An acquaintance of mine sent me an email yesterday asking for weight loss advice. I messaged them back, of course, but after rereading what I had written decided that I wanted to share my response here because I imagine many people who read my posts are searching for similar answers. I did not ask them for permission to share their specific question because none of my family or friends – save for my husband – know about this blog, so I am only going to post what I wrote. My hope is for you all to read this like it is a personal letter to you, because the sentiment and advice contained within these few paragraphs were composed with each and every one of you in the back of my mind...
“…My best advice is to find what works for you. Don't give up! Just because you have tried 1000 things doesn't mean that the 1001st option won't work. If I can do this, anyone can!
Try to incorporate changes into your life that are sustainable. Don't start out trying to run a marathon and eating nothing but whole grains and vegetables if that’s not a natural transition. I began mostly with just walking and recording what I ate with some effort going towards changing my diet. I worked bigger changes in as I got used to each new level of alteration and now I am at a point where my lifestyle and my physical self are virtually unrecognizable from what they were before. But, it is still all sustainable. Everything that I do now, I can do for the long term.
When you are ready though, you will likely be surprised by how quickly you are willing to make the changes that add up. Personally I found that challenging myself in different ways and with new exercises was particularly exciting. I quickly developed a drive to push myself further and that has served me well in the long run. Now I can jog a 5K without keeling over after the first ten steps, I row a couple of times a week with a dragon boating team, and I have a number of significant activity milestones that I have achieved over the past eleven months. It’s all about taking whatever steps you are able to and just climbing from there.
As far as the eating goes, I generally lean towards whole ingredients. I used to be queen of the microwavable, pre-packaged, high fat and sugar content, fast food junk. Now, I try to consume lots of fruits and vegetables and plain water, of course, but my focus is simply on having items that are less processed and which I usually prepare at home. I eat lots of wraps, salads, yogurts with cereal, etc. When you are shopping, pick up things that are on the outside of the supermarket interior and don’t go into the aisles. The outer walls are where you will find the deli, bakery, and dairy and produce sections – whole ingredients make a big difference. There will always be habits that are hard to break so be prepared for setbacks; for me I am still working my way through a bit of a slump that has seen me return to a few of my less healthy snacking options. I am working at it though and that in itself is an accomplishment. Perfection is boring anyhow.
As far as the mental part of this journey goes, remember to not make things off limits. If you really want cheesecake, have a few forkfuls (though try to remember that none of it tastes as good as the first and the last bite, so try to cut out as much of the middle as you can). Depriving yourself will just make you feel like you are on a diet and would be completely counter intuitive to ensuring that any changes you make are truly sustainable.
Try to find your motivation too. Everyone’s is different, but being able to clearly articulate why you want to lose weight goes a long way towards staying determined when you are struggling.
And if you go off your plan don’t throw in the towel – not forever and not even for the day. If you suddenly realize that you are sitting amid a large pile of candy wrappers and discarded fast food containers (and, yes, I have been there many times before) there is no reason to give up and just order pizza at that point because you will ‘start again tomorrow’. Why? Because, again, if it is something you are going to be doing for the long term there is no starting again – you will never stop – and making one or eighty imperfect decisions won’t change that you are still working at this. Every moment you can make a choice. Every choice can be a good one. And regardless of whether the last one was a good one or not, the next one you make is another chance…
Crumple the left over cookies into the garbage if you have to; run the icing beaters under water to avoid temptation; go out and walk or dance or garden to keep your mind and body busy. Figure out your own tips and tricks and use them. Journal. Keep track of your measurements and goals so that you can see what you have accomplished and where you need work. Find at least one person who you can talk to about every tiny aspect of this journey and share everything you are doing with them.
What it boils down to is that you can do this! You. Can. Do. This. That’s really all that you need…”
FOOD & BEVERAGES:
- 8 glasses of water
- 1 banana
- 3/4 cup fat free peach yogurt with 1 cup rice and wheat flake granola cereal
- 1 small glass lemonade
- 1 homemade chocolate chip cookie
- 1 small garden strawberry
- 2 cups fettuccine with shrimp, garlic cream sauce, Parmesan cheese, and pepper
- 1 slice stuffed crust Hawaiian pizza with ranch dip
- 2 cups mint chocolate bar ice cream blend
- 2 sloppy Joes on hamburger buns with margarine and grated cheese
- 1 sweet and salty almond granola bar
- 1 orange no fat popsicle
- 1 grape no fat popsicle
- 30 stomach crunches