to my weight goal.

From the beginning of my weight loss journey to end of this transition, I can truly say I have made a lifestyle change, but it was through behavior modification.

Later, peeps!


Marilyn said...

Last night we went to a buffet for dinner. I asked for a very small portion of the rare roast beef, and the server slapped about 8 ounces on my plate. I ate maybe a third of it and slipped the rest onto Bob's plate.

I'm continually amazed by how big portions are, both in restaurants and in our minds.

MAGolla said...

So many people don't have a clue as to serving size. It drives me nuts. I'd much rather pay half the price of a meal and actually eat half the product since so many things don't reheat very well when you take them home. And I won't even go into how much food is just thrown away. . . it's crazy.