Time for some real talk. For those of you that didn’t know me in 2011, you may not know that I gained over 30 lbs (14 kgs) that year. No, I wasn’t sick or pregnant, and so the weight gain both shocked and upset me. “How could this happen?” “What’s wrong with me?” I berated myself with a bunch of questions that were ultimately fruitless.
The truth was, I had just moved back from Australia (where I was pretty active), gotten my first full-time desk job, and “settled down” with my boyfriend. We loved to order pizza, play video games, and drink too much (usually hard alcohol with sugary mixers). In fact, we enjoyed this so much that it became almost a nightly habit. The only activity I did was a light boot camp once a week, which definitely wasn’t enough to offset my newly formed habits. Buying my first car also made things worse, as I had been used to taking public transit and walking everywhere in high school and university.
I think a lot of people can relate to “growing up”, becoming sedentary, and indulging in treats more frequently - especially when your job stresses you out. I could write an entire book on that topic, but right now I want to get into how I lost the 30+ lbs, and - for the first time in my life - started to love my body. (Just because I was thin in high school doesn’t mean I liked my body or myself.)
In this case, because my habits were so unhealthy (drinking and overeating almost every night), I had to really assess my life as a whole, and not just the weight I had gained. While my boyfriend at the time was a great guy, we knew we were both bringing out the worst in each other and decided to part ways. As I worked through the grief of the breakup, I also worked off the pounds.
If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I recommend the following tips for health and weight loss:
- find an activity you love and be consistent with it (for me this is hiking and yoga, and kiteboarding when I get the chance)
- cook at home
- eat breakfast
- drink water
- manage your stress so your hormones are functioning optimally
1. I shifted my thinking
Most of us grow up with a sense that in order to lose weight we have to be constantly disciplined, we have to force our bodies to do things (lift a certain weight, run a certain distance), and we can never slip up. This all or nothing attitude tends to land us in the nothing category way more often than the all category. Why? It’s so daunting! Who wants to be “perfect” all the time anyway? I don’t believe that’s even a thing, and I sure don’t believe it’s any way to live your life. In fact, I read two separate articles recently on how destructive that kind of thinking can be.
I used slow, steady, healthy methods to get back to a healthy lifestyle, rather than a healthy weight.
In doing so, the weight mostly took care of itself, because I was giving my body the nourishment and movement it truly desired. It takes time to tune into those cues from your body, but it’s one of the keys in maintaining a healthy lifestyle (and weight). Learning which foods help and heal us (rather than harm us) is an individual journey that differs from person to person. The same is true for movement - no one form of exercise works for everyone. The trick is to experiment and find what lights your soul on fire; what gives you the most energy and makes you feel most alive.
I started to give my body what it needed because I liked and respected it, not because I hated it and wanted to force it to be a certain size or shape. I’m still working on this, as it takes years to undo harmful thought patterns around our bodies, but I’m getting there. If there’s one thing I want to help women with, it’s learning to love and respect their own bodies. It may take time, but what could be a more worthwhile cause?
2. I had support
I cannot stress this enough. Yes, you can definitely make progress on your own. But I’ve found that reaching out for support accelerates the process tenfold. When I was getting back on track, I enlisted friends to help. My best friend and I started hiking again, I went to fitness classes with a coworker, and I started making friends at my local yoga studio.
Later on, when I began coaching other people, I realized how much value there is in having my own coach. I now make sure that I work with someone who has more knowledge and experience than I do, and who can continue to motivate me and hold me accountable.
Even if you’re at your goal weight, having a like-minded circle of friends is invaluable for your happiness, your health, and your waistline. If you’re looking for personal, one on one support to kickstart or continue your weight loss journey, check out my Love your Body program here.
To your health and happiness,