Loosing weight is hard, maintaining weight loss is tough, and exercise is painful; however, living in a body that doesn’t feel like your own is way more painful. Back when I was at my heaviest, I will never forget the feeling when I looked in the mirror every morning and wondered to myself “how did I let myself get here?”
I was faced with a dilemma, I wanted to lose the weight, but how? There are so many methods to lose weight: no carbs, low carbs, no fat, high protein, calorie restriction, intense cardio…all of it made my head spin with confusion. I knew one thing for certain, if I was going to lose close to 100 pounds, I wanted to find the method that would allow me to keep it off for life. By some estimates, more than 80% of people who have lost weight will gain it back and then some within two years. That statistic was terrifying to me…all that work, sweat and tears for nothing?
I’m an all or nothing personality, so when I decided I was going to tackle my issue, I went all in. I poured over healthy living websites using my slow dial-up connection, it was an exercise in patience I tell ya! I quickly realized that what worked for one person didn’t mean it would work for me and I needed to get to the root of why I was overweight.
Simply put: I was addicted to food and I lied to myself on a regular basis about my food issues. I used food to deal with my life struggles rather than dealing with the emotion behind them.
Now when you have a food addiction, it’s unlike other addictions because you can’t quit eating like you quit smoking. You have to find a way to eat that is healthy both emotionally and physically.
Through trial and error I found these tips helpful.
- Eat slowly
- Listen to your body, it knows when it’s full. Stop eating before it gets completely full.
- Eat foods that take time to chew, such as salads, veggies, fruits.
- If it swims, flies, or runs, it’s a leaner protein.
- Learn correct portion sizes, and then eat your meal from a smaller plate so your portion still fills up the entire plate
- Eat with intention, don’t eat in front of the TV or Computer
- Don’t be too restrictive. I live by the 80/20 rule, I’m on point with my eating 80% of the time, the other 20% I save for social occasions and to enjoy the odd treat. To me, a life of balance has room for a little dessert.
- If I want to eat when I’m not actually hungry, make some tea, drink a big glass of water, go for a walk. Get to the root of why I want to stuff my face when my body is full.
- Stop lying to myself and stop making excuses for bad behaviour that prevents me from reaching my goals.
After I tackled some of my food issues, I felt confident to face the other part of the equation: Exercise. Oh how I loathed exercise. Here’s what I learned though, you can still loath exercise and fall in love with the euphoria that comes as a result of exercise. I needed to push through each workout and stop the internal hamster wheel of complaints. Just get it done. The addicting part of exercise lives within the results, and results come quickly because our bodies are frickin’ AMAZING machines.
Because I struggled with food, it was important to add exercise in so that I didn’t have to be so stringent with my food choices. Move more, and I got to eat a ‘lil more of those whole foods which I didn’t WANT to binge on, that realization was a welcome surprise! There were certain foods that were triggers for me, meaning I wanted to eat more and more. For the most part, I cut those out. I never wanted to binge on apples, chicken, yogurt, veggies, whole grain rice, etc. Give me a plate of nachos, and I will body check you if you get in my way. So I realized Nachos probably wasn’t the best choice for me. 😉 Hunger drivers, and hunger suppressers…find which ones those are for YOU. One size does not fit all.
It took over a year to get the weight off my body, and the losing world is really no different than the maintaining world. I’ve been at my goal weight for 8 years. I’ve learned what worked for me 5 years ago, doesn’t necessarily work for me today. It’s a process of changing things up as the body adapts. I find that’s the fun of it though! It’s a new challenge, and weight loss goals transform into fitness goals.
Recently, I went through a hard time in my personal life and to that end I gained 15 pounds. I again poured over healthy living/fitness websites and was overwhelmed with the information regarding cardio/weight training. Do I add more weights and reduce my cardio? Do I up my cardio? Do I stop running my 5K’s and instead add High Intensity Training for a shorter amount of time? I tried different scenarios to the point that the love I had developed for exercise melted away into a chore and I became a slave to the scale. My identity within my mind was attached to the number that popped up on that stupid scale.
It hit me one day that I used to run my 5K with a smile on my face because it was my time to quiet my mind and release my stress. I had given that up because the research I had done suggested steady state cardio wasn’t as effective as interval training. But what happened to my love of running? It went away!!!
The key for me in this stage has been to stop focussing on the scale number, but instead focus on staying active doing the sports I love. Enjoy whole foods that keep my body satisfied and energized so I’m not thinking about food constantly. Weighing myself weekly is not healthy for my mindset. It may work for others, but again I learned that one size does not fit all. I haven’t weighed myself in a few weeks; yet my activity level and my mood has changed for the better as I’ve reincorporated those runs that I love! I run my 5Ks and ride my bike for the love of it and not for calories burned. Sometimes you have to stop controlling everything and just LIVE to let go of the stress.
THIS is how I have to look at life in order to not only maintain my goals, but to reach new goals:
I run for freedom of the soul.
I exercise for the love of euphoria and pride.
I eat for energy.
I love myself for the woman I have become, who no longer hides behind excuses and isn’t afraid of setting goals.
I will always have respect for the woman I was because that’s what keeps me from reverting to past behaviours that were the source of so much pain.
And the best part is, none of those elements have a thing to do with a number on a scale.
So yes, perhaps weight watchers, Jenny Craig, using a trainer, weekly weigh-in support groups, etc. may work for you at your stage in your life; but they don’t necessarily work for the stage of my life right now. Even the things that worked in my past, do not work in my present. That’s OK! Everyone’s goals are different and comparison is the thief of joy. Life is always changing, embrace the change and remember that one size does not fit all.
I’ll leave you with my new favourite running song:
From my heart to yours,