I think most of us have had a moment in our life when we think “I’ve gotta drop some pounds.” It could be when standing on a scale at home or the doctors, it could be putting those pants on you haven’t worn in a while, or it could be that picture somebody just posted on facebook with you in it. Regardless of the circumstances that have led you to that point, you need to address some critical questions.
Weight loss is hard. If it was easy, the fitness industry wouldn’t be such an economic powerhouse, weight loss ‘fads’ wouldn’t gain traction, and I wouldn’t have this blog for accountability after years of not getting healthier. I think part of the reason it is so hard and so many people do not feel they succeed. It is because we do not answer the right questions when we start and therefore set ourselves up for failure. It is important that we figure out the what and whys. It is important that we do not just take everything we hear, but think critically about our body and what we are choosing to do with it.
1)Why do you want to lose weight?
We all can have many reasons for why we want to lose weight. It could be emotional, it could be medical, it could be because society tells us we should. Getting to the root of why you want to lose weight is important so that our weight loss journey can be as good and healthy as possible.
I almost feel like the question “Is it healthy for you to lose weight?” should go along with this question. I say this because we are surrounded by images, voices, soundbites, and forces telling us one thing or another. Most of them tell us we are not good enough and we are too heavy or do not look right.
Therefore, this question is all the more important. Why do you want to lose weight? And really, the rest of the questions addressed can fall under this umbrella.
2)What needs to happen for you to lose weight?
Losing weight is not as simple as many people will make it seem. “Just cut out carbs”, “just consume less than you burn”, “Keto!!”, people will tell you it all. Stop. Take a step back. There is a grain of truth in most all weight loss trends but I would strongly suggest you avoid trends. Stick to the things that are tried and true.
I try to follow a calories in/calories out method. This means that to lose weight I need to consume less than I burn. I do take it farther than this. I try to be conscious about the types of calories I eat. I try to eat more fruits and veggies. I also believe that the age old saying of moderation holds true.
You need to find the method that works right for you, your body, and your personality. Just because Bill or Carol down the street says that drinking green water every day works, doesn’t mean it does. Finding the right method for you means finding the safe method for you. Our bodies are unique and we only get one. So let’s be safe and smart with it. Check in with your doc, and make a plan.
Making the safe plan means you have a road map. If there is anything I have learned over the past months and years, my success comes with sticking to a realistic plan and my backsliding comes from diverting from that plan. Caution, this plan… this safe plan, may be long term. It may not be a quick fix, but something that takes slow and steady dedication for long term returns.
3)What goals are realistic for you to lose weight?
This is where my theme of keeping communication with your doctor becomes all the more important. You need realistic goals, based off of your health, what your body can handle, and based off of your day to day realities. I cannot have the workout routine that Dwayne Johnson has because fitness is part of his brand. I work at a different day job that does not allow for hours of working out a day.
And here is where I would encourage you to think about this differently. For years my goals were to lose X amount of pounds. I never seemed to do it and I never seemed to succeed. Instead of setting goals like that, try to set more realistic goals based around stepping stones.
-My goal is to go for a 20 minute walk 5 days/week for a month
-My goal is to drink X cups of water per day
-My goal is to wait 10 minutes before I put a second serving of food on my plate.
These small goals, based around attainable, daily tasks, add up to long term success. The scale can just play with our heads, but our bodies thrive on success, regardless the magnitude.
4)Who are you doing this for?
Did your boyfriend say he wants you to get fitter? Are you doing this to impress a girl? Are you doing this because your family makes a comment at every holiday gathering? Is it the mirror playing with your head? Who are you doing this for? I would beg you to consider that you should do this for yourself first. If you have answered the first three questions, and still know that a weight loss journey is necessary, do it for you first.
When I first began my weight loss journey, I said I was doing it because of my daughter. Because I want to be a healthy dad, future grandfather, and maybe more. That is still the case. BUT, it is not the driving reason. I am doing this because I recognize the value that is me. I recognize that I am an asset worth investing in heavily because the returns are real and wonderful. When we do this for ourself first, we in turn do it for those around us. Taking care of yourself takes care of your kids, your spouse, your loved ones and friends. But by simply making it about somebody else introduces more opportunity to get sidetracked or distracted.
In closing, I cannot stress enough how important it is to do what is right for you and to do it safely. Do this because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. If you are struggling to love yourself, spend some time, and seek help if necessary, to figure out why you deserve to love yourself. Once you do that, you are ready to change for more of the right reasons.
What I just wrote is all based on my perception and experience. I want to make sure that everybody understands that what works for each of us may be different from others and ultimately, the true answers come from those trained in the medical field. I am merely trying to provoke us with some important thoughts to keep in mind while we also consult our doctors, nutritionists, or dietitians.