The Best Weight Loss Tips You Probably Haven't Heard
These weight loss tips are not about your diet, and they're not about your workout. These are things I wish someone had told me a long, long time ago before I wasted years on stupid diets and worse of all, years feeling bad about myself no matter what my size was. As a lifestyle writer for women, I have to stay on top of what's out there, and during the new year that means weight loss tips. I've been avoiding posting about weight loss and excercise this month, but every time I log in to Facebook or Pinterest, it's become my elephant in the room, or more like the elephant in my face. "Ten Moves to Lose Your Thighs", "Five Weeks to a Flat Belly", and "Bye-Bye Booty" are just a few of the articles that have had me rolling my eyes lately. *Images sources here.
First, I don't want to give you guys the same old information spun as something new and groundbreaking. I don't want to waste your time just to get more page views. Second, I know from personal experience how discouraging those posts can feel. Just when I think I've gotten my weight under control, some article pops up on how to make my butt rounder, for example. Then I can't help but wonder is my butt round enough? Naturally I head for the mirror to stare and stare at my backside from every angle possible. Yup! Looks like it could use some firming and shaping and could probably stand to use some skin firming too. Then I take a step back into reality, I get another good look, and I focus on how much better I look now regardless of what I still want to improve on. Then just as I am starting to feel good about what I'm eating, I see some article on "Why (such and such) Isn't Really a Super Food". What??! I just stocked up on that, and now you're telling me all the reasons why it's actually unhealthy?
This constant stream of so-called advice can quickly drain our motivation. And when it comes down to it, succeeding at weight loss and getting healthy is all about motivation.
We all know what we should be doing, what we should be eating, and let's face it, we all have at least a little time to work out. It is a learning curve for some of us, whether we need to prioritize our time or learn more about nutrition, but what really hinders each and every one of us when it comes to health is motivation - the motivation to be disciplined, the motivation to make a change and to stick with it, and the motivation to get back on the horse every time we fall.
1. Good Health Has to Be Your End Goal - If you're trying to lose weight to look good for someone else or to fit into a bikini; your motivation will not hold up in the face of temptation, nor will it hold up in the long run. This is where the right kind of motivation needs to come in. Are you in fact just trying to look good in a bikini? Or do you want to feel better and have more energy? Or perhaps be around longer for your children? I do think short-term motivation is useful. I use it myself with bikini season or an upcoming style shoot. That really motivates me to stick with my workouts even whenever I'm tired or busy, but it's my end goal of being healthy and feeling good that keeps me motivated to not only eat under a certain amount of calories a day but to make those calories packed with nutrients. It also keeps me from overdoing my workouts. I'd rather be a few pounds heavier than ruin my joints before I've even hit 40 due some crazy high-intensity workout.
2. Pace Yourself and Be Patient - The previous tip goes hand in hand with this one. Having your overall health as your core motivation not only helps with staying motivated to be active and eat healthy, but it helps avoid one of the biggest weight loss pitfalls that is being too active or too strict about your diet. If you become obsessed with reaching a superficial goal, you will go all-in at the beginning, and we all know how well that works out. You have to be able to see the end goal. However if your end goal is merely to look smokin' hot while naked, than you will be disappointed every time you look in the mirror and don't see changes happening as fast as you wanted them to.
3. Treat Yourself, Don't Cheat Yourself - The beginning is the easy part. It's even easy to be disciplined well into the first few weeks, and that's great if it gives you the jump start you need, but it never works long term. This all-or-nothing approach eventually runs its course, and before I know it, I'm plopped on the couch saying oh screw it, I want to stuff my face with fried chicken and pizza and cookies!! While I do believe in letting yourself have little indulgences here and there, I think we have to change the way we think about it. We tend to call it "cheat day", but that only feeds into the negative self chatter. The treat-yourself approach is all about making choices that we can feel good about so one "treat" doesn't turn into an entire weekend of making excuses and eating one bad food choice after the other. Cheat suggests something we're not allowed to have and thus makes us want it all the more. We start to make one excuse after the other. Well, I already had pizza...might as well have soda and dessert too. Or I already cheated a few times this week, what's one more time? Then all it takes is one more bad meal before we feel sluggish and so far in calorie debt that we're totally unmotivated to work out at all. A treat on the other hand is a simple indulgence that we purposefully go into knowing that it is an occasional thing. I also believe that you have to balance these treats, sometimes with the real deal, but sometimes with a much healthier version of your favorite snacks. For example sometimes whenever I'm craving chocolate cake, I'll plan to have hot chocolate instead, or I'll make my 100-calorie skinny brownies. Then I get the chocolate fix for hundreds of calories less.
For me, this was one of the most crucial breakthroughs for weight loss and eating healthy. Yummy treats were no longer a negative thing for me - no longer a source of guilt and shame that would cause me to spiral back into my old ways but a simple treat that I would plan into my week knowing full well that the next day I would be back on the horse so to speak, eating foods that were good for me and working out to make my body stronger.
4. You Need a Tool Box - Whenever you face any kind of challenge, whether mental or physical, you need to have tools, both metaphorical and physical. You need to have techniques you can rely on whenever you're feeling that motivation slip away. Positive self talk is a huge tool for any situation. You have to remind yourself why you want to get healthy and that you really are capable of doing it.
You have to be your biggest cheerleader.
Other tools you can use for weight loss could be anything from new workout gear to new weights or even something as small as surrounding yourself with magazines on health - anything that will serve as a daily reminder and motivator. Tools will also make you feel like you have a plan and that you're doing the best you can. If you can feel that you're doing the best you can, instead of feeling guilty every time you slip up, you'll know what to do, and you'll feel good about it. This is huge when it comes to sustaining motivation.
5. You Have to Accept Yourself First - It's ironic, but transformation has to begin with accepting yourself as you are now. This is a tough one and may seem counterproductive as the reason to get healthy is to better yourself in one way or another, but it's crucial. If you can't learn to be happy with your body now, you never will be. When you do reach your goal, you will still feel like you need to lose five more pounds then five more after that and so on. So you'll either give up, or you'll wind up doing something stupid and unhealthy to reach your impossible goal.
One of my girlfriends and I (and my new workout buddy) have been talking about weight loss a lot lately. Every time she even jokes "and I swore I wasn't going to talk about weight this time". But it always goes there. She talks about how she wishes she looked how she did just a few years ago and can't figure out what is hindering her so much, then she remembers that even then she wasn't happy with her body. She was obsessed with getting better and better. In fact she recently found an old journal she was keeping at the time in which she wrote that she was tired of being "consumed with what she was consuming". This really stuck out to me, because it's how I imagine most women feel especially during the new year with the flood of information on all the things we should and shouldn't be eating. After my friend and I had gone over this several times, she realized that what was blocking her was that she needed to be happy with herself as she is now.
A few years ago, I found myself in the same place mentally, but accepting myself was easier said than done. I've been on both ends of it. I've been under-weight, over-weight, and all sorts of places in between. Throughout all of those sizes, however, there were two very distinct phases - attractive and unattractive. I don't mean pretty or not pretty, good hair or bad hair, nice makeup or no makeup.
I'm talking about that very noticeable shift when you go from being attractive to the opposite sex to no longer being noticed by them at all. You feel invisible. It hurts.
As my weight finally started to come off, I was keenly aware of just how often I could catch a man's eye. And while it's flattering for a second, it's also a reminder that they're only interested in how I look. I'm much more flattered by someone who is attracted to the inner qualities I've become most proud of. Now don't get me wrong, I'm no advocate for the belief that it's only about inner beauty. I write about beauty and style for goodness sake. I've always been obsessed with it. I like girly things and pretty things, and yes even material things, and I'll never feel bad about that. I think outer beauty should be celebrated just as much as inner beauty, but things get complicated when we completely intertwine beauty with being attractive to the opposite sex.
How can we move past that and begin to feel good about ourselves? When I hit this barrier myself, I was seriously lacking in motivation. The less motivated I felt, the more unhealthy I would eat. Then I would feel more fat and unattractive, and this would only feed more negatively into my self worth until something finally clicked. I was going to therapy for a break up at the time, and I think after hearing it over and over that the right person will appreciate other qualities in me, I think that must be when something changed in my mind. But I wasn't thinking about men. I started thinking about the friends and women in my life who had stuck by me during tough times and had continued to love me and support me through so many changes in my life. Even when I lost weight, I had lost a friend as a result, and that further hit it home for me that these friends who were still there must see something in me other than what's on the outside. I began to think truthfully about what those things were. I knew that to them I was funny, wise, interesting, and kind. I also knew that I could be forgetful, over-talkative, and any number of little annoyances. The bottom line was that they loved me and they cut me slack where I needed it, as I do for them. Ah, that's where I'd gone so wrong with myself. I had somehow reached a point where I was no longer cutting myself any slack. How did I let that happen? In a word - shame. When we're not good enough, we feel ashamed. Even when someone else isn't good to us, we somehow feel ashamed. We get past these feelings only be repetition. By reminding ourselves every single time those feelings pop up that we deserve some slack and that we're doing the best we can.