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.