Growing up, I was always the biggest girl in class. I wasn’t obese, but I was definitely heavier than all of my friends. I knew I was overweight, but it never really bothered me until my teenage years.
In high school, ripped skinny jeans and colorful neon tops were in and every girl in my class would wear them. Of course, I was never able to follow that trend because I couldn’t find my size at all the popular stores and even if I miraculously did they would look dreadful on me.
So I devised my own coping mechanism of wearing oversized all-black outfits in hopes of hiding all the excess weight and making it “disappear”. That didn’t stop the bullying though, because no matter how hard I tried to hide it, I was still big.
I ended up feeling miserable, unwanted and defeated. So I decided to start my weight-loss journey in my senior year in high school, but it went terribly wrong. Here’s why:
1. Unrealistic Goals
I was just so fed up with being overweight that I had set unrealistic weight-loss goals for myself. I thought that if I starve myself and exercise a lot, I would expedite the process and become skinny in a month or two.
When I couldn’t, I just felt like a failure and gave up on weight-loss entirely. So for months I would follow a new diet for a couple of weeks, jump on the scale and find that my weight hasn’t budged a bit, then feel hopeless and go back to being unhealthy and gain weight.
I can’t say this enough, fad diets don’t work. I tried many diets that give you as little as 700 calories per day, leaving you hungry and tired all day long. One thing they all have in common is that they’re almost guaranteed to make you binge eat and put on weight.
No matter how enthusiastic or motivated you are, your body won’t cope with hunger for long before it starts to rebel and demand food. I remember sticking to those diets for days or even weeks, then all of a sudden I would get irresistible cravings and binge eat for days.
Obviously eating too much isn’t the answer either, it’s what made me overweight in the first place. The key is to consume fewer calories than you burn, but with moderation and without compromising your health.
3. Exercising Too Hard
Let’s be honest, years of junk food, candy, and sitting on the couch all day don’t do your body a favor. I was so out of shape that I would get leg cramps and funny breathing noises when I ran for ten minutes. However, I didn’t listen to my body and I pushed it too hard. Needless to say, I ended up with multiple injuries that left me unable to exercise for months.
4. Magic Pills
At one point, I decided to get professional help, so I turned to nutritionists and dietitians. Unfortunately, some of them weren’t even certified, but I didn’t find out until it was too late.
They gave me all kinds of pills. Pills to curb my appetite, others to boost my metabolism, and some that inhibit fat absorption. Needless to say, they were all useless and some of them gave me horrible side effects.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t seek help, I’m just saying make sure you are going to the right person with the right qualifications to help you.
A Second Wind: Lessons Learned and Moving Forward
As you can see, my first attempt at weight loss was a total failure and I ended up weighing more than I did when I started. I gave up, and I decided to accept the fact that I’m overweight and I probably will be for the rest of my life.
One day, I was weighing myself and I calculated my BMI and found out that I was just shy of obese. That was the moment of truth, I was only 21 and almost obese. All of the bad decisions I’ve made throughout my life suddenly hit me in the face, and I decided that weight-loss was no longer a commodity, it was a need. This time though, I learned how to do it the right way.
1. Healthy Eating Habits are a Lifetime Commitment
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the key to weight loss is proper nutrition. Not for a month or a year, but for a lifetime. Instead of making a huge list of “forbidden foods”, think of ways to incorporate healthier options into your diet.
Make small changes and it will pay off in the long run. Here’s an example of some of the changes I’ve made:
- I keep eating out to a minimum, and I try to eat at home as much as possible. That includes meal prepping to take my healthy meals to work or college.
- I try to replace processed foods with whole foods.
- I don’t deep fry anything anymore. If I’m craving fried chicken, for example, I opt for an air fryer or the oven.
- I limit my intake of sweets and sugar. I also don’t keep them at home anymore. If you don’t have chocolate bars lying around your house, you’re less likely to drive to the grocery store and buy some whenever you have a random craving.
- I replaced soda with lemonade or fruit-infused water.
This is just an example of things you can do, and you should think of changes you can fit into your lifestyle. Not only will it help you control your weight, but it will also help you feel healthier and consequently happier.
Diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer are all linked to bad eating habits. Therefore, better nutrition can help prevent a lot of diseases and improve the quality of life.
2. Tailor Your Workouts for YOU
Because I was out of shape, the only thing I could do is walk. So that’s exactly what I did, I made a commitment to walk for at least 40 minutes a day 5 times per week. When I built some stamina, I started adding in cardio and strength training.
I was never really a gym person though, so I decided to invest in some equipment and workout at home. Once I started working out according to my own fitness level and preferences, I was able to stick to the program and see results.
Another important thing to remember is to take your time. As tempting as it is to rush into workouts and go crazy with the difficulty level, it can lead to very serious injuries.
Instead, start slow and then increase difficulty and intensity as your body grows stronger. There’s no need to rush, and I believe in the saying that weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. In just a few months, you will see changes in your fitness level and body shape.
3. Nobody’s Perfect
We’re humans, and we were never meant to be perfect. You will have off days where you won’t stick to your workout program. You might also ruin your diet in the holiday season because you just can’t get yourself to fight the temptation, and that is perfectly fine. A mistake we often make is slipping into the pit of self-loathing and feeling of inadequacy because we fell off track. This is why a lot of people take one bad day and turn it into a bad month or even a bad year.
However, I learned to make peace with it. So now, whenever I have a bad day I just live with it and go back to my diet as if nothing had happened. This makes all the difference in the long-run. So next time you eat that pizza or indulge in those cookies, don’t beat yourself up about it and carry on with your plan.
Consistency, consistency, and more consistency is the key to getting results. No matter how slow you think you’re going, one year later you’ll be thankful for every little change you’ve made.
Every single good meal and every single workout will contribute to amazing results. Don’t wait for New Year’s eve, your birthday, or even next month to make drastic changes to your lifestyle. Start with making little changes today, and then build upon it in the coming months.
Don’t Give Up!
Every person who has lost weight will tell you different tips about what works and what doesn’t, but these are the basic and most important tips that I think everyone should know. Weight loss is a long and challenging process, but trust me, it’s worth it. Your weight is standing between you and your health and happiness, don’t let it win.
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