It’s 2020 – did you make a resolution to lose weight?
If you did, you’re not alone.
In various studies on New Year’s Resolutions in 2019, the top three resolutions of US Citizens were: 1) diet or eat healthier; 2) exercise more; and 3) lose weight (inc.com). The only problem is over 2/3 of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions also quit them before the end of January. So what gives? Weight loss is a simple equation, consume less calories than your body burns and you lose weight, right? Well, it’s just not that simple, and if it were, there wouldn’t be a nearly $70 billion weight loss industry, people would lose weight and keep it off, and the US probably wouldn’t have a climbing obesity rate with over two thirds of Americans already considered overweight or obese.
I have struggled with my weight and dieting for over two decades. In my teens and early 20s it was really easy for me to work out and eat whatever I wanted to; however in my late 20’s I went through some major hormonal changes, thanks to prescription drugs, and gained a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. Once I was off of the hormonal drugs, I went to work dieting and working out to lose the weight I put on. In fact I worked out so hard I ruptured a disc in my back and ended up unable to do anything for about a month. After the ruptured disc my back wasn’t the same, and I couldn’t work out the way I used to. I became resigned to the fact that I would never lose the weight and I had zero desire to change my bad eating habits. Turns out, it wasn’t all my fault: the foods I ate were addictive, triggering the pleasure sensors in my brain which made me crave more of them. In short, I was addicted to junk food!
Over the years, I’ve changed my diet, improved my health, and lost weight – without dieting! I’ve learned two important things about dieting that have helped me and I’m happy to pass this along to you. First, what you eat matters more than how much you eat; and second, if you’re focused on weight loss only and not committed to improving your overall health, weight loss will always be a struggle. Let’s talk about each of these separately.
#1: What You Eat Matters More Than How Much You Eat
This was an eye opener to me: all calories are not created equal. 300 calories of beans is going to be more filling than 300 calories of meat. That same 300 calories in fruit will get you an apple, a cup of berries, a carrot, AND an orange; 300 calories at the vending machine will get you a soda or a candy bar or a bag of chips (depending on size). I don’t have to tell you which is better for you – you already know – and you’re going to feel fuller after eating all that fruit versus the vending machine foods…but how do you make the switch to choose something better for your health that will also lead to weight loss? You change your mindset.
#2: If You’re Focused on Weight Loss and Not Your Overall Health, You Will Struggle to Lose Weight Forever
So many people struggle with losing weight because their reason for wanting to shed pounds is not motivation enough to make real lifestyle changes needed in order to maintain a healthy weight. We want our cake (weight loss) and we want to eat it too (the cake, that is). I’ve seen cute memes that say “ nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, and that’s all well and good, but does the idea of being skinny hold a strong enough motivation to keep you from raiding the fridge in a moment of weakness? Didn’t work for me! Is it strong enough to stop you from grabbing another handful of candy, or another bowl of ice cream, or a bag of chips? Maybe for a short time, but eventually, we all fall off the wagon and back into the same old patterns and behaviors that keep us from maintaining our weight loss over the long haul.
Before embarking on any weight loss attempt, ask yourself “why do I want to lose weight?” Is it about seeing the scale move and if so, what does that mean to you, why does it matter? Get crystal clear about this. For me, when I finally made the decision to shed the unwanted pounds after 7 years of being weighed down (literally), it was because I wanted to change my life, not just my size. I was tired of being tired all the time, of adult acne, of chronic back and joint pain, of daily acid reflux, and I didn’t want my health future to be the same as my older relatives. Most importantly, I didn’t want my daughters to lose their mom to a condition that was preventable through making better choices.
You see, once I stopped focusing on dieting for weight loss and started focusing on making better food choices, the weight began to come off. Eating less processed and fast foods and filling up on a variety of plant based foods made all the difference, and my body began to reward me for treating it well. I no longer suffer from the ailments I mentioned earlier – I didn’t know a year free of back pain in my 30’s, but I’ve had 3+ years pain free in my 40’s! After taking reflux medication on and off for 18 years, I haven’t taken one pill for reflux since 2016, and the benefits just keep going!
It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight, but I made changes that have improved my health and the quality of my life and if I can do it, anyone can! I’ve put together my best 5 tips for making real, lasting lifestyle changes – you can download it for free and start improving your health today!