“I just have to say ‘NO!’ to food,” said an acquaintance recently. The 70 pounds she’s worked so hard to lose were creeping back on, ounce by ounce. Seventy pounds of weight loss is nothing to sniff at, and she looks great…but her frustration was palpable. She’d lost her resolve and was trying to regain it.
“No” is such a powerful word. It is human nature to resist it. “No” means not getting something you (think you) want. Like the chips. The bread. The extra glass of wine. When your weight is down and under control, it’s easy to slide something you know isn’t on the diet plan into your pie-hole. So…Darned…Easy…
And so, I suggested to her, why not say “yes?” Just as a poorly timed “no” can cause unwelcome meltdown in a toddler’s world, saying an outright, “no, you can’t have that” to your inner child who has fixated on a bag of chips or chocolate bar is probably a doomed mission.
“Yes” is a simple redirect maneuver similar to what parents do when a toddler gets fixated on, say, wanting a certain toy. “Yes! Of course you can have your toy, as soon as you [fill in the blank: get in the car, pick up these other toys, help me clear this dinner table…]”
“Yes!” is a strategy I have often found helpful. My own efforts at reining in my weight-creep came after the sedentary habits of grad school, from which I emerged as a flabby mess in 2010 (call me a late bloomer). My battle cry became, “I refuse to age into doughiness”–you know, that nasty feeling of unwelcome layers of insulation that add jiggle to your heft.
“Yes,” I would reassure my needy inner self, “you can certainly have that bag of chips…after you drink two glasses of water.” I know even as I’m self-dealing that the water (or the 10 minutes of stretching, or feeding the birds…) will buy my resolve enough time to bubble back up to the surface. The distraction (and pleasure) of “yes” makes me worry less about failing and helps me know I can succeed. My resolve, when it returns, helps me forget the moment of weakness, helps me walk past the kitchen, helps me attain my real goal: to skip the calories.
It is not necessary to believe the doomsday reports that getting older inevitably means losing muscle mass (read: fitness) and gaining weight. It can go a different way, if you choose, and are willing to work at it. If you’re interested in reversing that trend, I say, say “Yes!” and get going.