I stood there staring into the bathroom mirror with my mouth agape. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was 23 years old; I was supposed to be young, vibrant and healthy. But in less than a year, my weight had shot up by 75 pounds, my waist was more than 44 inches.
I had always been in very good shape, but depression, anxiety, and fitness burn-out had gotten the better of me. I was eating too much food and exercising too little — a recipe for exactly what I was staring at in the mirror.
The love handles, the stretch marks, the cellulite…Whose body was this?
Standing there I felt a myriad of emotions: anger, disappointment, regret, fear, anxiety, and self-loathing. I felt like I was “less than enough” on the inside, and “too much” on the outside. At first I was scared, claustrophobic, and overwhelmed. However I quickly turned those negative feelings into motivation. I did so by using a set of fail-proof guidelines.
Here are the simple rules I followed to lose 75 pounds in just over a year. Give them a try and begin your own weight-loss transformation!
While I didn’t start counting every calorie or cut out any major food groups, I did start paying attention to what I put into my body.
1. I accepted myself in this moment.
When I first began my weight-loss journey I did not like the look and feel of my body. In fact, it felt like a prison. As the pounds piled on, the walls of this prison grew thicker. My blood pressure was high, I was winded carrying the groceries up one flight of stairs, and my joints were starting to ache. I was also very dissatisfied with the look of my body.
However I didn’t let that get me down. I simply accepted where I was and decided to take it from there.
I didn’t project my happiness into the future; I stayed content in the now. Accepting (and loving) yourself in the present is one of the biggest keys to making your journey to a better body both enjoyable and successful.
2. I visualized what I wanted to achieve.
I wanted to be trim and athletic — so I set aside specific times (usually before I drifted off to sleep at night) to visualize myself with the body I desired. I would see myself walking on the beach in my swimsuit without embarrassment, or I would imagine going to an event in a form-fitting shirt.
Picturing how you want something to be is the first step towards creating it, and it also inspires you to get up and do what’s necessary to achieve your goals. Find a vision that is strong enough to “pull” you towards your goals and you won’t have to use the strain of willpower to move forward.
3. I took control of my diet.
While I didn’t start counting every calorie or cut out any major food groups, I did start paying attention to what I put into my body. I began making healthier choices and replaced much of the junk food I was eating with healthier alternatives.
I searched the Internet for lower calorie versions of the foods I already loved (potato wedges anyone?) and began experimenting with different recipes. Soon I had a ton of options from my healthy tacos or chocolate no bake-cookie oatmeal. My daily menu is now wholesome and satisfying, thanks to a bit of research and experimentation.
4. I kept a minimalist approach to working out.
I didn’t overwhelm myself with hours in the gym; I stuck to a very basic and minimalist training program. I did resistance training three times a week, and walked my dog in the park a few days a week.
Later in the process, as my weight came down, I started jogging to up the intensity. By working out a reasonable amount I was able to stick to the plan without feeling burnt out.
5. I was patient.
If the scale stuck on a certain number for more than a week I would add in just a bit more cardio or lower my food intake. If I felt tired, I would realize that this process was a marathon, not a sprint — and I would take a guilt-free rest day.
I kept my ego out of the equation, and if things stalled I would make a single change and work from there. By the end of the journey I had made and corrected several mistakes, but because I didn’t beat myself up over them I still arrived at my goal.
It was a wonderful feeling to finally arrive at my goal and to be back in top shape, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the journey to get there was littered with challenges. Mistakes, binges, skipped workouts, even times when I felt like throwing in the towel.
These are all real and all a part of the journey to a better you. Expect the challenges and you will be ready for them. It’s been 12 years since I made my ultimate transformation, and there have been a few stumbles and setbacks over that time, but I always come back to these five simple rules.
So what are you waiting for? Implement these rules today and take the first step on the journey to a new you!
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Photo courtesy of the author, depicting the second part of his weight loss, from 186 pounds to 148 pounds
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