6 ‘AH-HAs’ From My Weight Loss Journey That Can Help You Lose Weight & Keep It Off!
6 Emotional Intuitions From My Weight Loss Journey That Can Help You Lose Weight & Keep It Off For Good.
Many of you reading this article have spent their whole life having a love and hate relationship with food? I have and sometimes it is a daily battle. I can say that the longer I go maintaining my weight the easier it becomes, and the battles are less & less frequent. That has to do with the neuroplasticity I spoke about in the last article. If you missed it click here.
It seems like I have been on a diet every day since I was 30. I have lived with fluctuating weight loss / weight gains multiple times over a 2o year period. Until recently, I don’t ever remember a time, where I could just fully enjoy a slice of cake without worrying about the impact on my body. But at the same time, I love food so much! It used to be that satiety seemed to be the only feeling that made sense until going through this program 3 years ago.
When I embarked on a serious diet and lifestyle overhaul back in 2018, it took me 6 months to lose 70 lbs. Our IHC program was developed after years of research, with trial & errors, by Wendi Francis ( our current clinical nutrition director) & made losing the weight fairly simple. I didn’t say easy. Losing weight was difficult & is for many people. Then we had to figure out how to maintain all that spectacular weight loss! Every day can be a challenge to ensure I don’t relapse and get back into old habits. Those habits that lead to the pounding headaches, fatigues, sleep apnea, aching joints, difficulty in finding clothes and the constant feeling of being unattractive … I didn’t want to go back to that.
A topic not commonly discussed in the weight loss world is the ‘demons’ many of you who have in the struggle to lose weight loss and still do. You often see diets, super food and exercises being sold as the key to weight loss. I always heard – “It’s a science” or “Calories in calories out”, right? Which I hope you now realize isn’t true because all calories are not the same. But how about the ‘head’ stuff? Your emotions, your brain, your psyche?
Over the past 3 years of maintaining my weight loss for the first time I made some personal observations & experiences. I have listed 6 weight loss facets that everyone who is struggling with their weight, need to truly understand and grasp in order to effectively overcome your weight issues.
- There are No Finish Line with Weight Loss
I, like many people have always looked at dieting as a series of short projects. The goal typically goes like this… lose 30 lbs. in 3 months. So, I would work my guts out, lose all these weights, buy nice new clothes, fit into it for a good 2 months and then put it all back on again (or more).
After a few months of not watching my diet and feeling rather sick of being fat. I start the dieting cycle again. This time lose 35 lbs. in 3 months (for the additional 5 lbs. I put on). This went on and on until the figure became, 60 lbs. to lose in 1 year. To make things worse, it has become harder and harder to lose the weight due to all the yo-yo diets.
Solution: Losing all that weight, does not mean all your weight issues are solved and the struggle with it ends! This is the first step & cornerstone to maintaining your loss, long-term. You have to re-train your brain to understand there is no such thing as ‘the end’, even after going 3 years now, I still “work” to keep it off. Meaning it is a deliberate effort to make the best choices. Its not hard or that difficult its just staying focused on what matters more to me the short-term gratification or the long term benefits.
- You Don’t Deserve Rewards Until you Fully Achieve Your Goals
I get emails sometimes asking about getting a ‘cheat’ meal or ‘cheat’ day. There are many diets out there that allow cheat days. They explain that you should reward yourself every now and again, so you won’t feel deprived. These works for some people, but not for me. How many times have you spent Sunday morning eating your ‘cheat meal breakfast’, which lead to ‘cheat lunch’, ‘cheat dinner’ followed by cheat Mondays, cheat Tuesdays and you know the drill, right?
Solution : If you have the same willpower as me, cheat meals or rewards while on this program simply doesn’t work. If you want to have the quickest & safest natural weight loss, it simply doesn’t benefit you to go off your recommended plan. BUT if you understand that eating off plan will slow your weight loss & you are ‘ok’ (conscious) of the consequences then enjoy😊 That said, rewarding yourself occasionally during maintenance phase does wonders. In fact, this is what maintenance looks like for me now. You really need to go through the whole program, understand what it takes to lose the weight 1st and 2nd to maintain your weight loss. Once you have done this, you know what & how your body reacts when you reintroduce those food like soft drinks, cakes, & chips (even in small portions).
If you are cheating a little here & there along the way – you will eventually reach your goal weight ( as long as you didn’t fall back into the old habits) BUT you will not have a true capacity to know exactly how certain foods affect you because you never completely eliminated them from your diet long enough.
That understanding is the goal to which you finally deserve your rewards and cheat meal will be just that; one cheat meal at a time. My ‘’cheat’ meal these days is usually on the weekends. It is obvious when I eat a food that my body is sensitive to. I get headaches, my energy drops and usually the scale will jump 2 even more lbs. in one day! It takes may body 2-3 days to recover completely. I’m not miserable but I know that specific foods (for me dairy and gluten (or wheat) is something I need to avoid eating with any regularity.
- Your Life Revolves Around FOOD? Change It
Our culture, our families and our social interactions seem to all revolve around food; it’s almost impossible to avoid! My mom was a fantastic cook. She would spend all day in the kitchen cooking ( for a family of 7 – I can understand why😊 and make great food. She was creative and insisted we all finish our plates and have more, ten take more with us to go! All my family activities must revolve around food. The family reunions , wow!
I struggle with this part of my identity a lot. This is who I am! It is difficult to tell your family that a small portion food is enough and there won’t be any seconds. They will look at you as if you are crazy, and ask if you are OK. Worse, they might become upset with you because you are perceived to be rejecting their LOVE.
Solution : Portion control plays a big role. Share your food with others. Eat slowly and mingle while you are eating to give you a chance to fill full and enjoy your food. If family member becomes persistent when trying to push more food, it is OK to say no. Yes, you might hurt their feelings, but explain to them that you are doing it for your health. Remember, they are feeding you because they love you. Explaining that you are looking after your health so you can enjoy their food for years to come will only make them love you more!
- Exercise is a LIFELONG Effort
Some people love to exercise, not me. Some people need the exercise more for stress relief. I’m for that😊 Exercise is good for your heart, lungs, joints, muscle development all sorts of things BUT it should not be to lose weight. Get this – You cannot out exercise poor nutrition! Most people, like myself, struggle with the concept of incorporating exercise as part of my daily routine. This I why we encourage people to find something they love doing, cutting the grass, swimming, kayaking and treat this as your “exercise” and not as a chore to do to burn off some calories. I don’t consider myself inactive or unfit, but at the same time, I don’t like the idea of exercising to the stage where my body hurts from it. It shouldn’t be a punishment.
Solution : Find a physical activity that you enjoy and make it part of your life. Something is better than nothing. Do something that gives you an opportunity to ‘think good thoughts’.
- Stress is so…..stressful!
I used to turn to food at every opportunity and every emotion felt. Happy, sad, angry, stressed – name it. Instead of choosing healthy foods I made the poor food choices. Pizza, Burgers & fries and of course, sugary sodas. It is not that I don’t understand nutrition, I have 8 years in college focused on biology, physiology and anatomy. I know what healthy food is. But having the knowledge doesn’t always equate to making the right decisions.
Stress fat is a real thing, my friend. High level of stress is the worst thing to have when trying to lose and maintain weight loss. We lost of beloved 15-year-old Yorkie, Chachi earlier this year. And I can tell you from 1st hand experience. I slowly added nearly 10 lbs. over 2 months while eating nearly 90% on plan!! Stress and anxiety will put your body in a high level of cortisol mode, which makes you hungry and causes the fat to be stored (in all the wrong places & hardest to get rid of). This leads to more eating when you don’t need to.
Solution : This isn’t going to be easy if you are a worry-er and work in high-pressure environment. The solution is easy but difficult to do. Do whatever you can to reduce your stress and cortisol levels. Go outside, breath, move, exercise, meditate, pray, sing, watch a funny movie, anything to take your mind off of the stressful thoughts and you have to do it with some consistency even if it’s just a few minutes each day or two.
- Relapse Happens, Just Don’t Give Up
There are a countless # of reasons for relapsing. One that most guys don’t think about or even aware of. You may not believe it but guys have a cycle too…It’s called “Manopause’ or to be more clinically correct “Andropause”. Some of the symptoms are similar to menopause: mood swings and irritability, loss of muscle mass and reduced ability to exercise, difficulty sleeping, or increased fatigue, lack of energy and then there’s the fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly, poor concentration and short-term memory loss. For me this hit hardest after turning 50 a few years ago and the weight gain was intensified. I would feel a ‘hunger’ that’s hard to explain. I felt like I could eat a whole pizza! For some people, it could be a bad day at work, or a break-up or something as simple as a Birthday Celebration or other special occasion. But know this, it’s okay to relapse. We are human not a robot.
Solution : You know what, I let it go. If/ when you do ‘’fall off the wagon’’ be glad that you are aware (conscious) of it and move on. Just make sure that once that happens it is time to take responsibility for your actions and get back to the plan. What I am saying is… relapse happens… enjoy it when it does. But be mature enough for your body and mind to take responsibility for the relapse and make conscious efforts to make it right again
My final piece of advice. Get on Wendi Francis’ calls on Mondays at 5:00p. Don’t just listen, engage, participate, ask questions, share what’s going on and get the help that will ultimately change your life for the better, forever. IF you are not getting reminder emails about her calls, let us know by emailing or calling our office and we’ll get that fixed.