One year ago today, I started to make changes to my life. Enhancements, one might say. I was tired and in pain all the time. I was overweight. Very overweight. I was the heaviest I’d ever been at 275 pounds, but that was just a symptom of my much deeper issues. I’ve lost weight over and over, and I’ve gained it back over and over because I didn’t realize I would need to change my life forever.
I’ve come a long way in a year. I’m down 35 pounds, but that’s just a symptom of the real change that has happened. To celebrate my weight loss anniversary, I’m starting a new series called 5 Things. The first one is about five things I’ve learned in the last year. Let’s get started.
- Put your habits to work for you. All of my previous weight loss attempts were based on me working harder. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I could build habits to make it less work. Instead of always focusing on drinking water, I could make it a habit to refill my water bottle every time it was empty and sip on it all day without much effort.
- Eat and do what you like. For a long time, I thought I had to force myself to do things I hated in order to be healthy. This is just not true. I didn’t have to give up sugar or run a 5K to lose weight (while these are great for some, they are not the only way to go). If my body is used to sitting all day and eating junk, I can make progress by working out a couple of times a week and replacing some of the junk with some protein and fruits and veggies. Also, picking workouts and healthy foods that I thoroughly enjoyed made it easier to build the habits.
- Constantly adapt. Just because something has worked for me in the first few weeks didn’t mean it would work for me forever. At one point, we made some adjustments in our budget and I couldn’t afford a gym membership. I had been going consistently for a few months, so I had to figure out what I could do at home. For this to be sustainable, I had to learn to roll with the punches. As a bonus, changing this up can be a great way to avoid plateaus.
- Try new things. I like trying new recipes and foods, but sometimes trying new physical activities makes me a little nervous. What if I look ridiculous or hurt myself? For instance, I had always wanted to try boxing. I even got some hand wraps so that I could use the heavy punching bag at the gym, but they sat there unused for way longer than I care to admit. I didn’t want to look stupid. This time around, I promised myself that I would try things like this even if I was scared. So, one day, I walked right up to that punching bag and went to town. Did I feel a little silly? Yes, but I pushed past it. Boxing isn’t necessarily my thing, but I am so glad that I tried it because I’ve done a bunch of cool things since then because of that day.
- This is forever. I am not going to wake up one day and not have to be aware of and intentional about my decisions. Just this morning, I ate three donuts. I avoided them the night before, but for some reason I gave in. I want my changes to be permanent, and that means a lifestyle change and not just a diet. A year may seem like a long time in some ways, but it is just the beginning.