I’m personally sick of the word diet. It’s a word used (by myself and others) since I was child to express that I was somehow “less” than I should be. Strange since it’s based in being “more” than what society dictates. I’m not alone.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2014, 1.9 billion adults and 42 million children (under age 5) were overweight or obese. More than double what it was in 1980. That’s 13% of the world population and the statistics in the United States are even worse. Roughly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
We’re doing it wrong.
Learning how to eat healthier and lose weight was life-changing for me. I know it can be like that for you, too. Because “DIET” is a dirty, dirty word.Learning how to eat healthier and lose weight (without dieting) is a life-changer. Click To Tweet
I’ve tried the “diets” (the safe and the not-so-safe), the pills, and the programs. Some of them left me lethargic, aching, and nauseous. Others hyped my body to the point that I had the shakes and couldn’t sleep. There was even one that helped me lose pounds of what I thought was fat…and then realized I was losing muscle mass.
None of them – not one of the many fads I brought into my life – were successful. Even if there were instant results, they didn’t last. The moment I ate so much as a slice of bread or had a latte, the pounds came back. So many times, it happened overnight.
Usually, I gained back a bit more than I originally lost.
Up and down, clothes ranging across six sizes, hating the image of myself in the mirror, taking those awful feelings I had about my physical self and allowing them to manifest in my mental space. Getting involved in relationships that were less than I deserved because I had low standards about who would “want” me.
My weight defined everything and influenced so many of my choices.
I said “no” to beach events and pool parties because I wouldn’t be caught dead in a bathing suit. I wore layers even when it was hot outside. I didn’t like shopping with other people because I knew I’d have to take several sizes of something I wanted in the dressing room with me.
Then one day, when I let go of a toxic romantic relationship, I told myself, “No more. No more diets. No more being mean to myself. No more settling. I need real change.”
Anything that helps you lose ten pounds in a week is going to satisfy your need for instant gratification. What you have to remember is that if you lose those ten pounds in a week, you’ll likely gain them back just as fast. Experts worldwide agree that 95% of diets fail and those who use them gain back every pound (and more) within 1-5 years.Experts worldwide agree that 95% of diets fail and those who use them gain back every pound.Click To Tweet
I took a new tack. I decided to lose weight by eating healthier foods. It was radical for me. No “quick fix” to a problem that had haunted me all my life? No “magic pill” to melt the fat while I was sleeping? No more spending a small fortune on the latest equipment, memberships, and “miracle” weight loss starter kits from every new company that popped up?
Nope. It was as simple as it sounds. Eat healthier, lose weight. What a fascinating concept. I didn’t even think it would work. I was fully prepared to be disappointed as I’d been disappointed a hundred times before in this arena.
It took me two years. Two years of slow progress, of sometimes feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere, of having days where I bought the cake or drank the extra glass of wine. After all, food was my coping mechanism. It was my comfort. That isn’t something you kick overnight but it can be kicked.
At the end of two years, I’d lost 100 pounds from where I started. That’s less than 1 pound a week on average but it added up…man, did it add up. I lost six dress sizes.
If weight loss is truly important to you, it requires change to how you think about your body, about food, and about your actual health. We all want to look cute in summer outfits but…it became more than that for me.
I reached a point where I was so sick, so unhealthy, that I was rushing my way to death. That’s not an exaggeration. Hospitalization for a critical blood clot and the prescriptions, appointments, and worry that followed were the bucket of ice water in the face that finally woke me up.
The day you put your health over your dress size is the day true change happens.The day you put your health over your dress size is the day true change happens.Click To Tweet
Don’t wait for a visit to the emergency room, a horrible diagnosis, or some perfect storm of circumstances. You’ll get to your funeral before you get to your “goal weight.”
I’m not going to tell you that what worked for me will work for you. Every person’s body and habits (and demons) are different. I will tell you that change starts somewhere…this is where it happened for me.
Alex’s 5 Life Changes For Weight Loss
1. Stop negative self-talk. I was the worst. “This is too big (or flabby or flawed).” “That’s the wrong [insert idiotic social expectation here for your skin, hair, or body].” “Ugly, ugly, ugly (fat, fat, fat…or whatever nasty description that pops in your head standing in front of the mirror).”
Until you realize that the words you think to yourself are much worse than anything other people could say, any progress made is at the expense of your self-worth. Stop it.
2. Drink the water. No matter what fruit you have to squeeze into it, what bottle you need to use to fool yourself, or using a straw to bypass your taste buds…drink water!
I squeeze lemon in mine and I use a straw. I have a 25-ounce cup and I do everything I can to drink 5 of them daily. Yes, it’s awful. I’d rather drink coffee or wine…but it was the easiest and most effective change.
3. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. I’m a workaholic. I’ve been one forever. I used to feel like a slacker if I slept more than a few hours every night.
Was someone going to give me an award for the person who slept less than everyone else? No. Was I getting any further, any faster by working stupid amounts of hours? No. In fact, I was less productive because I was tired. Eight hours and don’t you dare feel guilty about it.
4. Know your demons (so you can banish them). My personal weakness when I started this journey is still my weakness. It didn’t magically disappear and yours probably won’t either. The hardest part for me when I decided to lose weight by eating healthier was kicking sweets out of my life. It was brutal. It’s still brutal.
I love desserts, pastries, and anything to do with chocolate. I had to cut them out completely for an entire month (not even a cheat day) to let my body detox. I didn’t think I’d make it and I actually shed tears. I’m not kidding. Now, I allow myself a dessert once a week…when business is done, I have a lovely glass of wine, and I’m kicked back with my favorite BBC episode (old or new…I love their programming). It still isn’t easy so I buy something small, only enough for one serving, to help me.
5. Forget about “easy” and think about “fuel.” It isn’t easy to cook every night. I’m a single lady and it bores me sometimes. I forget about leftovers so I can’t cook ahead either. Not every “quick” meal I make is good for me but 95% of them are. I try not to beat myself up for occasional poor choices. Some days (or weeks) can be hard. That’s reality.
I eat a lot of eggs (nature’s perfect protein), healthy fats (coconut oil, avocados, and wild seafood), vegetables (a lot of vegetables – this is half my plate), and grass-fed meats and dairy when they don’t require a second mortgage. I choose organic when I can. I eat fruit but not as much as veggies due to the sugar content.
My sugar addiction is so bad that I’ll go crazy on fruit to fool my body. (They call it a weakness for a reason.) I make my own shakes filled with amazing ingredients that help when I’m in a hurry. I avoid “garbage” foods that come in boxes and bags. If I don’t recognize an ingredient as a real food, I don’t eat it.
If you don’t recognize an ingredient as a real food, don’t eat it.Click To Tweet
I’ll be honest with you, my exercise routine is sporadic. I intend to exercise. I really do. I’ll occasionally do a session of yoga, some deep stretches, or even a walk (if I’m feeling really motivated). It isn’t consistent. It’s never been consistent. I’m working on it.
I learned how to eat healthier to lose weight and I’ve kept it off. I lost 100 pounds in 2 years. Not quick, not dramatic week by week. Every few months, it would suddenly be obvious.
I did that and you can do it, too. One day, one meal at a time.