Over the past few months, I’ve managed to actually lose weight and keep it off. I went from a size 12 to a size 4. I honestly didn’t think this was even possible without either voodoo magic or major surgery.
Because it’s something that I’ve struggled with for so long, I wanted to share my story of how I figured out how to finally lose weight and keep it off. Maybe something that worked for me can work for you, too.
All of my adult life, I’ve been trying to lose weight.
First, it was the “freshman 15” that I was trying to lose. Then it was the additional weight I put on because of my daily restaurant “shift meal” as a server and bartender. Then I got REALLY SERIOUS about losing weight for my wedding. Then, came the “hey, I’m thinking about getting pregnant, so maybe I should lose weight first so I don’t get extra huge” weight loss goal. Next, I wanted to lose the baby weight…
Let’s just say that when I tried to lose weight, I’d drop maaaaybe 10lbs if I got really serious about it, and then I’d be ballooning right back up again.
This was a cycle that I just couldn’t break.
No matter what I did, I just couldn’t lose weight. I’d make excuses for myself, like, “hey, I’m a foodie. I love trying new food, and cooking new food, and blogging about food. Have you ever met a skinny food blogger? Pretty sure that doesn’t even exist.”
Well, you know what? I recently joined the Columbus Food Bloggers community, and there are TONS of healthy, fit, food-loving bloggers. So, there went my excuse…
I’ve heard that sometimes, in order to make real, effective change, there needs to be some sort of a crisis. For addicts, they call it “hitting rock bottom.” It’s that moment when everything is crashing down around you and you realize it’s not an option anymore, you have to do something.
I had my crisis moment last November. You see, I had recently broken my ankle, which meant I couldn’t move much, and thus found myself at my highest weight ever. I was in pain, uncomfortably squeezed into my “too tight” clothes, and more depressed than I have ever been.
Something had to change.
The last time I had felt so depressed and unhappy, I had started a gratitude project. This tiny new habit had drastically improved my life. I decided it was time for a new project.
Since my ankle was still broken and healing, I knew I wouldn’t be able to jump into some vigorous workout routine. So I decided to start with a muscle that I knew I could start training. My brain.
Science tells us that our brain gets hit with a spritz of dopamine every time we have a small win. And dopamine makes us feel warm and fuzzy all over.
One small “win” daily became my new goal.
I pulled out a dusty journal and started writing down every time I did something healthy. Things like “I only had one cupcake today instead of the two I really wanted.” Or maybe something like “instead of drinking a sugary vanilla latte, I chose a cup of unsweetened tea today.” Slowly, as my ankle healed, I added things like “I walked up the six flights of stairs at work today” and “I took the dog on a 20 minute walk.” Tiny wins snowball into bigger ones, and before I knew it, I’d created a positive habit.
I took back my power.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that all of us have power. And sometimes, we choose to give it away. But we don’t have to and we can claim it back. Our words are powerful, and shifting the words we use can make a real impact.
Here’s what I mean: Have you ever said something like “My mother drives me crazy.” Or even “I have to go to work today, ugh.” These statements, common as they are, are examples of you giving away your power. Your mother only drives you crazy if you let her.
Changing the statement to “I let my mother drive me crazy” is more accurate. If you let her drive you crazy, you can choose to not let her get to you, as well.
And sure, there may be consequences if you don’t go to work today, but it’s still your choice. In this same way, I took back my power of choice. I avoided saying things like “I can’t eat that cupcake.” Or “I have to work out today even though I’m tired and don’t feel like it.” You know what? I can eat as many cupcakes as I want, but sometimes I choose not to. And sometimes – I choose to workout, even if I’m tired and don’t really feel like it.
I exchanged my unhealthy habits for healthier ones.
Psychologists say the best way to change a bad habit is to find a good alternative. Ever notice how ex-smokers take up the new habit of chewing gum? That’s because finding a healthier alternative works.
So, I found some healthier alternatives. Instead of my Sunday brunch obsession, I started a new “family hike” tradition on Sundays. Each Sunday, we pick a new metro park to explore. And if it’s cold or rainy or gross out, I choose to do laps at the mall instead.
Next, I swapped my Friday night date with my husband (which always seemed to include cocktails or a bottle of wine, way too much food, and some kind of fabulous dessert) for a Friday night yoga class together. Now we go and unwind, stretch out our tight muscles, and let our minds find some peace. And then we come home, share a piece of good quality dark chocolate and just talk. It’s become our most cherished part of the week.
I set myself up to succeed.
Here’s what I know to be true about myself – I crave adventure. Excitement. New experiences. My limited experience with working out led me to believe it was really boring. Running or walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes is just not my idea of a good time.
How was it that some people enjoyed working out SO MUCH and it felt like such a chore for me? I started connecting with these mystical people to find out. Lindsay, from Find Where You Fit blogs about all the amazing fitness opportunities we have here in Columbus. I know this sounds silly, but I never quite realized how many options there are until I met her.
In the past few months, I’ve tried cross fit classes. Urban Zen classes. Pure Barre classes, Pilates reformer classes, Vinyasa yoga classes, hip hop dance classes, Pilates mat classes and boxing!
I’ve worked out with other moms and their toddlers. I’ve worked out with a private trainer. I got a 12 week workout program from Kathleen (local mama and blogger at Just Keep it Simple Fitness) and joined her accountability group. I’ve worked out at a fancy gym, my local rec center, and even in my living room.
I’ve worked out by myself, and I’ve worked out in large groups of my friends. This is just what I need to keep myself excited and interested in my personal fitness. Maybe you need something that’s more consistent and regimented. You know yourself best, so do what you can to set yourself up for success.
You’ll notice that I didn’t share details of my “diet.” I did this because so often, we get hung up on that one perfect way to eat, and get ourselves all worked up. Our bodies are all unique, and the food choices that work for my body may not work for yours. Regardless of what we eat, I believe that by following the ideas listed above, you will be happy, healthy, in control, and successful.
Cheers to your health!