Wherever you are now, Uncle Buck, I still thank you for these.
Success Tips For Newcomers
I've been on the McDougall program for nine years, and I thought it might be a good idea to put together some information for you newcomers. Whether you are starting the program or maybe just considering it, I hope this information will be of help to you.
First and foremost, the thoughts that I will be sharing with you here are not intended to take the place of the basic information contained in Dr. McDougall's books on this program. I will assume that you have already read at least one of the books and that you are already familiar with the basics of the program. My intent is merely to share some success tips based on my own experience with the program in order to help insure your success.
Secondly, if you have any questions with regard to the basics of the program after reading the book(s), you can post them on the discussion board where any of us "old timers" will be happy to answer them, or you can contact Dr. McDougall directly via email. He has proven to be extremely conscientious about responding to questions and comments.
Okay, without further delay, let's get started…
(1) This program is a lifestyle! As you may have already discovered after visiting the discussion board, there are many reasons why people choose to go on this program. Some want to rid themselves of chronic health problems, and some want to feel better. However, if the posts on the discussion board are representative of the McDougall group at large, the desire to lose weight is by far the most common reason.
The McDougall program is a very effective program for weight loss. However, let me say this very emphatically: IT IS NOT A DIET! IT IS A LIFESTYLE that we can and should embrace for the rest of our lives. The folks I know who have lost weight and kept it off are those who have made this program their way of life (myself included).
(2) Rid yourself of the diet mentality! Have you ever been on a diet that gave you permanent results? I haven't, and believe me, I tried them all. A diet, by its very nature dooms us to failure. Diets involve counting calories, portion limits, frequent weigh-ins and overall feelings of deprivation. When we go on a diet, our mentality is that we can deprive ourselves for a while (long enough to get the weight off) and then go back to eating our familiar treats. Well to begin with, I've never known anyone who could even stay on a diet long enough to get the weight off. I never could. One day, it dawned on me that if I was ever going to be able to lose weight and keep it off permanently, I would have to resort to something other than dieting since diets absolutely do not work.
One of the best definitions of insanity that I've ever heard is "doing something the same way you've always done it and expecting a different result." Well, I was tired of living in such an insane manner. I finally decided to permanently get out of the diet loop. I think you know what the diet loop is; we've all been there. We start a diet with the best intentions only to crash and burn in a few weeks. Then we put back on all the weight that we took off plus a couple of extra pounds. A couple of weeks later, we are frustrated again because our clothes are tight, so we make a firm resolution to go back on a strict diet and absolutely stay on it until the weight comes off. Then, two weeks later we crash and burn again. By now you can probably see the endless cycle that keeps repeating itself in our lives. And it's a cycle that leads to certain failure. So, one of the first steps in realizing success on this program is merely to stop doing what we know has never worked in the past. We must stop dieting.
(3) Eat when you're hungry! Now, this certainly flies in the face of the dieting mentality. Whoever thought that it would be possible to eat whenever we want and all that we want and still lose weight? Well, it's true; you can! As long as you are eating approved program foods, you can eat whenever you are hungry, and you can eat until you are full. There is no need to measure portions or count calories, because it simply is not necessary. The foods selected by Dr. McDougall are the foods which support health. If you find yourself still thinking that you must limit your food intake, then you haven't completely shaken the diet mentality. Please trust me. I lost 80+ pounds and kept it off without ever once measuring a portion or counting calories. If we wish to free ourselves from the diet mentality, then we must return to listening to our bodies and trusting them to tell us when to eat and when we are full.
(4) Stay off the scales! A scale is not an accurate measure of progress on this program, and if you weigh yourself frequently, you are only setting yourself up for a lot of unneeded stress and aggravation. Now, some of you will want to fight me on this, but here is my very best recommendation to you for success on this program: Weigh yourself one time. Write that number (your weight) on a slip of paper and file it away in a drawer somewhere. Then, GET RID OF YOUR SCALE! Believe me, you don't need it, and it isn't going to bring any peace into your life. Either give it away, or get someone to keep it for you. If you have it available nearby, you'll be tempted to go in and stand on it much too frequently. You'll know the program is working when your clothes start to become loose, and believe me, they will!
(5) Don't put yourself on a timeline! There's something about trying to lose weight that makes people crazy. For some reason, we feel like the weight has to come off overnight. I don't know if that's just part of the diet mentality, or maybe it's because we have become accustomed to instant gratification. In any case, all a timeline will do is put you under a lot of unneeded stress. If you really want to be happy and at peace with this program and the rest of your life, consider divorcing yourself from the timeline aspect. If you are following the program, the weight will come off. I promise! And it will come off at a rate which is right for your body. How long will it take for the average individual? It will simply take as long as it takes. Please believe me, I'm not trying to be flippant. What I'm trying to get you to see is that it doesn't matter how long it takes. If you've made the decision to change your lifestyle, you can be certain that the results will come. So, don't put yourself under the added pressure of so many months or so many pounds per week. Let your body worry about that because it will take care of it for you. You need not give it another thought.
(6) Fill your pantry with approved foods! Write out a shopping list and visit your local grocery store. Purchase approved brands listed in the book, or select other brands which may be acceptable. If you elect to purchase other brands, you must read the label to insure that the product does not contain any ingredients that you are trying to avoid. Stock your pantry with plenty of approved foods and snacks. If you still have your old favorites from the Standard American Diet lurking in your pantry, my best advice is to get rid of them. Either throw them away or give them away. The little bit of money that it costs you to do this is a good investment in your future. If you have family members at home who have not embraced your new lifestyle, simply put their favorites in a special cabinet so that you will not have to be tempted every time you open the pantry. Adhering to this program by yourself while the rest of your family continues to partake of SAD foods can be a challenge, but I am here to tell you that it can be done. It simply involves a decision on your part.
(7) Prepare all of your meals at home! If you have already started this program, you know how difficult it can be to find McDougall friendly foods in restaurants. So, when you're first starting this new lifestyle, I recommend preparing all of your meals at home. If you work outside the home, prepare your lunch at home and take it with you. Trust me; it's the best way to go. Nearly all of the recipes in the McDougall cookbooks can be put into a container and taken to work. When you get hungry at work, you'll have a good meal ready for you. All you'll need to do is reheat it.
This is one of the critical areas when you are first beginning this lifestyle. When you are trying to make a successful transition from SAD to the McDougall program, it's very easy to find an excuse to revert back to your old way of eating. One of the particularly dangerous pitfalls is failure to plan your meals and not having acceptable foods available at meal time. If you work outside the home and you decide to go out to lunch at a local restaurant with your co-workers, the chances of finding a good meal consisting of approved foods every time you go out are slim to none. In talking with lots of folks on this program over the past couple of years, I would have to say that this is the greatest reason many people "crash and burn" and revert to their old way of eating. Maybe you can go out with them occasionally if you find a restaurant which serves some McDougall friendly food, but for now, please don't chance it. During the first month or two, while you are changing your eating habits, don't expose yourself to a situation which might cause you to fail. A little bit of planning and preparing your meals at home might just be the very factor which insures your success.
(8) Changing your lifestyle involves more than just changing what you eat! If you have a weight problem like I did, chances are you are somewhat sedentary. You can dramatically improve your results on this program by getting some exercise each and every day. It doesn't have to be painful or strenuous. You just need to get out and MOVE. A 30-minute brisk walk is fine for most folks. I'll be honest with you; when I first started walking I didn't care much for it because the old habit of coming home and sitting on the couch was still calling me. However, after I'd done it for approximately 30 days, I actually started looking forward to it every day. It definitely improved my metabolism and it always assisted me in clearing my mind after a stressful day.
(9) Put your thoughts to work for you! Okay this next one may sound a little bit far fetched, but I promise you it is the absolute truth. We become what we think about. What you are today is merely a reflection of the images of yourself that you have maintained in the past. Part of our human nature seems to be focusing on what we don't want instead of focusing on what we do want. However, if you can train yourself to focus on what you want, you will be much more successful at reaching your goals (in every area of life).
Let me put this in practical terms for you. Do you think thoughts about yourself being as you are now (overweight)? If you do, here is a process which will help insure your success in losing the excess weight. Start thinking of yourself, not as you are, but as how you wish to be. Start thinking of yourself at your goal weight. See yourself in vivid detail. What kind of clothes would you be wearing if you were at your goal weight? You must see yourself in vivid detail as having already accomplished your goal. Now, as you can imagine, this can be a little difficult if you've never tried it. However, it definitely becomes easier with practice. Start forming that new mental image of yourself several times per day, especially before going to sleep each night. Some of you might think this is a lot of hocus pocus, but you need only put it to the test. Don't take my word for it. Just try it and watch the miracles start to happen. There is true power found in this practice if you will practice it.
(10) Don't be afraid to swim against the tide! When you make that wonderful decision to embrace this lifestyle, you must also brace yourself for the onslaught of friends and family members which is sure to occur. Be assured, they mean well. It's just that they can't understand why anyone would not want to eat plenty of meat, eggs, oil, and dairy products. Some folks just can't stand to see someone not eating the same foods that they eat. Perhaps they are concerned because of some misguided notions about which foods support health, or maybe it's just that misery loves company. In any case, you'll have to develop a thick skin to insulate you from these well-meaning comments. Now you and I have never met, so let me tell you something about myself. I'm a very tolerant person, and I always try to be kind to everyone I meet under all circumstances. And, I try very hard to be kind and gracious when I'm on the receiving end of comments from the meat eaters. But let me also tell you this. I am not going to let ANYBODY deter me from maintaining a healthy lifestyle FOR ANY REASON. I don't care who they are. If they have a problem with the way I eat, then they had better GET A LIFE! I've been to the mountain, and I've seen the light, and now there is nothing that could deter me from living and eating this way. This is the attitude that I suggest you adopt if you wish to be successful on this program in the long haul. Listen graciously to people's comments, and be kind to them. But let their comments go in one ear and out the other.
Okay, I hope these ten success tips will be of value to you. Also, I want you to know that I want each and every one of you to succeed. If I can help you in any way, please let me know. In any case, please drop me a line occasionally just to let me know how you're doing.
My very best regards to you all!