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Weight Loss: A Primer

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So I’ve been thinking of doing a Weight Loss 101 post for weeks now, but I’ve had a really hard time getting passionate about calories in/calories out and macronutrient ratios and blah blah blah. Because, really, you can get that kind of information everywhere on the internet. Calorie needs calculators are everywhere. I even have one on my phone.

So here are some things you need to get started (or to keep going!) that you won’t find in your calorie needs calculator.

To preface this, I have to tell you that right now, I am really freaking frustrated with my progress this month. I am working my butt off, and I don’t feel like I have anything to show for it. So yesterday I made a list (I always make lists instead of writing in a journal) of things that I need in order to continue to be successful.

Persistence

If you have nothing else, at least have this.  I think the most successful people in life, not just in weight loss, are the persistent ones.  Look at Abraham Lincoln, who famously failed to get elected to pretty much any office but didn’t give up.  And now he’s one of the highest regarded presidents in US history.  Anything you try, you may end up failing at over and over again.  But keep going!  You’re going to have days where you feel disappointed in yourself.  You’re going to have setbacks.  You’re going to feel like you aren’t making progress.  But if you give up, you don’t give yourself the opportunity to yield the rewards of your work later on.  Which bring us to. . . .

Patience

I struggle with this one.  I’m working really hard right now! I should get to see my results right now!  Sadly, life does not work that way.  And it’s really true what they say, anything worth having is worth waiting for.  You didn’t get into the body you have overnight, and you’re not going to get into the body you want overnight, either.  Give it time.  But don’t give up!

Hard Work

Yes, hard work.  You’re going to have put in a lot of time in the kitchen, and a lot of time sweating it out.  You’re going to have to say no to things you want to eat, and you’re going to have to expect the best of yourself even when you don’t feel like it.  You can have access to all of the best equipment and resources in the world, but it won’t you do any good unless you put in the work.  No one can eat well for you.  No one can go on your run or to your Zumba class for you.  It’s all you.

Trust in the Process

Oh yes.  “The process”.  You have to believe that if you’re creating a calorie deficit and are treating your body right, it’ll get you to where you want to go.  It’s as simple as that.  You have to believe it’s doing something for you, even though some days you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere.  You are.

A Good Attitude

Having a good attitude will help you be so much more successful, simply because you’ll learn to want to be doing what you are doing.  I used to think about what I’d rather be eating, but now I just enjoy what I’m eating for what it is, rather than for what it isn’t (because nothing other than a cheeseburger is a cheeseburger. . . sigh).  And I used to dread going on a run with my boyfriend because he was faster and stronger and fitter than me, which always resulted in me doing extra poorly and becoming a whiny baby.  Now I see that time as an opportunity to run the best that I can and know that we can enjoy doing something together that is good for us, even though I don’t challenge him.  That’s not my role.  It’s my job to be the one who works harder because he’s there with me.  Life is too short not to enjoy what you’re doing.

Mindfulness

This is another thing I’ve always struggled with.  Get to know your body and what it needs and what it’s capable of.  Learn to distinguish between physical hunger and an emotional craving (quick check: are you hungry from the shoulders up–your mouth? or from the shoulders down–your stomach?)  Learn to pay attention to the feeling in your body that says: I don’t feel like working out today.  And learn to throw that feeling out the window and suck it up and do it anyway.  When you know the difference between hunger and a craving, and between genuine physical exhaustion (which you don’t really get very often, I promise.  We’re talking like. . semi-annually) and just not feeling like it, you know how to move forward in the best way possible.

Discipline

Make a plan and stick to it.  That means scheduling in your workouts and not compromising them, no matter what.  That means sticking to your meal plans and your healthy habits.  When you have discipline, these things become automatic and you’re less likely to get off track.  I work out right after work every day.  It’s just what I do.  I don’t eat any sugar on weekdays, and I know that.  So when someone pulls out the cookies at work, I don’t have to sit there and think about whether I want them or not.  That decision has already been made, that habit has already been implemented.

Sacrifice

You’re going to have to give up things you want.  Period.  I’m sorry, but you can’t have it all.  Figure out what you want more and give up the things that are standing in your way.

Adequate Sleep

Everything else on this list is a lot easier when you’ve had enough sleep.  You feel better.  Your body works better.  You’re happier.  Do not overlook this.  Experts say you need at least seven hours a night.  Bare minimum.  This goes back to sacrifice.  You’re probably going to have to give up some things to get enough sleep, but what you get back is worth it.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  But it’s a start.  So, when you’re collecting all your resources to accomplish your goals, don’t forget that all of the workout programs and personal trainers and diet books in the world can’t make you successful.  Only you can do that.  You’re the only thing standing in between who you are now and who you want to be.

Get moving.

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