When we start talking about what to do to lose weight its so much more than just what you need to do. While what you do or don’t do is important, what happens behind the scenes is the most important of all. Today I would like to share with you some things I have learned in this journey towards losing weight.
But I have to be truthful in saying this is probably one of the hardest posts I have ever written. Why?
Because it’s one area where no matter how thin you are you never feel like you have arrived. I look back at pictures of me in high school when I thought I was “so fat” and long to be that thin again. But back then I would never have dreamed of telling someone how to lose weight because I felt like such a failure with my weight problems. Now I’m actually heavier than I was then but I’ve grown and learned that people care more about your story than they do your perfection.
Can we be honest with each other? Really honest? I’m not a super model. I never will be.
One day God willing I will have achieved my fitness goals and I am on the path towards that right now. But today I am just your friend. Maybe I’m one step ahead of you, maybe I’m ten steps behind you. It doesn’t really matter because my only goal here is to encourage and invigorate you to start or continue on this journey. Let’s jump into what we know:
Most people agree on a couple of things about losing weight.
1) You need to burn more calories than you consume.
2) Exercise is good.
3) Water is good.
That’s pretty much the only things that everyone can agree on. Everything else gets into low-carb, low-fat, high intensity workouts, low-happiness, high-suck-the-life-out-of-your-day-get-a-headache-screw-the-diet-i’m-eating-chocolate-right-now.
And I’m sick of it.
Here is the reality. Life is supposed to be fun. Are you enjoying it?
Or do you hate yourself everytime you stick a piece of chocolate in your mouth, everytime you drink that soda, smoke that cigarette?
You have to stop it! The way you think about yourself is FAR more important than what goes in your mouth that instant, because the way you think about yourself is what is causing what is going in your mouth.
Here’s my thoughts on all this:
1. When I start to feel bad about my weight, get tempted to be jealous of another person, feel depressed about what I just ate, etc. I capture that energy and propel myself forward with it.
If you listen to your thoughts carefully you will begin to see that the enemy is tempting you with bad thoughts to ruin your life. Its your choice whether you accept them or not. The difficult thing is that they sound like you!
Here’s an example.
“I’m such a failure. I’ll never be skinny like her again.”
Stop. Think. Respond back to the thought.
“Screw you self-pity and jealousy! I don’t have to look like her but I’m going to enjoy getting healthier and healthier everyday and soon I will look more fit like her.”
Then as soon as you can do something to move you forward towards your goal. Do 10 jumping jacks, do some wall pushups or go out for a walk.
2. If I start eating something that makes me feel bad and I don’t want to keep eating it, I throw it away.
Do you keep eating something just because you feel like you have to? I started eating a Twizzler yesterday. After 2 bites I realized I didn’t really want it keep eating it and that it wasn’t going to help my fitness goals. So I threw it away.
Here’s the lie:
“You know we really can’t afford to just let food go to waste. What with the bills the way they are and food costs going up. I better finish this.”
Stop. Think. Respond to the thought.
“Shut up you and stop making me feel guilty. My health is more important than a little bit of waste. Besides it’s not like I’m stretching the time between meals by eating more right now. Our food costs are still going to exist whether I eat this or not.”
You CANNOT go into guilt about how expensive it was, how wasteful it is, etc, etc, etc. None of these excuses are worth your health. If you want to save it for later….then save it.
But if it has to be eaten right now or trashed, release yourself to throw it away. Better in the garbage than on your hips. It’s waste one way or the other so why not keep it out of your body?
Tip: If you really don’t think you will eat something later or shouldn’t be eating later but can’t muster up the strength to throw it away right then, put it in a cheap plastic baggie instead of a tupperware. It’s much easier to grab and toss it when you see it next in the fridge.
3. If you are having a craving, be it sweet, salty, Oreo’s, chips, whatever. Evaluate whether you are having that craving out of an emotional problem (rejection, hurt, fear, nerves) or if you really just want to have some.
If it’s emotional figure out a way to work through those emotions without stuffing your face. Talk back to that thought!
“I’m just gonna eat this ice cream. It’ll make me feel better.”
Stop. Think. Respond to the thought.
“Shut up you unloving devil. No it won’t! It’ll make me feel like crap and it won’t make this hurt go away. But going and ______(talking, forgiving, getting a hug,whatever) will.”
Then do it.
4. If you want to eat something, EAT IT!
When I want Oreo’s…..I eat Oreo’s. Why? Because I want them! End of story.
You can’t deny yourself all the luxuries of life and be happy.
5. Stop eating when you are satisfied.
Why do we eat until we are stuffed? Til we hurt? It’s craziness.
Eat like you are leaving room for dessert. Even if there isn’t dessert. Or if what you are eating is dessert.
When you stop tasting the food. Stop eating it. Don’t mindlessly shove food in your mouth.
6. Don’t judge yourself when you totally over do it
You are going to eat too much. Just accept it. You are out with friends, you’re drinking beer and eating a big dinner and you overeat. WHO CARES???
Guess what the problem is? Yup you got it. A thought. Once again……not yours.
“I’m such a joke. I always overeat. I’ll never figure this thing out.”
Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies.
So tell those thoughts off. I prefer to get angry with them. It’s quite enjoyable.
“Shutup you stupid thought. I’m not a joke and I don’t always overeat. In fact I’m going for a walk.”
This really is just another facet of #1. So do what we do with #1….go do something to move yourself forward.
Grab your iPod or crank your computer with your favorite upbeat song and dance around like a crazy person for 10 minutes. Get all your dinner mates to go for a swim with you after dinner. Do something!
7. Embrace exercising because it’s fun!
Do you hate exercising? I used to. The idea turned my stomach really and I fought it tooth and nail. Then I would start feeling so bad about myself that I would go exercise and push myself way too hard. And thus reinforce my idea that exercising sucks.
Once again, it’s in your head:
“I don’t wanna exercise. I hate exercising. I hurt for days after I exercise.”
Lies. Again….it might sound like your thoughts. Remember that if you change your thinking=you will change your reality.
“I love exercising. I love feeling fit and healthy. I only have to do it until it stops feeling good and then I can stop.”
Exercising rocks. When you do it with the right attitude and do the things that YOU like to do.
Exercise cannot be punishment for all the bad decisions you made because if is…then quite frankly it sucks.
Do you know how many people in the world would give ANYTHING to be able to exercise? To feel their body function the way God intended it to?
So get out and do something that makes you HAPPY. For me I’m learning how to love running, or in my case yogging. I have always wanted to be a runner but had a million excuses as to why I couldn’t be one. #1 being that I felt miserable while I was running.
The dreaded P.E. mile that we were required to do or the jog around the gym before class started was a miserable experience for me as a child. After a brief stint in cross country in high school which ended in a messed up knee and hip (once again because I pushed myself way too hard way too fast) I pretty much made up my mind that I couldn’t be a runner.
But a while ago I was reading the book Personal Productivity Secrets and came across a very interesting point. Maura was talking about about how when you are overwhelmed and your life is in chaos you produce cortisol (which I already knew), but that to counteract that many people turn to exercise. The irony though is that very strenuous exercise ALSO produces cortisol so it is totally unproductive.
The interesting things is that cortisol is also a key factor in how your body stores fat. So overdoing your exercise can actually increase your cortisol levels leading to more of the sensation of life being overwhelming and long term weight gain.
According to this article from LifeOrganizers:
“From a survival standpoint, cortisol serves the purpose of providing emergency storage of fat for energy when the body is under stress for a long period of time. This storage of fat in the lower abdomen will provide energy and keep a person alive if he or she must endure long periods living under harsh and physically demanding conditions. The problem is, mental or emotional stress will elevate cortisol levels too, and for individuals who lead particularly stressful lives, the continued high cortisol levels will likely stimulate lower belly fat deposition.”
Great right? I’m working out only to be making myself more stressed out and fatter. Isn’t that what we all want to hear?
The great thing about this? Moderate exercise (AKA the fun stuff!) is actually better for you!
And it’s way more sustainable. My point with all of this boils down to this: find ways to move your body that make you HAPPY and do them often. Exercise done in misery isn’t good for your health or your spirit.
How moderate is too moderate? You should be able to have a breathy conversation with someone while you are working out to be “in the zone”. You still benefit from less moderate activity as well (like strolling with a friend) but should aim to sustain it longer than if you were pushing yourself.
What kind of things can I do?
Anything that gets you moving! Yogging is particularly great because all you need is a pair of shoes (spend the money and get some good shoes, its SO worth it). It’s best in my opinion to make your running happen from right outside your door. It’s the easiest way to avoid the excuse of having to drive to and from your destination to run.
Even if you live on busy roads you CAN run on them. We live in Georgia, land of the crazy drivers that kill people all the time on the side of the road and we run on them. It’s YOUR responsibility to stay safe, they won’t keep you safe. So be sure to run against traffic, make eye contact with the drivers, take the least busy roads, and make sure you are clearly visible. Work with your surroundings but don’t use busy streets as an excuse not to get out and do it!
Tips to make exercising fun:
- Get some good music to workout too.
Something that has a great beat and gets you going.
- Download podcasts (they’re free!)
I really like the Homefries podcast from Joy The Baker and Shutterbean, they are hilarious!
- Track your progress (kind of)
Weekly weigh-ins can be super motivating, daily ones….not so much. Also remember to take your measurements and compare. Women in particularly can fluctuate in their weight drastically due to our monthly cycles so it’s not 100% accurate.
- Find a friend (or a few!) to do something active together….play water polo without noodles, go for a hike, go for a bike ride whatever…it’s more fun to do it together!
- Challenge yourself to do a “race”.
My friend Leah and I are getting ready to do a 5k together. It sounds scary but its only 3.1 miles! Just about anyone can walk a 5k and with 7-10 weeks most people can jog it. Check out the plan we are using here.
Side note on that plan: We have decided that its hard to time yourself while you run like they do for the 15 seconds run/ 45 seconds walk etc. We are either estimating or just walking to warm up, then jogging until its not fun anymore and walking, repeat until you are done with the time/distance.
- Sign up for a class.
If you can afford it and will actually go then do it! But don’t scrap all the other ideas and mope around because you can’t afford a gym membership okay?
Check back soon for my thoughts on food. My thoughts on water are simple: drink more than I do.
I’d love to hear your thoughts so I don’t feel totally alone in this….
Do you share in these same struggles with me? What are your secrets for making it work? How do you make exercise fun?