Losing Weight: The Elevator Speech

Russell Rawlings

North Carolina Bar Association

Having never worked in a building with more than three floors, crafting elevator speeches has never been my strong suit.

This is especially true when posed with a question that I hear so often: What can I do to lose weight? That’s because this is not a problem that lends itself to a quick fix, but I will give it a shot. First of all, get off the elevator and take the stairs.

Seriously, there are three things that come to mind after 40-plus years of battling obesity with some degree of success.

 1. Say goodbye to sweets.

 I’m not a doctor – thus the absence of Dr. in front of my name – but here’s my take on sweets:

They’re loaded – absolutely loaded – with useless calories. Thus, while driving up your calorie count, sweets provide virtually nothing in the way of nutrition. They may leave you feeling full, but your body will still require additional food – real nourishment – to sustain itself through the day and beyond.

But the biggest dilemma that I ultimately unraveled in regard to sweets is the crash that follows after you consume them, especially in the quantities to which I was accustomed. It’s as if they’re filled with a secret ingredient that directs your hand to the remote control and your rear end to the recliner.

Worse still, come the next morning, when you’re all set to get back on track and resume your exercise routine, you find yourself strapped into the bed, unable to muster any energy aside from that which is required to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock.

  2. Don’t drink during the week.

 Yikes! The elevator just got a lot lighter. You should have seen my old fraternity brothers run for cover when I laid this one on them at our recent reunion. 

Please hear me out, because I enjoy a good cocktail or a nice glass of wine as much as anyone, and more so than most. But drinking during the week is problematic on multiple fronts, especially as one gets older.

In addition to the wasted calories and potential health risks involved with over-indulgence and addiction, there’s the harsh reality that getting up and going strong the next day only gets harder with age, regardless of whether alcohol is involved.

Experience has also taught me that alcohol can chip away at your defenses, otherwise known as willpower or self-control. So in addition to the calories contained in whatever it is that you’re drinking, poor food choices and serious lapses in portion control are likely to follow.

Bottom line, if you’re drinking regularly during the week, you may not be gaining weight, but you’re certainly not losing any.

   3. The One-Hour Theory.

The skeptic in me typically scoffs at the practice of referring to weight loss as a “lifestyle change.” Go ahead, call it what it is: a diet.

But years ago I did stumble upon a lifestyle change that I have sworn by ever since, which I refer to as my “one-hour” theory. It’s actually quite simple: go to bed an hour sooner and get up an hour earlier. Not for a day, not for a week, but for the rest of your life.

And exercise.

My preference is walking, and I do it every day. You may prefer some other mode of movement, perhaps involving one or more pieces of exercise equipment, or you may consider yourself a runner or a cyclist.

It really doesn’t matter, so long as you get up and move. Whatever it takes, reach down inside and find another gear, a gear that will get you on your feet and moving toward a better you, a better lifestyle, and a better life.

Certainly there is more involved in losing weight and achieving a healthy lifestyle than this, but these three seemingly little suggestions can make a big difference. Oh, by the way, they’re connected.

Once you get in the habit of starting your day with an hour of exercise, the investment will carry on throughout the day. You’ll find yourself much less likely to mail it in as the day progresses, and when evening falls, you’ll be keenly aware of what tomorrow morning will bring if you eat or drink too much.

Trust me, I speak from experience.