Slow and steady wins the race. We hear it time and time again. Tortoise and hare. It’s a concept taught to us since kindergarten. But do we really live it? Do we really embrace why it’s so important?
In our high-tech modern culture, we want everything right now. Yesterday isn’t soon enough. People get impatient after 2.3 seconds when clicking a hyperlink online. If it takes longer than 2.3 seconds, the majority of persons who clicked that link will either scroll on or click another. We are an impatient people. That works against us in many ways.
I am only going to concentrate on diet and exercise here. When I set out to lose weight and get healthy, I set some pretty aggressive goals for myself. I wanted to lose 20 lbs the first month, and 50 lbs total four months later. The crazy part is that I was able to do it. That wasn’t a good thing, though, because it could have set me up for disappointment and failure later.
You see, when I weighed nearly 300 lbs, it was easy for me to lose a lot of weight quickly because the weight I was losing was actually pretty small compared to my total weight. When you weigh 290 lbs, 20 lbs isn’t that much. When you weigh 173, 20 lbs is a lot! As I was losing weight at a rate of 10 lbs per month, it felt like it was taking forever. I weigh myself every morning, and seeing the weight fluctuate as it went on its downward trend ever so slowly was, at times, a little disappointing. However, upon reviewing those trends at the end of each month and finding I had lost the 10 lbs was always a great feeling.
And then it stopped.
My weight hovered around 177 for a very long time. Months, in fact. I had the toughest time reaching my penultimate goal of 175 lbs, and my ultimate goal of 165 lbs was beginning to feel like it was going to be out of reach. But, through the long plateau, I persisted. I kept eating right, and I introduced exercise into my regimen.
Even after five months of exercise, I managed to only lose about 2-3 lbs (depending on which average weight I used as a starting point). It wasn’t until last week that I finally dipped into the 173 range. This is a big deal for me, as it means I’m finally making progress again on the scale, and the hard work is paying off.
So, what changed? Nothing, really. Just perseverance. I decided that I didn’t want to engage in any drastic activity to try to drop any weight because any weight lost that way would be temporary. I needed to lose it naturally in a way that would be sustainable in the long run and in keeping with my lifestyle. I made a mental picture of this last block of weight being a huge piece of errant stone on a statue. I was the artist holding the chisel working to get the errant stone off without damaging the work I’d done so far on the statue. I knew at some point, the errant stone would fall away, and it seems it finally has.
With that said, I have been seeing changes in my body that haven’t been reflected on the scale. My waist has shrunk as has my face. My cheeks are deeper, and my fitness levels are soaring. I’m running sub-9 minute miles regularly now, and I find myself able to do physical tasks without exertion or minimal effort. It’s truly amazing how rejuvenated I feel as a 49 year old man. I can only imagine how someone in their 20’s or 30’s would feel after losing the amount of weight I’ve lost and begun a fitness program.
It’s taken me a long time to get where I am at today, but at the same time, it feels like it happened in a moment. That’s the tricky thing about time, effort, and delayed gratification. While you’re going through the transition, it feels like it’s taking forever. But then you finish, and you realize that the time and effort were well worth it. For me, the journey never ends, but at this spot on the road I find myself on, I’m very happy with the results so far, and I am optimistic for the future. I can’t wait to see where I’m at by September. How fast I’m running, what I weigh, how many push ups I’m doing, and what other fitness or exercise I’ve added to my routine. I have no firm goals other than eventually reaching 165 lbs. All in good time. It’s been a great ride so far.