You start a new diet. In the beginning it’s all about reading over your program material and getting fresh fruits and vegetables in and the hidden stash of cookies out. After the first few losses on the scale, the excitement starts building. “This is it!” you think to yourself. “Why didn’t I do this sooner? It’s actually not that difficult! I can’t wait to be thin!” And you smile softly to yourself as you drive to work on autopilot, eyes glazed, the sound of the radio fading into the background. You can see it all now…
… Walking across the street in your skinny jeans as heads turn.
… Running into your ex at the grocery store — he can’t believe it’s you!
… Hurrying up two flights of stairs without being out of breath.
… Making a dazzling entrance at your next reunion in a little black dress.
I have to admit it, I’ve had my fair share of daydreams in the gazillion times I’ve started dieting. It’s only natural when we feel so passionately about something. And there’s not much more we want than to feel good, get healthy, and look down right fabulous.
Daydreaming can actually be very encouraging. Setting goals and envisioning the achievement of them are an important part of staying motivated. But daydreaming has its hidden dangers as well. Think about how you feel when you come out of a daydream. Looking down, the fading image of your gorgeous trim thighs melds with the truth of what’s in your lap and you realize how far you have to go to achieve your dream. You aren’t in your skinny jeans after all. Far from it, actually.
A sudden dose of reality can sting like a cold shower. How long is this going to take? You put your math skills to work rapidly. “I lost four pounds this week. Let’s see ... if I can average three pounds a week for the next 16 weeks, that puts me at ... ”
No one reading my column knows what I’m talking about, right?
As a weight loss leader I have often had people join my meetings and ask me, “How long will I have to do this?” My answer is always the same. “You have to do it for the same amount of time as Marcia — and as Bill — and as me. We all have to do it for the rest of our lives.”
Well, in the end I have this to say about daydreaming: Do it. Enjoy it. Relish it. But when you’re all done with peeking into the future, turn your focus to today. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make today a fabulously tasting, on-target eating day? If you can transition your excitement from the fabulous future to a delicious, well-planned present, you can have the best that fantasy and reality have to offer.
Kim is a lifetime dieter who lost more than 200 pounds. She leads motivational meetings at The Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center, 405 Bridgeport Ave., in Shelton. For more information call 203-513-8722 or visit kimbensen.com.