Weight Loss: Beating the Scale With Little Victories

What to do when you feel demoralized by how much weight you need to lose.

Posted Jul 12, 2020

Do you let the bathroom scale define your mood and/or rule your life? Do you sometimes feel like you've got such a long way to go to get to where you need to be that it might not even be worth trying? In today's post, I'd like to share three helpful insights, hard-won from work with 1,000+ overeaters:

It's very difficult to lose 100 pounds; it's much easier to lose one pound 100 times. Focus on the next right move, not the long term goal. Like Socrates said to the youth who asked how to get to Mt. Olympus: "It's easy—just be sure every step you take is in the direction towards Mt. Olympus." Another way to conceptualize this is to understand that direction is more important than speed. If you're trying to get to New York City from the mid-Atlantic ocean and point your ship westward towards Manhattan, you'll get there eventually, no matter how slowly the ship is moving. But if you're headed east, you're more likely to end up in London. So celebrate simply pointing your ship in the right direction and every tiny step along the way.

Sometimes your "Big Why" can be too big. It's common advice to articulate and amplify a "Big Why" for losing weight—a vivid portrait of what the future holds for you if and when you manage to stick to your diet. In fact, I'll often ask clients what benefits they might accrue if they didn't break any of their rules for one full year. We'll go way beyond weight loss into other areas of health and wellness, relationships, etc. And indeed, we do find having a Big Why can make a significant difference in a client's persistence and fortitude. That said, sometimes people's Big Why can be too big. They construct a future that seems too far away, and perhaps not realistic or believable. When this happens it's important to construct a series of "Little Whys" as I discuss in this short video clip:

Focus on non-scale victories. It's not actually weight loss but all the little non-scale victories that keep people consistently moving towards their goal despite mistakes and setbacks. So take the time to notice and write them down each day! They'll help you build a successful identity no matter what you weigh, and that can propel you forward during hard times. Here are some ideas and questions to help you identify them:

  • Confidence and self-esteemDid you feel even a little prouder of yourself today? In what way?  

  • Energy: Did you notice having more energy at times of the day that were previously devoted to overeating and/or recovery from the same? Be specific and record the details.

  • Financial: Did you save money or spend it more wisely because you haven’t had an overeating episode? How, specifically? 

  • Relationships: Were you more present in your relationships due to eating healthier? Found yourself with a bit more time to cultivate existing ones? Perhaps you even started a new one? What did that mean to you? Why is this important?  

  • Available time: Did you have more time to work, sleep, or just to enjoy life because you weren’t busy overeating and recovering from it?   

  • Mental obsession with food: Were you less obsessed with food? Were there times during the day that you didn’t think about food at all? How did that feel? 

  • Work performance: Did you perform better at work? Were you less sleepy? More productive?   

  • Physical health and overall physical feeling: Did you feel better in your body today? In what way? Were you less concerned about your health in any way?

It may seem simplistic, but these three things, especially in combination, can make a powerful difference in getting momentum going, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose.

For more practical tips and tricks to stop overeating, binge eating, and emotional eating, please click here.