A couple years ago, I watched a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It was about an obese man named Joe Cross who was dealing with health problems, so he committed to a 60-day juice fast to lose weight and get healthier. After 60 days, he had lost 100 pounds and was able to stop drinking and smoking, all of which improved his health dramatically. Crazy, right?
Obviously this path isn’t for everyone—drastic change can be dangerous physically and emotionally. But for some people, radical change does work when gradual change didn’t.
Sometimes when I think about this story I have to wonder, Do some of us need to go about weight loss in a more drastic way in order to feel like we’re really making a difference?
When I lost weight 10 years ago, I didn’t take drastic measures, but people are often shocked when I tell them I lost 135 pounds the old fashioned way in a little over a year. I guess I did move quickly, and maybe it was pretty radical. Still, I can’t say I’d juice for 60 days straight or bike across America. But there is a part of me—the impatient, impulsive, and ambitious part—that can understand why anyone would want to sprint to the finish rather than jog there.
Weight loss is an area where the generally advised strategy is slow and steady. It’s so commonly accepted that if you do it any other way, you’re sure to take heat. Small, incremental changes are thought to be more realistic and more sustainable long-term. And yes, there are so many merits to this approach. For one, your brain has a chance to catch up with your body. For another, healthy habits have the benefit of time to solidify.
But for some of us, the slowness of this approach can cause serious mental and emotional fatigue. Since you don’t see results very quickly, you’re not as motivated to keep going—and maaan that makes it hard to want to keep going. You still feel the deprivation, you still struggle, only you’re not seeing it pay off.
But let’s say you go against traditional wisdom and you go the fast route. Let’s say you do something drastic, like suddenly going vegan, or quitting smoking cold turkey, or you juice for 60 days like Joe Cross did—what happens when the 60 days are done? The transition is far from seamless. How do you now learn balance, or temperance? Is that possible?
The thing is, while I can see all of the potential problems with radical approaches, I’m also someone who gets very, very fatigued by the slow and steady route. I’m a sprinter (figuratively, obviously). And as a somewhat extreme personality myself, I can see what they’re drawn to.
When you want to change your life, and you’ve got a wall of a hundred-plus pounds in front of you, sometimes taking the wall down brick by brick doesn’t feel like enough. Sometimes you need a bulldozer.
What kind of change works for you?