What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of losing weight? For many people, it’s the idea of just how difficult the task will be. There are many people who won’t even start the journey because they have this idea about the process. They think losing weight has to be painful, boring and awful but it really doesn’t have to be. A few mind and habit tweaks and you’ll feel good the entire time the weight is coming off.
Here are my 8 Steps to Painless Weight Loss:
1. Love who you are right now.
It’s imperative that you love who you are right now and not just who you think you’ll be when you reach your goal weight. I know that’s easier said than done but when we spend precious mental energy on negative thoughts about ourselves, it’s much harder to chose to eat well and take care of ourselves. When you feel badly, you’re more likely to reach for and overindulge in comfort foods, which will lead you to feeling even worse about yourself and the cycle will continue. If you can accept and appreciate who you are right now with any perceived flaws, without judgement, there will be far fewer emotional obstacles that can detour to “Overeating City” on the path to where you want to be. Negative thoughts about yourself are just that, thoughts! And you can choose to think alternative ones. Besides, if you don’t like yourself now, who do you think you’ll be stuck with when you do lose the weight?
2. Eat foods you love and don’t eat the ones you don’t.
If you hate kale, chia seeds or maca, just don’t eat them. There are so many healthy and delicious foods out there that you can eat instead. There’s no reason to suffer and choke down foods that gross you out or whose texture you can’t stand and doing that for too long will actually make your efforts backfire. If you feel like you’ve been depriving yourself because you’ve been living off of cardboard then at some point you’ll just go completely off the rails. It’s much more sensible and less painful to eat foods you do enjoy because you can do it effortlessly. Just because it’s nutritious and popular doesn’t mean you have to jump on board. Hate kale? Try Swiss Chard, Collard Greens or Spinach. No big deal. Love french fries and don’t want to give them up? Try roasting potato, jicama or sweet potato wedges in the oven at home. It’s not the exact same but it will satisfy the craving (especially with a generous pinch of sea salt).
3. Find exercise that feels good to your body and you enjoy doing.
Running is an efficient way to get into shape but running in 10 degree weather seems more like a form of torture than exercise to me. Some people love jumping on an elliptical machine at the gym and doing their 30 minutes every night after work. Others would much rather get their exercise by going to group classes or by doing chores around the house. It doesn’t matter what you chose. The most effective and the healthiest exercise is . . . the one that you do! Getting into an exercise routine is so much easier if you like what you’re doing. If going to the gym is something you just can’t see yourself doing, then don’t join a gym. You can workout in your living room if that’s what you prefer! And don’t forget the importance of having it feel good for your body. I used to love running but after a few too many injuries, my feet just can’t tolerate it anymore. Instead of repeatedly attempting to get back into it, I’ve had to chose other activities that don’t cause pain. This way, I can stay active, instead of spending weeks or months out of commission. If it feels good, it’s going to be so much easier to make it a long term habit that’ll make you look and feel great.
4. Cook more at home.
Who doesn’t love to go out to eat? I know I do! But restaurant meals often have many more calories than the meals you would make at home and the portions are enormous. Restaurants often use far more cheese, butter and oils than you would ever use at home because their goal is to make a super delicious dish that you’ll come back and buy often. One study has even shown that people take in more calories in restaurants when served larger portions. When you cook the food yourself, you can create a similar dish of whatever it is you are craving, in a healthier way because you’re in control of the ingredients and the quantity that you eat. If you eat out 4 or 5 times a week and cut that down to once a week, the saved calories can really add up to effortless weight loss.
Also, cooking at home is a great way to expand your palate. Many of us tend to eat the same foods over and over because it’s what we know but when we take the time to prepare food at home regularly it gives us a chance to be adventurous and experiment with new foods and preparations. This can lead to more enjoyment of our meals so we’re less likely to continue snacking or looking for something to satisfy us.
5. Rethink strict time based goals.
While setting goals is important and can help give us the drive we need to create change, putting too much emphasis on how much time it should take you to lose weight can actually prevent you from being successful. How quickly we lose weight is dependent on many factors, including our age, sex, activity level, medical conditions and even stress levels. There will be times in our lives when losing weight is relatively easy and other times it will be more difficult. While calories in, calories out, works for many people, especially when they first take on a weight loss challenge, it’s not always that simple for everyone, and certainly not forever. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, try to focus on the big picture and work towards your goal day by day. Sometimes you’ll meet time based goals, other times you won’t. If there’s a ton of pressure to reach a time based goal and you push yourself but don’t meet it despite your effort, what happens then? In my experience, people often give up and gain back whatever weight they’ve lost to begin with because they feel not meeting that timeline is failure. If you’re eating well and getting exercise, there is no such thing as failure. Slow and steady wins the race, it’s not just a cliche, it’s the truth!
6. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t make you feel great.
I know you’re thinking you need to save your money and wear whatever clothing you have right now because when you lose all the weight you’re going to have to buy yourself a new wardrobe. It’s true, buying new clothes is very expensive, even when done frugally. But if your closet is filled with clothing that makes you feel terrible (it’s too big, too small, makes you look dumpy etc), when you wear that clothing, you’re going to feel terrible, and when we feel terrible, we’re not always so great at taking care of ourselves, right? Dressing well may seem like superficial, surface stuff, but it’s not superficial if it affects how you feel inside and the choices you’ll make that day. Wear clothing that makes you feel strong, beautiful and confident. If you don’t have any that makes you feel that way, go out and get yourself a few basic pieces that do that you can mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe. I promise you it will be worth the time, money and effort.
7. Accept that there isn’t a quick fix for losing weight.
If there was a magic pill that made weight loss easy, we’d all be taking it. If you want to lose weight safely and keep it off long term, then you need to learn how that’s possible. If you fall for a “quick fix” and it helps you lose the weight, what’s going to help you maintain your new weight loss? It’s a lot easier to do the work and then adapt that once you reach your goal, than it is to speed into your goal and stumble trying to figure out how to stay there. Constantly looking for something that can make us lose weight quickly sets us up for failure – fast weight loss usually is gained back. Why be disappointed over and over? Often, it’s poor habits that result in weight gain in the first place, so it’s important to create new & better habits slowly so that they stay with us for a long time. If you can accept that there isn’t a quick fix and you’re willing to do the work it takes to get there, then you are far more likely to be successful in the long run. And that’s what we really want, isn’t it?
8. Connect with your Why.
Why do you want to lose weight in the first place? Is it motivated from somewhere inside of you? Or is your motivation coming from an external place – such as what someone else thinks of you or wanting to be seen in a bikini? While everyone’s motivation is different, having an internal personal reason for wanting weight loss is usually more powerful than an external motivator. Connect with a deep reason why losing weight is something you desire and you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals.
I hope some of these tips help you to release some of the pain and pressure that we often associate with weight loss. We want to make your weight loss permanent – so we need to connect with things that support us and that we can do indefinitely.
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