Open Source Weight Loss Week 6: Taking BreaksPushing yourself to greater lengths with your workouts is arguably the best way to reach your goals. It’s taking steps, little by little, to increase your overall performance and overcome those awful plateaus. There are times when pushing yourself harder can backfire on you, though.

I’ve been going full tilt for five weeks as of the beginning of this week. It’s been rough and at times frustrating, but pushing myself harder and harder has resulted in a number of side effects that I would hope to avoid in normal circumstances. Blisters, sore feet, and other undesirable conditions can result from overextending yourself in the gym or at the track. Over time, your body may adjust to your boost in activity and these problems will become less of an issue, but the key isn’t to attempt to climb the tallest mountain when you haven’t even walked uphill.

I took a break this week. After having returned from a business trip that kept me busier than usual, I decided to take a week away from heavy activity and focus on catching up on work. This may not have been the best decision I could have made, but it didn’t kill my plan, either. Well, it could have if I had let it continue for too long.

Week 5 Report
Start — 289.0
Middle — 291.0
End — 287.9
Total Weight Lost (Full Program) — 7.7 Pounds

How to Deal with Weight Gain During Dieting

I gained weight during the middle of the week. This was likely the result of taking it easy for a few days after an especially heavy week. Looking at the scale, it’s easy to be discouraged when you’ve worked so hard to make it to a specific point in your weight loss plan. I felt miserable that whole day, but it pushed me to get back on track and to start working out again.

Within 48 hours, I had lost everything I gained from relaxing and even marked one of the lowest numbers I had since beginning the plan. At 287.9, I’m feeling quite a bit better than I have in months. In fact, I hadn’t seen the 280s since last year, so I’m thrilled with the progress.

This being week six, I had hoped to lose 12 pounds by now. The original goal called for two pounds of loss per week, and that seemed like a reachable goal at first. However, it’s important to remember that gradual weight loss gives you a better chance of keeping it off forever than losing it all at once. I’ve known several people who dropped extraordinary amounts of weight doing P90X and other intense plans only to gain it all back faster than they lost it when the plan ended.

In the end, I’m not doing this to fix something I broke. I’m doing this so I can live a longer, healthier life. That means taking the good with the bad and giving myself the best chance possible of long-term success.

Healthy Living is a Lifestyle, Not a Plan

I’m beginning to understand why so many of my friends have regained the weight they lost during dieting and exercise. Simply put, there is no such thing as a quick fix to obesity. Your body is like a car, and years of neglect can’t be undone by spraying a little Turtle Wax on it. You need to do a top-down restoration, treat it with special high-mileage fuel, and take it out of the garage now and then.

You wouldn’t expect a car that has sat idle for years to win the Daytona 500. It needs care, attention, and use.

By thinking of weight loss as a quick fix, I’ve failed at just about every diet I’ve tried over the past 10 years. Weight Watchers, Nutri-System, and others can be great jump starts to a healthier lifestyle, but if you don’t take what you learn about portion control and eating the right things with you throughout life, you’ll end up right back where you started.

Working my daily walks into my routine has become part of my life. If I stopped walking, I’d burn less calories and everything I’ve worked towards to this point would ultimately fall apart. Healthier eating and living has to become a part of your life in order to have any lasting impact.

How often do you take breaks from your own life? Two weeks per year is what the average American takes from their full-time jobs. If I took a month off of my exercise plan, I’d probably spend more time catching up to where I was. Special events such as Thanksgiving and birthdays are great times to celebrate, but I often find myself using these holidays as excuses to give up my diet for longer than a holiday itself.

Indulge in the things that make life sweeter, but remember that life is a race and every stop you take makes it that much harder to regain the lead.

Question of the Week

Do you see a diet or exercise program as being a temporary tool to help you reach a goal, or a lifestyle change you should continue well past the point at which you’ve met your goals? Which type of diet/exercise plan do you feel is best for long-term health management?

You can answer this question as well as post your own on LockerGnome.net. OSWL is a community effort to share experiences and knowledge regarding weight loss and healthier living.

Updates

Week 0: Will You Join Me?
Week 1: the Rollercoaster
Week 2: the Burn
Week 3: Slow and Steady
Week 4: Always Be Training
Week 5: Hydration is Key
Week 6: Taking Breaks