The Joys of “Permanent Beta”

I am exploring my future career path at the moment, and I recently picked up a new book, The Start-up of You, co-written by Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn. One of the first things he says in the book that grabbed my attention is that nowadays, people need to consider their careers to be in a state of “permanent beta,” that it’s best to be adaptable and bent on keeping your skill set fresh with continual learning, if you want to be able to keep your options open and keep moving forward.

I agree with this sentiment for work, but I also agree with it for weight loss. Over the past few years on Weight Watchers, I have gone about with a mindset that I have one big push to make in order to lose weight, and then I settle into a thinner life, where my outlook on life and my perception of food doesn’t change. But in reality, as I’ve discovered over the course of the past nine months or so, change is necessary to keep moving the number down on the scale.

I have done a great job at maintaining my 40-lb weight loss, but you could say I haven’t done too much lately to shake up my approach for losing more. Here are three things I want to do to remind myself that weight loss involves ongoing monitoring and change:

Exercise. My excuse for avoiding exercise has been that I haven’t had enough time. But I’m working from home for the time being, so I have regained the time that had been devoted to my commute. Also, this recent New York Times article has further demolished my excuses, making it painfully clear to me that in 20 minutes, I can get in some respectable exercise. (Anything beyond 20 minutes is icing on the cake, says the author.) I can get in a lunchtime walk or mosey on down to the basement and dust off the elliptical machine that’s been patiently waiting for me. If you’re better at consistent exercise than I am, consider changing up  your routine periodically, whether than means increasing intensity or duration, or moving on to new activities.

Pencil in times for indulgences. The blessing of Weight Watchers is that you really can eat anything you want, in moderation. The curse is that it can be easy to forget to put some boundaries into place. I’ve written before that I generally eat a modest dessert with lunch (like a high-fiber cookie or granola bar, or frozen fruit with honey); I think it would be wise for me to build in one day a week to have something a little more splurgy (like an ice cream sundae or a piece of cake). I could do the same with a splurge meal. The best piece of advice I gleaned from the weight loss story I red recently on Huffington Post is that the food isn’t going anywhere; it’s best to focus on the menu over the course of a week or month (or the rest of your life) rather than by the hour. If you struggle in this area like I do, it can’t hurt to try out adding a little more structure to your eating.

Get a life. On the weekends in particular, I find myself getting bored and tempted to eat to pass the time. But if I’m doing something interesting–an outing with my family, taking a class, volunteering, etc.–I will feel more fulfilled and may be less likely to seek that pleasure from the food I eat. I am a terrible couch potato, so I think coaxing myself into this would be very valuable.

Be realistic about imperfection. If there’s ever an area in which I understand constant work and evolution should be at play, it’s this one. Yes, I can push myself and test myself, but there will be times when I simply don’t have the fight in myself for the day or the week. And that’s OK. I haven’t always been that compassionate with myself about that, but finding a way to be loving to myself despite setbacks will help me to achieve a better quality of resilience as far as my weight loss progress is concerned. If you find it hard to bounce back from a vacation weight gain, or a bout of blues cured by food, consider checking in regularly to see whether you give yourself pep talks to get back on track, or criticisms that keep you down.

Do you feel that constant evaluation and change is necessary for weight loss? In what areas do you like to mix things up?


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