It's easy to get caught up in the fantasy of weight loss. There's this image people have of how weight loss works: First, something happens that makes you decide you want to lose weight. You immediately cut out every unhealthy thing you might consider eating, and you start to lose weight right away. You reach your goal weight in record time, and at no point do you slide back or stall. You lose the weight and never gain any of it back.

It's a pretty story. It's also just a story. The reality of weight loss is a lot more complicated and nuanced. It might be tempting to think in terms of the fantasy version of weight loss, but that can actually be a form of self-sabotage. Here's the reality of losing weight:

It can be hard to get started

"Slow and steady is the way to go."

Even if you have a singular "ah-ha!" moment, the odds are good you won't start trying to lose weight right away. That's normal - a lot goes into changing your lifestyle, and it can seem very overwhelming from the start line. Slow and steady is the way to go - if you're struggling to make that first move, think of one little change you can make. Take it one step at a time, and before you know it you'll have an entirely different routine. Not sure where to start? The Food Lover's Fat Loss System gives you a step-by-step guide through the first 21 days of your lifestyle change.

You could stall - or even backslide

Progress doesn't normally happen in a straight line. Usually there are twists and turns along the way, which means that your weight-loss journey might be punctuated with stalls and backslides. If you're experiencing either of these, don't let it discourage you. You don't have to be perfect - use stalls and backslides as an opportunity to evaluate what you're doing. Have you stopped focusing on portion control? Are you getting bored with your workout routine? If you stop losing weight or start gaining, that's usually a sign that you need to make another small adjustment. Don't think of it as failing - think of it as a starting point for your next great achievement.

You might regain weight at some point

Life happens. There are tons of factors that can lead to weight gain, from health issues to stressful situations. There's a good chance that you might regain some of the weight you've lost down the line. This is totally normal - according to Livestrong, nearly 65 percent of dieters gain back the pounds they've lost within the next three years. Again, this doesn't mean you've failed - it just means you've regained a few pounds. The good news is, if you do find some of the weight you've lost, you've already learned how to move forward. Tap into the skills, habits and knowledge you built during your previous weight loss, and use that information to reinstate healthy habits.

It's okay to admit that weight loss isn't always picture perfect. If your experience isn't fitting the image of how you think weight loss should go, look at your own measurements of success. Your accomplishments are valid, even if they're not fast or dramatic. Continue moving forward, and be proud of how far you've already come.


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