How to Eat an Elephant

There is an old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? The answer is, one small bite at a time.”

This concept is merely a metaphor. I am not suggesting you really go eat an elephant, although in some cultures, elephant meat is considered a delicacy. I’m meaning this as a symbolic example provided as advice for getting a handle on your diet and nutritional goals. Our waistline didn’t become supersized overnight. It may seem like it did, because we never notice it growing till one day we have trouble trying to fasten our clothes. But it happens over a period of time. So, you shouldn’t expect to reduce it overnight. In fact, you don’t want rapid changes anyway. Studies show that those people who lose a lot of weight over a short period of time don’t usually keep it off for very long. Besides, rapid weight loss can create negative health consequences.

A lot of people struggle for years trying to lose weight, and that struggle is the reason why many of them give up and don’t stick to their plan. It becomes overwhelming, and when they don’t see immediate results, they lose motivation.

Instead, think of your diet as a large project with small segments. Rather than focus on how much weight you lost, focus on developing overall healthy habits. For instance, rather than eating those chocolate chip cookies for dessert, drop some raspberries into some vanilla flavored yogurt. If you have a strong craving for those cookies, have one or two rather than eat half a bag. Rather than have potato chips as an after dinner snack, have some raisins and a handful of peanuts or popcorn.

When you go to the mall, don’t park close to the door. Leave your car near the opposite end of the parking lot. If you need to go up or down one or two floors, try taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Walk up or down the escalator rather than ride.

Each little feat is an accomplishment, and you may not see any results immediately. But, that’s okay. Doing each of these things is an accomplishment on its own. If you use a little creativity, I bet you can come up with a few things of your own.
Be tenacious and make daily progress.

As you maintain your progress and achieve your goals, be sure to reward yourself after each week of success. If you go a whole week of passing up that chocolate cake or you consistently did your cardiovascular exercise all week just as you planned, you will likely feel proud. Go ahead and do something special for yourself even if you don’t see any results in your mirror or on your scale. I happen to love monetary rewards. Each week, drop $20 in a coffee can and leave it there. Let the sum continue to accumulate. You might be thinking how you don’t have $20 a week for such a reward; you can reduce it – rewarding yourself with $10 or $5 a week. The point is, put aside something each week, leave it there, and allow it to grow. In about six months, you will have a nice little bonus.

You could also use the same system to punish yourself when you fall short. If you lie on the couch after dinner and fall asleep rather than go for your walk or if you neglect to do your crunches or pushups, drop in your $20 in that can. Reward yourself when you do well – punish yourself when you do poorly.

Setting short-term goals and having long-range objectives will make you more successful in the end. When you first look at that elephant, eating the whole thing may seem like a rather daunting task. But if you remember to do it bit by bit in a piecemeal manner, then in no time you’ll see the progress you’re making.

My companion blog entries related to this topic:

  1. You never know who is watching you
  2. Dealing With Bad Dietary Influences

About Will S.

A nouveau Taurus, writing about my view of the world around me. From politics, to social problem, to public corruption, music and movies to pretty much anything I feel inspired to write.
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