It’s that time of year, the time when we start considering diets that deprive us of foods we enjoy, foods our bodies need, and types of exercise we abhor. I’ve chosen to share this post at this exact time of year for a reason.
I’m here to remind you that it doesn’t have to be that way; we don’t have to choose unhealthy diets or dreaded ways of moving our bodies. It’s okay to be softer with yourself. Here are seven things I wish I had known when I embarked on my journey to lose weight…
(For those who don’t know, I used to weigh over 300 pounds. I lost oodles of weight and have stayed within 35 pounds of the lowest weight I reached for several years now. I also got sick along the way, became less healthy than I was at 300 pounds and have spent the last four years finding a healthy, balanced way to live my life. These statements reflect my experience. Perhaps they will resonate with you and help you be a little kinder to the already awesome person you are.)
1. Eating to lose weight is not synonymous with eating to be healthy.
This time of year, heading into the New Year, is an especially easy time to get sucked into diets that are severely calorie restrictive, diets that eliminate entire nutrient groups, diets that include crazy expensive supplements or powdered meals or prepared foods in a box delivered to your doorstep. Most of these plans are not targeted at health, they are targeted at rapid weight loss. I wish I had focused more on healthy eating and let my weight fall into place naturally instead of worrying about what size jeans I would wear a month later or what the scale said.
2. Exercise doesn’t have to be un-fun.
If you’ve read my story here, you know I was lucky in finding a wonderful women’s gym early on in my weight loss journey and met a kind, understanding trainer there. Through her, I met other women who have become great friends. Working out with those women gave me something to look forward to when I didn’t enjoy the gym environment.
I’ve had my share of bad workout experiences. Creepy old guys staring at me while I’m working out, judge-y women in matchy-matchy workout attire casting a nasty glare my way, group exercise classes where I just didn’t feel welcome. I wish I had known it was ok to not go there. It wasn’t good for my body to feel the additional stress of being in that environment. I would argue with myself, say not so nice things about my body to myself to get there. What I wish I had known was that I could move my body in a way that I enjoyed from the get-go. A long walk counts, belly dancing counts, hula hooping definitely counts, even dance parties in the kitchen count. And what I dig doing today might not be what I enjoy tomorrow. It’s okay to keep changing it up. I make it my goal to move my body 30 minutes a day doing something that I like. It sure does make it easier to keep moving when I’m doing something that I dig! (Right now I dig this A LOT. It’s a workout for mind, body and soul. You can grab a free workout at the link if you wanna try it.)
3. The people who don’t care/make fun of you/disrespect you at your present weight are not going to change because you lose weight.
Those people will find another reason to treat you poorly. It’s never been about your weight and it’s never been about you. It’s about them.
4. Losing weight will not fix all of your problems or make you happy.
If you blame your weight for your unhappiness, I encourage you to step back and look at what is really going on that makes you unhappy. Losing weight won’t fix everything that is wrong in your life. In fact, it could make things worse. And you won’t have the fat to blame for unhappiness anymore. Then who will you blame? I went from having the cloak of fat to blame for everything that was wrong to having nothing but my own self to blame. It was no longer “the fat” but it was ME, I was what was wrong. I wish I had taken time to really look at what was broken, where my unhappy or unsettled feelings came from BEFORE losing weight.
5. Some people in your life are not going to be supportive of your weight loss journey, your fitness journey or your journey to health.
Truth be told, many really don’t care. Be surprised and elated by the ones who do. Some will be threatened by what you are doing. They may try to sabotage your efforts, maybe they worry that you are going to change in a way that doesn’t include them. Not everyone will be your biggest cheerleader. But someone will be your cheerleader, you’ll meet magnificent new people on your path to health and it will be worth it.
6. Eat the food and enjoy it.
I started my weight loss journey eating a boxed, processed food diet that allowed me to add in a whopping two veggies and a serving of fat a day. Rigid! I’ve also done lengthy juice cleanses (I’m talking about weeks, not days here…), severe calorie restriction (500 calories kind of severe), obsessive calorie counting, rules about what foods I could eat when… I wish I had known that I just needed to focus on eating healthy food, figure out which foods feel best to my body and enjoy those foods. I wish I hadn’t spent time looking for a diet with a name, a diet that was trendy, a diet that guaranteed quick weight loss. I feel terrific now that I am eating the What-Works-for-Johnna-Today diet and wish I had known that was an option. If you’ve read this far, now you know this IS an option.
7. Right here, right now, you are enough.
It would have made losing weight and finding a fitness routine that works for me much easier if I had only known that I was already perfectly enough. Regardless of what I weighed or how short the distance was that I was able to walk-run-crawl, I was freakin’ awesome! Smart, vivacious, full of silliness and laughter, beautiful. I was terrific just the way I was. Just like you are terrific just the way you are RIGHT NOW.
Thanks for reading along to the end. I hope I’ve encouraged you to be a bit softer with yourself just as we are about to be inundated with unrealistic diet claims and new years resolution pressure. I want you to know what I wish I had known…and put it to use in your life.
P.S.–Did I mention you are already darn tootin’ amazing right this very minute? It’s true, you are! So go on, find a healthy way to eat and a way to move your body that makes you feel great.