5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 90lbs Heavier
When I first got started losing weight I had a lot of ideas about how this was going to go. I had lost weight before but never the amount I was getting ready to lose this time around and of course, I hadn’t been successful keeping it off. I didn’t realize how much my mental health and weight loss were tied together. If anyone had tried to give me any advice when I was starting I wouldn’t have taken it, and I definitely would have been cranky about it! That being said, I have learned a few things over my 3 years of weight loss that I hope will help you get some perspective as you begin your own weight loss journey!
1. Mental Health and Weight Loss: I won’t magically be happier when I lose the weight
This is a big one and I learned this the hard way. All my adult life I have fantasized about the day I’d finally be happy. I thought I’d be happy if I could get under 200 lbs but when I got to 199 lbs I wasn’t! So, I thought maybe when I got to 180 lbs I would be happy but I wasn’t so AGAIN I lowered my goal. As I lost weight and neared my goal each time I would wait for the feeling of contentment with my body and happiness to “arrive” but it didn’t. I became frustrated that I didn’t feel right, that I worked so hard and “why didn’t I just feel happy? I deserved it after all that!”
I realized that my high weight, in the beginning, wasn’t what was making me unhappy (it was part of it but there was much more to it) I had to address my mental health and sort out my feelings before I would ever be happy with my weight loss. A MAJOR benefit to losing weight though is the healthy choices you make will help to improve your mental health. That’s why it is so important to lose weight in a healthy way with lots of healthy foods, regular exercise, and a good sleep schedule!
2. Weight loss isn’t complicated
It’s actually really simple! I always thought that losing weight was going to be really hard and when I got started it was a struggle to stay on track and I would absolutely fail at many attempts over the years. However, the thing that changed for me was that I wanted it SO bad! I wanted it more than anything, I wanted it more than ice cream, more than overeating at Thanksgiving and more than making excuses for my lack of exercise. Once I decided I was going to start I made a plan to meal prep each week, to count calories in My Fitness Pal, to exercise a little bit and really just KEEP IT SIMPLE. Staying focused on one week at a time and scheduling my cheat meals kept me from getting overwhelmed. If I had known that I could just break my time down to one week at a time and it would WORK I wouldn’t have failed so many times before. Time and time again I would be overwhelmed and quit by the weekend!
3. I won’t gain it all back if I learn good habits
I always worried that no matter how much I lost I would inevitably gain some or all of it back because I liked to cook and eat too much. Food has always been more of a hobby for me, I love testing out recipes and trying new foods. I always thought this was the reason I gained weight but that’s not true. I’ve learned that you can love food and cooking and be healthy. The real reason that I gained weight is that my RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD isn’t healthy (I say “isn’t” because I’m a work in progress too, guys!) I have always treated food as a reward, I’m an emotional eater, and I am a binge eater. These are things I have learned to limit but I am human and I do slip up sometimes. Once again there is that mental health and weight loss connection staring at us in the face! Luckily, I have learned to eat healthy for the majority of the time so I don’t gain any weight back when I do backslide.
4. I will learn to like eating healthy
I didn’t think I would ever like eating healthy but I do! I really enjoy planning out my meals and picking things I will really savor. I make my dishes very flavorful with lots of herbs and spices and find ways to bulk them up with low-calorie foods so it feels like I’m eating more for less. My favorite thing is finding new foods that I didn’t realize where low calorie, it’s like treasure! I eat a lot of vegetables, and I LOVE fruit! I’ve also switched from diet pop to flavored sparkling water! I have found my tastes have changed and I really do enjoy eating healthy.
5. I can still have treats sometimes while I lose weight
When I started out I thought “OK here we go, time to be miserable for a year and watch everyone else enjoy treats while I suck on an apple!” but that isn’t reality either! I get to have treats sometimes I just make sure to plan ahead! Scheduling cheat meals once a week so you can have a thing you crave is totally ok! In fact, if you really want a bowl of ice cream and you only have enough calories left for dinner, having ice cream for dinner once in a while is something you can do! Restricting too much isn’t conducive to a normal life, let yourself have a treat once in a while just don’t treat food as a reward and don’t over do it with your portions. I always count the calories and log it in my fitness pal even if I go over on my daily goal. It makes for a much happier ME and I get to participate in birthday cake at grandmas birthday since I knew it was coming and planned ahead in the days ahead!
In the end, you need to find things that motivate you to carry on when you feel the weakest and lean on discipline when motivation fails you. For me, when I figured that out I became much less worried about the future of my health. I know I’ve got this under control!