Ever done this before? One day, you decide to go through your closet because you notice the same rotation of clothes keeps occurring. Oh ya, I forgot I had those jeans, I love these! Then you try them on and, uh oh they are tighter than you remember.
I don’t know about you, but this has happened a few times in my past. Then, you sit back and start thinking about how you got here and how nothing fits. Finally, you realize, life happened and things got a bit out of control in the food department and you have also been a bit stressed.
So, next comes your master plan to get back on track and you say to yourself “ I am starting my diet tomorrow”. There it is, that word again…DIET.
Do you ever think about what it would be like to break up with your diet mentality once and for all? The word diet makes me cringe, and to be honest, diet’s just don’t work long term, it’s not sustainable.
If I told you it doesn’t have to be this difficult, would you think I am crazy because losing weight usually involves restricting and eating foods you don’t like?
I can honestly tell you that your weight loss goals can and will happen. You just need a different approach.
When I was competing, it was part of the process to weigh my food, track my macros and all of that stuff. I was very disciplined and took my prep very seriously. So much that I would not even lick the spoon once I measured out my nut butter. It would go straight into the sink with soap on it. My prep usually lasted anywhere for 16-22 weeks, depending on how lean I needed to get. That is a long time to be restrictive with your menu items, and after doing it for 6 years, your body never really gets a break. I didn’t give my body a chance to regulate because, 6 months later, I was beginning another prep. My metabolism eventually shut down and I struggled with my weight after that.
I am using this example because many of you out there may be relating to me right now.
You go on a diet to get ready for summer, your daughter’s wedding, new year’s resolution, etc. You’re eating “Clean” or following whatever diet you have chosen this time. But once the diet is over, you find yourself back to square one 6 months later and the diet roller coaster never ends.
It has taken me 4 years since my last competition to figure out how to live my life without dieting. Has it been easy? No, but it’s been 100% worth it. I knew this destructive behavior I had developed needed to change, for my mind and my body.
I first wanted to figure out what I wanted my body and overall health to be like. I came to the conclusion that I needed to give my body time to heal and figure out what my Happy Weight was.
By happy weight I mean, what weight was I comfortable at and made me feel good in my clothes. I wanted to have endless energy and didn’t want to depend on the scale every day to dictate how much I should or shouldn’t eat.
Once this was established, I wanted to find the foods that were best for my body so I started to explore what foods made me feel good and which ones stripped me of my energy and mental clarity.
There is no one size fits all diet or cookie-cutter meal plan. We are all different, and our bodies process food groups differently too. So how can you go on YouTube and watch someone who is in amazing shape posting “What I eat in a day” and think to yourself, “ I am going to eat like that person”. I say no, never do that. What I will tell you is, it’s time to start being your own health advocate. Start experimenting to figure out what works for you.
You may be someone who thrives off of eating high fat, low carb protocol but have always been told to eat low fat to lose weight. Maybe you are allergic to dairy and don’t know it, yet you always have cream in your coffee and cheese on your egg white omelet. My point here is, you need to take responsibility for your health and be patient with the process.
Just remember, your weight loss goals should never be a quick fix. Think about how long it took you to gain weight in the first place. You didn’t put on that extra 30 lbs in 2 weeks, did you?
Instead, I invite you to try a different approach this time. Imagine what breaking up with your diet feels like and think about it being the best decision you have ever made.
Here are some tips that will make your weight loss journey much more enjoyable, and even better, the weight will most likely stay off this time. Look at you maintaining…you go!
- What is your mindset and why do you want this? This is an important question to ask yourself, and you may find it a bit challenging to come up with your answer. Is it because you want to be able to walk upstairs without your back or knees hurting anymore? Or maybe you want to keep up with those beautiful grandbabies at the park. You could just be having a strong desire to feel confident inside and out. Whatever it is, take the time to find out what is the reason deep in your core.
- What is the experience you want during this process? I know for me, I wanted to feel good about everything I was doing for myself. Even if I had an off day and felt a bit discouraged. I found ways to look at all the things I was doing right and got right back on track. So, imagine how this time will be different because you are allowing your body to take the time it needs to find it’s new normal. Also, think of how amazing you will begin to feel.
- Start experimenting. This could be starting off with an elimination process to reset your body so you can find out what foods are benefiting you and helping you thrive. Then you can start incorporating foods back in to see how they make you feel. You may find that certain foods you always ate or are even deemed healthy can cause inflammation or headaches you never paid attention to before. Keep a food journal to help you through it so you can reference back. Now you have a baseline and can start adjusting with that.
- Be prepared. Get in the habit of preparing your meals ahead of time. I cannot express this enough. Keep it simple. Choose two days out of the week to get it done. I tend to stick with batch cooking my protein choices so I can continue the week with a variety of other items such as my vegetables and slow-burning carbs. The veggies and carbs do not take as long to prepare. You will save money this way too.
- Don’t obsess over the scale. Yup, I said it. A scale is a great tool for tracking, but it can also create mixed emotions you want to avoid. You don’t need to stress out because you didn’t lose X amount of pounds that week. Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and increases cortisol, which causes weight gain. Use the scale to log your starting weight in the beginning and then maybe use it every other week. A great way to track your progress is to use measurements, and pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. This way you keep the momentum going because you are physically seeing your body transform.
- Move your body. Find an activity that gets your heart rate up but make sure it’s something you completely enjoy! I personally love weight training and running but I do not run on a treadmill, it’s so boring. My happy place is running outdoors. Start with a small commitment of 2-3 times a week and increase that if it feels good. Just remember to also give your body some rest days in between.
- It’s not a cheat meal, it’s a YES moment. You are not a cheater, so it’s not a cheat meal or day. You are choosing to enjoy a meal outside of your regular menu. This is your time to take a break and enjoy life. Don’t worry about derailing and gaining weight back. If you want to have pizza, go for it. But try this approach instead. Order a vibrant salad to go with it and eat that first. Then enjoy that slice or two, and you may find that you are content with this portion because you just filled up with a ton of greens. It’s all about being creative and flexible.
- Enjoy the process. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Try not to put a number to reach in your head. Many times telling yourself you are going to lose 20 lbs in 6 months, can lead to obsessive behavior. In addition to that, what if you started strength training on your journey and begin to put muscle on. Muscle weighs more than fat, so keep focused on your body composition, energy levels, complexion and all of the compliments you are getting.
I hope you find these tips helpful and simple. Thank you for taking the time to be here, I wish you all the best with your health and life goals.