Having lived in Boston going on 6 years, and having had several different morning and afternoon commutes during that time (I have moved a lot and have had several different jobs during that time period), I fancy myself kind of an expert at navigating the MBTA (both the “T” trains and the buses). I know which doors to go out of the train and which entrances to use depending on where I’m going to make trips as efficient as possible. I am also always looking out for tourists who are apparently lost, because I love helping them find their way. Boston is not a friendly city, so I go out of my way to help people that are visiting so they don’t get slighted by too many Bostonians.
Last week, as my train rolled into Park Street station, one of the busiest for switching between two of the main lines, I overheard a flustered tourist trying to find the red line. A man pointed to the doors on the left hand side and said, “go out these doors for the red line, it’s better.” She looked at him, gratefully, and said, “oh, it’s faster that way?” First of all, I completely disagree, I prefer to go out the doors on the other side, and down a secret staircase to the side of the platform that is lesser used, because the doors on the train open on that side first and I almost always get a seat that way…but that is besides the point. What really jumped out to me, was how this woman heard “faster” when he said “better.” This concept that faster is always better really got me thinking.
I think Americans generally value speed above quality. As a society we appreciate things done quickly, and are really concerned with instant gratification. Everything needs to be done right away, regardless if its done perfectly. I think this is one of the biggest challenges that new dieters and exercisers face when they’re just starting out. When you’re trying to lose weight, you want to see results fast, or you tend to give up. It’s hard to accept, when you’re cutting back on eating tasty treats and prioritizing working out over binge drinking, that losing weight really takes time. And maintaining weight-loss doesn’t come overnight. Faster weight loss is not better, in the long run. You are so much more likely to gain weight back when you’ve lost a ton quickly. (That’s why crash dieting is so bad for you.) Your body isn’t built to yo-yo like that. I think this is one of the hardest facts to get over. Losing weight and becoming healthy is not about finding the magic cure or mix of herbs to melt off your body fat. It’s about swapping unhealthy habits for healthier ones and sustaining them. You hear that losing weight requires a lifestyle change, and that is incredibly honest, and impossibly hard to do if you aren’t in it for the right reasons.
I guess when you’re on your weight loss journey, you have to decide if you want to get to the platform faster, or maybe a little bit slower, but get to sit down when the train pulls up. That metaphor probably doesn’t make sense to anybody but me, but I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s going to take time, but if you want to be healthier and more comfortable forever, it’s much better to go slow and steady. Don’t try to lose 4 pounds a week; half a pound will do.