This month marks 4 years since I started my weight loss journey. 4 years! I can’t believe it! Time flies by so incredibly fast. Before you know it days turn into memories and you are looking back reflecting on your life.
Last night I was doing some thinking about the time right before I started losing weight. I was a different person back then – completely different. For one, I looked different. I was 40 pounds heavier with shorter hair and a questionable fashion sense. My kids were 5 and 3 years old and I was surviving off leftover macaroni and cheese along with LOTS OF COFFEE. I worked full-time outside the house and barely had time to fix my hair every morning – I was an expert in the wet ponytail look. Life was extremely chaotic. Losing weight was something I thought about often, would try every now and then, but never created any real sustainable changes. I didn’t know where to start or what to do. It was depressing. That girl back then was not happy and she was ready for a change.
4 years later and 40 pounds lighter (give or take depending on the week) I was able to create real sustainable changes. I transformed into a new woman. I did not just changed physically. Sure losing 40lbs transforms your looks but I noticed changes in every area of my life. Losing weight brought out a confidence and happiness in me that I did not even know I was lacking. Losing weight truly changed my life.
I have learned a lot since the days of eating my kid’s food scraps and wearing elastic waste gaucho pants. However, if I could go back in time and give myself only 4 pieces of advice this is what I would say.
#1 You are in control
That’s right losing weight completely depends on YOU. YOU are in control. It is very easy to believe that weight loss is the result of a magic pill, diet, wrap, shake, leaving out food groups, or whatever else. Frequently, I here people say “this diet didn’t work” or “that weight loss program didn’t work for me”. But the truth is nothing will work unless you work. Period. Even plastic surgery will be a disappointment if you don’t take control and change your lifestyle.
I remember the moment I began to take control back over my weight. It was soon after I started using My Fitness Pal. At that time, I did not change my eating habits completely but was just starting to track what I ate. Tracking my food led me to eat more intentionally. That’s when the light bulb turned on and I realized losing weight was completely in my hands. Literally. When I took the time to think about the food I ate I was able to make choices. Those choices gave me control. I quickly learned that to lose weight, and keep it off, I needed to control my food. Up until then I was letting food control me.
The same goes with exercise. You are in control of making exercise a priority. Nobody can do that for you.
Now I am not saying taking control is easy or comes without challenges. Obviously that is not true. What I am saying is stop putting control and responsibility into someone else hands, especially into the hands of the diet industry. Losing weight starts and stops with YOU. When I finally understood and accepted that losing weight was within my control the pounds started to come off.
#2 If you do what you always do then you will get what you always get
You will not get different results doing the same thing every day. Therefore, if you want results you need to make changes. I only bring this up because I think I went years, maybe a decade, being confused and depressed about my weight. I did not understand why I wasn’t losing weight. All those years I truly thought I was eating healthy. Also, I was convinced walking through the neighborhood was all I needed for exercise. I had no idea why I stayed at 177 pounds for YEARS.
Now I know. I wasn’t eating healthy at all. Most days I was eating between 2500 -3000 calories. Many of those calories came from processed garbage. Sure I was not a regular at the fast food joints but my freezer was filled with frozen pizzas and chicken fingers. My pantry did not look any better. The day I completed a food overhaul I was shocked by where my calories were coming from. 500 alone came from my beloved coffee drinks.
As for exercise, walking just didn’t cut it. Don’t get me wrong I still LOVE to take my walks but I know if I want to see real results I need to work up a sweat and do strength training. Walking now is in addition to my other exercise routines.
Don’t try to overhaul all your behaviors in one day. Doing so will just overwhelm and cause frustration. Focus on one or two at a time. Once you feel comfortable then work on another one. The goal is to make these changes sustainable because going back to old ways will just lead to old results.
I highly recommend reading this post that talks about 15 habits of people who have lost 20-30lbs and kept it off.
#3 Keep going
It takes 3 weeks to form a habit and about 3-4 weeks to start seeing results. I know it might not be easy but give yourself enough time to see results. Trust me the day you can button a pair of jeans that used to be tight or someone says “Wow you look like you lost weight” you will want to keep going. Once you see results it becomes addicting.
Also, never forget creating a healthy lifestyle and losing weight is a life long journey. It never ends. You will have bumps in the road and there will be many times you give in to temptations and get off track. Never give up. Always keep going. Here is one of my favorite quotes.
Don’t ever feel like you can’t do this! You can do it. Some days you will have it all figured out and everything will flow great. Other days all you will want to do is sit on the couch and eat a greasy pizza. Don’t punish yourself. Just take a step back, refocus, and always keep going!
#4 Get ready for awesome
Close your eyes and think about how life would be different if you lost weight. Would your health improve? Would you feel happier? What about sexier? What would be the first outfit you purchase? Do you think your face would change? Would you feel like a new person? Would you have more patience? How would it affect you as a parent? An employee? What other positives changes would happen?
Okay now take all those happy thoughts and times that by 1000! Because I can tell you losing weight became MUCH MORE than fitting into skinny jeans or wearing a bikini around people. Of course that was pretty cool too. But more than that losing weight gave me confidence. It made me happier than I could ever imagine. Not because I am skinny but because it gave me control back over my life. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and truly believe I can do anything I set my mind to. I also enjoy taking pictures of myself now. I wouldn’t say I am a selfie expert but I certainly don’t hide behind my kids in pictures anymore. I am proud of the way I look.
When people look at me they now see a woman who cares about and takes pride in the way I represent myself. I am now the best version of me!