First of all, here is a before (left) and after (right) picture. I took the before picture BEFORE I was at my heaviest weight of my life - so I looked even worse when I finally started to be serious about my health. I am not at my goal weight yet, but I did have to take this last picture for another challenge I just entered this morning. So here it is (don't judge - it was early for me and I was still in my PJs):
I have struggled with my weight and self image all of my life. I have tried Weight Watchers, Calorie Counting, Paleo & Whole 30s. I've had a gym membership for the past four years. It wasn't until we started a Weight Loss Challenge at work that I decided to really give it a shot. That little boost of competition and community really helped me to stay focused.
I am not an expert, but I have had a few people ask me what I've been doing. So, I thought I'd list my thoughts in one easy place for reference.
In no particular order...
1) Believe in yourself. Stop telling yourself that you're not capable or worthy of a healthy body. THIS was my biggest barrier, but it didn't come first. It took trying consistently for at least two months for me to begin to understand that I was capable of more than I realized.
2) Do what works for you. My brother lost 100 pounds by eating meat & vegetables and exercising at least 1 hour every day. That's great for him, but I can't do that. I like dessert, I like bread, I like cheese. For me, it's all about learning to eat those things in moderation. There are a lot of options out there! If you like Paleo, do that! If you like Atkins, do that! If you like Weight Watchers, do that! If you like Zumba, do that! If you like treadmills or hiking or swimming, do that! The important thing is to find something that is going to work for YOU.
3) "Make a commitment to yourself first, the results will follow". When Bryce and I first started going to the gym there was a motivational poster hanging up above the water fountain that said just that. During the first week of our challenge, I lost my water weight and it got me excited. Over the next 12 weeks my weight loss was never consistent. I tracked my calories and activity with my FitBit Zip (which is a GREAT product and I can tell you more about it later) and I was being consistent. This proved to me that each week's loss was not directly correlational to what I was doing - but what mattered overall was that I kept trying even when there were setbacks. Ultimately, I lost 26 pounds during the 13 week challenge - that was an average of 2 pounds a week, but sometimes I would lose 4 pounds and other weeks I would lose .4 or stay the same. So STICK WITH IT. Your effort may not show up for a few weeks but it WILL SHOW UP if you keep going.
4) Exercise does not get easier, but you get used to the pain. I thought that after I had been exercising for awhile that there was going to be some magical moment that it wasn't hard anymore. In all of my prior attempts, I hated that first month of exercising. It felt awful and I didn't believe that anyone could really enjoy such a thing. As I mentioned above, push through at LEAST two months of consistent exercise. It took time for my body to get used to the idea that this was going to be a consistent thing. That after gym soreness used to be noticeable, but now I am used to pushing through it. It hasn't got any easier, but I'm at least used to the feeling and that's what has made the difference.
5) Get over the guilt of indulging! I don't let myself associate guilt with cookies or candies or treats. I think guilt is a horrible thing. If you want a cookie, have it! Now that I am exercising more, I know what I'm willing to indulge for and what I'm not. One of the things that I did learn on our past Whole 30 journeys (among many others for another time) is that we need to let go of the emotional attachments we have to food, that includes guilt.
6) Work on building a life long habit rather than a short term fix. This is ultimately why we could not keep up with a Paleo lifestyle. I gained back all the weight I lost during our cleanse periods, because it wasn't something I could do forever and I slipped back into my old habits. This is a reiteration of do what works for you!
7) Find support! Having a group of coworkers that were working on the same thing was so awesome. It was great to talk about what was working what wasn't. Be open about your goals. MOST people are pretty cool about it - I've never encountered anyone that said, "Yeah, you're fat and you're always going to stay fat." My coworkers weren't the only group that was giving me support. Bryce comes to the gym with me every time. I also talked about the challenge with pretty much everyone in my life. Whenever we went out to eat with friends or had dinner with family I would always stress that I needed to eat something healthy. I have cousins and other friends who post their progress on Facebook and Instagram and it keeps me motivated indirectly as well. I have some great fitness instructors at 24 hour fitness (Veronica, Sara, and George to name a few) that help me learn and are always so inspiring! I'm starting to make some friends in my classes too, so I'm feeling pretty cool lately. People now compliment me on how I am looking and it holds me accountable. I can't gain it back now! People think I'm successful or something! Even if you don't have any other support, I'm yours! Reach out to me! Let's be fitness buddies!
8) Don't compare yourself with other people. There is a great article going around right now about how our standard measurements of "health" have contributed to our problems with self image. 150 pounds is going to look different on everyone, depending on their body type. Additionally, your progress to health is going to be different than mine. Maybe someone else has the time to workout 7 hours a week. Maybe they have the time to plan out and cook super healthy foods every day. Don't worry about it, if you don't. Go at your own pace and know you'll get there eventually.
9) Keep going! Don't let minor setbacks turn into major setbacks. Let yourself start over in the morning or even at your next meal. Once you get going, it's easier to stay that way. Don't lose that momentum.
I'm going to leave the list at 9, because it's not an even number and just short of 10. That's going to bug some of my fellow "OCD-ish" friends but life is about learning to live in the awkward and uncomfortable moments and pushing past them, right?
Thanks for listening to my thoughts! Share yours below!