So I was talking to a friend the other day about what I was going to post here in my blog and she looked me up and down and said “Have you looked in the mirror lately? What makes you think that you have any expertise on weight loss?” I looked right back at her and said “Well 7 years ago I weighed twice what I do now. That’s over 250 lbs gone with no surgery, no drugs, and no eating disorder.” She just shrugged and walked away.
I got thinking then, well do I really have a right to talk on this topic at all. Like really! I am still 120 lbs or so overweight. But then I thought about it. I have suffered because of my weight; the teasing from school kids, the ridicule from my family, the jobs I got passed over for because of my weight have left scars that I still feel to this day. I just might have some insight that helps someone else.
Personally I don’t believe in making New Years Resolutions. We all know that there is a high expectation to do so at New Years but it also sets us up for a huge amount of stress. Stress doesn’t help us to keep our resolutions however. It simply adds something else to our plates where we are trying to adjust to the new year we keep writing wrong on our checks, adjusting from being on Holiday time back to work and school time, adjusting to the fact that winter is finally really here. Look at it! January is a stressful time even without the New Years Resolutions to keep up with. So I take January as it comes. I use the month to plan and prepare for a year of healthy eating, good exercise, and building a healthy, balanced life.
Weight Loss and food issues are a sore subject with a lot of people. Over 60% of Americans are overweight. I am sure that the statistics are not much different up here in Canada. Each year millions of people make that same resolution – I am going to lose weight. But the days go by and the diet and exercise plan fall by the wayside and they find themselves looking in the mirror three months later saying “What did I do wrong?”
There is no easy answer to weight loss. The truth of the matter is that it is hard work, self-discipline and understanding your body and the foods you eat. It’s also about your emotions. Sound like too much work already? Well, there are some tips that can make it easier. The following are tips that have been gathered from books, and conversations and trial and error over the years. I offer them here for you to see if maybe they might help you out in some small way. I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, therapist, or fitness expert. These are just ideas and concepts that have worked for me in the past.
Raiwvynn’s Nine Tips to Start You on Your Way
See a Doctor/have a physical – You may be saying to yourself, “Well Raiwvynn, that is just a no brainer!” But the truth is that many people jump into weight loss without taking this step. We all hate going to the doctor. Who likes being poked and prodded, stuck with needles, having their arm squeezed off as the nurse takes your blood pressure. Not me!!!
However it is a vital part of effective and healthy weight loss. You need to know if there are any conditions that may be hindering your weight loss. Do you have a thyroid condition? Are you on a medication that makes weight loss difficult of even causes weight gain? For women do you have hormonal issues, or polycystic ovarian syndrome?
Do you deal with depression? These are all things that can really put a strain on your efforts and sometimes even doom you to failure before you start. Knowledge is your friend and so is your doctor.
Buy a journal – You don’t like to write? It’s never helped before. I never know what to write. Yes I have heard and used each of these reasons for not writing before but it is quite simple here is what you write each day:
- What did I drink today and how much?
- What did I eat at breakfast, lunch, dinner?
- What did I have for snacks?
- How late was my last meal?
- What did I do for exercise?
- How did I feel today?
It’s all quiet simple really you can do all of that in less than a paragraph. You may be asking why do this? Well the reason for keeping a journal like this is because often times we eat unconsciously. We don’t really consider what we are stuffing our faces with when we feel sad, anxious, or happy. This helps us to have a bit more awareness about our food intake but also about the triggers that set us up for emotional eating (and emotional eating include emotional not eating as well!!!)
Make a plan – This can be the hardest part of getting started on your weight loss journey. You need to have a healthy, ACHEIVABLE plan. What do I mean by achievable? Well, you need to set goals that will enable you to succeed. You also need to have a blueprint about how to accomplish those goals. Remember the key here is to break things down into manageable steps. Make sure that you are making goals about food, exercise, water intake and self-care. What is the Goal and what do I need to do to accomplish this goal (list at least three things)
Goal – To drink 8 glasses of water daily
What do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
Drink one glass as soon as I get up in the morning, take a water bottle to work with me in the morning, drink another glass each time I brush my teeth, drink one glass with every snack or meal.
Goal – To walk for 1 hour each day
What do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
Purchase some good walking shoes, get a pedometer, week one walk for 15 minutes three times a week; week two walk for 15 minutes 5 times a week; week three walk for 15 minutes 6 times a week; week four walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week and 15 minutes the rest of the week; etc.
Breaking down these goals into smaller more manageable steps eliminates a lot of the fear of failure that can subconsciously sabotage our efforts. It also helps our bodies adjust to the changes that we are making.
Find your personal motivation and a plan for keeping motivated – Somehow just saying “I’m fat!” isn’t the motivation that we need. In fact all that statement does is make us feel guilty and worthless. What is it that really makes you want to eat better, get in shape and drop those pounds? Is it that small child who you can’t play with as much now because you get winded so easily? Is it that memory you have of being able to do something that you can’t do now – like playing baseball or hiking or climbing the stairs without getting winded? You need to find what really motivates you to change.
My motivation came when I was travelling a few years back and we had just eaten fried chicken that had been rolled in potato chips, eaten with French fries, and followed by a Deep and Delicious chocolate cake. I remember looking at myself in the mirror at 505 lbs and saying to myself “I hate you.” I looked at myself and said either I hate myself enough to let myself die or I hate myself enough to do something about it. Looking back, I know now I made the right decision. I’m here, 250 lbs lighter, happier, and being an active part of the world. One would hope that the motivation would be positive but to be honest sometimes you just have to go with whatever motivation you have. If it is negative like mine was there is always time to work on changing that. If it is a positive one like you just love yourself enough to take care of yourself that is great!
Now comes the hard part – how to keep motivated. My way of staying motivated was keeping those “fat pants” where I could see them on a regular basis. I can’t tell you the joy I felt when I finally stepped into them and found that I could fit both legs in one pant leg. A friend took pictures of himself completely naked from every possible angle and then stuck them on his fridge. He lost 160 lbs in a year and has kept it off – He’s even been on Dr. Phil and other TV and radio programs. So find a way to keep yourself motivated!
Tell someone – You may be going “WHAT?!?!” but secrecy really doesn’t help when it comes to loosing weight. A lot of times our emotional eating is just another way to keep the secret of our hurt feelings, our anger, our disappointment, and our pain. Find one person, someone you can trust and talk to them. Tell them about your goals, your motivation, and your struggles. Tell them about what’s eating you and what’s making you eat. You don’t necessarily have to find a therapist or a professional though they can be good resources. Ask your partner, a trusted friend, a family member and ask them to help you by being an encouragement and support to you. So let the cat out of the chip bag – or tube, it may be that you find that they will join you in your journey to better health and weight loss.
Variety is the Spice of Life – This might be another one of those things that make you go “hmmm…” but it has been my experience that a lot of people overeat because they are bored. They also quit exercising because it’s repetitious and monotonous. So spice it up! When it comes to food try new things. Eating the same foods over and over again can be deadly to your weight loss. Having a wide variety of healthy foods helps by making sure that you are getting the vitamins and minerals that you need. Different foods can also help by cutting down on the cravings that can be the booby traps that lead you into a frenzied feast of a 2 quart container of double chocolate fudge ice cream and a bag of bite sized brownies.
When it comes to exercising change it up! When you become bored with something what is the first think you want to do? You want to stop! So if you are doing things that are different and enjoyable you will be all the more likely to continue with it. Try a new sport that you have never tried before. Get into a competitive team where you will be challenged and encouraged by others. Change up the routine so you are not doing the same thing day after day. Your body will thank you for it as well. I know for myself that I need to change up my routine pretty much every four to six weeks because my muscles and body get
Used to doing the same movements over and over again. You will find that if you don’t change your routine you will hit a plateau and this can be frustrating and discouraging. So even if your mind doesn’t tell you that it’s ready for a change your body will.
Self-Care – Self-care isn’t necessarily about a hot bath, with candles and some scented bath salts. It is about doing what is necessary to help keep you healthy emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well as the physical side of it. Make sure that you are taking regular time to work on you. Get to know yourself – your likes and dislikes, your passions and your dreams. Take the time to find out what makes you tick. Invest time in learning something that you want to learn.
Take time to relax and rest. Get good nights full of restful sleep. Pamper yourself and treat yourself gently. Yes! Even you men can take time to look after your heart and soul. Explore your spirituality, get in touch with the Lord and Lady, and spend time in nature. Find ways to nurture your soul. Find ways as well to take care of the emotional needs. Some of us will need to seek therapy and there is absolutely no shame in that. Some of us will be able to address life’s hurts and pains by writing or painting or singing or some other outlet. Do what you need to do to create balance in your emotional life. It is this aspect of our lives that most often connects to the food we eat, the amount we eat, and the time we eat. Find ways to nurture yourself without food. Find ways to fill the gap inside without devouring the entire contents of the refrigerator.
I’m not a big fan of Dr. Phil but he did say something that I think is really important. It went something like this: You can’t keep giving and giving of yourself if there is nothing in you to give. You must feed yourself emotionally, spiritually, mentally in order to have something to give to yourself and others. Now those are my words, but that was the gist of what he was getting at. Feed your soul, your spirit, yourself with love, acceptance and with the knowledge that you are a wonderfully worthwhile person.
Reward Yourself – Rewards are great ways of marking you progress, encouraging oneself and celebrating success. But DON’T REWARD YOURSELF WITH FOOD!!! Somehow rewarding yourself for a 5 lb weight lost with a family sized chocolate bar doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Pick rewards that are health and that will give you pleasure. One that I like for myself is that for every pound lost I add a dollar to a fund for books or crystals or something that I enjoy. Rewards like a movie rental or money set aside towards something you want or some special self-care are great motivators in helping you to reach your goals.
Forgiveness – There is an important reason why I left this to the very end. Forgiveness is vital to successful weight loss. There are going to be days when the world seems to crash down on your head and nothing goes your wait. The storm during the night knocked out the power, your alarm didn’t go off, you woke up late, you forgot your lunch, you had to stay late at work to get things done and you didn’t get to the gym and on top of that you ate horribly from the corner store on a quick break. Life happens and you have to have the grace enough to forgive yourself for not accomplishing your goals and forgive the world for getting in the way of your plans. Guilt over not meeting your goals or for letting the world get in the way only adds to the emotional baggage that often leads to our problems with food and exercise.
When things don’t go your way, take it in stride, and say to yourself “that was just today- tomorrow will be a better day.” Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and pick up tomorrow where you left off. If it was just a matter of you not being organized or prepared forgive yourself for that to and make a plan for tomorrow to be a better day. It’s only one day in your life. Don’t waste any time wallowing in regret and guilt when you could be looking forward with expectation to what you can accomplish tomorrow. Remember it is just one step at a time. I hope that there was something that struck a chord with you today. You can reach your weight loss goals. I am living proof of that. I have confidence in you! May the Lord and Lady bless you on your journey to weight loss and better health.