Every year, for many, many years, I would promise myself I’d lose weight. Sometimes I would make a little headway, but mostly I didn’t. Then in 2017, it happened. Like most huge changes, it was actually lots of little choices adding up to something big. Here’s how I did it.
Know Why You Want to Lose Weight
For a very long time, I felt conflicted about wanting to lose weight at all. We get so many confusing messages about how we should feel about our bodies, both positive and negative. I had kind of landed in a place of trying to accept myself wherever I was at, which was good, but it meant I also sometimes felt embarrassed about wanting to change. It’s so personal, but I would say don’t make a decision about how to treat your body based on what other people expect from you. The fact is, my knees hurt and I was often lethargic and sick. I’ve been consistently more energetic, less depressed, and less frequently ill since I began exercising. Changing my diet cured my almost daily heartburn. Being thin isn’t the same thing as being healthy, but in my case, this weight loss was undeniably a benefit to my health.
Commit to Something for 30 Days
At the beginning of 2017, I did the Whole 30. I am not advocating for this diet specifically. I’d originally intended to give up dairy as a New Year’s resolution, but found out a big group of friends were embarking on the Whole 30 journey, and wanted to do something with buds (more on that later). In fact, the Whole 30 is not necessarily a diet that’s even devised to cause weight loss. It eliminates things like sugar, alcohol, and dairy, plus a whole bunch of other delicious stuff.
I did ultimately lose weight, because a lot of the things on the No-No List are my favorite snacks, like cheese puffs and ice cream, but you could easily gain weight on it as well. Neither potatoes nor bacon are outlawed, for instance. And anything with calories can add up to too many calories in a day. But because I was sticking so strictly to the rules, I was hyper aware of my eating choices; though I always ate enough to be full, that’s where I’d stop. This was a big change, because I love overeating.
Weight loss concerns aside, the Whole 30 is extreme, and I’m not necessarily recommending extreme diets. For the vast majority of people, they can’t be sustained for any length of time, and most gain back the weight they lose. If you aren’t being careful, you could potentially make yourself sick. For me, at that time, it worked as a way to change my relationship to food, but I think there are lot of simpler ways to do the same thing. I’m recommending that you choose something and do it every day for 30 days.
In the past, I often made resolutions and gave up too quickly. I’d say, “This is me now! I only eat veggies and protein for dinner, forever! I work out every day, forever!” But forever kept being too long. It felt like a lot of hard work that didn’t immediately produce results. When I was on the Whole 30, I knew it was only for 30 days, so I saw it through—and there was a real turning point that I’d never reached before. My pants fit looser. I started to get better at things at the gym that had seemed impossible before—I could jump rope longer, do deeper lunges, and for the first time, a burpee. These little accomplishments built up and made me want to stick with it even more.
Pick something. A push-up challenge, walking for a half hour a day, a change in your diet. You likely know what it is that needs to change. Sticking with something will show you what you’re capable of and what the results can be. You will want to keep going.