Losing weight isn’t easy. It’s actually a long, sometimes painful journey but one that is worth every step.
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A little over 7 years ago, I got up one day and decided I had to lose weight. I was about 50 pounds heavier than I should’ve been, and this had started to take a toll on my body. At 35, my knees where starting to hurt, my blood sugar level was rising, and I couldn’t play with my kids without losing my breath.
So I started eating healthy food, exercising, and drinking more water. And the weight just melted off, right? Wrong.
I eventually lost those 50 pounds, but it took me years. I tried several different health and fitness programs which didn’t work, I hit endless plateaus, I fell off the bandwagon, I got back on, I gained weight again, I lost it again, I had to beat my emotional eating, the list goes on.
But I’m now a changed person. I’m 50 pounds lighter and a thousand times stronger and more confident. It’s been a life-changing process.
If you want to lose weight, congratulations. You’ve made a huge decision! But you must know weight loss is a journey which will take you out on the great unknown. The good news is that if you don’t quit, you’ll change your body as well as your mind. You’ll be unbeatable.
So if you’re ready to embark on your own health and fitness journey, here are a few things you must know.
Painful Truths No One Tells You About Weight Loss
It won’t be easy
Losing weight is not as easy as simply cutting out 500 calories from your daily intake. There’s a lot more to it than that.
Weight loss requires an entire lifestyle change. You have to figure out what and how you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have to start planning and prepping meals. You have to design a new daily routine to find time to exercise. You have to keep track of calories, or reps, or macros, or steps taken, or your water intake.
One of the reasons most people quit their health and fitness program is the overwhelm. Making too many changes at once can be impossible to manage, and this often leads to people crashing into a wall.
Make one or two changes at a time. It’s more managable to concentrate only on a couple of things at most. For example, start with eating a salad everyday and that’s it. Or start by trying to go out for a 30-minute walk or gym session 3 days a week and that’s it.
After a few weeks, you’ll get used to doing that new thing and you can then try to incorporate another healthy habit.
That’s what weight loss is all about, building daily healthy habits.
It’s not straightforward
It’s a good idea to set a achievable goal, like losing a pound a week or losing 20 pounds in 3 months.
However, weight loss doesn’t usually follow a set plan. Your body has some very tough, built-in resistance mechanisms which will drive you crazy and make a mockery of your weight loss goals.
Even if you do everything right and lose several pounds during the first few weeks or months, you’ll eventually come to the point where the scale just won’t budge anymore, or where your weight starts going up again. The horror!
The truth is you will plateau or even gain weight back during the process, but this is to be expected. Weight loss doesn’t happen in a straight, descending line. It’s more like a series of high and low spikes coupled with a few flat lines.
You have to change things regularly. Aim to to mix up your meals and workouts every few weeks. If it starts to feel effortless, then it’s time to up a notch and get out of your comfort zone.
Remember that your body gets used to peforming the same moves, and it also resists your regular efforts at fat loss. You have to keep challenging yourself in order to avoid plateaus and setbacks as much as possible.
So try to stay away from your comfort zone, which leads me to…
It will be uncomfortable
Let’s face it, eating kale is just not appealing when you first try. It’s also not fun to deal with post-workout soreness.
But weight loss will require doing uncomfortable things such as these, and more. Doing things like getting up early to do exercise and cutting out delicious, fatty food, will require a certain level of mental strength and willpower.
Try to make the uncomfortable fun by doing things you like. Instead of running endlessly on the treadmill, sign up for a class. Learn to cook healthy food that tastes good. Give yourself a reward for crushing your goals. After a while, you’ll find yourself looking forward to the challenge.
Learn to love the uncomfortable.
You’ll lose your motivation
They say motivation is like a shower because you need to do it every day, and it’s true. You might start your health and fitness program all happy and motivated, but you won’t always feel that way.
Eventually, you’ll get tired and begin to question why on earth you’re working out at 6 am. That’s when you really have to work hard at motivating yourself, because otherwise you’ll never accomplish your weight loss goals.
When you feel like quitting, think about why you started. Personally, I remind myself I don’t want to get diabetes like my parents and grandparents. The thought of getting sick is what pushes me to get up and work out in the early morning.
Do whatever works for you: set up a wallpaper on your cel phone, stick a picture on your fridge, or listen to motivational podcasts on your way to the office.
Just remember to motivate yourself every step of the way.
Life will get in the way
Life happens, that’s the truth. Sometimes, the circumstances will ruin all your weight loss efforts.
After my sister died, I got depressed and spiraled into a bout of emotional eating. I gained weight again, and it made me feel even more depressed. This was a major setback for me, and I had to figure out a way to get over this.
During your weight loss journey, you might face certain difficult situations which you have no control over. And I don’t mean the day-to-day problems, like not finding time to do your workout. No, that’s just you being disorganized. What I mean is life can hit you hard sometimes, like a sudden illness, death, or unexpected financial or marital problems.
Life will throw you curve balls sometimes, but falling off the bandwagon doesn’t mean all hope is lost. You always have the opportunity to get back on and continue your journey.
Don’t quit. Get help, find support and motivation. You might be forced to put your weight loss program on hold for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Deal with your life, and start again when you’re ready. This too shall pass.
Remember you don’t fail unless you quit.
It will take time
Sorry to tell you this, but despite what all the miracle solution ads will tell you, the pounds will not melt away in a few days or weeks. Your body doesn’t work that way.
Weight loss isn’t something you can accomplish in no time. It will actually take years. In fact, weight loss is considered permanent only when you’re able to keep the weight off for at least 3 or 5 years. Not easy, right?
Let me tell you a little secret. People who lose a huge amount of weight in a relatively short time always gain it back. Besides, if you lose weight too quickly, you might endanger your health, which would be the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. And your skin will sag.
Stop thinking you’ll be able to melt away the pounds in a few months. It just doesn’t happen that way. Instead, start thinking how you’re trying to turn your whole life around.
Stop thinking about weight loss as the ultimate goal and start thinking about a long-term lifestyle change. And you can only accomplish this with time, it won’t happen overnight.
Take your time, as much as you need. Weight loss is not a race.
You have to be willing to fail
During your weight loss journey, you’ll face all sorts of hurdles, and many times you will fail miserably.
You’ll try a new healthy recipe and hate it. You’ll try doing box jumps and fall flat on your face. You won’t meet your weight loss deadline. You’ll hate pilates class. You’ll give in to your craving and eat an entire box of cookies.
Weight loss is a long, complicated journey and it’s full of potholes. You’re bound to make a bunch of mistakes, so get ready to hit one, two, or a hundred walls.
Making mistakes is okay. There’s no shame in doing things wrong.
We all make mistakes, but the point of making mistakes is to learn from them. You’ll learn to cook better, you’ll find a class you like, you’ll become stronger, you’ll do better next time.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. You’ll probably get it wrong the first time, but let’s recap what I said about mixing things up. You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again. Try, fail, and repeat until you find something that works for you.
Which leads me to the next point…
There’s no one-size-fits-all weight loss program
You have to find the process that is best for you. Just because your best friend lost a ton of weight with so-and-so program doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Your body is different, your situation is different, and you’ll probably need a different weight loss program.
The Keto and Paleo diets may be all the rage these days, but perhaps you’ll do better on Weight Watchers. Who knows?
You’ll have to try several different health and fitness programs until you find one that is best for you. In fact, you might have to try different methods on different parts of your weight loss journey.
Again, don’t be afraid to mix things up and change. Find what is best for your mind and your body, and don’t let other people or the media convince you they know your needs better than you.
You’ll need a support network
You can’t lose the weight alone, you’ll need other people to help and support you.
When I started my weight loss journey, I didn’t tell anybody. I suppose I was afraid to fail, so I didn’t want to lose face. But as I progressed, I realized I needed help and support.
I needed my husband to watch the kids while I exercised. I needed my mom to help me learn to cook better. I needed a health coach to get over my year-long plateau.
You can’t keep your weight loss journey to yourself, so don’t even try.
Find your tribe. Join an online community or a real-life support group. Get together with a friend who is also on a weight loss journey. Find a doctor or a nutrition specialist. Go to therapy if you need to.
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to lend a hand.
You’ll need patience and consistency
You’ve been eating salads and going to the gym for a couple of weeks. You step on the scale, and it doesn’t budge. Wait, what?
You want results now! What’s the point of eating salads and going to the gym if nothing is working?
I’ve been there, done that. I know it’s hard to keep up the good work when you have nothing to show for it. But you have to trust the process, you have to give it time to work, you have to give your body time to react.
And you have to be consistent. You can’t expect to lose weight just because you eat an occasional salad. It’s what you do every day that determines your success, not what you do once in a while.
Trust the process. Keep going and don’t stop, even if you think you’re not getting any results.
Take a picture of yourself on the first day of your weight loss journey, and take another picture every two or four weeks. You’ll see the changes, even if the scale isn’t moving.
Keep a journal, and read previous entries once a month. You’ll see how your attitude has changed, how you’ve become more stronger and more confident.
And remember slow progress is still progress. No matter how slow you go, you’re still beating everybody who’s sitting on the couch.
The Truth About Weight Loss
Most people are looking for a quick, effortless way to lose the weight they’ve put on over the years. But the painful truth is losing the pounds and getting rid of the belly fat is not like eating a piece of cake. Reality doesn’t work that way.
Every year, millions of overweight or obese people get fooled into buying “health and fitness” programs which promise to deliver results in no time. They might lose a few pounds at first, but you can bet a million dollars those pounds will reappear just as easily as they melted away. It never fails.
If you want to lose weight, get in shape, and recover your health, you’ll need to take it seriously. It’s certainly not something you can accomplish in a few weeks or months. Most likely, it will take years.
Think about this:
- Weight loss is hard, but it’s not impossible, so stop thinking it’s a hopeless dream. It all depends on you.
- Weight loss is a journey, not a destination, so stop thinking about your goal weight as your finish line. You’ll need to stay healthy and fit afterwards too.
The truth is the journey never ends. You can never stop living the healthy lifestyle, so you might as well learn to enjoy it. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the challenges, and enjoy the place where you are now.
And never quit.
What’s been your greatest challenge when trying to lose weight? Share in the comments!