Up until about seven years ago, I was a chronic yo-yo dieter. At my highest, I weighed 300 pounds and stayed at that weight for several years. Over the last six years of maintaining a 125-pound weight loss, I’ve noticed trends in what successful weight loss looks like. You’ll probably be interested to know that most of it isn’t taught in mainstream diet books or fitness programs.
If you’re having doubts about your weight-loss journey, here are some signs that you’re doing great (you just don’t know it yet):
1. You’ve failed a few times already, but you’ve gotten back up.
As any highly successful person will tell you, the road to victory is paved with failure bricks. No one does anything perfectly. Ever. Each time you trip over one of these uneven bricks on your path, you keep getting right back up. Pro tip: Resiliency will take you far on all of life’s adventures — not just weight loss.
2. You know exactly why you want to lose weight, and you always remind yourself.
Motivation used to be something that never stuck around for long. These days, you’ve learned to connect your deep, emotional feelings to the reasons you want to make weight loss long-lasting. Pro tip: Motivation is dependent on emotion.
3. You have goals for yourself, but you’re not so results-driven that you can’t appreciate the journey.
You have that end-result in mind, but you realize it will take time to get there. The big goal is a long way off, so you’ve found small goals to reach in the meantime, and healthy ways to reward your efforts. Pro tip: Being healthy isn’t temporary; it’s a way of living. It’s not over when you reach your goal.
4. You’ve learned the importance that food and physical activity play in your success.
You used to try diet fads and gimmicks, but they never worked. You now know that every time you choose to eat better and increase your physical activity, you feel better. Pro tip: There’s no magic wand to disappear the years of accumulated belly fat.
5. You’ve found an exercise routine that you enjoy doing most days of the week.
It might not be acclaimed for its ability to burn fat fast, but you like your workout. You found something you look forward to (or at least don’t mind doing) every day. Pro tip: When you like what you’re doing, you want more of it.
6. You’re getting away from placing moral labels on foods.
You used to feel bad when you ate junk food, and felt proud of yourself when you ate clean foods. Now, you know that choosing to eat something that isn’t healthy doesn’t mean you’re a bad, unhealthy person. Pro tip: Identifying too much with your food choices can lead to eating disorders.
7. You’ve learned what your food, environmental, and emotional triggers are, and you know when to steer clear.
At first, you allowed yourself to be fooled by the idea that you could keep junk foods in your home and resist the temptation to eat. After much trial and error, you now know when you’re safe to step into forbidden territory and when to retreat to safety. Pro tip: Sometimes you must eliminate before you can moderate.
8. You don’t weigh yourself every day. In fact, you may not even use a scale to track your progress much at all.
You used to feel unstoppable when the scale told you you'd lost 5 pounds in one day, but you beat yourself up the next day for gaining 6 pounds back. Eventually, you came to the realization that you wanted to improve how you felt and looked, not how low that number on the scale could go. Pro tip: The scale digits don’t tell the whole story.
9. You’re not fixated on one perfect way — you’re willing to try new things.
As much as you’d love nothing more than to follow one diet plan perfectly, you’ve never been able to do it. That’s usually when you give up on yourself. Now, you understand that some diet and fitness ideas aren’t right for everyone. You’re open to trying new things, but if it doesn’t work, you toss it out. Pro-tip: An open mind and a willingness to experiment are important.
10. You listen to expert health advice, but you know it’s not the Holy Grail.
Getting overwhelmed by all of the conflicting health and weight-loss information used to feel like a prison. The fear of doing the wrong thing paralyzed you. These days, you still subscribe to health newsletters and read articles, but you’ve learned to sift through the stuff that isn’t important and make the best decision for you. Pro-tip: Not all advice will apply to our lives and journeys, and that’s okay.
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