I was reminded how hard it is to lose weight recently when I looked up at the wall behind the coffee dispensers at a local store and saw a sign that said, "I said Exercise, not Eat More Fries." It's all matter of perception and interpretation. We see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear.

Trying to lose weight is one of the most difficult things that a human can do. Sure, it's hard to stop using heroin or to stop smoking, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that trying to lose weight results in more people than addicts or smokers being unsuccessful after multiple attempts.

Part of the reason is that with the use of substances it can be all or nothing. Your goal is to quit and be done with it. But with food you have to keep using it and you have to learn to live with using it in moderation. Well, maybe I'll just have a little more of that great food that my aunt just cooked or another scoop of ice cream because it really won't make a difference.

After a month or two of this flawed thinking you can't understand why you haven't lost any weight. In your mind you have been trying very hard but you have fallen into the trap of food rationalization. You keep breaking the rules and eating too many calories and you keep finding more and more excuses for not going away from the table a little bit hungry.


Rationalization and self-deception are at the root of the inability of people being able to lose weight. I know because I have been there too many times than I care to admit. I've been so good all week and if I eat that jumbo bag of chips in one sitting or that pint of Ben and Jerry's it won't hurt. And so it goes.

More times than not people give up on their weight loss regimen after a few days, weeks or months because they have been unable to be honest with themselves. It all boils down to honesty. Can you stop rationalizing and accept the truth that the only way you are going to lose weight is to eat less instead of finding reasons to eat more and then get angry because the scale makes you see the truth?

Scales are demons to be avoided at all cost. Sure they are truthful, but in the early stages of attempting weight loss I keep away from them because I can't handle the truth. I try to delude myself by thinking that I know when I am losing weight and that a scale is just not needed. Just another reality that can' be accepted.

There are medical reasons why people can't lose weight, but one trip to the doctor will help you find out if you have any "real" excuses" for not losing weight. Most people only have to deal with the disease of self-deception. They might even hide behind the muscle mass argument. It is true that if you build up muscle it will increase weight some, but you can still lose weight while bulking up.

Exercise is the necessary complement to a lack of jaw exercise. Most people need to develop an exercise regimen in order to make a serious effort at losing weight. It doesn't have to be fancy but it has to be regular and that means that you have to make the same kind of commitment to exercise that you make to eating more sensibly. They work together.

The motivation to do both is difficult but it is really the only way to start losing weight. After a while the unanticipated, even more difficult to deal with, piece enters the picture. Let's say you have lost the amount of weight you wanted to lose. Now you want to keep it off. Guess what? You have to keep doing what you have been doing for the rest of your life. Good luck with that.

Richard Davis is a registered nurse. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at rbdav@comcast.net.