Lose That Weight And Keep It Off For Good
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – Jenna Wolfe
As a kid, I suffered from weight issues. Things did not get easier with me feeling like a misfit throughout my school years. Not only was I bullied for my weight, but also for the fact that I grew up in a town away from my homeland, that spoke a totally different language and followed a totally different culture. Back in the 1990s, it was not too common for families to migrate from North to South India. So sometimes we would be looked upon as outsiders who basically belonged to nowhere. To add to my own misery, I was a complete introvert with little or no interest for any human connection whatsoever.
The universal truth still remains that we are all social creatures and we all need friends. With the exception of two or three kids here and there throughout my school life, my best friends were mostly pastas, rice, breads and any carb you could possibly find on Earth with the exception of sugar (Thank God!). This friendship did not help me through my teenage years as I kept piling on more and more mass around me. Since I had taken no effort whatsoever to be friendly with most of my classmates, bullying just got worse. Although I could care less and usually just ignored them, on one such occasion it got to me and something snapped. I decided to take matters in my own hands and lose as much weight as possible based on the limited knowledge I had acquired living 13 years of my life.
What happened next would turn out to be one of the important lessons of my life, and I had to learn the painful way. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. After years of failing miserably and trying to do every possible remedy under the sun to get a fit body, I did find an exact formula that not only helped me reduce my weight but also kept it under control for the rest of my life. What I followed stuck with me throughout my pregnancy and the hypothyroidism that I contracted because of it.
What am I about to share is not any guide that offers the exact formula for diet and exercise. For one thing it is not one size fits all. There are plenty of diet and exercise programs you can find all over the net. These lessons are what I learned over the course of several years that could fit anyone who has problem losing weight. They address some of the popular myths that do not work, as well as includes certain mind shift concepts that can help accelerate the process and the keep the extra weight off for good.
Calories in do not equal calories out
If someone out there still believes in the age old concept that they would lose weight by eating less irrespective of what goes in or crash diet their way in to a dress for a certain celebration, take it from my experience that it does do more harm than good. As an early teenager when I decided to lose weight that’s exactly what I did, and I took it to the very extreme. Because my desperation to lose as fast as possible, I ate the bare minimum to survive for the day. Don’t get me wrong, you do lose weight by not eating. That’s how I went down from 50 Kgs to 30 Kgs in the matter of 45 days.
But here is what you gain: I gained brittle bones, sunken eyes and a skeletal image that would have worked perfectly if it was Halloween but in real life it looked worse than my overweight self. It got my parents really worried and they took me to doctor who diagnosed me with Anorexia Nervosa. I had never heard of that name before and it almost sounded like a name of a fancy coffee shop. Around the same time I came to know that it was something Princess Diana had been suffering with. Amidst all the disappointment, I did feel secretly happy about being related to royalty in someway.
But that would not make up for what the doctor told me next.
He told me a story of a woman who went through the same stuff and her bones became so weak that one day she fell off the bed and broke her bones. I do not know if he was making it all up but what I knew was it scared the hell out of me. It did get to me back to normal eating but in a controlled way. However, I gained all the weight back and some more along with the sunken eyes and weak bones that would stay for a long time.
I know too many people who struggle with weight and most of them actually eat quite less. Although in a very short term starving your self might feel like you are losing weight. A large part of that is your water weight and you gain back all of this and more once you return to normal eating. When we eat less, we our body’s metabolic rate slows down. This translates to burning the calories at a much slower pace than before to keep the energy intact. After we return to normal eating, the slow metabolic rate continues for a while and so we end up putting more weight that the weight we started with! which is why..
Short term diet plans do not work
The diet industry out there comes out with different plans and schemes making use of the market vulnerability. I have had the opportunity to see so many people trying those FAD diet plans to lose weight fast. Take the 7 days GM diet for example that claims to lose up to 15 pounds in just a week. Not too long ago it was so popular that people all around me were following it. It intrigued me to wait and notice the effects of it, although I was sure of the end result. I saw at least 6 people practicing it rigorously, and yes they did lose weight. However, 2 months later they regained all of it and more. You see those who believe that a 7 or 14 days diet will magically take layers of fat away for once and for all do not understand that if that was the case, we wouldn’t have an issue with obesity in the first place. If those plans really worked , why wouldn’t everyone follow it and stay in shape? After all 7-14 days was a very small price to pay for that. So what is that would really work in the long term. Losing weight and keeping it off for good is not something can be achieved overnight. It would have to be a ..
After years of trying different exercises and diets, I realized that although sticking to a certain diet plan like a Keto or a paleo diet was a good idea but again if this is not something you can practice for a long term, it probably is not worth it. I love food and I had to come up with a plan that didn’t feel like I was sacrificing my taste buds for the sake of looking fit.
We are all different and so are our likes and bodies. I did a little research on nutrition and fitness and found out that our body needs a certain proportion of fat, proteins and carbs. As long as we maintain that and eat within limits making sure we exercise daily, it should help (unless there is an underlying medical issue going on ). In my case, I loved carbs and I noticed that I was hardly eating any proteins. I started small as I would suggest that to anyone first starting out and slowly reduced the amount of carbs, making sure that I eat proteins instead. That being said I never gave up on my taste buds because frankly if you ask me to exchange my breakfast for an oatmeal, I would puke. At the same time, if I am used to eating eggs and toast, I made sure that I reduced my toast intake (or eliminate it for sometime) and increased my proteins intake by adding more eggs. Coming from India, there was no way I would trade a flavorful spicy meal with bland flavorless food because I knew that it couldn’t be maintained in the long term.
However, eating variety helps. To me it meant trying out different recipes from different countries. When we decide our diet plan and remove something entirely, it hardly works — especially if it’s something that you love eating. But minimizing it does. Eating that pizza slice in moderation once a week would not hamper your weight. That’s why most people have a cheat day. Sugar, however, can be a real culprit and although I never had any weakness for it, I know that majority out there have a sweet tooth. The problem with sugar is it’s addictive so it’s harder to give it up. I am not the best person to talk to on how it can be eliminated, but I know switching the artificial sugar with natural sugar in the form of fruits can only help.
With exercises, if you are just starting out find something you enjoy. I enjoyed dancing so that’s what I started out with and slowly incorporated weights, HIIT and yoga to my routine. I knew that aerobics is something I do not enjoy so I steered away from it. Find your happy place (be it sports or even walking) and start with that because it would encourage you to follow the routine consistently making sure you invest at least 3 hours a week in your exercises — something that’s very important given the sedentary life style we follow. Remember it’s a lifelong commitment so its important you pick up something that you enjoy because:
“You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey
Your mind is way more powerful than you think
Remember those new year resolutions that we sometimes make telling ourselves we would stop eating something starting Jan 1st? We all know how long those last. Avoiding negative self talk is important. Telling your self that “Ill eat healthier and stay fit” works out much better than telling” I will avoid sugar”. Our subconscious mind deletes the word “avoid” and the only thing that stays is SUGAR which makes you want to reach for more. Most importantly don’t attach yourself to the outcome. Its important to move towards your goal but its also important to be happy in the now.
Instead, follow the concept of Identity Shift. This has hugely helped me when I still wanted to maintain a healthy and fit body despite having various hormonal issues. An Identity Shift is choosing to change the current identity because you want to become a new person and experience a new life. Here is how it works when it comes to weight loss: Many people who want to lose weight focus on the outcome. An outcome could be something like losing 5 Kgs in a month. But when you focus on the outcome there are still going to be days when you struggle to go to the gym or eat right. There are others who focus on the process. “I will go to the gym 5 days a week”. When you focus on the process, you still might struggle to show up for exercise some days. However, when you think that you have an energy and body of an athlete, you have no choice but to show up to maintain that image. This is an Identity Shift.
Although it requires some practice, the effects of it stay with you long term. I’ve been struggling from hormonal issues most of my life, and after childbirth my hypothyroid made it quite challenging to get back in to shape. Although in no way was I overweight, I still was not in my best shape despite eating right and doing regular exercise. As soon as I learned about Identity shift and imagined my self as fit and strong, not only did I get to my ideal weight, I was able to negate any negative effects due to hormones in the past 5 years. As I practiced it regularly, I felt something shift internally. I no longer craved unhealthy food and most days I would show up for a workout because I felt I had an image to maintain. The Identity Shifts create the best behavioral shifts. When you shift your identity , the world shifts with you and in a way you ‘Bend Reality’.
Losing weight permanently is just not about eating right and doing your workout, a lot of it has to do with our attitude and mindset. What we tell ourselves and how we show up makes a world of difference. This is something that took me over a decade to learn and master but I am glad it finally worked.
Hopefully, this has given you some pointers about changes you could incorporate in your life right away to not only lose weight but keep it off for good!
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