A common question I am asked quite a bit is “What finally motivated you to start losing weight?” or sometimes readers word it like “What was your weight loss a-ha moment?”It’s no surprise people want the answer to this question – it’s an important one.
In that moment it seems the waters part, everything starts to make sense, and a fire is lit. The weight loss “a-ha” moment is one many people are desperate to find. Why? Because this is typically the moment that provides the courage, strength, motivation, and perseverance to make – and stick with – the commitment to changing your lifestyle and lose weight.
I know it did for me.
Let me talk a little bit about my weight loss “a-ha” moment. As I talked about often in other blog posts, my “a-ha” moment came the first couple days I started to track my food. I was blown away by the number of calories I was eating. The first day I clocked in around 3000 calories without even trying. Within that moment, I realized the power to lose weight was in my hands. I wrote a couple posts reflecting on this moment. I recommend reading them because, personally, these are two of my favorites.
I decided to take some time and think about before the food tracking “a-ha” moment because something had to trigger me to start using an online food journal. Obviously, getting a smart phone played a big role in that – I got my first smart phone a few months before I started losing weight. So, I guess you can say technology played a pretty big role in my moment. Without my smart phone I wouldn’t have known about the My Fitness Pal app.
Even before my smart phone I was reaching my breaking point with weight. I couldn’t deny the numbers or the pictures. My pants were a size 16 and often with a stretchy elastic waist. Keep in mind I am only 5 ft 3inches tall, so a size 16 is not a comfortable size for me to be at. However, as unhappy I was with my size it wasn’t until these pictures were took of me 5 years ago. This was my my daughter’s first day of kindergarten.
I couldn’t believe the way I look and was ready for a change. I still didn’t know where to start but a month later I discovered My Fitness Pal and everything changed. I took control back over my food and my life.
I guess you can say I had a few weight loss “a-ha” moments. Basically, I got to a point where I was fed up with my weight, how I felt, and the way I looked. I was ready for a change. At the same time, I found the tools to help me make that change. Both came together at the same time and my successful weight loss journey begun. Of course, since then I discovered more weight loss tools and strategies.
To give you some more “a-ha” examples I asked readers in our OYS Facebook Group to share their weight loss “aha” moments. I thought this would be inspiring to you as it was inspiring for me to read.
Here are some of the comments.
“Actually it was when my adult son called me out on how much weight I had gained over the last few years. At the time it hurt but he wasn’t being disrespectful, he was just caring. I then started slow changes with diet and exercise that I kept improving on over the course of a year and lost 55 lbs. That was nearly 2 years ago and I’ve kept the weight off because when I stray from my consistency, I see a few pounds creep back on. It is then that I start getting back at it because I look and feel so much better now. I have 6 kids. Ages 26-4(we adopted the last 2 from foster care) and I want to be active and healthy for the little ones growing up.”
“I decided I was tired of having sore knees, back, and hips. I wanted to be able to keep up with my grandson. I quit thinking of losing weight and decided I wanted to get fit and eat healthy. That was 75 pounds and over a year ago. Your blog was a big help in changing the way I thought about food and activity.”
“I saw a photo that was disappointing to say the least. I had been trying half-effort for a few weeks and had just spent an entire week at the gym everyday with no results on the scale. I decided to spend one week really focusing on my eating while I continued going to the gym to see what would happen and I lost 4 pounds that week. It was confirmation of the fact that weight loss happens mainly in the kitchen. I changed my thoughts on food that day and two weeks later I felt so much better in my skin, just from limiting the junk I was putting into my body. Every time I’ve slid back into eating poorly, I see a little bit on the scale but mainly I feel it! I get headaches, I feel sluggish, I’m uncomfortable, and it’s just not worth it! I’ve lost 20 pounds in about 6 months.”
“The day I realized I was tired of sharing clothes with my husband. We weighed the same. You shouldn’t weigh as much as your husband ever! 80lbs down and counting!”
“The moment I was told I am a diabetic. Everything changed and I have lost almost 30 lbs in the last 4 months.”
“After I gave birth to my daughter I was determined to lose all the weight and the extra weight I gained after getting married. Becoming a mom motivated me to become healthy – started cooking healthier and consistently went to the gym. Your recipes and tips for freezer cooking / food prep really help! Thank you!”
“I had been overweight my entire life. As my son turned five, I realized I could enjoy our time together so much more if I was healthier. I have lost 110 pounds since I started (June 2014), 20 more to go…there is NO stopping me. What a difference a year makes.”
“Took family photos for Christmas cards 2005 and was so shocked at what I looked like, I effectively canceled Christmas! Started Weight Watchers in January after borrowing a friend’s materials and trying it out in secret. Lost 40 lbs. Became a WW leader.”
As you can see everyone’s “a-ha”moment is different. Some experienced a single moment that lit their fire while others had a series of moments that moved them closer to committing to their weight loss journey.
Personally, I think it is important to find your own weight loss “a-ha”moment. Why? Because, from my experience, the hardest part about losing weight is wrapping your brain around actually doing it and sticking with it.
Finding your “a-ha” moment helps you mentally commit to losing weight. If losing weight were as simple as choosing apples over fries and the treadmill over the couch you wouldn’t be reading my blog. It’s not that easy. I still want fries over apples. Seriously, who doesn’t? Losing weight is all mental. When you mentally commit yourself to losing weight you will be able to physically commit. And the mental component never ends. To this day, I continue to pull mental stamina and motivation from my “a-ha” moments.
Here’s an entire post I put together on changing your mindset – it’s another favorite!
How do you find your weight loss “a-ha” moment? Like I said earlier, it’s going to look different for everyone. However, I do think there are some things you can do to help find your moment.
1. Get on a scale
When is the last time you weighed yourself? When I stepped on the scale in October of 2010 it had been YEARS since weighing myself. I didn’t even want to know my weight when I went to the doctor. I would actually ask her not to tell me my weight.
Unfortunately, she listened.
I chose to be ignorant with my weight so I was shocked to see that I weighed 177lbs. I am not kidding you when I say I truly thought I weighed 140 or 145.
Denial can be fierce and ultimately destructive. Numbers don’t lie. I know many people hate scales, and for whatever reason don’t want to utilize them, but I don’t agree. I think when you are first starting on your weight loss journey getting on the scale opens your eyes to the reality of your weight, gives you a way to measure progress, and most importantly holds you accountable. Face your fears and get on the scale. Think of it this way…you can’t change what you don’t know.
2. Pictures are powerful
To this day seeing myself in pictures from years ago can motivate me to get on the treadmill. I am still shocked by the way I looked. It wasn’t just the weight either. It was the look on my face, clothes I wore, and my overall demeanor. I wasn’t happy and it showed. I remember the way I felt at that time and seeing those pictures reminds me of a time I never want to go back to.
Stop hiding from getting your picture taken. Trust me, I know where you’re at. I spent years hiding behind my kids in pictures or being the “picture taker” so I didn’t have to be in the picture. It sucked! In fact, that’s something that still effects me to this day. The years I wasted not taking pictures with my kids because I felt fat. Never again.
Pictures don’t lie and as hard as it is to see those Kodak moments it might be just what you need to motivate change. I know it was for me.
Last thing about pictures. I encourage you to take pictures throughout your weight loss journey. It is powerful and motivating to see the changes as you lose weight.
3. Home videos are even more powerful
Pictures might be the queen of motivating but home videos are the king. I became an expert in hiding from pictures but there’s no hiding in home videos, especially when someone else has the camera. There is no way to edit a video to make you look better or skinnier. What you see is what you get. Whenever I struggle with my weight all I need to do is pop in a home video from 5-6 years ago. Actually, my youngest is obsessed with watching home videos so I am always reminded of the “old Tammy”.
Just a few weeks ago I was watching an old home video and that motivated me to start my running challenge. Over the summer I slacked quite a bit with exercise and began to feel tired and sluggish. I felt like glimpses of the “old Tammy” were coming back. One look at the video and I started running that day.
4. Stop wearing stretchy pants
When I think about the years I lived in stretchy gauchos, yoga pants, or velours I am thoroughly embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong I love comfy pants but instead of wearing them in public I now save them for lounging around the house on the weekends. Jeans, and pants with buttons, are great tools to hold yourself accountable and measure progress. I can tell if I gained or lost weight based on the way my jeans fit. I am not saying to torture yourself by trying to squeeze into pants that are 2-3 sizes to small….but I am advising you to stay away from pants that “grow” with you.
5. Go to the doctor
Nothing scares me more than not being around to see my two little girls grow up. I’m guessing a lot of people think the same way since many said their “a-ha” moment came when they were told they have weight-related health problems. Nobody wants to have health problems, especially when they have a family to care for. The good news is that health problems brought on by weight issues can be managed or healed with getting diet and exercise under control. The first step is going to your doctor and having an honest open discussion with them. If you don’t want to hear the truth then you will take away your power to change. Remember knowledge is power and you can’t change what you don’t know.
All of these tips center around one key point – remove the denial. See things for what they TRULY are not what you think they are. When denial is gone and you see the truth that’s when you find your weight loss “a-ha” moment and real sustainable changes can be made. That’s when you find the fire and motivation to put weight loss tools into action.
You got this!