How did I do this?

Yesterday, a friend emailed me and asked, “How did you lose the weight?” and if I had any advice. She also deals with chronic illness and pain issues. I can honestly say that no, I don’t have any advice. All I let anyone know is what I do and what works for me. So, here it is. Love, Patience, and Consistency. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The first thing I learned is, “You can’t hate yourself into someone you love.” I believe this is true. You have to love yourself unconditionally to make the lasting changes needed to get yourself healthy. Loving yourself also means accepting and loving your flaws as well as your strengths. I am not just talking about physical flaws; I also mean mental, emotional, and personality flaws. All of this comes from your past, all of the good things and the bad stuff. We develop our habits and reactions based on our experiences–and our coping strategies. So, to break out of unhealthy coping strategies, we have to come to terms with our past. And we need to go to making changes out of love for ourselves.

This is something upon which I continue to work. I am working on improvements in all areas of my life. I finally can say, “I love myself.” All of me. I am making the changes in my life because I love myself–not because I hate my body or my life. I love myself, and I want to make me and my life better. And yes, this also means I love my chronic illnesses. They are a part of me. It isn’t because my body hates me. Sometimes, things are because they are. And the acceptance of I am is essential in my life changes.

You need to be patient with yourself. First and foremost, stop thinking terms of time frames. Welcome to the long game. You are changing the habits of a lifetime with new habits. And if anyone says to you that it takes 28 days to create or change a habit, they are lying. Changing patterns of a lifetime is a constant effort. It means changes how you think and being conscious of when you are reverting to less than healthy habits. It also means counteracting negative self-talk. When I hear myself trash-talking myself, I stop the thought process by saying to myself, “Stop. This is not helpful.” then I correct myself with something positive. Most of my negative thinking is around my self-worth and capabilities (intellectual and physical). I am working on that daily. I am getting better about it.

Also, you will not be perfect in your efforts. This is okay. Welcome to the human race. What matters is being consistent. If you make a choice that isn’t healthy, it is okay. Life is not worth living if you can’t have a treat occasionally. But the thing is to get back to making healthy choices. You also have to learn what works for you. Despite my best intentions, I can’t cook every day. My exhaustion gets the better of me, and I have to figure something out. And yes, I do resort to fast food occasionally, but I try to make better choices. I also cook food in large batches and eat on it. A friend turned me on to Foodie Fit. I can get healthy prepared meals. As you can tell from the lack of new recipes on that page, I have been having exhaustion issues and not cooking much.

So, here are the tips and tricks (habits) I am incorporating into my life.

Start small. Don’t try to make all the changes at once. People can rarely sustain radical changes. Choose 1 or 2 and get comfortable with those changes. Then make another.

Stay within your calorie goal. There are apps that will determine your calorie goal. Many are free. Some you pay. I have used three, My Fitness Pal, Fitbit, and Noom. My preference is My Fitness Pal. It is pretty accurate and has an extensive database. Noom also categorizes food as green, yellow, and red. Green–go for it, yellow–moderation, and red are sometimes foods. Noom also has articles to read daily, which helps you to make changes. The downside to Noom is that it is expensive. Fitbit links with both My Fitness Pal and Noom. So you can get increased calories to your daily total based on your activity.
* Log everything you put into your mouth into the app.
* Measure everything. You will be surprised how much we overeat because we don’t know what a serving is.
* Don’t eat under 1,000 calories. This should only be done under a doctor’s supervision. Eating too few calories can lead to muscle loss and cause other issues.
* Eat foods of all colors.
* Find ways to eat what you love. Sometimes that means finding healthy substitutes.

Eat nutrient-dense food: fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat meat, and low-fat dairy in its most natural form. Eat as little processed food as possible. However, remember that there are no bad foods–just better choices. No guilt. No regrets. Just stay within your calorie goals.

Drink water like you are getting paid. Drinking water will flush out your system and prevent water retention. It also helps with your digestion.

Get active. You don’t have to exercise. Just move and start small. I walk. I started by walking a half a block, then a full block, then two blocks, and now 3-5 miles depending on the day. Decide what you want to so. And do it–regularly.

Document your progress. It will help when your body goes through adjustment periods or you are feeling down on yourself.

Find ways to treat yourself that don’t involve food. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or any money. Find ways to feed your soul and make you feel good. Me, I love cheap trinkets.

Give away your clothes that are too large. If your clothes start getting tight, it is a sign to start looking at your habits.

Finally, weigh yourself daily. There are two schools of thought, daily or weekly. It natural for your weight to fluctuate daily. It is okay. Yesterday, I was down to 259 today, 261 (again). For me, it is a reminder that I am getting healthier. It is part of the building the habits. Those who say weekly say that you can’t really see changes and the fluctuation is depressing. For me, it is easy for me to slide back into bad habits.

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