Forget the latest diet and fitness trends. Tune into your body for the answers to sustainable weight loss.
When I was in my dieting heyday, I was obsessed with all-things weight loss.
I counted calories religiously, weighed myself daily, and, honestly, 87 percent of my thoughts were about food and my body.
It was exhausting, and you want to know the worst part? My results were negligible. It seemed like I was always taking one step forward and two steps backward — and did I mention that I was starving all the time?
I finally reached the point where I had to get real with myself and ask some serious questions:
“Girl, what are you doing? This is no way to live. It’s not fun nor is it sustainable! There has to be another way. Let’s figure out what exactly that is.”
Luckily, I figured it out. And you know what? What I figured out is not rocket science even though it felt like it at the time. It’s just different than what we’re typically taught is the answer to our dream-body prayers.
Here’s the four step magic formula (that’s really not so magic) that has allowed me to maintain my health, ideal body weight, and allowed me to stop obsessing over my weight for the past seven years.
1. It’s All About YOU
In order for weight loss (or any health goal) to be sustainable, it has to be something that you can realistically keep up. I know that may seem obvious, but we tend to not take this into consideration when we attempt super low-calorie diets or extreme workout regimens.
Choosing balance over “all or nothing” thinking is a shift in perspective. Creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle means understanding that “getting there” is not a race. And following a plan that causes you to binge every weekend or think about food constantly is not healthy nor is it sustainable either.
We are taught this when we are little, but then somewhere along the way we forget — slow and steady wins the race.
Forget the latest diet and fitness trends, and tune into your body for the answers to sustainability.
Find some quiet time and ask yourself some important questions, such as:
- What types of foods seem to do best in my body?
- What style of working out do I really enjoy?
- What are my three food non-negotiables, and how can I incorporate healthy versions of them into my daily/weekly food lifestyle?
Write the answers to these questions in your journal and begin to make the necessary changes to create the food and fitness lifestyle that is the perfect fit for you.
Baby steps practiced consistently over time add up to long-term sustainable change.
2. Reflection and Adjustment
Here’s the second part that is not rocket science, but typically is hard to implement. Why? I think because we’re all so used to believing we need a list or strict plan to follow, and when we’re left to our own devices, we freak out a bit.
In order to master sustainability, you have to pay attention and tune inward.
Awareness is a key component because in order to create a lifestyle that works for you, you have to know what does and doesn’t work for you.
If you aren’t aware you are doing something, then how the heck can you change it?
As my friend and business adviser, Greg Hartle, says, “Act. Analyze. Adjust.”
Start making notes each night of what food, fitness, and lifestyle choices worked best for you that day.
- What choices helped you to feel your best and were energizing?
- What choices caused you to feel depleted?
Then ask yourself why they made you feel energized or depleted. Make adjustments as necessary so that tomorrow or next time, you will act in a way that aligns with how you want to feel on a daily basis.
It takes time, effort, and focus, but by paying attention to what works for you and what doesn’t, you can continue to refine your lifestyle until it is a perfect fit for your preferences, as well as your health and your ideal body weight.
Before long, this way of thinking becomes natural. It’s no longer something you have to do, but rather it becomes a part of who you are.
3. Give Yourself Permission
A lot of people (especially women) have trouble giving themselves permission to make mistakes. Listen, just like anything, this is a process.
You don’t decide that you want to learn a new language, take one class, and then expect yourself to be fluent, do you? No. You expect it to take time and practice. So expect the same for yourself with this.
Why are we so hard on ourselves when it comes to our body? We expect perfection and we set standards so high that no one could measure up to them.
I, for one, am done with trying to be superwoman!
There are many reasons why we do this. The foundation stems back to limiting beliefs we’ve picked up throughout our life, which is a topic for another day. For now, know this:
You deserve to — and can — have “the body of your dreams,” in whatever way that means for you. I am here to tell you that you aren’t going to get there through struggle and strife.
You get there (and sustain it) through nourishment, self-love, and self-care.
Take some time to journal about possible limiting beliefs and behaviors that you may currently have. Then, once you have a list, revise it with new, more empowering beliefs and behaviors.
4. Science-Based + Spiritual Approach
In order to create a long-term, sustainable, healthy lifestyle, I had to let go of chasing the latest and greatest diet plans, eat-this-not-that lists, and must-do fitness routines, and replace those reading habits with reading that was more inwardly satisfying.
Meaning, I had to stop trying to measure up. Instead, I focused on teaching myself how to take really good care of myself mentally, as well as learning how to best support and nourish my body so that it can work like the amazing machine that it is.
The human body is an amazing machine, and oftentimes we give it far too little credit.
I’m all about the woo-woo and spirituality, but I also like to have the science to back it up when it comes to health. In order to heal myself physically and emotionally, I began reading books that answered a lot of the questions I had about what was holding me back from achieving and maintaining the results I wanted to achieve.
If you find yourself reading a lot of fear-based news and health information, stop! Take a break and begin looking for alternatives that show you the way to achieving what you really want — long-term sustainability in weight maintenance.
Although you may think that what you are reading is helping, if it has you all twisted up in a knot, confused, feeling like you just can’t ever get it right, or like you’re always falling off the wagon, I encourage you to try something different.
Some of my favorite books that helped me to discover this sustainable lifestyle of health and my ideal body weight were:
- The Slow Down Diet by Marc David
- The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
- The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover
By following these four steps, I was able to totally change my relationship with food and my body. It wasn’t an overnight process, but it was so worth it. And I know that if I can do it, you can too.