Have you been actively trying to lose weight for months? Do you feel like you are "following all the weight loss rules" and still aren't getting the results you want? Do you seem to be at a standstill?
While I understand the frustration of not being where you want to be, you need to realize first that it is not all about weight. Your weight is a marker of your health, but it is not the only one. While excess weight can be associated with certain health conditions, simply trying to lose weight quickly can be ineffective or even harmful. A better approach might be to focus on behavior change (like exercising, eating more vegetables, getting better quality sleep, stress management, etc.) over just trying to change your physical appearance. When you solely focus on weight loss, you might resort to using dangerous methods of getting there; starvation, very low calorie diets, cutting out specific food groups, purging, extreme exercise, pills, supplements, drinks, powders, legal and illegal drugs, etc. None of those things enhance your health. They might cause you to lose some weight initially but they are definitely NOT helping your body become healthier, give you more energy or prevent/manage diseases.
Improving the quality of your diet and quantity/type of exercise will benefit you whether you lose weight or not. BUT, if done properly, improving diet, getting an appropriate amount of physical activity, getting better quality sleep and managing stress should naturally result in weight loss. Normally, if you aren't seeing any change in your weight/waist, it is because you aren't following the plan like you think you are.
I encourage you to find your "happy weight" which is the weight you are at when you are living the healthiest life that you enjoy - not just aiming to reach a low number you were at once before or have always dreamed of being. The weight loss that may accompany behavior change is just secondary to those behaviors. Your goal should be adding more healthy behaviors into your life vs reaching a specific weight. Your success, self-worth and health are not determined by the numbers on the scale.
If you feel like you have been making great strides with behavior change over the last several months and still haven't seen any changes in your weight, don't give up! Remember all of the other benefits you are getting from these changes other than just a goal to lose weight. A healthy lifestyle can combat or prevent cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes or other diseases, improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, boost your mood, increase your energy, prevent injuries, enhance your mental health, strengthen bones and teeth, improve gut health, enhance memory, give you better quality sleep and even impact the health of your family and those around you who see what you are doing and start changing their behaviors too (plus so much more)!
It can take a while to fix what is on the inside before you see any changes on the outside. There is SO much going on in your body that will happen before you even feel anything and you will feel something long before you physically see any changes. It is a process. That is why extreme dieting doesn't work long-term. It doesn't fix anything.
There is so much that comes into play when we talk about behavior changes. While you might WANT to lose weight, you have to mentally be ready to make changes. You can want something SO bad but if you don't make a plan to actually do something about it and make changes, all it will ever be is a dream. That is how those "magic pills, potions and elixirs" market to people. They reach out to the people who want to lose weight but don't actually want to work for it. You can't fake a healthy lifestyle. You can't fool your body. You have to want it and you have to work for it. That doesn't mean it should feel like a struggle and be really hard. It just means you need to commit to making small changes over time and then don't give up. Once you are mentally ready to change your lifestyle, you can do anything! This is why I emphasize SMALL CHANGES. By implementing one tiny behavior change at a time, you will be able to celebrate those wins and feel victorious. This enhances your self-efficacy (an individual's belief in their innate ability to achieve goals) and motivates you to keep on going! Once those behaviors all start coming together, you will feel the benefits on the inside and eventually will see the changes on the outside.
If you are getting a little frustrated because you aren't seeing the weight change you desire - focus on being consistent, stay mindful while eating, get quality sleep, practice stress-management and make sure you aren't doing anything too extreme (too much exercise/not enough calories/cutting food groups).
One of the biggest problems I see with people who are just trying to lose weight is the cycle of eating as perfect as they can and restricting calories during the week and then overdoing it on the weekend (or when they can't keep up the "perfect" anymore). If you do this you might slow your metabolism, become constipated, have decreased energy which leads to lack of exercise, cortisol levels (stress hormone) increase, and you might binge on certain foods and gain weight when you go back to your normal way of eating. The same goes with exercising too much - overdoing it on exercise leads to inflammation, fatigue, illness, injuries and it raises your cortisol levels (stress hormone). By losing weight quickly through these or other unhealthy methods you will most likely be losing muscle (and water weight) which impacts future weight loss, making it even harder next time. You can't keep up this way of life for long, it is mentally and physically exhausting. If it caused you to lose weight in the beginning you might gain it back (and then some) once you resort back to your normal way of eating/exercising. Again, this is why consistency (doing something you can maintain for life) is key.
When you focus on behavior change instead of weight loss, you will receive all of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle - without the stress on your mind and body! By making small behavior changes that will increase your health slowly over time, you will not feel overwhelmed by any one drastic change (like an extreme diet) and can still enjoy your favorite things in life! You don't have to exercise 24/7, cut out all carbs, count calories or miss out on plans with your friends. The point of changing behaviors slowly is so that you can still live your life!
An example of behavior change would be - incorporating 30 minutes of walking at least 3 times a week, making at least half of your grains whole, adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal and snack, eating mindfully so you know when you are full, going to bed an hour earlier, eating an apple with peanut butter instead of your daily candy bar, meditating when you feel stressed, etc. Whatever it may be, practice, practice, practice and once you get it down to where you no longer think about it, add in another change. Also, keep in mind that this will not be one linear path. There will be ups and downs, setbacks and leaps forward along the way. The important thing is to always keep pushing forward. You can do it!
"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might as well put that passing time to the best possible use." ~Earl Nightingale
It is my mission to empower individuals to lead healthier, happier, more balanced lives by transforming their goals into lifelong sustainable behaviors. If you need help reaching your goals, please contact me today, I would love to work with you!
Interested in this topic? You might enjoy these posts:
5 Reasons Why Diets Don't Work - Lose the diet mindset and focus on a healthy lifestyle
No Time For Your Health? - Make your health a priority
Living Life Balanced - Learn about the 9 dimensions of wellness and that living a balanced life doesn't mean you have to be perfect
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life - How do you become the person you believe that you can be?
Stop Your War with Food - Stop letting food control you; eat good foods to fuel and nourish your body and enjoy life
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I am a food loving, activity seeking health coach who resides in Franklin, TN with my husband and two sweet dogs (Lola & Penny).
I believe everyone should eat balanced and not cut food groups if you don't medically need to. All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Unfortunately, I have to avoid gluten and also limit myself with dairy, so my goal is to provide healthy, gluten-free/dairy-free recipes so EVERYONE can enjoy all foods, even if you do have to cut out certain food groups. My recipes are encouraged for everyone to eat, not just for those with sensitivities/allergies! Most of my recipes can be easily converted by using real dairy and whole-wheat in place of my allergy-free substitutes.
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