I Lost 90 Pounds & Kept It Off For 8 Years. Here's What No One Tells You About Sustained Weight Loss
Weight loss is never easy, and maintaining your weight is a life-long battle. As a less than five foot tall female, my body intended for me to be a petite woman. Uneducated about nutrition, not knowing how to cook, and consuming a lot of fast food ultimately caused my weight to climb to its max of 220 pounds.
I went from a size 20 to a size 6, and have been maintaining it for the last nine years. I started making lifestyle changes, I became educated, and made better food decisions. Here are some lessons I've learned from losing weight helped other aspects of my life. No matter where you are in your journey, whether you want to lose weight or are stuck in a rut, these tips are a great starting point.
1. Have patience.
During my weight loss journey, the weight started coming off rather quickly in the first month. This was because I was obese, and had a lot to lose—my BMI was a whopping 44.4. I made a lot of lifestyle adjustments in the first month, and this gave me the motivation to stay on track.
However, when things start to slow down (as they always do), I started to feel frustrated. You get that overwhelming feeling that nothing is working. Your mind starts triggering negativity, and you feel like you are ready to give up and sing the old song “nothing works.”
My trick for this was looking back on my progress, thinking to myself “I already lost X number of pounds.” Telling myself if I just give up all that fat I worked hard to lose might just come back, and that helped me press on. You need to pep-talk yourself, and be your own cheerleader!
Today, when I am feeling frustrated and impatient with other things in my life, I think of the challenges I have overcame on my weight loss journey. I must realize that some things are not meant to happen fast, and I then dial back my expectations. If you are frustrated about making progress with something (health, wealth, business, etc.) accept that you might not get there as fast as you wanted, but keep chipping away at micro goals. Then it just becomes a matter of time before you get to where you want to be. The important part is to make it sustainable, a measurable amount of progress you can actually make each week is far better than none at all.
2. Celebrate small victories. (Really!)
To lose weight at first, I was on Weight Watchers and attended the meetings for the first several months. At the time when I was going, I was in my early twenties and I was certainly the youngest person in the room. I hope more young people are paying attention to their health now, but during the meetings we would always talk about and celebrate everybody's small victories.
You may look at the scale, and say something like “I’ve only lost one pound.” You should change that mindset and think “a small victory is better than staying where you were, or taking one step back." When it comes to weight loss, it's also important to recognize and reward the non-scale victories, such as taking stock of the healthier foods you've chosen to eat compared to processed foods. Acknowledge that your pants feel a little looser on your body, even if the scale hasn't budged in a while.
I've found this lesson to be particularly helpful at the office. Perhaps you have a day when you feel unproductive, or just had a bad day at work. Think about the things you did achieve. Think about the things that went right, even if they weren't planned. Little things add up to bigger rewards. It’s all about the mindset shift.
3. Moderate mindfully.
In any long weight loss journey, there will be plenty of ups and downs. No one is perfect all the time, and weight gains will happen if you stop paying attention. What has been helpful for me during these situations is becoming more mindful of what I put into my body.
So I do a little "detox." My idea of a detox is not starvation, juicing, or anything extreme. I focus on identifying trigger foods and omitting them from my diet entirely, at least for a while. I am usually a fan of all things in moderation, but for me it is easy for sweet or salty to get out of control. It's good to have this awareness if it happens to you as well. Once I cut the trigger foods out for a solid week, I don’t have strong cravings for them. Then, I can decide from a good place if I’m going to continue without them, or re-introduce them in moderation.
While processed foods can be harmful to your body, other things can be just as damaging to your mental health. Maybe it's time to take a vacation from work, or time to take a social media hiatus. Lately, I have been guilty of too much Netflix, so it's time to do a mindful detox.
4. Food journaling.
Food journaling is a tedious task, but it leads to real results. You would be surprised at how many things you actually consume in a day after writing it down, and looking at it. Mindless or emotional eating are the real culprits behind weight gain, when we feel like we are making healthier eating decisions.
In-fact food journaling plays such a big role on us psychologically that become more mindful and say no, so we don't have to log it. The real reason behind the food choice change is because you took a moment to think if eating that item would be "worth it," and if it's beneficial for your health or not.
I don’t typically food journal since I have been in maintenance mode, but when I'm feeling imbalanced I go back to it. In other cases, journaling can be very therapeutic and its good put an actual pen to paper. I now keep a journal with me to log my thoughts or jot down an important note.
5. Work on your confidence levels.
The truth here is that I always have been and always will be an introvert. However, before losing the weight I was not confident about myself, I had a poor body image, and I would even hide from myself. I would not want pictures taken, and I would even avoid looking in the mirror.
Losing weight literally changed my life. I was able to look at myself in the eye through the mirror and feel good. I was attracting more attention from people and I no longer felt scared to talk to new people. I’m still nervous about approaching others, but that’s just my type B personality at work. It's important to be aware of your natural tendencies, and to understand when they're working for or against you.
Now that I can look back and see how far I came with my weight loss journey, I am not as scared to take on other things that require confidence. I can take on new projects without feeling like I'll fail. I can now speak in front of a group of people, host webinars, and other things that can help my career growth, business growth, and personal development.
Honestly, this list could go on and on. My number one piece of advice: just do it! Do it for yourself. Don’t be scared to commit to a weight loss journey, there are so many valuable lessons to be learned and you'll be so glad you started today. Apply yourself, take things slow, set goals, and with time and patience you'll see the results.