Weight-loss can be a daunting endeavor. If you are reading this, you probably have either tried to lose weight and have struggled or you are interested in knowing how to start leading a healthier lifestyle. I have tried many times to lose weight and I have both failed and succeeded. As you can see from the picture, I am still currently overweight and trying to lose weight and improve my health. Since January, I have lost about 30 pounds, and while this isn’t much in the grand scheme of things and it hasn’t been a remarkably fast process, it’s definitely an accomplishment.
Over years of struggling with my weight, I have learned many things from successes and failures. Most importantly, I have learned the reasons why I would succeed and why I would fail. In this article, I hope to share the wisdom I have gained from my experience and hopefully guide you in the right direction for your weight-loss journey.
Set realistic and qualitative weight-loss goals
When you decide to lose weight, you will have an idea about what you want the end result to be. However, weight-loss does not happen overnight. It is something that takes time, and, for many people, this can be discouraging. We live in a society of instant gratification where we want to see results right away. While there are methods for losing weight that boast fast results, these methods usually require drastic changes that you can’t reasonably sustain. Unless you’re able to sustain the methods which bring you results, you will most likely gain back any weight you lose. That’s why people say that it shouldn’t be a diet, but rather a lifestyle change.
So, in order to keep yourself on track for a long and grueling process, it’s important that you set realistic goals for yourself that are easy to obtain. According to Calorie Secrets, health care professionals recommend losing one or two pounds a week for healthy and sustainable weight-loss. While it is possible for you to lose more weight in a week, it’s more encouraging to lose more weight than you planned than to lose less. If you set a lofty goal for how many pounds you want to lose, you may feel discouraged if you fall short of your target number, and feeling discouraged is dangerous when you are trying to lose weight.
Also, go beyond setting quantitative goals for losing weight. Sure, there will be a certain number of pounds that you will want to lose, a certain weight you will want to be and a certain size you will want to wear, but don’t let these numbers be the only things that matter. Think about some qualitative goals, too. For example, maybe you would like to walk longer distances without being short of breath or maybe you would like to build some strength so you can lift heavier objects without straining. These goals involve the quality of your life, so having qualitative goals will remind you why losing weight is important.
Establish a support system
After you have an idea of what your goals are, share these goals with the people around you and ask them for their support. This is especially important for people that you live with or spend a lot of time with. The people who are close to you can help keep you accountable, and some may even want to embark on the journey with you. Even if they don’t choose to follow you on your path, it’s important that they understand that you have to be mindful of what you eat and that you need time to exercise. You may need to ask people you live with to avoid tempting you with unhealthy foods. Of course, you’re responsible for what you eat, but if someone else in your family cooks, you will need to request healthier options for dinner.
Also, surround yourself with people who are also trying to lose weight or have succeeded at losing weight. These will be the people who understand best what you’re going through because they have first-hand experience. If you don’t know anybody who is interested in weight-loss, search online for testimonials or support groups where you can find people that are talking about their experiences. If you’re comfortable with putting yourself out there, you can also share yours. It’s very important that you engage with people who are on the same journey as you so you can stay motivated and encouraged. For my journey, I have been listening to You Lose! Podcast, which is a weight-loss podcast hosted by four video game enthusiasts who are leading healthier lifestyles. Every two weeks, they discuss their successes and struggles and they focus on a topic related to losing weight. They share a lot of useful wisdom from their experiences, and I have found that listening to the show has kept me motivated to continue with my own journey.
Plan your meals
So far, we have been mentally preparing ourselves for the weight-loss journey. Now, let’s get to the heart of the issue: actually doing it.
When you think about what you should eat when you’re trying to lose weight, you will most likely picture vegetables, proteins and fruits. It’s pretty easy to know what foods are healthy and which are not, so I’m not here to lecture you on that. What I do want to talk about is the mindset of choosing the right things to eat.
If you are overweight, you have probably been in the habit of not paying attention to what you put into your body. So, for weight-loss, you have to start being mindful of what you are eating and how it affects your body. Some people count calories, and if this works for you, that’s great. Personally, I don’t do so well when I start obsessing over numbers. I also don’t believe that restrictive diets are effective, because they usually aren’t sustainable. It’s important to find a healthier way of eating that you can commit to for the long-term. Losing weight isn’t something that you can just do for a little while and stop when you reach your goal. You have to be ready to permanently change your eating habits to see results and maintain them.
In our busy world, you may find it hard to find time to cook healthier meals between working, taking care of children or spending time with friends and family. The most convenient ways to eat are usually the most unhealthy. That’s why it’s important that you take some time to plan your meals. I’m the kind of person who is okay with eating the same thing every day. Before I go grocery shopping, I decide what I am going to eat for each meal during the week so I can buy the things I need to make it. Then, I will prepare what I can ahead of time and store it in the fridge. This way, when it’s time to eat I already know what I’m going to eat and it’s already prepared. This keeps me from making poor choices on a whim and also helps me save money, too, since I’m not buying extra things that I won’t need. If you plan your meals ahead of time, you will be prepared to eat healthy and there will be less temptation to stray from your path.
Also, when planning your meals, choose a day of the week to have a cheat meal. According to BodyBuilding.com, cheat meals are actually good when you’re trying to lose weight. Because these new eating habits should be something you plan on having for the rest of your life, you can’t expect that you’re never again going to eat unhealthy foods that you enjoy. What’s important is that you plan on having these foods in moderation. Also, having a cheat meal once a week can also increase your body’s production of the hormone leptin, which helps you control your appetite and lose weight.
Find ways to exercise that you will enjoy
Starting an exercise routine can be intimidating, especially if you’re used to being sedentary. However, if you want to lose weight, you have to increase your physical activity. Again, it is not something you can do for just a short amount of time and then stop when you reach your goal. You have to make a habit of exercising. This is why it is really important that you find a way to exercise that you enjoy and can be consistent with. For example, I really enjoy daydreaming and listening to music, so I will go for walks and blast music on my headphones and not even think about the fact that I’m walking. One of my absolute favorite ways to exercise is Zumba. It’s fun, the routines involve squats and other moves that work your muscles, and an hour-long class will have you feeling like you ran a marathon. Also, because I enjoy dancing, I’ll sometimes get moving by playing Dance Dance Revolution or doing the “Cha Cha Slide” and “Cupid Shuffle” until I can’t stand it anymore.
Even though you should find ways of exercising that are fun, that’s not to say that exercising shouldn’t be a challenge. If you want to see results, you have to continue to push yourself more each time you find your exercise routine becoming too easy. Start off with an amount of exercise that gives you a good burn, and then see if you can go a little further. You may think that you can’t handle anymore, and if you’re certain of this, then you should probably stop. You don’t want to overexert yourself and risk damaging your body. But before you decide you have reached that point, try out Kimmy Schmidt’s “ten seconds at a time” theory. The idea of it is that you can handle anything for at least ten seconds, so you push yourself to make it through ten seconds of whatever your struggling with. After those first ten seconds, start the countdown over again.
Use the mirror as a measure of weight-loss success: not the scale
When losing weight, it is important that you track your progress to not only see where you are at but also to make adjustments to your routine as necessary. The easiest way to do this is to consistently weigh-in on a scale.
However, you have to understand that there are many variables that affect the number on the scale, including the weight of the muscle you are building and the amount of water in your system. This is why the most reliable time to weigh-in is in the morning, naked and after using the bathroom because there are less variables that will affect how heavy you are. It’s also best to use the same scale in the same place for your weigh-ins because different scales will weigh differently and your weight will also vary in different locations. The scale at my doctor’s office weighs me almost ten pounds lighter than the one at my home.
No matter how consistent you are though with weighing in, there will always be variables that make the number on the scale unreliable with measuring your success. While it is good to have a goal of how much you want to weigh, you don’t want to let this number define you. This goes back to what I was saying before about having qualitative goals. At the end of the day, your weight is just a number. What’s more important is that you want to be healthy, you want to feel better and you likely want to look better. That’s why the best measure of success is what you see in the mirror. The most rewarding moment for me on my current weight loss journey is when I was able to fit my work shirts again. The scale might not be reliable in telling you how good you are doing, but your clothes will!
Don’t let a slip-up slow you down
When you’re on your weight-loss journey, you are going to have some ups and down. Weight-loss is something that takes time, and you’re going to have good weeks and bad weeks. As it goes in life, you will have unforeseen circumstances that break your focus and routine, like being sick or family struggles. Sometimes, these will be things beyond your control, and other times these will be mistakes on your part. Either way, you can’t let these things weaken your resolve or discourage you. If you have decided that you want to lose weight and be healthier, the only way you can be successful is by not giving up. It can be frustrating, too, if you’re putting in the effort and not seeing the results that you want. However, the only way to overcome failure is to keep trying. If you find yourself wanting to give up, remind yourself of why you decided to pursue weight-loss to begin with. Also, if you’re having a rough time with eating healthier or motivating yourself to exercise, reach out to your support group and talk with people who have been through or are going through a weight-loss journey. I promise you that they will also have stories similar to your experience and they can talk you through it.
Remember, you are in control of how you choose to live your life. There may be obstacles that make changing your lifestyle difficult, but it is your responsibility to find ways to overcome them if you want to be successful. If you are wanting to lose weight, I hope you have found some helpful wisdom in this article, and I wish you the best of luck with pursuing your goals!