The Problem With Weight Loss Journeys
Most of the time when I write a blog post I do it with all the “bloggy” things in mind.
I’m talking about search engine optimization, the things that I think resonate most with fitness audiences, and advice that you might find helpful.
But what I like the most about blogging is that I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want.
I am a writer through-and-through, and what I love about it is that it can have any amount of emotion that I want.
So while I try to write things for business and growth as well as things that are helpful for my audience, I also like to write things from the heart. For example, today I’m writing about all of the things that I’ve experienced in the last few years since starting this blog and becoming a personal trainer. (Full disclosure…I dictated this post while on my new spin bike so things got a little RANTY and run-on-sentence-y. Lol.)
Most importantly, by the end of this post I want to reach anyone who has had similar experiences to mine and maybe connect. So let’s jump in.
I’m finding that the more time that I spend in the “fitness industry,” the less I agree with how it works.
If you’ve been to my blog before you know that I have tried many different types of fitness and diet programs. I’ve been pretty open about my participation in Beachbody, the Faster Way To Fat Loss, and my own struggles as a mom and personal trainer.
As you may remember, I shared my reasons for trying and quitting all of these different diets and programs. I also tried my hand at creating my own workout program that you can do at home (and that’s been fine).
But what I’m finding is that two major things happen to me when I try to join some new workout or diet program.
I find first of all, that they don’t address the real problems. These problems for me include emotional eating and sustainability. In other words, the programs teach me what to do in a perfect situation but they’re just not real.
They are strict or they don’t account for real life.
P.S. Read about making a New Year’s Resolution that sticks here.
I’m a mom with two young children under the age of six. I am not able to eat perfectly and work out hard every single day. So my success in these programs has been little because they are not designed to be flexible.
What I find most interesting is that when I’m doing a program, if I mess up something, it backfires emotionally.
What happens is that if I failed to eat the right thing/overeat, or my workout isn’t good or doesn’t exist for a particular day, I’m suddenly on the other end of the spectrum and have thrown in the towel.
After years of trying different diets, I had an epiphany. I now know why programs only work for me for a little while. It’s because I haven’t addressed the emotional or psychological reasons why do I eat poorly or overeat. I’m finding this to be a bigger problem than exercise or anything else. So what I’m saying is that programs are great if you can follow them – but it’s not how we are meant to live.
I brought this up before is an example but I want you to think back to when you were your healthiest ever – I don’t care if you were an adolescent. But think back to that time. Were you counting every calorie and tracking every bite that you ate? Probably not.
Were you scrutinizing your every mistake with food and exercise? Probably not. Let me ask you this – do you want to get to the end of your life and think about how much time you spent worrying about food and your weight and the way you look?
I know that if I continue down this path of tracking every bit of food and feeling bad about every poor food choice I make, I’m going to regret it. I don’t have time to waste focusing on negative things. I don’t want to look back and say, “Man I, wish I’d spent more time just loving myself and loving others.” I don’t want to spend my life feeling like I’m in a prison in my own body and based on the way I’ve eaten.
This post is calling to those people who feel trapped by the cycle of guilt, and tracking, and dieting – and still feeling like you’re not getting anywhere.
I love the idea of a diet and exercise program for people who really have no idea where to start. I think they are great places to start/get guidance from. But they shouldn’t be strict and rigid. I think that we’re over-complicating things, and I think that the fitness industry is really capitalizing on this confusion that we have created.
Healthy doesn’t need to be anything more than better balance.
In other words, we are a lot healthier when we make mostly good decisions with a few poor decisions in between.
We are healthier when we don’t dwell on little mistakes. Our goals should be to make more healthy food choices and move more. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
I came here to say that while you might see me create my own diet and exercise programs, you won’t see me joining these big fad diets anymore. They’re great starting points but they aren’t going to be life changers unless you think you can do them for the rest of your life.
What would be even more life-changing would be creating new habits little-by-little and making these permanent changes that everybody wants. I’m finding it more important than ever to focus on one small habit at a time and turn it into a new healthy or habit, rather than overhauling your whole life in a way that isn’t sustainable for anybody.
I’m going to give you a real life example of what I mean.
This month my husband and I moved our kids out of our hometown for the first time ever. This is my first big move even though it’s only 3 hours away from our hometown. To be honest, I was scared at first, but I have really enjoyed this time. Not only have I been busy packing and unpacking, cleaning and rearranging, I have been focusing on things that are more important than the every bite I put in my mouth. I feel like I have been set free.
This time that I have spent focusing on other things I have been healthier than ever. I’m free from the scale, I’m free from tracking, and I’m free from emotional eating.
It may be that I just needed this change in my life to really come into my own. However, I have a more natural desire to eat well, only eat when needed, and get outside more.
It may be that my rainy dark environment from before was really holding me back. Whatever it is, it’s working. Since I quit tracking and weighing myself daily, I’ve lost inches, even though I’ve only lost about a pound. I feel healthier, I have more energy, and my mind feels clearer. I’m not trapped in my own mind not thinking about every single food that I ate.
I’m not wondering whether this little Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is going to totally ruin my diet. I’m not focused on that and my mind is healthier because I’m not worried. I am clearer mentally, and I feel more power over my diet in my exercise. I can feel a change in myself mentally and emotionally, and it’s apparent in my body.
I tell you this because I want you to think back on your life and think about how much healthier you were in simpler times.
It may be that your life needs to change in more ways than diet and exercise. Maybe that you can’t move across the state or get a new job or get out of a bad relationship. But it may be that you are focused on all of the wrong things.
If you aren’t focused on how you feel, the amount of energy you have, and how your clothes fit, you might be focused on the wrong things. If you are focused on sticking to a diet to a T, then you might be focused on the wrong things.
The thing is that the emotional aspects of losing weight, getting healthy, and changing your lifestyle in general, are backfiring here. And you can try as many diet and exercise programs as you want, but if you don’t fix the mental and emotional problems inside, you’ll never be successful long-term.
So for me, even though I’ve sat at almost the same weight aside from pregnancy for nearly five years, I’m okay with it. Because I’m changing from the inside-out.
Because I know that I’m maintaining, I know that I’m making small changes, and I rather make those small changes than lose a bunch of weight just to gain it back. So as I’ve asked you to do before on your weight-loss journey, I want you to stay self-aware.
If it feels like you’re in a prison of looking at yourself in the mirror scrutinizing yourself hitting your body tracking every bite and obsessing over the scale…stop. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard to change your thinking and I know it’s hard to love your body. I don’t think that you should accept your body as unhealthy, but I beg you to love yourself for the small changes you make, and celebrate the small wins that you will have along the way.
A positive mindset that focuses on each win is going to get you a lot further.
There’s a snowball effect to celebrating every little good decision – and you’re going to feel it from the inside out. If you feel like there might be some emotional issue or something that happened to you in your past that causes you to eat emotionally, I would encourage you to look at that. And I would encourage you to start by trading one small habit for another.
If you feel stress eating coming on, go for a walk. If you know that you’re going to be a mess and eat the whole kitchen, go for a walk. If you know you’re a “morning” exercise person, try to schedule in your workouts so that you are more likely to get them done.
It’s those small changes that will really add up in your life overall.
I tell you all of this so that if you think that you want to break free from the prison that is a diet culture, you feel empowered.
I just want you to think outside the box and quit overcomplicating everything. Quit blaming other outside factors for your life or your weight gain. Forget about it and forgive yourself. Try a new way of living – it’s simple – move more, eat better.
Love you guys!
This is a great post! Please do more like this, you’re so genuine and inspirational. I’m a fan of your blog, workout plan, and now I’m really into your podcast! Being a part of your tribe is helping me with my health. Thank you
Thank you Alli! The fact that you keep coming back with nice things to say helps me keep going. 🙂