First of all, I want to say that I am by no means qualified to give any nutritional or fitness advice. This post is strictly focused on mental barriers that I had to overcome on a very long struggle to lose weight. Losing weight is really, really hard, but I’ve found with the right mindset that it can actually be pretty fun. So here are some of the lessons that helped me the most on my weight loss journey.
1. Loving yourself exactly as you are can be taken a little too literally.
I feel like it’s so taboo these days, especially as a woman, to admit that you’re unhappy with your body. We all do it at one point or another, but any time I have admitted that I didn’t like how I looked, I faced opposition. “Why would you say that?” “You’re so beautiful!” “You look so good!” etc.
But the fact of the matter is, when I looked in the mirror I saw the result of a ridiculously unhealthy lifestyle and it’s impossible to love something you’ve neglected for so long.
I looked exhausted, my clothes didn’t fit (I actually wore the same dress to class for the last few weeks of the semester because nothing else fit), and when I came home for the summer I declined every invitation because I was so embarrassed about how I looked. I got increasingly frustrated at my resistance to want to lose weight and denying that I felt I didn’t look or feel beautiful whatsoever. This was my first problem in addressing my need to get healthy. So recognize that you want to make a change, create your goals, own them, and don’t necessarily tell people about them. Know that it’s okay to be unhappy with where you are as long as you are making a point to change.
2. That being said, it is more important to recognize your worth.
We don’t fight for the things we don’t care about. I had reached a point where I stopped caring about myself. I would eat toast for two out of my three meals a day and then order takeout for dinner. I was probably drinking three nights a week and waking up hungover and miserable to the point where I would sleep until it was time to go out again. I justified my lifestyle by saying that I was young and I should take advantage of that.
But one day I snapped and I saw how much of myself I had lost in my unhealthy lifestyle. I thought of all the lives I had touched and all the lives that had touched me, and I realized that I could have so much more if I simply decided to take care of myself. It wasn’t just about looking a certain way anymore – it was about improving the quality of my life. This was the driving force for me to stick with my goals regardless of how hard it got.
3. Learn to be sober around drunk people.
This is a good lesson regardless of your health status. I didn’t tell my group of friends that I was trying to lose weight, I simply told them I wasn’t drinking anymore. Luckily, I have very supportive friends, so once the initial shock that I was going to be sober wore off, they were all on board. I enjoy dancing, so going to the bars and clubs didn’t change much for me. However, I found myself not going out as much anymore. I started choosing spending one on one time with friends and family over going out. But it is a fun thing to learn how to be sober in these social settings, because you learn a lot about your friends and they’ll appreciate you more for it. At least that’s been the case in my experience.
I do want to mention that I am NOT looking down on the people that do enjoy going out and drinking. No one likes that person. No one looks at the person posting those passive aggressive special snowflake memes about how you’d rather hit the gym than the club or whatever and thinks, “Wow they’re so right. I’m a changed man.” I don’t want to be that person. Don’t be that person.
4. When you stop making it about losing weight, and make it about improving your life, it will all work out seemingly effortlessly.
Initially, I started running to boost my weight loss because it was summer and I was tired of sucking in at the beach. I downloaded one of those couch-to-10K programs and got started. It didn’t take long for me to get addicted. I approached running with the only goal of getting better and seeing how many more miles I could run. Sadly, I sometimes put pressure on myself to the point where it loses its fun a little bit, but overall, running has become so therapeutic for me. I began to realize what my body could do when my mind was on board. I started to love my body naturally and not for how it looked but for what it could do and how it felt. Long gone were the days where I slept through the day and closed myself off. I began to fully appreciate myself and this life and there was nothing more to it than caring for myself.
5. Separate your mind and body.
So this is a sort of weird tactic that I used but I found it very effective. As I said before, we don’t fight for the things that we don’t care about. I had stopped caring about myself, which disappointed me because I know that when I was younger I believed I could do anything. My approach then became to take care of myself as if I was still that little version of myself. I would never tell little me that she was ugly or too big or too pale and then make her eat poor foods and poison her with too much alcohol. I dug deep and found the spirit of that younger me and fought hard to take care of the shell she lived in. Miraculously enough, the girl who believed she could do anything ended up resurfacing.
This is for everyone who believes they can’t make a change or feel that they shouldn’t. You definitely can, and you definitely will, and it will be so worth it. You don’t need to be proud of where you’ve come from to have faith in where you’re going. You just have to know that you are worthy of taking care of yourself and living a life of the highest quality.
You can do it. Just start.