Losing Weight: The How and Why of It

By far, the singular question everyone asks the dancer is “How can I lose some weight?” I first wrote this article more than 3 years ago and with a bit of acquired wisdom, mainly realizing that I need more information than the question alone supplies, I’m glad to say there’s even more dimension to my initial reply. “Why do you want to lose some weight” is now my standard reply because that really makes all the difference in the world.

The human body is an amazing machine and you can’t possibly not believe in a Divine force if you understand the mechanics even a little bit. And scrambled into the human condition of body, mind, spirit marches the ego (personality) and its all-powerful wants and needs. Left un-checked or shall we say, living in less than mindful ways creates habits that have some consequences on both how we feel and how we look. Hmmmm – right back around to mindfulness, as usual.

All of us know that weight is simply calories in and calories out and that no weight loss occurs unless we expend more energy than we consume. It’s more complicated than that in reality but that’s where it all begins. So we are left with the simple challenge of changing our habits since, obviously, if you’re asking the question, your equation isn’t working for you.

I’m unable to tell you what you are willing to change. Only you can do that. But any one of the following will work. In other words, do one of these consistently, or better, a combination of them, and you will lose weight!

  • Will it be different eating habits?
  • Will it be a different fitness routine?
  • Will you give up driving and walk, bike, or run everywhere?
  • Will you stop eating dairy products?
  • Will you stop eating meat?
  • Will you stop eating processed foods?
  • Will you vow to not eat after 7:30pm every night?
  • Will you give up alcohol?

Professional dancers are considered some of the world’s finest athletes. Physical endurance and strength training six days a week all day year-round necessitates learning about the body, specifically your body. Everyone is wired differently but we know what we want and what we don’t want. Or do we? The discipline required to study an art form is unique in this culture but anyone can master their own mind but not without effort.

  • First develop a plan (or follow someone else’s) – make sure it’s a good one
  • Find a buddy, a partner, a trainer, or a sergeant to hold you accountable
  • Follow the plan
  • Measure your success and offer incremental rewards
  • Achieve results

So we see the process is simple to understand, uncomplicated to devise, BUT (there’s alway a but, and yes, you will always have a butt) discipline is the magic element. If I told you this bottle of 500 pills I’m giving you would drop the pounds, you’d take the pills consistently, wouldn’t you? That requires discipline. If I told you this bottle of cream would get rid of cellulite you’d use it religiously wouldn’t you? And hopefully you’re in the habit of brushing your teeth each night before bed. Habituated patterns come in both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’category. And we’re all capable when we engage the will, which, like any muscle, needs exercising. More on that at http://zendances.wordpress.com/2007/04/25/discipline/

There are plenty of areas of your life where you’re disciplined. Along with brushing your teeth, more than likely you fill the car with gas when it needs it, buy groceries when you need to, clip your nails and apply your make-up… I mean this all takes discipline as well so you do have what it takes – I promise! So the questions are can you develop this discipline? How badly do you want this? Are you willing to devote some time, energy and resources to it? If it was easy, would you want it as bad?

Changing patterns is a stretch for us humans. We aren’t, culturally, prone to caring well for ourselves. Most of us alive now have lived well, in the moment, accustomed to instant gratification. But we can grow up, change ourselves, lead healthier, fuller lives with a bit of effort.

My favorite motivator is this question – am I a good role model? For my kids, my students, for my clients? Am I earning the right to be a leader? Could I be doing a better job? What if my own children came to me with this problem- how would I counsel them? And remember- you must have a buddy, a helper, a coach – someone who will give you that nudge when the last thing you want to do is put on your shoes. The will does gets stronger the more you work it.

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