How Harry Potter Helped Me Lose Weight
Oh sure, go ahead and laugh. But while you're laughing, please note that in the middle picture below, the one where I'm dressed for a midnight screening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2," I'm wearing Slytherin colors. So you might want to reconsider that whole mocking me thing. Just sayin'.
Recently I have seen an influx of posts on my WW forum and tweets from friends about how they are continually stopping and starting their diet plans. One woman was lamenting that this is her 4th attempt at Weight Watchers just this year alone. She would lose weight then slip up a bit and instead of refocusing, she'd just give up and gain all the weight back. Rinse and repeat. As someone who is on her third WW try -- not even counting the countless other diets I've done over the years -- I get it. Believe me, I get it. Yet, obviously something is different this time around. Something finally clicked. And while I may not have all of the answers as to why, Mr. Potter does.
Destination. Determination. Deliberation.
Those familiar with Harry Potter will recognize that these are actually the Three Ds of Apparition. But when trying to come up with a clever and memorable way to get my point across, I realized that this was it. Because I'm not going to sit here and advocate Weight Watchers specifically or running or even yoga. Everybody -- and every body -- is different and what works for me may not work or appeal to you. The food and the fitness is only part of the equation and while it's a very important part, I think the mental part is perhaps even more important and certainly more challenging. That's all Apparition is: getting from Point A to Point B using your mind. And more than the food or fitness, conquering the mental part of weight loss is what has made me successful this time around.
Step One: Destination
In other words, why do you want to lose weight? What is your ultimate goal, and recognize that I don't just mean goal weight. I mean, sure, that's obviously part of it but there has to be other reasons because sometimes that scale is not going to be in your favor. Sometimes that number will stay the same or -- horrors -- go up, no matter how well you did the week before, so you need to have some other focus to keep you motivated. Maybe you want to have more endurance or more strength. Maybe you want to just be healthier and adopt a better diet. Maybe you want to have better body image and self-esteem. Regardless, let them be goals that will help you see the bigger picture that goes beyond your actual weight.
These goals change with time, too. Like, with my running, just running for any period of time was a goal in of itself. Then it became running three times a week. Now I have a goal to complete my first 5K at the end of the month, after which I'll come up with a new 5K or maybe even train for a 10K. Yoga is fabulous for these types of goals, because after you conquer one pose, like, say, the headstand, you still have a whole bunch waiting for you (right now, for me, it's the balancing poses).
Step Two: Determination
Look, this takes work, okay? There are no magic spells here. You can't just will away the pounds and, well, not to sound snarky or anything, but those exercise routines you keep pinning? You have to actually do them. You also have to embrace the changes that will come your way, be it exercising when you really don't want to or having to learn how to say no to certain foods.
But, more than that, you have to stay focused and motivated and that motivation has to come from inside. I don't care how big your cheerleader section is, nobody else is going to get you to wake up early to go running or take the jar of peanut butter and spoon out of your hand at 3am. True, that cheerleader section may try and guilt you with the ol' "Should you really be eating that?" line, but even if you asked them to do that, you have to learn how to stop for yourself, not to please someone else. That also means not letting them become enablers as a means of making them happy. Yes, it's very sweet that your boyfriend or whatever bought you a carton of your favorite kind of ice cream after you've had a bad day, but if you know eating it would be a bad idea, then don't eat it. It's your journey, put your damn foot down.
Not only that, you have to harness the ability to accept the mistakes and mishaps that will happen and not let them derail you. Like, okay, so you ate the ice cream and now regret it. Instead of beating yourself up, use that feeling as motivation. While I know I seem like Mary Freaking Sunshine all the time, I still have bad days. But I don't bitch: I find a song that matches my mood and put it on my playlist and sweat it out.
See, weight loss is kind of like being in a relationship. You don't break-up or get a divorce just because you had a fight, right? That would be riddikulus. You made a commitment to your significant other and you have to stick with it and just keep going no matter what. Same thing with this: you don't quit just because you had too much pumpkin juice and chocolate frogs at the party last week. You made a commitment to yourself and you have to stick with it and just keep going no matter what.
Step Three: Deliberation
So about three months into this journey, I almost quit. Yes, me. The woman who is 14 lbs away from 100. See, when I started I didn't have the destination or the determination. All I had was a goal weight, which sounded good in theory until I started falling off the proverbial wagon and the scale became my enemy. I gained back half of what I had lost and suddenly it all seemed too hard. I was lazy and full of excuses and still over 300 lbs so quitting just seemed the easiest option.
Because that determination? Those changes? They can't exist merely for the time it takes to lose the weight. I have to keep up with them for the rest of my life. That's overwhelming and it took me a long time to embrace that fact. It's also why I gained back some of the weight in the beginning: since this was my third time on WW, I knew exactly what I was signing on for and just thinking about the work ahead exhausted me. But once I not only accepted but embraced that this was required, the it all became so much easier. So that's why I'm not going to tell you to go vegetarian or suggest Weight Watchers, because if you aren't willing to give up meat and/or count points, it doesn't matter that either has changed my life. Be it calorie counting or Atkins or Paleo or whatever, they only work if you work them.
In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, this requires constant vigilance. And if you aren't ready to commit to this body and soul for the rest of your life then you will not be successful. It's a harsh reality, I know, and I think it's something a lot of people struggle with. Losing the weight? Only half the battle. But once you accept that this really is a lifestyle change, your entire attitude changes, too. Food is no longer evil or something to be avoided because you've learned how to eat your cauldron cakes and have them too. Literally. Fitness becomes your friend and you start looking forward to workouts. Case in point: I feel better and more alive on days when I wake up at 6:20am and go running before work than I do on mornings when I sleep in until 7am.
Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.
So. There you have it. Straight from the hippogriff's mouth. Destination. Determination. Deliberation. That, witches and wizards, is how Harry Potter has helped me lose weight.