The first time I reached my goal weight after struggling with my body for years, I was stoked. I thought to myself, So all it takes is to eat less and exercise like crazy, huh? Sweet. But the excess weight didn’t stay off for very long.
Just over a year later, the circumstances of my life changed — I was sitting at a desk for more than eight hours a day, struggling with stress, and found my motivation to eat healthfully and exercise waning. My weight started to creep back up, and five years later, I found myself back at square one.
I had become one those constant dieters who regains the weight they lost. I knew that something had to change, so I set out to master the habits that I’ve developed to help me lose 22 pounds and keep it off for almost six years now:
1. Don’t view foods as "good" or "bad."
The more I considered certain foods "bad" and cut them out of my diet, the more I craved for and binged on them, leading to feelings of guilt and hopelessness.
Now, instead of categorizing foods as "good" or "bad," I see them as foods that I should eat most of the time or sometimes. This way, nothing is off limits and with portion control, I’m able to keep my cravings in check and my weight constant.
2. Move with purpose.
Exercising consistently made reaching my goal shape and staying there so much easier, thanks to the lean muscle I gained and the boost it gave to my metabolism. My exercise routine consists of three days a week of high-intensity workouts alternated with low-intensity yoga to help my body recover.
3. Find ways to manage your time effectively.
Just like anybody else, I tend to be a procrastinator. Got an email to write? Cool. Right after I’m done with this cat video.
Before I know it, I’ve gone through five videos that have taken up 30 minutes of my time — 30 minutes that I could have spent squeezing a quick workout into my busy day or prepping for my next meal so I wouldn’t have to head to the drive-through.
Having done a review of how I use my time and separated the time wasters from the actual activities that contribute to my productivity and well-being, I now prioritize my time to include the things that I know are good for me first.
4. Tune into your body.
When I feel like eating, the first thing I ask myself is “Am I really hungry, or do I want to eat because I’m stressed, upset, or bored?”
Just being aware of my reason for wanting to eat helps me reduce my chances of eating unnecessarily. If I’m not sure, I ask myself another question: “If all you had in front of you was steamed, unseasoned broccoli, would you still want to eat?” If the answer is no, I do something else that takes my attention away from food and my craving.
5. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
Staying accountable to someone other than myself has played a huge role in my weight-loss success. After all, it can seem easy to let myself down on some days, but letting someone else down? That’s huge.
Having someone else to answer to also helps get me out of my own head and focus my attention on helping someone else get through her workouts or healthy eating habits instead.
6. Treat yourself with kindness.
Giving in to three cupcakes or missing my workout used to make me want to give up on myself altogether. But what I realized is that I will make mistakes and there’s no shame in that. The sooner you acknowledge that and try to get back on track, the less likely you’ll be to fall into a downward spiral.
7. Celebrate the small wins.
While keeping my eye on the big prize helps keep me on track, it can also be discouraging because it seems too far away. So I celebrate the small milestones that I reach, be it eating just one cupcake throughout the day or smashing my workout. The small wins make me want to keep winning.
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