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Weight Loss Program: Do Your Expectations Sabotage Your Success?


When women talk about their biggest obstacles to successful weight and health management, we often hear about hurdles like not enough time or knowledge to prepare healthy meals. Or frequent social occasions that involve food. Or hectic schedules, or stress in their lives, or transitions they're currently going through. The list goes on. But if you're like many of us, it's really none of these. Instead, our biggest obstacle is unrealistic expectations.

All the menu planning, exercising, and positive behavior change in the world will not help the woman who has set goals that are impossible to achieve. Unfortunately, too many of us are that woman - driven, all-or-nothing, compulsive perfectionists. Because of feelings of insecurity or inferiority, we idealize our standards of success and try to mold ourselves into perfect people. The irony is that the worse we feel about ourselves, the more perfectionistic we become and thus set ourselves up for failure.

It's easy to understand intellectually that healthy eating, physical activity and a balanced lifestyle are key to getting and staying fit. The hard part is 'doing it'-- dealing emotionally with the slow, ordinary, day-to-day process called moderation. Unrealistic expectations don't blend well with everyday life. As such, everyday life becomes a failure; each failure undermines confidence in our ability to succeed and creates feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. After a while, it's easy to stop trying.

Often, we identify family and friends as saboteurs to our efforts to take care of ourselves. We're angry when we realize that, rightly so. But how often do we fail to identify the biggest saboteur of all: ourselves. We set the unrealistic expectations that cause failure. On the other hand, realistic expectations promote success. Success builds confidence. Confidence creates a feeling of self-efficacy - that we can do it. That makes it easier to maintain a high level of commitment and to accept that changing behaviors takes time and is a less than perfect process.

Resolve to start supporting yourself by being moderate. Learn to live, breathe, dream moderation because moderation helps you keep your life in balance which ultimately leads to success. Know that change is a back-and-forth process that is only perfect in its erratic course. Look at mistakes as learning opportunities. Be kind and gentle to yourself.

©2004 Green Mountain at Fox Run, Ludlow, Vermont.

Marsha J. Hudnall, MS, RD, CD is director of health communications and senior nutritionist at Green Mountain at Fox Run, an all-womens weight loss program. For over 32 years, Green Mountain at Fox Run has developed and refined a life-changing Weight Loss Spa through lifestyle change, exclusively for women. To learn more about Green Mountain at Fox Run, visit us at: http://www.fitwoman.com


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