I’m sure you’d agree that weight gain doesn’t happen overnight.
If it did, we would notice it and most certainly take action to stop it or to minimise its progress.
Gram by gram, inch by inch, it creeps upon us as we’re going through our lives, studying for long hours, doing daily chores, rearranging the pantry, cleaning up, working, commuting, and then sitting behind a computer for hours a day.
Try talking about weight loss in your adult years with friends and family and there comes a downpour of advice like:
“Don’t eat before you go to bed.”
“Keto is the only real way to lose weight.”
“Drink apple cider vinegar for fast weight loss.”
I’m always amused when I hear these things.
Perhaps they’re correct or perhaps they’re not, but that’s beside the point.
The point is that we love to debate triviality.
When it comes to weight loss, 99.99% of us need to know only a few fundamental things:
Eat nutritious foods.
Exercise in whatever way possible.
These are the fundamentals of good health irrespective of what our health goals are.
But instead of accepting these simple truths and acting on them, we discuss trans fats, obscure supplements, and paleo versus keto.
Most of us fall into one of two camps regarding our health:
- we either ignore it and feel guilty,
- or we obsess over nutritional details by arguing over diet plans and easiest exercises or gym memberships without taking action.
Both options yield the same results – NONE.
As long as there’s a strategy that we aren’t using, we’re drawn to it.
Because we love to debate triviality.
When we do, we somehow feel satisfied.
This futile exercise often makes us feel as if we are expressing ourselves, and it’s a good feeling.
We feel like we’re getting somewhere.
The problem is that this feeling is utterly illusory.
Think back to the last time you and your friend talked about fitness.
Did you go for a brisk walk afterwards?
Did you plan your meals for the next day?
Did you both sign up for a weight loss coaching program?
Of course not.
We love to argue trivial details, partially because it feels like we are actually doing something about them when the reality couldn’t be any further.
Doing these futile exercises sure acquits us from actually doing something about the situation.
Our persistent desire to fit in our old jeans (or other clothes) is a big trap.
For some of us, the goal is to get into the jeans we wore when we were in college.
When we were 22-23 years old.
Sounds like a pretty innocent wish and one that is often fanned by social media and fitness influencers.
Let me tell you why nurturing this wish is keeping us STUCK despite our best intentions to get healthier.
On the surface, this wish says,
“I want to get back to the fitness and the bodyweight I had as a 22-23-year-old.”
But while doing so, we are overlooking a few important things.
Say you are currently forty-two years old.
- How has your life changed in the past twenty years?
- How many of those changes were natural processes for your body and how many were changed life circumstances?
Changed life circumstances like:
- How have your eating habits changed?
- What were your activities?
- What were your stresses?
- Where did you live?
- What were your responsibilities?
- How much time did you have for yourself?
- Did you spend time doing the things you truly enjoyed?
- Were you working out?
- What was your work life like?
- Were you shouldering household responsibilities that included caring for the young and/or old?
It is a huge disservice to ourselves and our bodies to expect our bodies to fit in a twenty-year-old pair of denim without ever having taken the time to answer the above questions.
Feeling ashamed of our body in its current state while all this while it has been relentlessly working its best to keep us going, growing and achieving everything we have set out to to the best of its abilities.
The constant stress, anxiety and negative self-talk this desire breeds, plays a major role in keeping us from taking good care of our body and giving it the love it deserves.
And if we don’t truly love and care for our body, what are the chances we are working towards its overall health and well-being?
Chances are we struggle with self-acceptance and loving ourselves the way we are.
“Clothes are meant to fit us. We are not meant to fit into clothes.”
Does that mean we should not have dreams and goals to be fitter or leaner?
Of course, you can dream to be healthier, fitter and leaner.
But do not base those dreams on an outdated example of how you looked, felt and weighed 20 years ago.
Use the old version of you as a guide to help you see what kind of lifestyle you had back then.
What parts of your earlier life would you like to recreate and then start working on making it happen.
And when you have created the new reality that’s fitter, healthier, leaner and calmer – gift yourself a new pair of jeans that fit you well and celebrate the person you have become.
And while you become the new you, make sure you donate your old pair of jeans and the other clothes that no longer fit you.
At this point, it is common to be clouded with thoughts like:
“But I am no longer in my twenties. How can I get a body as I had in my twenties?
I now have kids, a family of my own, full-time work, lots of stress and more. Is this an impossible dream?”
Asking weight loss questions can feel uncomfortable. Because it triggers shame (at least it did for me).
You feel that you can figure it out yourself when the truth of the matter is, if that had been the case you would already have figured it out.
Asking a question can never hurt
- either you’ll get the answer
- or, you’ll get a direction about where you could get it.
Why do so many of us fail to stick to our New Year resolution to lose weight?
For so many of us, starting our weight loss journey around the NEW YEAR or the new month or the next Monday can be a roller coaster for emotions.
People start with the belief that they could do something about their health and weight starting new year.
As the new year approaches, they get all excited and start dreaming – New Year, New Me!
At first, they feel confident. They’re all set and sure about what they’re doing.
Gradually their dreams get big.
They start seeing some results, start feeling better.
That’s often when they start craving perfection.
Then all of a sudden they feel inadequate of doing things at a slow pace because everywhere the hype to Go All In makes us feel we should be doing more.
Going ahead with the burden of perfection makes us falter, stumble and before we know it, we give up.
That’s when the dreams die and the goal is forgotten.
The most interesting part is most of the time all that I mentioned above is happening only in our minds because so many of us never actually start anything out of the fear of failure or of being disappointed yet another time.
And that’s how year after year, we end up starting at NEW YEAR in the hope that perhaps this year we’ll shed all our extra weight only to lose steam and get demotivated sooner or later.
How can you achieve your weight loss goal?
In my experience (both personally and professionally as a weight loss coach) I have seen people start with the erroneous belief that they need to turn their whole life around to achieve a transformation.
And that is a big mistake.
We make new year resolutions with good intention, but without an understanding of how the human brain works we often set ourselves up for failure.
When we make resolutions that aren’t aligned with our current life or habits, our brain tends to feel as if it is in danger.
- “I’ll workout every day” (especially when we haven’t been consistent in the past), or
- “I’ll do an hour of meditation daily”, or
- “I’m going to lose 30 pounds in two months”
These BIG resolutions send our brain into fear mode because they are too far from our familiar life experience.
Does this mean we should not set any goals?
The correct way to make a resolution or to ensure that we move towards our goals is to set small daily goals or to make small daily promises that we know we are 100% going to keep.
- Drink a glass of water first thing every morning.
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier than usual time.
- Meditate 5 minutes daily.
- Read 5 pages of a book daily.
- Journal for 5 minutes daily.
- Eat at least one fresh fruit daily.
Setting and doing these small doable tasks every day will restore our self-trust.
And the best approach is to start one habit at a time.
From the above list pick only one goal and consistently do it for a whole month before adding another task.
Since the goals are small, the change happening on a day to day basis is pretty small too.
These habits might not be particularly notable – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable. But it can be far more meaningful especially in the long run.
This is because it keeps the brain feeling safe and not feel as if it is in a threatening situation.
And if we keep celebrating our small everyday wins, we can create big results for ourselves in a matter of a few months without turning our life upside down at any given point.
True transformation begins with SMALL STEPS every day.
Our ego might not like this, because it likes immediate satisfaction and quick fixes.
This leads us to try to make too many changes all at once.
The result is we get overwhelmed and give up even before we can understand what exactly is going on.
What’s the best approach?
Get off the hamster wheel of debating and take action in the direction you want to go.
You don’t have to be a nutritionist to lose weight,
You don’t have to know everything about weight loss to get leaner.
You don’t have to be an expert to get fit.
You do have to know how to cut through all the information and get started – which, by the way, also helps reduce the guilt.
And the best way to get started is by taking small, consistent actions and asking a lot of questions.
When I started my weight loss journey, I was well aware that I will need to cut out processed foods and add in fresh fruits and vegetables.
I didn’t need Google to tell me that because I had known this time-tested pillar of health since I was a kid.
But did that knowledge alone help me to start eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly?
Though I was highly motivated to lose weight for good, I was equally unmotivated to eat salads. Simply because I had not done it ever before in my life (except occasionally).
So I decided to give it a try. To test the waters, I went to the fridge to check what vegetables could I try first.
I spotted a fresh cucumber, paired it with a juicy red tomato and decided to make a sandwich.
It was a simple white bread sandwich with buttered slices of bread, slices of cucumber and tomato, some salt and pepper. I ate it with some tomato ketchup.
If you’re wondering why would I eat a sandwich that was noway near to something a person on a diet to lose weight would ever eat. Let me share with you what were my thoughts at the time (I have them written in detail in my food journal).
I was aware that if I wanted to eventually start eating fresh fruits and vegetables, I had to start from a place where they were tasty and felt tempting enough for me to keep trying to eat them in one form or the other.
Besides, coupling them with white bread, butter and tomato ketchup which were the things I loved in every form opened up gates for experimenting while challenging me to get creative along the way.
That was the intention and it paved way for me gradually enjoy eating my daily sandwich in a way that I gradually started adding fresh lettuce leaves, carrot and olives to the cucumber and tomato combination.
I started looking for ways to make my daily sandwich tasty and interesting by regularly searching for sandwich ideas on Pinterest.
Before I could realise it, my interest in sandwiches sparked my love for salads and salad dressings.
Though this change happened over several weeks to months, I attribute it to my decision to have fun, to keep it small and doable and to celebrate every single day I ate fresh fruits and vegetables.
Had I forced myself to eat a bowl full of fresh fruits and vegetables from day one or had shamed myself for including the not-so-healthy processed accompaniments to my daily sandwiches and salads, I would have quit trying in a day or two and perhaps would have never lost all my weight.
Weight gained over the years can be lost abruptly with fad diets and crazy workout routines but it can ONLY be sustained by working on resolving the many emotional, physical and spiritual issues that are pushing us to lead a stressful lifestyle, keeps us from taking care of ourselves, getting optimum rest and above all taking care of our body that serves it long-term health goals.
I teach all this and more in great depth in my weight loss coaching program for women.
If you enjoy the yo-yo weight loss – weight gain phenomenon, by all means, lose weight by restriction, starving, crazy workouts and diet pills and shakes.
However, if losing weight in a way that you can comfortably maintain the loss you need to go all-in at analysing your life, bring its reality to your awareness and start making small changes.
The mindset shift required to achieve sustainable weight loss:
Think of your body as a precious gift your best friend or mother-in-law has lent out to you.
You can use it the way you desire but you shall have to take great care of it and will have to return it at some point.
Why is this approach more powerful than trying our best to care for our body as our own? That’s because we tend to act entitled with ownership.
Imagine how you would care for the chinaware set your mother-in-law asked you to care for if you had to return it to her after a year.
Would you leave it in places where it might fall or break?
Would you leave it unwashed for days after drinking coffee?
Would you let your kids play with it at their toy tea party?
Would you care for it the same way you treat the crockery you use every day?
Similarly, the things that you would not do with someone else’s body are:
starving it, or
dehydrating it, or
over-exercising it, or
keeping it sitting indoors for hours staring at computer or mobile or TV screens, or
constantly stressing it with worries about issues out of your control, or
constantly making it over-work with kicks of caffeine, or
running it with litres of cola, or
clogging it with trans fat and processed food.
Staying irresponsible with food, movement, stress and beating ourselves up mentally for not being a fitter, healthier, leaner version of ourselves like our past selves is full-on torture.
Something we need to stop subjecting ourselves to.
‘Also, the fact is, as we progress in the journey of getting leaner, fitter and more responsible towards our body, we don’t just drop dress sizes.
We get there centimetre by centimetre, dropping from XXL to XL to L to further down.
And we should celebrate the process, the journey, not just the arrival at our dream destination.
The worst thing we can do as we progress from our current state to a better state is feel bad because we are not at our goal weight yet.
The sensible and responsible approach is the winning strategy.
We achieve sustainable transformations by approaching things with Compassion, Common sense, and Courage.
As we move down dress sizes, we should jump in joy and punch our fists in the air.
Celebrate feeling better than yesterday and work with the belief that life will be even better tomorrow.
Just treat our body like a treasured possession, and then buy new jeans for it after we have forsaken the sense of ownership over it.’
And what if we fail while trying to do so?
Does this mean we should give up?
Should we beat ourselves up in our minds and say mean things to ourselves?
I know it sounds pretty harsh, but unfortunately, many of us do exactly that.
Though the best practice is:
If we forget or miss a few days or fail at what we are doing -it’s okay!
Just pick up again and try not to judge yourself or feel shame.
We are all human and these times are hard.
Celebrate the fact you keep trying again even if you fall off track sometimes and keep going.
It doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the life we have today.
It means that we need to step out of the mindset that is seeking a quick-fix or a band-aid approach to our health issues.
And keep working on our health goals irrespective of how old we are.
Whether you are in your 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s or 80s –
Age only means our body has changed, it doesn’t mean it has deteriorated.
Whether it changes for the better or worse is up to us.
The New Year is going to look exactly like the year gone by if we don’t get out of our comfort zone.
It is up to us to make the change happen.
Are you ready to create next-level results in becoming your leaner, healthier and calmer self?
I want to invite you to join my Be Healthy Be You program where you’re going to lose weight, be done with the struggle and know exactly how to maintain and enjoy those results with unapologetic confidence. It’s time to stop dreaming about the results you want and start enjoying them.
If you’re at the start of your weight loss journey, begin with the strategies that have helped lose 60 pounds and that I teach my coaching clients to achieve sustainable results. Take the FREE Weight Loss Ownership Course.