Like me, most people wait for motivation or self loathing to strike before they go looking for their next diet plan or exercise regime in an attempt to FINALLY lose the weight they’ve resented for so long.
But I am here to tell you that in this moment, even if you are uninterested, unmotivated- all the things- you can still start losing weight right now. Your own journey to success and health can begin today. This can be the first day of the rest of your life.
When I reflect on my diet struggles, I remember riding the craziest teeter-totter all the time. Either I was balls out, eating whatever I wanted and numbing my emotions and anxiety with food, or I was restricting and hating myself, frantically finding the next Pinterest diet that promised to yield super fast results.
If this is you- you are not alone.
What I’ve realized is that all that back and forth was just a massive waste of time. I never kept the weight off that I would lose doing BS diets I didn’t enjoy and would always end up going even further off the edge when I finally decided to quit and give myself some relief from the restriction.
I think a lot of us get stuck wasting time and driving ourselves crazy with this on or off mentality- looking at foods as good or bad or labeling your entire day as a success or failure based on the number of calories consumed.
It’s a complete waste of time and energy. And yet I stayed on that diet teeter-totter for YEARS, even though it got me no where and made me so unhappy.
I think we keep going back to this mentality over and over again because our desire to lose weight and be the best version of ourselves never goes away. That goal is always there nudging us to live at our true potential.
But what we believe will be required of us to actually lose the weight is restriction and deprivation (good news, it isn’t). There is a constant push and pull between what we want and what we are willing to do to get there.
But what if weight loss could just be easy?
If you keep going back to a certain goal time after time, please know it is because deep inside you know that you are capable of more. You know you are not living in alignment with who you want to be in this world and you will always want to be that. You deserve to be that.
If we will always want to lose weight and have control over food, why do we quit? I believe that I was quitting on myself for all those years because of my mindset.
I would chose punitive and restrictive methods to lose my weight because I was doing it from a place of self hatred and desperation. I felt so desperate to be thin. I truly believed my life would be so much better if I could just get my weight off. In my mind, my weight was the source of all my problems and insecurities.
What I know now is that my life, and every human life, will always be 50/50. Half of the time you will experience positive emotion and the other half negative emotion. This applies to every human, size 12 or size 4. Weight is not the common denominator of happiness. When you lose weight you will still have the same life, same friends and same problems- you will just experience it all in a smaller body.
If this is really true, that means happiness is available to you right now. You don’t need to desperately chase it with diets or gimmicks. You get to create it for yourself by changing your thoughts.
Even after I had achieved my first 30 pound weight loss, I still wasn’t happy. In fact, I still had all of the same problems and insecurities now with the added stress of keeping my weight off. Weight loss alone solved nothing.
Happiness and self love are entirely internal. How do you speak to yourself about your life and how you’re showing up for it? Do you call yourself names or count every little mistake as major evidence why you are destined to be over weight and unhappy forever? Do the actions and words of others dictate how you feel about yourself and what you believe you are capable of?
If this is where you’re at, I get it. Changing your internal story is difficult- but not impossible.
Some thoughts are in-your-face negative and those you must start to correct. But even the sneakier limiting thoughts like “it doesn’t matter” “I’ll start on Monday” “now isn’t the right time for me to take care of myself ” are just as toxic to your goals and must be exposed.
As much as my internal bully hurt my own feelings, I also realized over time that it was crutch. If I believed, and told myself over and over, that I was going to be over weight for my entire life and always struggle with food- why try?
As long as I kept my negative story on a loop, I was able to not take responsibility for myself and my goals. And letting myself off of the hook for doing the hard mental work I knew needed to do was a relief.
The primal brain is lazy and will say and do whatever it takes to keep you expending as little energy as possible. It turned out that telling myself how fat and unattractive I am was just the ticket to get me to eat whatever I wanted all day and not exercise. There is always a reward for the thoughts you chose.
Luckily, we can override the primal brain by correcting our thoughts. If you find you’re beating yourself up for something you ate or ‘failed’ I would encourage you to flat out say- NO we don’t think those things anymore!
And be definitive about it. No, this is not the relationship I want to have with myself, no, this type of self talk is not required for me to feel motivation to lose weight, just no.
Be willing to correct a negative thought as many times a day as it pops up. At first it will be A LOT. Once I started paying attention, I realized I was never ‘out of control’ with food, it was the negative story in my head that was making me want to turn to food to escape.
Once the negative thoughts are managed it will become easier and easier to enjoy your life without overeating. Food can never create happiness- it just distracts us from the negative 50% of our lives. And even that 50% can be managed with our thoughts and willingness to feel.
There is no human emotion you are incapable of experiencing fully.
The mindset I had to adopt to lose my weight was one of intentional self compassion and curiosity. I emphasize the word intentional because this way of thinking was completely unnatural to me. It required effort to change.
I stopped hating and judging myself and started questioning everything. I practiced seeing everything as neutral and something to figure out.
I stopped criticizing my problems and finally began solving them.
I also want to admit that I used to believe that self hatred and negative self talk were necessary for me to be motivated to lose weight. Obviously that was not true. Every time I lost weight from a negative place I wanted to quit to find some relief. It got me no where. I was always just as overweight and unhappy as the day I started.
The one time I lost weight from a compassionate place, however, I lost all of my weight for the last time. My mindset was the key to my success.
To start losing weight approach everything through a lens of self love.
People who love themselves eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied. People who love themselves feel all of their emotions. People who love themselves follow through on the things they say they will do. They make commitments, they fix problems, they figure things out. And above all they respect and speak to themselves like they are the most important person in their life- because they are.
If you want to start losing weight today, you don’t need another meal plan or fitness guide. You need to be willing to understand why you are overeating to begin with. Be willing to examine your thoughts around your life- are they thoughts you want to escape from?
Once you commit to correcting your thoughts so you can lose weight from a loving place, the next best thing you can do is start exactly where you are. You don’t need to overhaul your entire life to begin getting results, you just need to create opportunities for yourself to generate momentum towards your goal.
Starting small will give you the strength to keep going long term. Look at what you are willing to change right now that you know will help get you to your goal. It could be a 10 minute walk everyday or drinking one less diet soda. Only you know what you are willing to show up for.
Don’t change anything that you’re not willing to maintain for the rest of your life. This is not a quick fix. This is about solving the problem and creating the life and body you dream of- and even more importantly, a relationship with yourself.
If you are at a point right now that you are unwilling to change anything external- that is okay! That is honest and that is going to get you further than pressuring yourself ever will. If this is you though, I suggest you start looking inside with curiosity. Question and correct negative stories without judgment.
The key to losing weight for the last time is to just keep going. Never give up. Commit to never wasting another second of your time on punitive, restrictive diets and invest that energy on creating thoughts that don’t make you want to seek relief from food.
You know you will always want this goal- you keep going back to it for a reason. Don’t wait until you feel like it or you get so fed up with yourself you have to do something. Just start today and keep going. Be tenacious in your willingness to keep showing up for your goals and yourself.
The real secret to losing your weight for the last time is to never quit. Just keep going, learning, questioning no matter what. You can and will figure this out.
You are the sky, everything else- it’s just the weatherPema Chödrön