Patience: The dieter’s virtue

Dieting takes patience. Did you ever start a diet and lose a couple of pounds each week for the first few weeks and then start estimating? You know, “OK, so if I lost seven pounds for the last three weeks and there’s 16 weeks till Labor Day, that means by the end of the summer I’ll have lost ... ”

Don’t tell me you’ve never done it. I think everyone experiences looking ahead to the day they reach their goal ... fantasizing about it, figuring out when they think they’ll reach it. I sure did! And there’s nothing wrong with it. It can be extremely motivating and encouraging.

It can become a problem, however, when it becomes your focus or your benchmark.

Weight loss is never a steady course. Some months we lose more than we had expected. Other months we lose less than we had hoped. If we map out the monthly estimates of what we planned on losing and don’t reach it, we tend to see it as a failure rather than seeing the weight loss we did have. That can be discouraging and get us off track.

This is true for most of us, but especially for those who have quite a bit to lose. For some reason we see a large amount of weight as an impossibility. We see a 15 pound weight loss as climbing a hill and a 100 pound weight loss as scaling a mountain. When in actuality, a 100 pound weight loss is still a hill, it’s just a little taller.

If I asked you if you had ever in your life been able to lose a pound, I doubt there are many who would say no. The fact of the matter is, metaphysically there is no difference in what you do to lose one pound of fat and what you do to lose 212 pounds of fat. It’s the same thing, just repeated over and over again. The difference is in the amount of time you need to stay motivated. But if this really is a lifestyle change and you’re going to be doing if for the rest of forever anyway, than whether you hit goal in September or December or the following spring becomes a lot less important.

I realize that everyone wants to get to goal ASAP. I did, too. But the focus needs to be on daily living — supreme enjoyment in your new lifestyle — not in seeing how quickly you can hit the low numbers on the scale and “end the diet”.

So whether you have a few pounds to lose or a few hundred, the best thing is to go ahead and have those moments of daydreaming about reaching goal, and then reign yourself back in and say, “OK, what can I do today to make that happen?” The more effort you put into today, plan and prepare for today and focus on today, the more likely you will be to reach that goal tomorrow.

So be patient! It’s a virtue that will help you reach your goals in the end.

Kim Bensen was a lifetime yo-yo dieter who joined Weight Watchers in 2001 and lost 212 pounds. She lives with her husband and four children in southern Connecticut. Visit for more weight loss recipes, tips, and motivation.