The Exact Methods I Used to Lose 40+ Lbs (and how you can, too!) - Part 2
In my last post, I went into the diet and exercise tactics that made a difference in finally succeeding at any type of lifestyle change for the first time in my life. Surprisingly, those were nowhere near as hard as they had been in the past. So what made them stick this time around?
Sticking—that’s the tough part. The outer, obvious factors are the ones people fret the most about, but it’s the inner shifts that make the biggest difference. Read on to find out what mental changes you must make to have results that last.
CHOOSING MY LONG-TERM HEALTH OVER SHORT TERM WANTS
There are certain things that make us feel good: Sleeping in. Comfort food. Happy hour. You get the gist. However, when you have a goal in mind, sometimes the things that make you feel good right now are not the things that will make you feel good in the long run. This is when you have to remember that every decision you make has long term consequences.
You see, life is just an accumulation of all our decisions. And if you’re constantly making decisions that don’t benefit you, you’re not going to progress to your desired goal.
How comforting is that food when daily indulgences have added up to 20, 50, 100 extra uncomfortable pounds? How happy does frequent happy hours make you when it caused you to skip your workout a few times a week?
This one was hard for me because I am a very indulgent person—there is not a happy hour I don’t enjoy or a bed that’s easy for me to get out of. However, when I realized that if I slept in it meant I was skipping a workout, which in turn detracted from my fitness goals, I began to willingly choose my long-term success over my short-term wants.
You know what they say: If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do things you’ve never done.
What are you willing to cut back on to get the results you want the most?
GETTING COMFORTABLE SAYING NO TO OTHERS IN ORDER TO SAY YES TO MYSELF
There is something people say to me all the time that grinds my freaking gears. It occurs right after you’ve made what was probably a difficult decision to forgo something indulgent in favor of reaching your goals. It’s usually a variation of this: “Aww, you can have the [cookie, cupcake, drink, chips] this one time,” or, “You have to treat yourself!” Or maybe even, “One day off the gym won’t kill you! Just work out tomorrow, come out tonight!”
I could write a book on how much statements like that bother me. As if there isn’t enough inner struggle when trying to make a lifestyle change, the little devil on your shoulder takes the form of a friend/family member/coworker to try to steer you wrong when you’ve resolved to do what’s best for you.
Here’s the thing: You likely got to the point where you wanted to lose weight by telling yourself those exact same things. Maybe you turned to food for comfort. Maybe you went to happy hour every day each week after your mentally demanding job to unwind (guilty). The thing is, these are not special occasions. They’re usually not isolated incidents. “Yes this one time,” every time, turns into “continually saying no to the things you want in life.” “Treat yourself” becomes “hold yourself back from making progress,” which really means “cheat yourself.”
Sometimes, you have to give others a firm NO in order to give yourself a resounding YES.
COMMITTING TO SMALL ACTIONS
What if I told you that working out was 80% mental and only 20% physical?
First off, you would tell me I made those numbers up, and you’d be right. But only kinda. You see, often, even for people who do it all the time, getting started is the hardest part, followed by continuing (lol). There are so many times I get up earlier than I want to in the morning to work out and say to myself, “I just don’t want to do this.”
So I make little deals with myself: Just put on the clothes and go to the gym.
When I get to the gym: Just get through the warm up.
When I’m tired of exercising before the workout is complete: Just one more rep.
By committing to doing just a small part, not necessarily the whole thing, the important part is I get started. I’m not perfect...there are times when that scenario above would end at “go to the gym.” I am not ashamed to say that I have gone to the gym before, gotten through my warm up, and just straight up said, “Nah, I’m good.” But, more often than not, I just continue on with the work out. It’s like hey, I’m here already, right?
This technique goes for more than just working out by the way—I wrote in this post about my 20 minute rule, where I commit to doing 20 minutes of something I don’t necessarily want to do, and then let momentum carry me to the end of a task. Check it out if you are a serial procrastinator like me.
HAVING PATIENCE WITH MYSELF
Ah, the most difficult one and the thing I struggle with most often to this day. If you get nothing else from this post, get this: Please be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your dream body/life/whatever. Weight loss is a cumulative process: you don’t wake up one day 50 lbs down (and if you do, you should be alarmed). You lose pounds, one by one, over a period of time. Be patient with yourself and remember that every action you take, every decision you make, is getting you one step closer to a new you. That goes for weight loss, strength gains, developing healthy habits, and pretty much everything else in your life. One of my favorite quotes comes from Earl Nightingale: “Never give up on a dream because of the time it takes to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.”
EVIDENCE (the fun stuff)
I’ll admit it, I’m a nerd: I love data. It tells such a wonderful story! Keeping track of data throughout my weight loss journey was key to helping me stay on track. If you could measure it, I did. Some of my favorite ways to measure:
So much data! *smiles internally*
Daily Weigh-ins: I step on the scale every single morning right after I pee. While some people are scale-phobic, I enjoy weighing myself because it helps me to put things in perspective. While weight can fluctuate for several reasons (hormones, water weight, carb intake, etc.), I feel like it is a good way to tell if I should stay the course I’ve been on (when it goes down), if I need to rein it in (when it goes up), or if it’s time to shake things up (if i’m in a plateau for an extended period of time).
MyFitnessPal: I truly believe it’s imperative to track your food when you have a weight-related goal. The average person doesn’t know the amount of calories they consume per day, nor the nutritional profile of the foods (or food-like products) they’re putting into their mouth. By tracking what you eat, you’re able to see exactly where you’re going wrong (or right!) and adjust accordingly. When I first started tracking my food, I was amazed at how many calories I was eating compared to what I thought I was eating. MyFitnessPal is especially helpful when transitioning to a keto diet, which has a fairly strict macro ratio of 70% fat, 20% protein, 10% carbs, to help ensure you’re staying on track.
Exercise: This one is probably the most subjective, but I enjoy wearing a fitness monitor. (I used to use a Polar heart rate monitor during exercise, but I now use my Apple Watch.) Watching the numbers go up is a big motivator for me, and I find that I increase my activity because of it. When I’m working out, watching my heart rate reminds me to increase my effort if I feel like i’m just phoning it in. I also like to have calorie goals for each workout, and I’ll sometimes work harder or longer to get them. When I’m not in the gym, I find myself more likely to walk places rather than drive or just get up and move more. There’s just something so satisfying about seeing the activity levels go up!
Note: If you have a history of obsessing over numbers, tracking certain data can be triggering. In that case, dump the numbers and learn to eat and exercise intuitively.
FOCUSING ON THE PROCESS INSTEAD OF THE PROGRESS
As I said earlier, having patience with yourself is key. Part of having patience is not continually inspecting your body looking for the changes, then getting disappointed when you don’t see any. Instead, focus on the process of weight loss—for example, don’t commit yourself to losing 10 lbs, commit yourself to getting in at least 15 workouts per month. Reward yourself for going an entire week hitting your daily water intake goal. Celebrate when you hit your goal of running for a full minute on the treadmill.
The unfortunate part of weight loss is that we can’t always control a number on the scale. Whether you’re losing fat and maintaining muscle simultaneously, losing water weight, or just building muscle and seeing the scale go up instead of down, the numbers may not reflect your desires. However, by focusing on your actions, you can ensure that you’re doing everything in your power to get the results you want.
The principles above made such a major difference in my life, and I hope they help you wherever you are in your journey. I should warn you that some of those, as simple as they are, take a lot of work to accomplish! In fact, there are some—like having patience with yourself—that are a lifelong practice.
However, I guarantee if you start putting the principles in place, your life will change in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
And remember, I’m ALWAYS rooting for your success!
Do any of the principles above resonate with you? Which areas do you need the most help in? Which areas do you excel? I’d love to know—tell me in the comments!