I used to call my chest “lumpy gravy boobs” post-weight loss. I also turned into a human Shrinky Dink and lost 2 solid inches off my height. And yet I somehow still preserved my big ‘ol birthing hips while looking like the skeleton horde scene from Army of Darkness on top.
If you didn’t know better, you’d assume I went through a traumatic genetic mutation rather than a transformation for the better.
Admittedly, losing 150 pounds came with a long list of unexpected experiences like losing 2 inches in height, empty fat cells that felt like gross little lumps beneath my skin, and losing weight everywhere except in the one place I wanted to.
Those are just some of the physical things that anyone who loses over one hundred pounds experiences. Those aren’t the important things that experts don’t tell you, though.
As someone who’s lived this experience for almost a decade, here are the top 4 important things I see continually ignored by experts in the wellness community when it comes to long-term weight loss success:
Body Positive Dilemma:
Really wanting what you want is a prerequisite to getting it. Feeling so-so about taking on something big like weight loss doesn’t yield long-term results. Weight loss requires a drastic change in your behaviors, and that doesn’t happen unless you want it more than anything else.
We live in a culture now that sends mixed messages about losing weight. It’s politically incorrect and risky to talk about weight loss because the body positivity movement has grown so strong in the last 5-6 years.
While I agree with the overall message the body positivity movement, it can be just as damaging as the airbrushed models from the fitness magazines we aspire to be. Over-simplified messages like, “Love your body the way it is” doesn’t lead a person to make any significant changes to release the heavy load they’ve been carrying.
Believe it or not, just as we are shamed by media that promotes being thin, we are also being shamed by propaganda from the body positive movement that promotes being fat. If you want to lose weight these days, you have to answer 20+ questions about it from your activist body positive friend who doesn’t get it.
Thankfully, I lost my weight on the cusp of the body positive movement and didn’t second guess my decision to lose weight on a regular basis like so many women have to do these days. But I still feel the resistance and judgment when I openly speak about weight loss on social media and in daily interactions with people. I’m constantly asked to edit my weight loss experience out of any message I want to share.
When we have shame about our choices, we question how much we want it and if it’s right for us. Indecision and shame are the thieves of action. If you feel ashamed of wanting to lose weight, you won’t do it. You might find other ways to improve your health and practice self-care, but the 100+ extra pounds you might be carrying around will stay with you. At some point, you have to choose you and what’s right for you, not what anyone else thinks is right for you.
The Blueprint of Bullshit:
What I find much of the time in weight loss and fitness community is the assumption that their audience has already built a base of healthy habits and have a lifestyle that’s conducive to change. That’s a dangerous assumption.
When I stepped into my last weight loss journey, I first had to build the habit of walking to and from work for months before I could feel comfortable taking it to the next level (going to the gym). I had to be in the habit of cooking my meals and packing my lunch for work before I could ever try to cook healthy or do any meal prep.
Yet, many diet, weight loss, and fitness regimes start with this one secret formula that’s supposed to work 100% of the time for 100% of the people. That’s the blueprint of bullshit.
If you’re starting a weight loss journey, you have to be honest with yourself about your current limitations, unhealthy habits, and what you actually can do. You have to start at YOUR beginning and build from that foundation.
So much confusion could be cleared up if all programs, videos, and articles began with: “This is for the person who is x, y and z. If you aren’t that person, this isn’t for you.” But instead, it’s up to the consumer to try and fail.
Instead of approaching weight loss from the framework of “This is what the super fit and successful person is doing, so I’ll do it,” take a moment to consider the obvious: THEY AREN’T YOU.
Chances are really good that you are not an athlete, competing in a bodybuilding contest, or Dancing With The Stars. While it’s nice to admire people who are, you have to keep in mind that their skill and knowledge set came through experiences that were built from the ground up over the course or years (or decades). You can’t hop right into one of their programs and expect to be successful.
But SO MANY women take this route… only to have it last a month or two before they give up for a few weeks and then try the SAME routine over again, like the bird that keeps smacking against the glass door.
If it worked, you’d have your breakthrough and wouldn’t give up after a couple of months. The secret that no one will tell you: You’re allowed to completely change the program to fit you and where you are beginning from. You’re allowed to be creative and alter it like you would if you didn’t have an ingredient for your recipe.
Besides that, it’s far more empowering to create something your own (that actually works for you) than continuing to struggle with a “proven” formula that leaves you feeling like the biggest and stupidest failure of humanity.
I started my last weight loss journey without a diet or workout routine. I did my own thing from my beginning. It worked.
Sacrifice vs. Reward:
Here are the top 3 hardest things I’ve done in my life so far (in order of difficulty to achieve): working for myself as an entrepreneur and making an earning, going back to college after 12 years and doing so well that I earned scholarships, and losing 150 pounds in 11 months.
For some women, losing weight will be the hardest thing they’ll ever do in their entire lives (even more difficult than birthing and raising children). Why is that?
Experts don’t talk much about the mindset you enter into your weight loss journey with and how it will determine how much pressure you put on yourself to be successful. Which also determines how much difficulty and resistance you’ll feel towards it.
Being an entrepreneur is so much more challenging (for me) than losing 150 pounds because the perceived sacrifice and reward are drastically different than what I felt towards losing weight.
When you take on a journey to change the direction of your life in some huge way, it’s important that the stakes aren’t high, that other people aren’t counting on you to follow through, and that you know the result will happen if you just keep going.
What made my last weight loss journey a success was that I did it for myself (not to impress or compete against someone), I knew it was achievable if just kept going, and it was something I deeply wanted. So, I learned to love it and give myself permission to do everything that accompanied the new lifestyle change (including exercising and eating asparagus).
When we think sacrifice is involved, we almost always fall short (no matter what the goal is). Instead of believing you have to give up treasured possessions to get that end result, you have to focus on everything you’re gaining in the experience itself (not just the outcome). The actions flow easier when you appreciate them, know they are making you a more durable person, and contribute to your life on a much bigger level than just losing weight.
Stop talking about hustle, pain, doing it for the after photo, and sweat is fat cell crying. It’s destroying your ability to make lasting change possible for you.
Shift what you think is motivating you to keep going, and the pressure decreases. If you need help with this, click here.
Control and Responsibility:
I’ll admit, I had very little trouble losing weight. Even after years of trying fad diets and energy pills. After years of believing I must have a thyroid problem or some other genetic reason for my weight. But once I committed to the healthier habits and learned small ways to enjoy the process, it came off quickly.
However, keeping the weight off posed far more difficulty, and I found myself slipping into disordered eating behavior and feeling obsessed and controlled by food. I couldn’t figure out why it was so easy for me to lose 150 pounds, yet so hard to maintain once it was achieved. I thought the answer must be in the food I was eating or the exercise I was doing. Maybe sugar was making me think and behave strangely on a biochemical level? Maybe I did too much running and not enough weight lifting to balance out my metabolism?
The humbling truth was that I didn’t know how to handle responsibilities in life without binge eating to comfort myself. Most people behave the same way with their technology, gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, or eating junk. We know it’s not the option that’s going to help us in the long-haul, but it provides a moment of relief from the pressure that’s crushing us.
How you handle your emotions in life determines if you’ll be successful in keeping the weight off or not. What do you do when your long-term boyfriend breaks up with you? What do you do when you’re passed up for a pay raise again? What do you do when your car breaks down on the way to work? You probably comfort in the way that’s most desirable and easiest for you. It’s an instinctual reaction that’s sparked by a belief and translated into an emotion you feel is uncomfortable to live with.
If you want to practice reframing stressful situations and finding the good in them (while letting go of negative emotions), two good questions to ask yourself when the desire to numb out hit are:
How can I be responsible for my life situation right now in a productive and fruitful way?
How is this making me more durable for the life I said I wanted?
One of the biggest teachings that’s lacking in the weight loss industry is emotional intelligence. It’s the ability to be aware of what’s happening to you and the feelings the event causes. Instead of reacting, you choose to acknowledge the feeling and determine a better action to take that isn’t destructive to your wellbeing. This helps you redirect disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to change easier.
You don’t have to be a genius or have an unlimited amount of resources at your fingertips to practice emotional intelligence and get really good at it. But it is a tool you must have if you want to feel in control of your life (even if circumstances are out of your control). If you want to learn how to do this, I offer several guides and resources in the Inspire Transformation Academy.
So, why aren’t the experts speaking to these 4 things? My guess is that many didn’t realize it was an issue because they haven’t lived it before. That’s why I always suggest taking weight loss advice only from someone who’s been in your shoes and knows what you’re going through.
Were you surprised by the 4 things I presented to you in this post? Care to comment on your own experience? Was it different or did I leave something out? Speak your mind in a comment below and let’s have an open discussion about it!
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