So How Did I Finally Lose Weight?
What is the magic answer?
I have always been fascinated by weight management, and although I have been lucky enough to be slim most of my life, I will also share with you about when I wasn't slim and how that felt to me.
There is SO MUCH pressure on people, and especially on women, in this day and age to be a certain body shape, and you are probably aware that for the vast majority of women this shape is unattainable. I will say that bit again because it is important FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF WOMEN THIS SHAPE IS UNATTAINABLE!
Please don't get me wrong, I a great believer in using our minds to create our circumstances, and that we can manifest our reality, and I also firmly believe in being the healthiest, best and most gorgeous version of ourselves that we can possibly be, and still for most of us we are barking up the wrong tree in 'struggling' to force our physical shape to be something it is not. I am here to tell you that there is a much better way!
This is me BEFORE (I am on the right) And this is me AFTER
For the first time in my life now I have reached a level of acceptance with my weight. I am not the slimmest I have ever been, nor am I the heaviest I have ever been, however I am the most accepting of my own body that I have ever been, and I feel the happiest in my own body that I ever have. A little disclaimer here, it can still vary day to day, and it takes daily work to maintain this acceptance, however it gets easier.
And I little side effect, well, my attitude to food is also the healthiest it's ever been (more on that in a minute), and I have a great figure. As for weight management, well this is the real bonus, because once you train yourself to adopt a certain mindset a couple of easy behaviours, it takes care of itself. That means after just a little adjustment or to, NO MORE STRUGGLING!
Things have not always been this good for me. Rewind four years when I was living in the city, I had become overweight, well that is to say I was the heaviest I have ever been and I did not feel good in my own body. I think this is the feeling that we label as 'overweight' isn't it? Anyway I was struggling with my weight. It was extra embarrassing for me because I worked in a health project and I was studying and MSc in weight management! So I knew all the theory. Why couldn't *I* manage my own weight? I felt all the usual shame, guilt and general ickiness that many of us feel around this situation.
I knew that my circumstances didn't help, I was in a stressful, desk-based job in which I had become very unhappy, I had just been through a relationship break up and I was stressed, lonely and miserable. I still went to the gym but I would binge on junk food the rest of the time so my workout attempts really didn't help.
I was, and still am, an emotional eater.
Until then I had always managed to stay slim using an iron-clad will power and lots of exercise, and this worked when I was younger, however as my life came apart at the seams I no longer had the energy to win a daily battle to restrict my calories, not eat certain foods, or punish myself further using exercise. I was tired and exhausted and I felt like giving up. It was a slippery downhill slope. At my heaviest I was heading towards 13 stone, and I felt frumpy, unhappy and unsexy. Now let me just add something here. I don't think it was just my size that was making me feel like that. I know plenty of people of larger sizes who feel healthy, sexy and happy, and on the flipside I also know plenty of thin people who don't feel like that. However I do believe that particular size and weight was not the best size and weight for me personally.
How Did I Lose The Weight?
Or A Better Question - How Did I Finally Become Healthy?
So I expect you will want to know what it is I am doing now that helped me to feel better, normalise my relationship with food and exercise and become healthy. Well I will share that with you. First just let me mention a really important movement of which I am a fan. It's called 'Health At Every Size' (HAES) and whilst I don't totally advocate EVERYTHING they say, I firmly believe in their main health messages which are:
1) Eat intuitively
2) Exercise and move for joy
3) Learn to love and accept yourself EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!
Isn't number three just the biggest ask ever? And you know what, have you ever considered how things would be if all that energy that you use daily in your struggle with 'managing' your weight was freed up so that you could use it for loving and accepting yourself, just as you are! It's a question of a little discipline of the mind, but in a whole new, and much less punishing, way. Plus the results are MUCH more satisfactory.
HAES DO NOT promise you that you will lose weight. However for the majority of people do! Their weight normalizes for the first time in their life and they become a lot more healthy. Most who follow these principles WILL lose weight if that is what their body needs to do for health. Our bodies are very individual and you can be bigger and healthy. I know that's hard to accept after the years of 'fat is bad' and 'obesity is a killer' that we have been barraged with, however it is the health behaviours (your relationship to food and exercise and how you feel) which determine health, not necessarily your weight. There is a growing amount of evidence that supports this now, although many health services are still stuck on demonizing 'fat' and heavier people. We have all heard it 'obesity kills' right? Well HAES say NO! It doesn't necessarily. If you find this hard to get your head round (I did) and you are interested in finding out more about HAES, click on the link in the side bar. However for now I would just like to use their principle messages to make my own point, because these are actually the messages I have been teaching for a while.
Here are the key messages again:
1) Eat intuitively
2) Move and exercise for joy
3) Learn to love and accept yourself exactly as you are
If you follow these key 3 health messages YOU HAVE THE GREATEST CHANCES OF LOSING WEIGHT AND BECOMING HEALTHY! More so than if you follow any number of faddy diets and punishing exercise regimes.
How do I know this?
Because it worked for me, and I have seen it worked countless times for other women too.
So I'm sorry to say there is no 'magic' answer.
Hmmm, well, perhaps it is magic. It's just different to what you thought. And it doesn't come from a bottle, or a special new weight loss plan. Some people might feel deflated hearing this. And I understand that. However this is GREAT news! You don't have to continue searching and struggling anymore. All that is needed is a couple of simple adjustments. I know this is hard to fathom if you have been struggling for years. However I don't think you ever approached it in quite the way I will recommend in the coming articles. We are going to focus on health, and enjoying food and movement, in a way you have probably never done before. Yes there is a little bit of work needed, and they always say it's hardest to work on ourselves instead of looking outside ourselves for the answer. However the results ARE magic. What is a lifetime of health and feeling good worth to you?
It may well be that you are not ready for this simplistic truth yet. You may still have a few years of 'struggle' left in you yet. In which you continue your search for the 'magic' answer, the perfect diet or that special way of exercising that is going to make you look like a super model. If that is the case, carry on. Good luck. Who knows, you may have some success. There is no one size fits all solution. However for most women I know, who have tried countless diets, weight loss programmes and even weight loss products or surgery, they may well have some temporary success with these paths, however in the end they will usually show up again, a few years later, heavier and even more unhealthy than they were (and these are two separate things by the way, weight and happiness), and then they are finally ready to be open to trying this way of living.
I have pretty much NEVER seen a woman who has followed the latest diet or weight loss programme lose weight over the long term. Well except Hollywood celebs, who I don't know personally, and I would imagine that most of us have lives that are very different from theirs. However I have seen plenty of women who have taken this approach become their healthiest way and feel better.
So, if you are ready to try something different let's dig in and I will break down the three key messages for you, explain exactly what they mean and how they work in real life, and how you can implement living this way. I will do this in a series of three more articles, one for each key message. You will see the links appear in the sidebar as they are written.
Please be aware that I am writing from my own personal perspective. I am not a representative of HAES, nor do I claim to be endorsing what they teach or giving the guidelines that they give. However even before I came across this movement I was teaching there key ideas, and so I am giving you these ideas from my own perspective.
So here's to much future health and happiness, and finally feeling good in our lives and our bodies! See you on the other side.