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House Plants and Dieters: More in Common Than you Think?

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I’ve never been a gardener (not until recently—stop laughing mom), so I can’t believe I’m about to make this correlation.

This morning I received an email from a reader:

“I am just so frustrated because I keep trying different weight loss programs. I guess that’s my problem and I just need to stick with one. What makes any of them different? I go between Weight Watchers, Richard Simmons, and the Biggest Loser … I guess it’s all so overwhelming because I need to stick to just one, but I think one is easier than the other, so then I switch.”

I’ve received many emails from her. I can feel the pain, frustration, and overall hopelessness through her words.

“I’ve just been so frustrated. I just keep going from one weight loss program to another because I think it will work better … sigh! I just need to lose this weight. Any tips? I know I have asked this before tons of times.”

I’ve been there, I really have and that’s why I feel her pain. All day I’ve been thinking how I can respond. What is it that I can say to ease her pain? To show her that it is possible to overcome this unhealthy cycle?

A few hours later, I found myself replanting some houseplants. All three of my plants are outgrowing their homes and they are starting to suffer in their little pots. So I pulled out the potting soil and plant food and got to work.

While making a mess on my kitchen floor, it hit me. Houseplants are not very different then dieters (I hate the word but bear with me).

On one hand, if we keep a plant in one pot forever it grows and survives but it never lives to its full potential. We need to respond to the plant, move it to larger pot, change its soil or it starts to become drab.  On the other hand, we can’t continually move the plant. By changing its pot and soil every week, the plant is never given a change to grow its roots and learn how to survive. In essence we stunt its growth while trying to meet its needs too rapidly. The plant needs time to grow, flourish, and learn.

For those of us who struggle with weight—who don’t inherently know how to eat healthy, have bad habits, and are ready to change—we are not that different from my houseplants.

We need time to grow and learn. We need a plan. That plan may be Weight Watchers, it may be South Beach, Jenny Craig, Biggest Loser, or our own healthy approach to eating. Whatever it is, we need it. We need to find the plan that works for us much like the plant needs to find its ideal pot. Then we have to follow that plan, learn it, and give ourselves time to grow roots. Once we do that, we may outgrow it and move to a larger pot but we have to start somewhere.

So the moral of my very convoluted story is simple. Switching pots—oops I mean plans—too early on your weight loss journey may not give you the foundation you need. Remember it’s not a quick fix. You need to stick to a plan and give it a chance to not only work but to teach you good habits. Once you grow those roots you may find yourself moving to a new pot as I have.


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