1. Be kind to yourself.
It took me 4 years to put on an extra 20kg, which is a pretty short amount of time for such a large amount of weight. It started with the new, sedentary lifestyle of my first desk job and was quickly escalated by being thrust into the midst of intense grief.
Queue the severe depression, anti-depressants and frequent binge-eating to mask the sadness and anxiety and the 20kg came on hard and fast. And I honestly didn’t care, at the time. Grief leaves little room for you to care about more than the grief and pain itself.
Fast forward to the start of 2020 where my emotions were back under control (for the most part, grief will always stay with you) and I was ready to get my shit together. I was quite ashamed and saddened that I’d let myself get to such a state, but I continued to remind myself of what I’d been through. The hell I had ensured. That I needed to give myself a break and cut myself some damn slack.
No one benefits from treating themselves as the enemy.
I knew I needed to acknowledge that i went through a dark period and that it was okay if I’d lost control a little bit. And I never would have been able to lose 20kg in 9 months had I not been kind to myself. The amount of power and grit that comes from within when you’re on your own side is immeasurable. I was constantly fuelled by my own determination, which was then fuelled by the results I was seeing on the scale, in the looseness of my clothing, in my ability to breathe easier. Instead of continuously reprimanding myself get getting into the position I was in, I focused on my achievements.
2. A lifestyle change will win over a temporary fad every time.
If you’ve been struggling with weight-loss for a while, I assume it’s likely that your method to lose weight offered no more than short-term success (if any success at all).
Been there, done that.
In order to lose weight in a healthy manner with results that will last long-term, you need to implement process that is a lifestyle change, rather than a temporary. Usually this is achieved by implementing a healthy workout routine and a nutritional, sustainable calorie deficit meal plan.
For me personally, I adopted a Keto lifestyle. I’ve written about going low-carb many times before because it has been life-changing for me. It helped curb my previously-insatiable hunger and gives me bounds of energy. I can still eat delicious food but the elimination of carbs helps me easily stay in a calorie deficit.
Find something that works for you, long-term. Something you can incorporate into your lifestyle long term. Not something that destroys your soul after a day or two, where you eventually find yourself crying and binge-eating Tim Tams in your pantry. That doesn’t help anyone.
3. If not now, when?
When I get to the end of my life, whenever that may be, I really don’t want too many major regrets. And I know one of those regrets would be to feel sad and miserable in my body during a big portion of my 20s.
When it comes to our hopes, goals and dreams, it’s easy to push them to a later date. It means no effort is required from us right at this second, and the energy needed for said task becomes our future-selves problem. And so it goes.
Soon days, months, years pass with no progress. We are busy, tired, deflated. We don’t have time, we don’t have the energy, but we’ll get to our dreams eventually. But if you really, truly want something, start today. Make the choice, so that you aren’t riddled with regret when the time has eventually passed you by.
Take the first step, even if it’s a small one. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll succeed. If not today, when?
4. Your mind is the most powerful tool.
Looking back on my weight-loss achievement, I can safely say that my mind was the most powerful tool involved.
I was sick of all the negatives that came with excessive weight-gain, both physically and mentally. I’d had enough. This incredibly strong emotion was what I continued to remind myself of daily. I didn’t want to go back to feeling that way, ever again.
Continuously making deals with myself about not exercising or making questionable food choices didn’t pay off for me and never will. Those choices eventually became a habit that was incredibly hard to kick. Every time I said ‘no’ to exercising or eating well made it easier to say ‘no’ the next time, and then the next. That eventually became a way of life.
Once you want something badly enough, you can begin to reshape your mind and how it responds. The more I exercised, the more I craved it — it started to become a habit that I genuinely felt uncomfortable about not performing. Now, if I haven’t exercised by the afternoon, I get super restless. The same goes for food — something I could rarely say no to before. I began to say ‘no’ to eating for the sake of eating and instead focused on nutritional, calorie controlled meals. This was no easy feat, especially for someone who frequently used to binge, but the more I did it, the easier it became.
That’s not to say I don’t cave anymore, because I definitely do. But I have far more control over my mind than I ever did, and caving no longer riddles me with guilt and regret. Life is to be lived and if I want a Zinger Box from KFC every once in a while, you bet I’m going to have it.
Our mind is an incredibly powerful tool that can be shaped and trained to perform how we want it to. So if you don’t like the way you’re living right now, know that you’re not stuck there. You can change it if you want it badly enough.
5. You can’t rely on willpower alone.
Willpower is fickle, and will rarely hold your hand to the finish line of your goals. Instead, you need to rely more on discipline and consistency. Whatever your goal may be, you need to continue to show up again and again. Regardless of whether you feel like doing it or not.
That’s not to say you can’t go easy on yourself when you’re feeling tired or feeling down, but you have to ensure that you’re going easy on yourself for the right reasons. If you continue to let yourself get away with old and unhelpful habits then you will likely never see the results you want — at least not any time soon.
Continue to remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing and show up for no one but yourself. Then show up again. Eventually you won’t need to wait around for willpower, you can go it alone with your own sense of purpose and grit.
6. Appreciate your body.
One of the biggest components of my weight-loss was exercise. I currently exercise 6 days a week and go for a big walk on the seventh. I honestly love it, and now do it because I want to rather than because I feel like I need to. Yes, there are days where I really can’t be bothered moving but I know that I will benefit from it in the long run.
One of the easiest ways to make yourself enjoy exercise is by changing the way you think about it, and your ability to perform it. Think about all the things your body CAN do rather than all the things you think it has to do. Our body is an amazing thing, and we should all be appreciative for everything our body is capable of doing for us.
The more I relied on my body to get me moving (both figuratively and literally) towards my goals, the more I appreciated it. I knew how fortunate I was to be able to walk, run, squat, lift and exercise my little heart out. I watched new muscles form, I felt myself getting fitter, stronger, reaping all the rewards for my efforts.
As they say — If you can, you must.