This Monday was my daily weigh-in and to my surprise I lost exactly 2.0lbs for the week. That is such a huge loss for me so I was extremely excited. A typical weekly loss for me is between .4-.6 lbs making this week’s loss the same as some entire months for me. Contrast that to some of the people on a Facebook group I also belong to. People routinely will start a post saying, “I stuck to the menu and I exercised and I only lost 2lbs. What did I do wrong?” There have even been people who complain about losing “only” 4 lbs in a week. I don’t know how heavy these people are or how much they are used to losing but I have to think the expectations are in need of some serious adjustments. I also tend to take these comments personally (although they are not about me, so I shouldn’t.). I think, “Oh, so the 2lbs I lost this week is a failure? How dare you?”
These people are are considering their week a failure but there is something to think about... failure and disappointment are not the same thing. In my book if you have lost weight, that’s been a successful week. You may have lost .5lbs, or 1lb or 2lbs. Whatever the weight loss, you are now lighter than you were the week before and if you keep repeating weeks like that, you will reach your goal. Heck, some weeks, just not gaining could be considered a success.
So what my Facebook friends are actually experiencing is not failure. Instead, it’s disappointment.
Disappointment - the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.
They’ve had a successful week with their 2-4lb weight loss but they are disappointed because they were expecting more. If this is you, I would suggest that you haven’t failed at all, instead, you just had the wrong expectations. I can just as easily be guilty of this myself but if we could adjust our expectations, we would all be much happier and thus less likely to give up in frustration.
Although I love the Jennt Craig program, their marketing sets us up for disappointment by setting our expectations high right from the start. Right on their front page it says "Lose Up to 16 lbs in just 4 weeks" - hey that's 4 pounds a week! I immediately do the math and figure out that with 60lbs to lose, I’ll be at goal in 15 weeks, just short of 4 months. This sort of expectation is guaranteed to disappoint. I’m 18 months in at this point and still working on it.
Read past the headlines. "First 4 weeks only" and "Avg. weight loss in study was 11.6lbs for those that completed the program" (that's 2.9 lbs per week.)
So chances are, you are NOT going to lose 4lbs a week even in the first 4 weeks. If you are average, you will lose about 3lbs a week. A good number of people will lose less. After that, your weight loss will even slow further. At the bottom of the page, they say "Members following our program, on average lose 1-2 lbs per week."
So to more appropriately set your expectations, think maybe 3lbs a week for the first 4 weeks and then 1-2lbs a week for subsequent weeks. But also know your body. I’ve been doing this a while and understand that I’m much slower than that. I averaged 2.15lbs per week in my first 4 weeks and after that averaged about .8lbs per week. (Discounting a 3 month plateau in the middle, which is a story for another day.)
Also know that loss over time is an average. You have to look at the big picture. You’re not going to go in there week after week, losing exactly 1.5lbs each week. Some weeks you’ll lose 3, some you’ll lose 1. You’ll go a week without a loss and then suddenly drop 4. Weight loss is not the simple math you might expect. It’s not just calories burned - calories eaten = weight lost. There’s a bit of mysterious sorcery involved there too. Chart your progress and calculate averages over time to get a more long term view of your progress. I was disappointed for quite a few months until I did the math and realized that at .8 lbs per week I was actually very close to the recommended (and expected) rate of 1-2lbs per week. That eased my frustration by quite a lot.
Moral of the story: Why be successful and yet disappointed at the same time because you thought you should have been MORE successful? I promise you will be much happier if you can adjust your expectations.
I figure I could quite possibly be the slowest person to lose weight on Jenny Craig and still be on the program. I first started Jenny Craig in April 2017 with about 60 pounds to lose. I could probably stand to even lose a little more but even at 51 years old, with decades of adult life behind me, I’ve never actually figured out what my ideal weight should be. I picked a goal weight that just tips me into the “normal” range for my height. At 5’8” most BMI calculators say I should weigh between 122-164 pounds so I’m going for 164.
Which brings up a point... I’ve always been incredibly irritated by the concept of BMI. “They” (the mysterious people out there who write important things) say that height/weight charts are inadequate and we should use BMI instead. So they come up with a formula that uses height and weight to come up with a number. I’m sorry, but that is the exact same thing as using a height and weight chart! It still completely disregards body composition, meaning muscular people will be judged overweight, while someone with very little muscle could be totally flabby and out of shape but not be considered to be overweight.
But I digress. So having arbitrarily come up with a goal, I began my latest journey. I say latest, because probably like most people here, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’m sure my tale is a common one. I started high school back in 1980 weighing 144lbs and thinking I was fat. It didn’t help that I had teeny tiny friends that complained that stores just didn’t sell clothes in sizes smaller than 00. I would compare the tree trunks I had for legs to their little chicken legs and think, “Ug! Fat!” Or I had those friends that were 5’10” and would get their too small jeans wet and lay down on the bed and slither into them. And I remember when 17 Magazine would publish the stats of their models. Hey, she’s 5’11” and weighs 118lbs. Confirmed! I’m fat! I’m 3 inches shorter and 25lbs heavier. Looking back, I was probably perfect. Isn’t it true that we never appreciate what we have until it’s gone? What a waste!
The rest is history. Loathing my body and armed with plumeting self esteem, I headed off to college to gain the Freshman 15. Creep, creep, creep. Up the weight went year after year. Graduated, got married, got a job, life revolved around social eating. I hit my peak at 224lbs and that was the last straw. I did not want to turn 30 as a fat woman. I joined Weight Watchers and was completely devoted to that program, I lost 80lbs in one year. I got down to 147lbs. Almost my high school weight. I still thought my thighs were fat though. Looking back now at photos, my face was gaunt and I looked too thin (and my thighs were NOT fat). That weight was impossible to maintain. Creep, creep, creep. Pregnancy and two kids later. Weight watchers again and triathlon training. Lost 20 or so pounds. Creep, creep. Back all the way up to 222.2lbs. Almost to my highest weight.
So here I was again. April 2017 and joining Jenny Craig. This time it wasn’t fast. I lost pretty steadily for about 8 months, just slowly. Then slower, then not at all. I spent from March to July of this year losing and gaining the same 2 lbs. I’ve buckled down now and have again started losing steadily for the past 5 weeks but just about a half pound a week. I’m OK with that though. As long as it keeps going down, I’m making progress.
17 months on program and I’ve lost 38lbs. 20lbs to go. At this rate I’ll be at goal next June. I’d actually like to get to goal by the end of this year. We’ll see. I’ve said to some other people recently that you can control how well you stick to the program but you have no control over the results that reflect on the scale. So I’ll have to keep working the program and be content that I will acually get there in the end, even if it takes a while.