Seven years ago, I set out on one of the best adventures of my life. I finally committed to shedding excess weight and getting into the best health of my life after being plus-sized my entire life.

Over the course of a year, I lost 150 pounds. I was half the size I once was, and I’ve been able to maintain this weight loss for the last six years. These days, I truly feel like I hit the weight-loss jackpot. Here are some of the ways that I struck solid gold with my weight-loss journey (and how you can, too):

1. I started out by examining what I was eating on a daily basis.

I’m frequently asked, “How did you get started?” The truth is, I didn’t read a lot of diet and fitness books before I made the decision to start making better choices. I knew there wasn’t a perfect answer or plan.

I started out by examining what I was eating on a daily basis. When I recognized that I was making poor food decisions, I set out to change that. I also started taking walks around my neighborhood with my dog more frequently. My short walks eventually transitioned into getting a gym membership when I realized the walking alone wasn’t motivating enough for me.

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2. I improved my environment and support system.

I ditched my daily television sitcoms and gossip magazine habits that sent intrusive “not good enough” messages to my mind.

I also sought out personal cheerleaders that were on the same path. The less time I spent with negative influences, the more optimistic my outlook became and the more capable I felt.

3. I stepped out of my comfort zone.

Getting a gym membership was one of the scariest moments for me. I was mortified at the thought of being the only 300-pound woman in a gym surrounded by relatively fit people. I didn’t want to be judged.

After I got the gym membership, I quickly realized that no one gave me dirty looks or said anything cruel to me. It was all a worst-case scenario in my head.

4. I learned that a diet wasn’t a set of rules.

I learned to embrace dieting as a way to teach me what kind of foods I enjoyed (and didn’t), what macronutrients are, and what healthy portions looked like. Even after maintaining my weight loss all these years, I never follow a set meal plan or diet perfectly. A diet is a guide, not rigid rules to beat yourself up over.

5. I realized that exercise is not a punishment.

So many people go into a fitness routine as a way of punishing themselves for being overweight or for eating too much junk food. Because I like to feel good, I focus on physical activities that I enjoy.

I spend most of my workouts on long runs (because that’s what I’ve grown to love). I also lift weights, bicycle, go hiking, swim and take fitness classes. But the majority of my exercise comes from something that is sustainable (and pleasurable) for me. Physical activity is a reward.

6. I’ve learned to notice when my stress level is affecting my health (and happiness).

Stress can be our downfall if we let it. My body weight has fluctuated anywhere between five and 30 pounds over the last six years of weight-loss maintenance. In my case, it’s likely due to un-checked stress.

I’ve spent a good deal of time as a full-time student while working a full-time job, volunteer mentoring, transitioning into my new role as a wife, dealing with family tragedies and starting my health coaching business.

Over the years, I’ve learned to notice when my stress level is affecting my health (and happiness). That’s when I ask for help from others. I’m not super woman, and that’s OK.

7. I got crystal clear on my motivations.

From the first day of my weight-loss journey, I made a list of reasons why I wanted to lose weight and keep it off. My motivations for wanting to achieve my goal were very specific and emotional to me.

8. I decided I was worth it.

I spent countless years of my life striving to please someone else. I tried to be the best at things to earn approval.

When I finally understood that it wasn’t selfish to deserve happiness and good health, I could take actions from a place of self-acceptance. I was able to dedicate time to do more workouts, plan my meals, get enough rest and just allow myself to experience life without a set of conditions. I allowed myself to feel like a winner most days.

Photo courtesy of the author


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