Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Truth About Weight Loss: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Truth
If you’ve been struggling with your weight loss—getting started or staying on track—don’t get discouraged; you’re not alone. Losing weight isn’t easy. It takes a lot of determination and self-motivation. It takes sacrifice and making hard choices that put you outside of your comfort zone. It forces you to look inward and assess why you’re in the shape you’re in—and that’s hard for a lot of people. Because losing weight isn’t easy, not everyone can do it or be successful at it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the obesity rate in America is somewhere between 26-32%, almost one in three Americans. Nearly all dieters (90-95%) regain the weight they lost within one to five years.

It’s a lot easier to stick with your current way of eating and not think about how the food you put into your body is affecting you both mentally and physically. It’s also easier to make excuses for why you aren’t working out. After all, we’re all busy. And when you don’t see results instantly, you throw in the towel without ever giving it your full effort. We’re a culture obsessed with instant gratification, and weight loss isn’t one of them. 

After you can get past all of the things that have been holding you back and decide that you are worth the risk and investment, you can finally set your mind to changing your life for the better by losing the weight and getting in shape. Getting to that point is actually the hard part—not the journey itself (or so I thought). 

My Journey
Two years ago I decided to start making changes in my life and take control of my health and fitness. I had reached a point where I was completely unhappy with the way I looked and felt. I had just had my third baby, and I was carrying around years worth of accumulated baby weight. I knew I had to make changes in order to be a better person for myself and my family.

The Good
The first step I took with my weight loss was deciding when to start my journey. No more excuses and no more putting it off. I had given the start date a lot of thought, and I set a time frame for when I would begin. I planned to start after my daughter’s surgery—around the time school started back—when things at home were calming down. I gave myself full control, rather than jumping in blindly without a plan. I set goals for myself and started out slowly. I also decided to make my journey public as a way to hold myself accountable, encourage others, and gain support along the way. That really helped. 

I dove in head first and had a successful first month—losing five pounds. That first month, I didn’t do anything crazy with my diet or exercise. Instead, I opted to take it one week at a time and cut out bad habits slowly. I stopped drinking sweet tea and started drinking more water. I stopped eating junk food and started introducing healthy alternatives. I started walking and increased my distance each week. 

The second month, I decided to incorporate more exercise and focus more on eating healthy. I chose to try low carb to see how it worked. That month I lost 10 pounds, and I knew I had found what worked for me. Seeing results helped keep me motivated and pushed me to keep meeting my goals. I celebrated every 10 pounds lost, and I challenged myself with new and harder exercises. I started weight lifting and gradually increased the weight and reps over time. I also started to jog and run sprints, as a way to build endurance and keep challenging myself.  

I continued to lose weight at a steady rate. By the end of my first year, I had lost 64 pounds and was down from a size 16 to a size 8 (all without the use of diet pills, fad diets, or gym). I was only seven pounds away from my goal weight of 140 pounds last August. The best part of the entire process was witnessing the success of people I had motivated. Making my journey public was not an easy decision, but it was worth it if I could help just one person. 

The Bad
The flip side to all of the success—what most people never tell you about in regard to their weight loss journey—is the dreaded plateau and falling off the wagon. Losing weight challenges you both physically and mentally. It puts your will to the test and pushes your limits. It even tries to break you. Having a weight loss plateau is just one example. You may be doing everything right and still not seeing the scale move. Sticking with your weight loss can be so challenging at times. This is the point that most people throw in the towel, especially when they are giving it their all and not seeing the results.  

One of my biggest challenges was overcoming my food cravings. I did well staying in control the majority of the time, but when I fell off the wagon, I fell hard. In the beginning, my slip-ups would last a few days, then progressively get longer and longer. Each time it became harder to get back on track. I felt like I was weak for giving in to my cravings, then I felt resentful toward my weight loss because it was depriving me of my favorite foods. When I found intermittent fasting (IF) I found freedom in food that I never had before, but even that success was short-lived.

The Ugly
When I made it to my one year mark and was down 64 pounds, I made a very big mistake. I chose to take a break. This time, it was not a setback or a plateau, it was a conscious decision to stop. I thought I deserved a break from dieting and exercise because I had done so well over the year. I thought I could maintain my weight loss, and that I would still be in control when I was ready to start back up again. Boy, was I wrong, and it has been my biggest regret throughout my weight loss journey.

Starting back is what I struggled with the most. I kept telling myself, “I’ll start back Monday.” Well, when Monday rolled around I would make another excuse. What’s one little donut going to hurt? YOLO! That’s the sort of mindset that opens up a Pandora’s Box of bad choices. I quickly fell back into my old habits of stress eating and being lazy. I let outside factors (e.g. my special needs daughter’s constant illnesses during the Winter) weigh too heavily on me rather than using them as fuel to continue fighting for my weight loss success. 

The weight started creeping back. It was slow at first while I continued to practice IF. I made a New Year’s Resolution to get back on track and start exercising again. But, my heart just wasn’t in it—that was the time I was at my highest stress level (cue the stress eating). At some point, I reached a total state of denial and pretty much gave up on myself. That’s where I’ve been the past few months. I’ve gained back 20 pounds of what I lost. I’ve gone up two dress sizes, and my confidence level continues to plummet. 

Getting back on track
I have become increasingly aware of how quickly I am gaining back the weight, and I know that if I do not intervene at this point I will become another weight loss statistic. I have worked too hard to let myself start back at square one. Ignoring my weight is what got me to 211 pounds, to begin with. It is time I start to make myself a priority again. I’m going to focus on why I wanted to lose weight in the first place. Getting into the right state of mind and making a plan of action will be the key to my success in the months to come. 

August marks my two-year weight loss anniversary. I have decided this month (August 2018) will be my starting point for taking back control. I am going to emulate the actions I took at the very beginning of my journey. Taking things slowly and gradually changing bad habits worked for me back then, and I know they will work for me again. Because I haven’t worked out in months, I will need to take my exercise routine slowly and work myself back up the level I was at before. Exercise is something I have truly missed. I felt so empowered and strong when I was working out, and I had only just begun to tap into my full potential. It is my hope that I can regain that missing piece in my life, as well as finding freedom in food once again through IF.  

If you have struggled with your weight loss or haven’t found the motivation to get started, there’s no better time than the present.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Set obtainable goals and commit to making positive changes in your life. Having a workout buddy or someone you can go through the ups and downs of your journey with will be very beneficial. Reach out to others when you feel like you need a little boost. Anyone who has lost weight or is currently losing weight knows exactly what you’re going through. No one is perfect, but very rarely do people tell you the whole truth about weight loss. The good, the bad, and the ugly are what makes it such a fascinating journey. 


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