Wow! Such a great response to yesterday’s post. Of course, as soon as I hit the Publish button I thought of several other weight loss lessons I wanted to share. So here they are:
- Sleep is your friend. I don’t think people really realize just how much sleep contributes to weight loss. I’m not always a great sleeper. I have always been a night owl, so it is likely that I may stay up until the wee hours getting things done, or not. Sometimes I just enjoy the quiet of the house. But the fact is that on the weeks I don’t sleep well, my weight loss suffers. Sleep is our body’s time to reset. It allows all of our systems to really break down the junk in our bodies so that we can flush them. Not to mention our bodies just run better when they aren’t exhausted all the time.
- If you bite it, write it. I actually find that phrase to be super annoying, but it is true. I am really bad at eating things mindlessly and then forgetting about them completely. Or when I am journaling, I will “overlook” things that I don’t want to show up in my journal. The fact is I am only fooling myself, and not that well. But if you are willing to eat it, be willing to write it down. Tracking your food honestly really allows you to see what you are taking in for the day and can explain a lot about why your weight loss is booming or stalling. Even if you eat a 4,000 calorie day, write it down. No matter how much it hurts to see. You still did it whether you write it or not.
- Stop lying to yourself. Lying to yourself about your progress is never going to help. In the end, you are the one who ends up hurt or upset. The truth of the matter is that no one else cares. I recommend, in addition to a food journal, keeping an emotional journal. Something to track what is going on with you on that day. Once you can find a pattern in your behavior that is setting you up for failure you can do something about it. But here is my biggest tip when it comes to journaling – Never go back and read negative journal entries. The act of journaling allows you to get all the negative crap out of your brain. Reading it again later will put it right back in there. Why would you want to do that? Write it, own it, and destroy it. (This goes for non-weight-related journaling as well)
- For the love of God, wear clothes that fit. I actually have a permanent line around my waist from years of wearing pants that were too small because I couldn’t bear going up a size. But I am going to let you in on a little secret – You aren’t fooling anyone. Everyone can see that those clothes don’t fit. But here is another secret – When you wear clothes that fit properly, you LOOK better! You can actually look thinner by wearing clothes that work. This goes for both clothes that are too small AND clothes that are too big! Too tight, and you look a bit like a sausage. Too loose and you just look frumpy.
- Stop hanging on to your Fat Clothes. Once you lose enough to move down a size, it is time to clean out your closet. Hanging on to the bigger sizes is almost like a safety net in case you put some weight back on. The problem is if the option is there, you will probably need it in the future. I heard a professional organizer say once to keep one size up and one size down to allow for minor fluctuations. Get rid of the rest. You can donate them to a charitable organization, sell them online, or pass them along to another friend who is in transition. The point is get them out! It will also allow more space for all the clothes you can now fit into! (If you are transitioning quickly and can’t afford a new wardrobe at each step – I know I can’t – check E-Bay or with your shrinking friends to see if you can get some transitional pieces)
- Love who you are WHERE you are. I think this is the most important lesson I have learned, and one that took me 30+ years to really accomplish. We will always have things about ourselves that we don’t like or wish we could change. By all means, work on those things. But you have got to find some kind of love and acceptance for who you are at this exact moment in your life. If you don’t love yourself, losing weight isn’t going to change that. A lot of people think that all their wildest dreams will come true if they can just get to [fill in the random number] weight. It isn’t going to happen, people. Accept who you are and learn to love yourself. I may not be the weight I want to be, but I am happy with who I am. If I never lost another pound, I would still be happy with me. Because I am MORE than a number on a scale, or a dress size. I am a wife, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. I love to help people. I love to make people laugh. And I probably have the best natural fingernails of anyone I have ever met. What do you love about yourself?
- Not everyone will be happy for your success. There. I said it. I have had many “friends” over the years who have tried to act supportive of my efforts or my success, but they usually follow it with a backhanded compliment. I had someone tell me how great I looked one time, followed by “It’s awesome that they make cute clothes in your size.” Ummmm, thanks? I get it. Translation: You look nice for being fat. These are the same people who will actually try to discourage you from losing more weight! I don’t understand this, as I am genuinely happy for anyone who can go through this journey successfully. Sure, sometimes I am incredibly envious, but I am always happy for them. If you encounter this, accept it and move on. No, seriously. Move on. Because you aren’t going to change them. You can keep them in your life, if you want… but why would you want to be around someone who isn’t supportive of you?? That isn’t friendship to me. I am too old to waste time with people who suck. Simple fact. (Also note this behavior can often come from a family member. Just because you are related to someone doesn’t mean you have to deal with their negativity.) I prefer to spend my time focusing on healthy relationships that make me feel good about myself, rather than ones that bring me down.
So those are my major lessons to date. I am sure I will learn more as I go. Not a full lesson, but I would also like to go on record and state that “diets” don’t work. Or I should say that diets only work as long as you are willing to follow them. If you pick something that is too extreme to follow long-term, you are really setting yourself up for failure. Again, remember that rapid weight loss is usually short-term and will come back quickly as soon as you fall off the plan. Try to choose a healthy lifestyle that you can adopt and live fully. Anything too strict/restrictive can lead to binge eating when you just can’t take it anymore.
Just do the best you can, and remember that life is to be lived. Don’t sit around waiting to get to some magical number before you get out there and do something with the time you have left. The journey is just as important as the destination.