Drawing a Line in the Sand

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Drawing a line in the sand while losing weight

I got an email from a reader the other day and she shared the difficulties of maintaining her weight loss through the menopausal period. She said that she was “drawing a line in the sand” with the few pounds she had gained and was motivated to get back down to her goal weight.

I loved the concept of drawing a line in the sand because it is a really important part of the weight loss and weight maintenance process. Drawing a line in the sand is a symbolic way of saying that you are not going to pass a certain point

I unsuccessfully drew lines in the sand many times during my weight loss efforts. I told myself that I wasn’t going to go over 275 pounds, but I did. I told myself that I would lose 30 pounds by a certain date, but I didn’t. I told myself that I wouldn’t eat brownies for breakfast, but I scarfed them down.

It’s one thing to draw the line in the sand and it is an entirely different thing to not stick your big toe over that line.

What makes the difference between making that line and staying behind the line?

I had to stop and think about this one because all of us have “drawn a line in the sand” for ourselves at one point or another. We may not have drawn it in terms of weight loss, but we have in terms of other parts of our lives.

How do you draw a line in the sand with regards to your weight management efforts and make it stick? I believe there are several important things to take into consideration when drawing a line in the sand.

1. Your Line Must be Based in Reality

It’s easy to say, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds this weekend,” and draw a line in the sand that it will happen. However, you know that it is almost impossible to lose that much weight in a single weekend and do it in a healthy manner. Your line has to be based in reality just like goals you set for yourself need to be realistic and attainable.

2. You Have to Have the Right Tools

If you don’t know how to eat right, don’t understand the impact of food on your body, or don’t know what kind of diet plan you want to follow, you are going to have a hard time sticking to your commitment.

3. You Aren’t Ready

When I tried to make my line 275 pounds, I said so with all the good intentions in the world, but I wasn’t really emotionally ready to lose weight. And so I kept erasing and moving the line until it was so mixed up that I lost sight of it. Make sure you are ready to commit to your plan or you will probably have trouble staying on track.

4. The Line Moves

I often set the line on my high weight or my weight loss goals and then kept inching the line forward until it disappeared. For example, if I said I wasn’t going to go over 275 pounds, when I hit 277 I’d say to myself, “Well, now I won’t go over 280.” The line kept moving and so did my weight. This often happens when you are trying to maintain your weight. If your line moves, you may find yourself gaining weight because you aren’t staying true to your goals.

I don’t want to discourage you from drawing a line in the sand because having goals, objectives, and absolutes are useful when it comes to weight loss. Just be prepared to reassess your goals and make sure that the line in the sand is one that is attainable and good for you.

Have you figuratively “drawn a line in the sand” when it comes to your weight? Do you ever find it hard to stick to it? Diane



  1. L says

    This is a great concept to consider with regards to weight loss. And I agree that our lines have to be drawn realistically. I WISH I could lose ten pounds in one weekend, but its never going to happen for me. Or probably many others; not in healthy ways anyway. No. 3 on the list was most relevant to my mind today. I know some of the facts behind what finally made you mentally ready to tackle your weight loss, Diane, but would love to hear more, another post, on this aspect of recovery. Thanks for another helpful post.

  2. says

    In regard to maintenance lines in the sand, this is not popular, but I believe it is true for many. Pick a line in the sand (weight) and then go 5 pounds under it. That five pounds is then your leeway. And those five pounds allow one to STAY at goal and have all the clothes in your closet, fit, every day.

    • says

      Great thought Vickie. I agree completely.

      What is frustrating for me is that with pregnancy is keep passing my line in the sand and getting back down is hard. I can do it, but I get so used to seeing myself bounce up that it is hard to get out of that mindset postpartum. Add to that my milk production suffering in dieting AND multiple closely spaced kids, and maintaining below a certain number has become quite a chore. Ugh. Vickie is still right, but making that work practically with five babies in seven years, now, has proven really challenging.
      Taryl recently posted…Answer to a questionMy Profile

  3. says

    When I first lost the weight eight years ago and got to 135, I vowed I wouldn’t go over 150 again. Anything under that was fine. And for a couple years I did fluctuate between 135-150. Then, that moving line … just inched over to 155, then 160, then 165, then 170 then a jump to 180 over one winter.

    This past year I have managed to get back down, ALMOST to that “under 150” … I’ve hit it a few times but don’t feel I’m “there” yet, but close. I do have theses NUMBERS in my head (over 155 and I’m back to “overweight”, over 153.3 and my Fitbit weight chart doesn’t show any progress, 150 … the “magic” number where I feel better about myself). Working on it every day!
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  4. Janis says

    Another important thing to set in place is a plan for what happens when/if you cross the line. If you put the line in place without a solid idea of what you will do should you find yourself on the wrong side of it, you might as well not have put it there.

    “If I cross the line, I will reevaluate all drinkable calories and see if any snuck in.”

    “If I cross the line, I will start weighing and measuring again.”

    “If I cross the line, I will go back to tracking and see where I might have slipped up.”

    If you don’t put a plan into place that tells you what to do if you cross the line, chances are that when you do, you’ll just move the line, which is your #4.

  5. Amber says

    This is exactly what i needed to read today! I have been convincing myself to move my line.. only by 5 pounds but that’s where it starts. I also always convince myself of excuses like family is visiting or we never get to eat here.. Great post!! My healthy weight line needs to stand firm!!

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