A few years ago I wrote a post called “4 pieces of advice I would give my 40lb heavier self”. In that post I shared some wisdom I thought would help someone who’s just starting out on his or her weight loss journey. It focuses a lot on the mental aspect of weight loss and could help if you struggle wrapping your head around the process.
Whenever I share that post on FB I get a huge response from readers. It amazes me how alike we all are in our journey and struggles. Knowing that my experience and words can make a difference for some of you keeps me going.
Last week, I read that post again and it got me thinking. It has been 10+ years since starting on this journey of mine. I have lost up to 40lbs but depending on the week or month that number could easily change to 35lbs or 30lbs.
Keeping the weight off has been more of a process than losing the weight. It’s not like you diet for a year, the pounds drop off, and then you can go back to pizza and Starbucks. Nope. It is a complete lifestyle change that begins with you and one you must stay consistent with.
In the last 4 years I’ve learn a lot about myself as I continued on this journey. It is my hope these lessons I share can help, give perspective to, or motivate those of you who are further along in your journey or might be stuck or feeling discouraged.
I think it is also helps to know that many of us are thinking or feeling the same things. That it’s normal, after many years, to still get off track or to choose Doritos over an apple. That even though there are many weight loss programs, diets, theories, fads there really is no one size fits all when it comes to losing weight. Everyone is on his or her own journey.
Here are the 10 lessons learned 4 years into my weight loss journey.
Quick update. I am not 10 years into my weight loss journey and all of these lessons still ring true.
#1. I still like certain bad foods.
For me when I say bad foods I am referring to take-out pizza, cheez its, reese peanut butter cups, and foods like that. Oh and pretzels. I probably should say I love these foods. I try to limit them in my presence because I have not mastered the strength or skill to turn these foods down once they are in front of me. I am not going to lie, it does bother me because I know I can do better.
The lesson here is over time it’s easy to get lazy, comfortable, and forget the effect these foods can have on the waistline. But if you change your habits it’s possible to enjoy these foods in moderation and they won’t completely roadblock your weight loss efforts.
At the end of the day I think it’s just important to be aware. Know what your food vices are. This way, you can make room for guilty pleasures without the naughty foods taking over.
#2. Just cause I know what to do doesn’t mean I will do it.
Since starting my blog everyone thinks I have it all figured out and live this perfect “clean eating exercise every day” lifestyle. I wish. If I did my weight would be going down each week instead of up or staying the same. #keepingitreal
Unfortunately, I am not one of those people that discovered clean eating and never ate another French fry again or someone who can exercise through anything. Nope. I need to be very intentional with my actions. This means if I don’t think about and plan for it then most likely it won’t happen. By “it” I mean eating healthy and exercise. Even though planning my food makes my life easier, and exercise makes me feel better, I don’t always do it. Why? Probably, because I’m human.
#3. Getting of track still happens.
Unless you are very disciplined getting off track is going to be a part of the weight loss process. Maybe not right away but at some point you will get off track. Personally, I think getting of track is annoying. This is mostly because of what I talked about in #2. I feel at this point in the game I should not get off track – but I do. And so will you.
The difference between then and now is I don’t throw in the towel. I don’t give up on all my weight loss goals just because I have a bad day, week, or month. I do know what to do so I refocus and keep going. Even if I have to refocus every weekend then so be it. When you focus on habits, and changing your lifestyle, getting off track does not throw a wrench into all of your plans. Sure maybe you spent the weekend eating junk at a family reunion but because you have instilled other good healthy habits it is easier to bounce back.
#4. There are different seasons of weight loss.
When I first started on my journey I was extremely structured and focused. At that time I needed it. I was completely out of control with eating and had no clue what to do or how to do it. Creating organization and structure with food is what I needed. Once I got that under control I started to learn about clean eating and began to make those changes to my diet.
During that time I still needed some structure but I seemed to be okay with loosing up the reigns a bit.
Then I introduced exercise into my lifestyle and I saw major changes. I felt great and my body looked better than ever. Again, eating healthy and exercise seemed to be easy for me so I didn’t need a ton of structure. Everything was flowing.
Then I got comfortable, life got busy, and I started to slack. I wasn’t tracking my food like I should and started to eat more than I thought. Exercise was still happening but not enough to compensate for the extra food. This is when I started to see my weight increase. Not a huge amount but enough to make me take notice. It is times like this I need to go back to the basics and create more structure. I also need to focus on being disciplined with my lifestyle instead of thinking I will automatically make the right choices. I don’t. See #1 and #2.
#5. Exercise makes a huge difference.
I didn’t start exercising until the 2nd year of my weight loss journey. The first year I focused a lot on portions and the quality of the food I was eating. Changing my eating habits is the reason I lost 30 lbs.
However, when I combine my good eating habits with regular exercise that’s when I got down to my goal weight. In my experience, exercise makes all the difference. Eating healthy will help you look good with clothes on but exercise + good eating habits will help you look great naked. Just saying.
#6. People watch (and often comment) on everything I eat.
Once it became obvious that I was losing weight, and I put it out via this blog, everyone started to pay attention to what I ate. No joke. I am sure most people don’t care but many will make comments or ask questions. “Oh you still eat junk” or “You still eat sugar” or “I assume you purchase all organic”.
I shared this strawberry cheesecake recipe on FB and, oh my, some of the comments. You would think I was just endorsed Mcdonald’s. Yes I eat desserts and yes it includes sugar and yes I am okay with that. Again, I am human and I still like “bad” foods. I would reveal my deepest secrets if you bribed me with a reese pb cup or cheez its.
I don’t get upset about these questions or comments because I do understand that most are just curious or are trying to lose weight themselves. With so much misinformation it’s easy to get confused. Not to mention, I choose to put myself out there so if I get flamed for cheesecake then it is what it is. I am still gonna eat it and enjoy it.
I do think most people are relieved to see that I don’t deprive myself. Of course, too much chocolate is going to cause issues between my skinny jeans and me but in the last 4 years I learned that it is okay to enjoy all foods on occasion and in moderation.
#7. I am more in tune with my body.
Before changing my lifestyle I had no idea the way my body would react to clean food and exercise. As I evolved through the process I quickly learned there are more benefits to losing weight than a smaller dress size.
When I eat clean and exercise I feel amazing! My energy levels are through the roof and I feel like I can take on the world. I feel more aware, focused, and it’s like the fog is lifted from my brain.
When I slack on my healthy eating habits and put exercise on the back burner I instantly feel the complete opposite. I’m tired, sluggish, and can barely focus. I do try to get back on track as soon as I feel that way. If I don’t, within a couple weeks, my body will start to feel and look different and I can tell I am gaining weight. It only takes a 5-6 pounds before my clothes start to get tight and I feel uncomfortable. Even my skin and hair look different.
The way I look and feel completely depends on the foods I eat and if I am exercising. I also keep in mind that I am in control of this. I choose the foods I eat and if I exercise. It’s my choice to make it a priority or not.
My advice here is to pay attention to your body and do more of what makes you feel good. Sure that bowl of ice cream might make you feel good right now but what about the next day. Pay attention to your body because it doesn’t lie.
#8. Putting myself first is not selfish.
I am going to write this part from the perspective of a working mother. However, regardless of your situation, I am positive most of you can relate.
Up until 4 years ago every person in this world came before me. My world was consumed by making sure my kids were taken care of. I worked full time outside the home and had a household to run.
My job at the time was somewhat demanding and required lots of hours. Every person wanted a piece of me and I had zero time for myself. It was stressful and being overweight didn’t make it any better. I was tired and miserable.
In October 2010 I decided I was done being fat and unhappy. I wanted to be the best version of me for my family. Up until then I feel like they were just getting my leftovers. I started focusing on me. I change the way I ate and eventually started prioritizing exercise.
Like I said earlier, this led me to feel amazing and like a whole new person. I became a better mom because I was happier. My kids see the version of me I want them to see. Someone who is confident, happy, and can do anything she sets her mind too. Not someone who feels sorry for herself and is miserable.
In the process another thing I learned is changing your lifestyle doesn’t take time away from your family. In fact, your new lifestyle should include the needs of your family. That is the whole concept, which is behind, organize yourself skinny. You create or organize a healthy lifestyle that fits your needs.
Putting yourself first will make you a better person. It does not make you selfish. You need to take care of you in order to properly take care of everyone else.
#9. A healthy lifestyle is a disciplined lifestyle.
This is big and probably one of the most important lessons I learned. Losing weight has nothing to do with a quick fix or fad diet. It about lifestyle changes that are sustainable over the long haul. It’s about being disciplined in your daily actions with food and exercise. This means setting up or organizing your life so you can make healthy choices without a lot of effort. It’s understanding that a healthy lifestyle does not just happen. You need to be intentional and disciplined with your actions.
For me a disciplined lifestyle looks like this:
- Prepping my food every week. See my meal prep page with all my posts on making food for the week.
- Stocking my freezer with healthy meals.
- Planning out my meals and snack each week.
- Scheduling exercise and taking the time to get my gear ready the night before.
- Tracking my food using My Fitness Pal and using things like measuring spoons, cups, and scale.
- Holding myself accountable with a weekly weigh in.
These are the main strategies I use to keep a disciplined lifestyle. Of course I am human and often slip up but I find that when I keep up with these strategies is when I am at my best.
#10. I like being fit over fat.
I am going to keep this part real. I spent over a decade being fat. While I wasn’t unhappy all the time I know now I was not as happy as I could have been. I didn’t enjoy clothes or even being around people. Today I love being a social butterfly and my closet is filled with adorable clothing. I would even say for the first time ever I have a certain style. I used to only wear black now I am all about colors and feminine cuts. I use Trunk Club and work with one of their stylist to help fill my wardrobe with beautiful clothing I’d never pick out before. You can see my Trunk Club Review for more information. I’ve also used Stitch Fix to find outfits. Check out my Trunk Club vs Stitch Fix Review to see which one will work best for you.
I also enjoy putting on a pair of jeans and thinking, “wow my legs and butt look good”. Ha! Just saying it’s pretty awesome. Prior to 2010 I don’t even think I wore jeans. Sadly, my wardrobe included a lot of elastic waist. OMG did I just write that.
Also, instead of hiding my arms in longs sleeves during the summer months I like showing them off in cute tank tops. I like the way I look when I am fit.
Sure I have more energy and feel focused but I equally love going into a store, slipping on a dress, and thinking “yep I am gonna buy this”. I love it. This motivates me to keep going and now that I have a taste of what it’s like to be in shape and healthy I never want to go back to the old Tammy. This is something I keep in mind when I am starting to struggle and lose focus. I much prefer fit over fat.
These are the 10 lessons learned 4+ years after starting my weight loss journey. I hope this shows you that even after 4 years it is normal to struggle, it’s okay to put yourself first, and even more okay to feel proud of your accomplishments and take pride in the way you look. I have said this before but I will say it again…there is no greater motivator than seeing the results of your hard work.