Losing weight is a goal that many people set for themselves. This can range from a few final pounds to look better for a wedding, a more aggressive goal to feel better, or a huge goal in order to stay healthy.
My personal journey
At 21 years old, I was graduating from University with a degree in Sports Medicine. At this time, I was also fighting an inner battle.I was months away from being a certified professional and ready to lead people to perform better and recover from injuries. I had a ton of knowledge and the necessary education to help others. I pretended that my weight was fine. I didn’t acknowledge that it was hard for me to climb 3 sets of stairs to get to my 8 am class on time. I didn’t want to accept that a resting heart rate of 100 was not healthy.
I was more than overweight...I was obese, had trouble sleeping, and was self conscious (even though I tried to hide this fact). It took some harsh words from my brother and from a professor to get me to see that I needed to change. In order to help others, I needed to help myself first. I didn’t want to face the truth, but it was put in front of me in a way that I could no longer look the other way. I decided to make a change. I had visions of daily, intense exercise and a strict diet. I quickly realized that change would not come quickly.
5 Lessons for Weight Loss
The following 5 lessons are ones that I applied to my weight loss and still practice to this day.
- Be consistent: It is important to just do a little each day. Most days I tried to do cardio. This routine started with riding a stationary bike 2-3 times per week for 20 minutes. I did a simple weight circuit 1-2 times per week. I increased my water consumption by 2 small glasses per day. After several weeks I was able to increase my cardio routine and “suddenly” felt stronger. Even though I felt I wasn’t doing much I started to feel better and had increased energy. There can be information overload when researching weight loss methods. The important thing is to just get started and be consistent.
- Be patient: Neither weight gain nor weight loss happen overnight. It takes time to change habits and to change a lifestyle. Understand that sugar cravings and a desire to sit on the couch are not easy to overcome. Be patient with yourself as you adapt to healthier habits. Perhaps you reflect on prior years where your fitness level was higher than it is now. Do not be too hard on yourself because you are not in the same shape as you once were. Be patient with yourself, your body, and your new routine.
- Be mindful: Weight loss is derived from daily choices. It is important to be mindful of a all activities and to how these activities will either aid or hinder your effort. Be mindful when eating...go ahead and enjoy a beer or dessert but acknowledge both the choice and the consequences. Try to get in tune with your stress levels as increased stress can release hormones that are detrimental to weight loss. Be mindful of your sleeping habits since regularly getting 7-8 hours of sleep promotes weight loss. Be mindful of situations that cause you to fall back to not exercising and to eating poorly. Make daily, concentrated efforts to improve your well-being.
- Get support: Support can come from friends, family, a trainer, class mates in a weight loss group, or an accountability partner from the internet. Journal your thoughts and your reasons for why you want to lose weight. When you have a deep seeded “why”, you can use it for support when you feel like giving up. Many people hide their weight loss efforts because they have attempted (and failed) to lose weight in the past. Having public accountability is key to weight loss success. Don’t be bothered when people ask about your new eating or exercise habits, instead use these times as re-affirmation of goals!
- Appreciate the process: I was not ready for intense exercise or to completely cut out my fast food addiction. I changed my mindset to one of appreciating the process and seeing myself make better choices. Enjoy and celebrate small victories. Appreciate when walking 2 miles is less daunting or that skipping breakfast is no longer part of your routine. As with anything that is worthwhile there will be difficulties to face and challenges to overcome. Highs and lows are both part of the weight loss journey that should be appreciated.
Motivation for your Journey
Since graduating from university, I have maintained my ideal weight and have been able to truly enjoy life. I reflect back to when a cardio session was jogging and walking 1 mile to my parents house timed just right so mom would be home and would drive me back to where I had left my car. Since that time I have gone on to complete 3 Ironman Triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run), 2 bodybuilding shows, and am currently training for my first 100 mile run race. I have a professional career helping other change their lives. I live to be active and to help others see that they too can have the life they desire. My path and my “why” might be different than yours, but it is important that you venture on the path to better health. The journey began one step at a time. Start today, and when you stumble, start again!