Disclaimer: I do not, by any means, profess to being a health and fitness expert. Everything that I know has been self-taught through experience and the trial and error method.
Also as I type this message, I too am still in the thick of the journey with most of you. Trying to figure this healthy lifestyle thing out. Struggling to re-lose these last 5 pesky pounds. So rest assured, you are not alone.
Years ago, I read somewhere that the average American gains 1 pound per year. So for many years I was content with what I considered to be breaking even. I had grown comfortable with the idea that if there was nothing lost, but nothing gained, I hadn’t allowed myself to fall into the trap of the inevitable 1 lb increase. I even sat down and did the math one day… if I let myself go, in 10 years, I would weigh this, in 20 I would weigh that, and in 40 years, I would be knocking on the door of pre-diabetes, so I don’t even want to go there. With that in the back of my mind, I avoided the 1 lb monster, and felt that I was doing okay for myself. I would enjoy life and eat what I want and exercise if necessary, but nothing too far out of my comfort zone. On the surface, I was somewhat content. Not too chubby, but not gaining any more weight and definitely not losing any. I had started to settle into life as what I considered to be a ‘thick girl’.
The older I got and the more I began to be honest with myself about my insecurities, and I eventually had to be real with myself. Was I happy with me? Even with breaking even, I was not healthy, happy or comfortable. That stat was just an excuse for me to not be my best version of myself; so it was time to make some changes. I was craving more. Craving more of a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family. Craving to get more than the, “you look good for 4 kids” comments. Craving more confidence and better esteem. I was craving a change.
I’ve never really been a skinny girl, so that’s never been my goal. At this juncture in my life, I really want to just feel comfortable in my own skin. I get that some people say, “embrace your curves” and “love yourself the way you are” which is all great, but I’ll counter to say that it’s easier to love yourself when you feel better, and can breathe better, and that dress you saw online fits you exactly the way that you pictured it. So I decided to take control of my life, in this respect, and give myself what I had been longing for. It was almost like a gift to myself, that only I could give, and where the reward would be more than just a hot body, but also boosted confidence (which spills over into other areas of my life).
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been able kick the ‘nothing lost, nothing gained’ mantra and lose almost 20 pounds. I’m excited at the idea of breaking the American mold and taking better control over my health and my fitness. I know that 20 pounds is not much to a lot of people, but it’s what I needed for me. For the most part a lot of folks didn’t even notice, which is ok, but for the few who did, I have received several questions on what I did to make the change. With that said, here are a few things that worked for me. You’ll find that there were no fancy fad diets or gimmicky weight loss videos. I didn’t spend thousands of dollars, or do anything drastic. I just made a decision to be better and stuck to it. Then implemented a few small changes that made all the difference.
LET’S START WITH THE BASICS
Fueling the body…
Anytime someone wants to make a healthy lifestyle change, it goes without saying that you are going to have to eat right, so I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about this subject. Healthy eating plans are critical to weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. It’s almost impossible to have unhealthy eating habits and lose any weight, no matter how much you work out. In a book I read, which I’ll reference later, it says, “everything that is permissible is not always beneficial”. So know that just because it’s good to you, and you’re allowed to have it, doesn’t make it good for you. Now when it comes to eating right for me, I didn’t have to go vegan, or keto, or Tito or Michael Jackson for that matter. I don’t have anything against any of those diets, but they are just not for me.
I wanted to adopt a healthy eating plan that I can stick to long term. So that’s what I did. I met with a clinical nutritionist and did some research and started meal planning based on caloric intake. And to hold myself accountable (which I’ll talk about more in a few), I would journal my food intake in my fitbit app. This helped me to not only make sure I wasn’t over consuming, but also helped me to stop under-consuming which is critical so that my body has enough fuel to sustain. I know that this sounds like a lot of work, and maybe everyone doesn’t need this level of self-discipline, but that’s what it took for me. I had to make healthy eating a priority and really stick to my guns with it. Maybe this topic deserves it’s own blog post because I could go on and on. Stay tuned, more to come, moving on.
The other very obvious component that I attribute to my success is a strong work out plan. I say plan because it must be more than the occasional gym visit here or there if you really want to kick the 1lb per year trend, or the complacency demon’s butt. Working out became a part of my normal routine and I constantly set goals for myself to continue to push myself to the limit. This one is a little different than that of healthy eating in respect to the fact that for me, escaping the comfort of my zone was a must. Years ago, I said I would NEVER run, and now I average a 5k a day and have registered for my first half marathon. I don’t love to run (I don’t even like it for that matter), just like I don’t LOVE to avoid the cookie jar, but I do it. Why? Because what I do love are the results. So if you are looking to lose, go find something to do, or several things to do, but the point is to get moving. It’s a necessary evil in order to win the battle. Now on to less obvious contributors to my success.
BEYOND THE BASICS
Building a support system…
I’m nothing without my team, my family, my group of cheerleaders and partners in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. Everyone needs an accountability partner from time to time; I’m blessed enough to have several. Earlier this year, my family and I decided to run a marathon relay together. We have done it a few times in the past, but for some reason this year felt different. This year we actually trained, and set goals, and didn’t want to just ‘do’ it, we wanted to be ‘good’. So we set up a text stream and checked in each day on our training progress. We encouraged each other when we struggled and cheered each other on at each milestone. As a result of our support system, not only did we exceed our expectations on the marathon, but together we’ve lost more than 100 pounds combined. (Shout out to my Daddy who carried the weight half of that alone – no pun intended)
And for me, it doesn’t stop there. I have an accountability partner at work too. We use our lunch break to work out and we remind each other that every donut brought into that building does not have our name on it. This is also the person that I was able to confide in about my recent 5 pound lapse, and she is helping me get refocused and get back on track. I’ve found that I am most successful when I approach losing weight as a team sport with individual results. But when I win, they win and when they win, I feel a sense of pride as well.
With that said, while I’m in the thick of my journey, I have to watch the company I keep. When you are goal oriented, you have to be around like-minded, goal oriented people as well. If they aren’t for you, then they are against you. During this phase in my life, I can’t take everyone up on their happy hour or breakfast meeting offer. And I refuse to allow myself to give into the temptation to ‘cheat’, with their, “Oh just have one” or “you work out enough to have a little”. Which brings me to my next contributor.
It’s great to have a team of people behind me, rallying me on, but all of that has no value if I don’t have the self-discipline to focus on my own. At one point, I almost had to become obsessed with the idea in order to make it feel real for me. When I’m in the kitchen alone in an empty house, I have to be my own accountability partner to avoid the cookies calling my name.
Earlier I mentioned journaling my caloric intake each day, and sticking to a rigorous work out plan. I had to make MYSELF do those things. There was no gun to my head forcing me to the gym twice a day, nope just me. To help with this, I adopted a quote that I use for motivation, to remind myself that this time around MUST be different than any other go at this. It says, “My desire to succeed, is stronger than my willingness to fail”. The first 6 months of the year, I would literally say that quote out loud when I felt like giving up before that last mile, or that last rep, or when I needed the self-discipline to avoid the buffet table full of potluck goodies on a random Wednesday. I had to use this desire to succeed to push myself past “I can” and “I will” to the next level of “I did”.
Get your mind right…
All of this talk about self-motivation and self-discipline brings me to my last point. Propelling from “I can/will” to the next level was only made possible once I got myself in the right frame of mind. I can’t tell you how many times I had to remind myself that it’s mind over matter. And with that, I was forced to make this more of a spiritual experience than anything. In order to make this possible, I decided to feed my spirit with even more positivity.
Early on in my journey a co-worker recommended that I read the book Made to Crave: Satisfying your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. My initial reaction was one of hesitancy, first because I barely have time to sleep, let alone read, but mostly because I have seen where people read all types of weight loss books and often times experience limited success. I also struggled with the idea of devoting time to a book that was just about food addictions, as this was not the root of struggle. Luckily for me, she let me hang on to the book for a little bit so I was able to skim through and get a better feel for if it was worth the time. I’m so glad that I did. As soon as I received my own copy via Amazon, I started reading right away and thoroughly enjoyed. The thing that’s special about this book is that it’s not your typical gimmicky food plan or weight loss book. Lysa Terkeurst talks about understanding your worth, making smart food choices from a spiritual perspective, and gleaning satisfaction from your relationship with God more than she discusses what to and what not to eat. In all, it’s a real, raw, down to earth, illustration of her weight loss battle, from a Christian woman’s perspective. And if you are a person, particularly a woman, who is of Christian faith and are craving more for yourself in this respect, I highly recommend ordering a copy and indulging. I’ve even gone as far as to order the book for friends and it’s been a blessing to them as well.
Maybe reading, especially this particular book, is not for you; that’s fine. The point is, I had to do something different to make this experience more holistic for me. If you are on the same journey and you find yourself in a rut, I recommend you consider doing the same.
I think the hardest part for me about this journey is understanding that it’s not just about one particular aspect of my life that has helped me achieve the results, or that will allow me to maintain the results. Each year that I get older, the more and more difficult it becomes, and the more I realize that I have to make this a lifestyle change, rather than just a phase. And even though the temporary success of reaching my goal weight was so sweet, even that wasn’t enough to help me maintain. The holistic approach must be my new way of life in order to satisfy my craving for more.
As I buckle down and try to tackle these last few pounds, I would love to hear from others who are on this journey with me. Maybe you have already achieved success and have sound advice to share, or maybe you just decided to commit to a healthier lifestyle; either way that’s fine. I would love to hear from you so please comment below.
Thank you all for reading and if you enjoy, please share. You never know whose life you can bless.
Create a great day!