The vast majority of clients that come in to our 10 Week program complete the program and many move on to a continuing program. One thing that they can all tell you is that they all gain a lot of knowledge in our program about healthy eating and exercise. Almost all of them can also tell you that there have been positive changes to their health. However occasionally, someone signs up for our program and still thinks there is a magic pill we give for success. I wish there was. Weight loss always requires making some changes in eating habits and activity, but it is usually a few small changes that can make a big difference. So we were all surprised when Mendel, after this third week decided not to continue. I would like to take you into the room for the conversation between Mendel and myself.
Mendel came into the program with a goal of weight loss. As he is a maggid shiur and his life is learning, there isn’t a lot of activity in his day. When Mendel came in, he seemed ready to make some changes and was very compliant with his exercise assignments. Even before he started our program, he was eating relatively healthy. So when we don’t see weight dropping when in theory it should be, we have to take a closer look at what is going on. After I asked Mendel a lot of questions, it became apparent to me that he was simply overconsuming. When I brought this up, he said to me that he is only eating healthy choices and gave me a quick overview of most of what he eats on any given day. But then I asked him the question that I wanted to get to, which was, “How much are you eating?” When he responded concerning his supper the night before I knew that my intuition had been correct and although he was eating healthy food, he was eating too much of it.
Mendel’s response was really interesting. He told me that if he eats any less than he is presently eating, he will be hungry and then he also proceeded to tell me that he thought my program had some kind of “Chiddush”, some kind of new idea for weight loss that would allow him to eat as much he wanted to and still lose weight. I explained that the “Chiddush” of my program is that unlike all of the gimmick programs out there, we rely on proven and tested science in order to give people a program for sustained weight loss that becomes part of their life. We are not interested in losing a lot of weight quickly that will only come back on.
Apparently, Mendel couldn’t accept that he would have to make certain changes to be successful. I explained to him that he might want to eat more, but if he was following our well balanced food plan, he shouldn’t be feeling hunger. Why he wanted to eat more had nothing to do with hunger. His meals had adequate proteins, unrefined carbohydrates and healthy fats. He also was hydrated. So we investigated two possibilities. One, that even though he was full he needed to follow the 20 minute rule and stop eating until his brain signaled that he was full or two, that he is just used to eating these size portions and it’s really a matter of habit and enjoying the taste more than real hunger.
Instead of troubleshooting his problem with me, he became combative and wanted to blame the program. Here we had an opportunity to problem solve. I know from my own weight loss adventure many years ago and from working with people to help them lose weight over the last 20 years that without making some effort, there isn’t a real result. For some that means being a little hungry until your body gets used to the idea. We try to work out peoples’ food plans with snacks built in and enough food to keep hunger to a minimum. Some will have to give up some of foods they may like if these foods are addictive to the person and they can’t limit their portions. Some people may enjoy sedentary living, but one day because of it they won’t be able to enjoy life, so they have to give up an easy lifestyle to one that will be unfamiliar and even uncomfortable at first, but very beneficial and even enjoyable in the long run. The good news is that after learning healthy and controlled eating and doing a little bit of exercise, people usually feel so good that they don’t even want to go back to how things were.
We all know that change is difficult. It is so difficult that the great Baal Musar Rav Yisrael Salanter said that changing one Midah (character trait) is more difficult than learning the entire Talmud. Achieving practical results requires constant awareness and effort. When it comes to eating things are especially difficult. We have to eat properly in order to function properly. We can’t NOT eat! But we have to come to terms with the fact that nothing is free and without sacrifice if we want to reap benefits.
It took Mendel a couple of weeks to realize that in our conversation at his previous session, what I had said was correct. It took him some experimenting, but in the end he did indeed realize that he could eat a little bit less, not be hungry and lose weight comfortably. After dropping 2 kilo over three weeks of making small changes, he decided to come back and now is continuing to push forward making more small and incremental positive changes in both his eating and exercise.
Like most things in life, there is no free ride. And that means that sometimes we have to make some sacrifice to gain a result. It took a while for Mendel to realize there is no instant fix or magic cure for weight loss, but also realize that making a few changes had him reaping great reward. He was able to “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.