Monday, January 1, 2018

The secret to weight loss

Losing weight is a roller coaster. Anyone who has gained and lost the same 5 to 10 pounds year after year can attest to that. There has to be a secret to all of this. (There is - keep reading to learn more about it!)

Life is busy and there are so many commitments and people competing for limited hours in the day. How is it possible to fit in healthy meals and exercise and all these healthy habits when there is barely time to sleep?

These are all questions I've asked myself far too many times over the years. I'm too busy. I'll start after the holidays. After this project is over. After the State Fair when I'm not surrounded by delicious treats 24/7.

And my motivation for losing the weight was always different, but always the same. It was usually a milestone or an event. I wanted to look amazing when I ran for national president of a student dairy science organization the summer before my senior year of college. And I did. It didn't take long for the success to unravel later that summer and by the time school started, I was about 10 pounds heavier. Ugh. Why does this keep happening? I was asking this in college and still asking it nearly 10 years later. Why can't I keep it off?

I wanted a quick fix. To lose the weight quickly so that I would look (and hopefully feel) perfect for _____ event (Fill in the blank). Quick fixes don't work. Those drops that require near starvation don't work. Exercising five hours a day quickly leads to injury and burnout. Cutting calories significantly leads to a binge. What gives? Torture to fit into smaller jeans does not work.

What does? A lot of work. Yeah, yeah...we've heard this before. Exercise several times a week and eat healthy foods. Watch portion sizes and get enough sleep. We got it.

My weight has been a struggle and major insecurity since I was 8 years old and I've been looking for the secret to quick and permanent weight loss since 1996. What did I find on this quest?

It took me until this year to figure it out. The secret to weight loss - and most importantly, keeping it off - is believing in yourself. It sounds cliche, but it's not. On the surface it's easy to say that we believe in ourselves and know we can do anything we set our minds to. We can also go to extremes for a short time if needed. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the deep belief that comes from surprising yourself and overcoming challenges you never thought you could. This includes fitness accomplishments and others outside the gym as well.

Extra weight is an insecurity, and also a security blanket. It can be a way to protect yourself from getting too close to anyone and anyone really getting to know you. (I mean, what if they criticize my weight or just don't like me?! Ahh!)

It's critical to get uncomfortable in this process. Push yourself further than you think you can go in your workouts and have the power and strength to tell yourself no. No, you cannot eat all of that pasta, but you can have a serving of it. Workouts get hard and there is some pain as strength is improving. It's so easy to stop or switch to another exercise. However, if there is serious pain, by all means, listen to your body and stop.

Don't always listen to the voice in your head, though. That voice doesn't always like change. That voice may also try to sabotage your progress. That's why it is so important to believe in yourself.

If you aren't sure where to start or don't truly believe in yourself (it's okay - it's a hard thing to do in this process), surround yourself with people that can help you. Hiring a personal trainer was one of the best investments I've ever made. She wouldn't let me stop in the middle of a set just because it was getting hard and I wanted to switch to something else. The accountability was just what I needed.

Weight loss is truly a process and not an easy one. I'm still learning how true this statement is every day. Hitting your goal weight on the scale or fitting into those jeans is cause for celebration, but it is not reason to stop.

Know the reason you want to change your life. For me, it was my confidence. I didn't feel confident in my own skin and it held me back at work and in my personal life. It's okay to want to fit into a smaller dress size, but have a bigger reason in mind. What will keep you going long term? After all, health is a marathon and not a sprint. Speaking of marathons, training starts soon for my spring half marathon.

It's not easy, but it is worth it. I know, this post is full of cliches, but they are true. We are all in this together. If you're in the same boat, share what has helped you lose weight and keep the weight off. Let's create a community and support each other.

For more weight loss advice, check out these posts:
Planning for weight loss
What happens when you get injured
10 Healthy Recipes

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