3 years after starting my weight loss journey, I'm very proud of what I've achieved. However, I did have a lot of set backs over the years and there were times I thought I'd never get to my goal. Looking back at all the struggles I had, I wish I knew these 10 things before starting my weight loss journey.
My decision to lose weight came during my mid-life crisis in 2017. When I got on the scale and realised I was almost 150lbs – enough was enough! Before my crisis, I didn’t even realise that being 5ft nothing and carrying that weight, was having such an impact on my self-esteem and mindset.
For years after having my second child, my weight fluctuated a lot. But at the age of 40, it suddenly dawned on me that the numbers on the scale were no longer going up and down – they were consistently going up!
Who knew my decison to lose weight would actually bring me more than just weight loss. The journey has improved my confidence, mindset and challenged the beliefs I had about myself. It’s been more than just about the weight.
I’ve come to the point in my journey where I am consistently within ‘my weight ratio’ and I’ve learned so much about how to integrate health and wellbeing into my lifestyle. Being where I am in my life, I can now identify and share with you the 10 things I wish I knew before starting my weight loss journey.
10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING MY WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY
1. Your Journey Will Not Be the Same as Other People’s
A simple ‘weight loss journey’ search on YouTube will produce an array of people sharing their stories and what they did to shift the pounds. A lot of videos are very inspirational. With tips, diets, workouts and hacks on exactly what they did on their journey. But be warned – their results may not be the same for you!
We all have different starting points, external influences and belief systems. A shift in my own belief’s about weight loss played a huge part in achieving my own goals. When I consciously understood that following someone else’s regime would not produce the same results, I started to tailor my actions to work within my own lifestyle. Yes, I incorporated some of their tips, but my level of expectation was realistic for where I was beginning from. This made it easier to follow through with what I wanted to achieve, as I was not comparing my results with anyone else. This was my journey.
2. Start With Small Steps
The biggest mistake I made early in my journey was trying to do too much at the same time. I started working out, cutting my calories and avoiding certain foods all in one sweep. Needless to say, this could not be sustained. Any gains I’d made, went out the window as soon as I got fed up and overwhelmed. Now knowing what I know about habits, I would have started very differently.
With anything you want to change in your life, planning small actionable steps is the surest way to succeed. If I went back to the beginning, my first plan of action would be to integrate moving my body on a regular basis in small, manageable ways throughout the day. I would not focus on my calorie intake at all for the first 3 months. Instead, I would increase my daily activity level using the strategy in my download: One Habit You Need to Make Progress. This would have allowed me to slowly increase the habit of moving my body in my lifestyle – long before I started to tackle what I was putting in my mouth. (Food is always the hardest part of any weight loss journey!)
Try a 4 minute HITT work out with me right now. You’ll be so surprise how much you can sweat in just 4 minutes!!
3. Take Lots of Pictures
I know first hand that taking pictures when you’re not comfortable in your own skin, is the last thing you want to do. But pictures play a major part in documenting your progress.
Looking back, I wish I took a picture at least every month. If I did, I would have had even more inspiration over the 3 years to keep going. The images would have been the ultimate evidence of how my body was changing – especially in the times when I was frustrated with my progress and thought nothing was working.
4. Find an Exercise Activity You Enjoy
No matter what some may say, moving your body is vital, not just for weight loss but a host of other benefits. I’ve experimented with every type of exercise over the years! Some I took to straight away, others I spent months forcing upon myself. It took a while to realise, I didn’t have to incorporate everything into my lifestyle. Just do what I like!
If you haven’t moved your body in while don’t force yourself to do anything too taxing at the beginning. All you should focus on is getting your heart rate up, doing something you enjoy. Try out different forms of exercise and see what you like. The more you enjoy doing it, the less resistance you will have when you feel unmotivated.
And don’t make it complicated. If you like walking – walk. If you like dancing – dance. You don’t need a gym membership or a personal trainer to get started, (unless you need to have that extra accountability).
5. Incorporate Strength Training
The benefits of strength training came late to me, but whoa – what an impact it has had. Not only do I like the way it is slowly sculpting my body in all the right places – but it’s a welcome break from a HITT workout and yoga session.
I always thought of ‘weight loss’ in regards to losing weight, I never knew the importance of muscle and muscle growth – especially for women. Whether you opt for lifting weights, using resistance bands or just body weight, strength training is something to incorporate in your journey from the beginning.
Focusing on strengthening you muscles improves overall muscle mass. It’s this mass which helps burn more calories in your day to day life. Also, you can build up such a sweat in a relatively short period of time – with no jumping or running!!
6. Be Patient
Looking back on my pictures above, the journey to where I am now happened in a blink of an eye. But I know going thorough it – it felt like an eternity. That’s why patience is key! Whatever your starting point is, it probably took a few years or months for the pounds to creep up. Don’t be fooled to think it will only take a short time to reverse. Be kind to yourself.
I would get frustrated with the results I was seeing one week. And then be beaming with pride the next. That’s why taking pictures and starting with small steps is so important. Consistency is better than doing something every now and then. But trust that the steps you’re taking are having an impact on what you what to achieve.
Give yourself little rewards along the way with the milestones you’re making. This too is a great motivator.
7. Don’t Pay Too Much Attention to the Scales
About 18 months ago, feeling good about myself, I tried on a pair of jeans that couldn’t fit me before. They fit – zipped up and everything! I immediately jumped on the scales as I was convinced some miracle rapid weight loss had occurred over the last 48 hours. Guess what? The number on the scale had increased by 2lbs since I last weighed myself!!! Standing there, in my jeans I was confused!
The thing is, the number on the scales is what kicked me up the bum to take action at the start. However, they soon became my worse enemy. I would weigh myself nearly everyday. Totally ignoring the other factors that were effecting my weight – hormones, water retention, food digesting etc. What ever number appeared on the dial could either make or break me!
Since ‘jeans gate’ and subsequent research into weight and fat loss, my reliance on the scales have pretty much gone out the window. I do still weigh myself, but it’s more to check I’m within my weight ratio. A more accurate sign of your overall progress and body changes, is using a tape measure or noticing how your clothes are fitting you. Don’t only reply on the scale.
8. Your Plan Will Change During Your Journey
Because we are all different, different things happen to our bodies when the pounds start to drop. My main goal was – lose weight! There was no plan, no contingency, no idea of what would happen during the journey or when I got there.
My first experience of having to change my plan was when I started to lose the fat in my butt and breast, (also a little concerning for my husband!). In my mind I thought I would lose fat where I wanted it to – obviously not. Therefore change of plan!
It’s important to be willing to change the plan but never the goal. If what you’re doing is not working for you, can’t fit into your lifestyle or makes you feel bad about yourself – change the plan to suit your goal. Weight loss may be the start of your goal, but the journey can lead you to all sorts of health and wellbeing goals which you didn’t even consider before. Be flexible.
9. Focus on Health
I’ll be the first to admit, being on a weight loss journey can become as obsession – especially at the start. If I could rewind the clock, I would reframe my mindset to be on a ‘health and wellbeing’ journey.
The truth of the matter is, focusing on health would have had a more positive impact physiologically on my experiences. The highs and lows would not have stalled my progress on such a regular occurrence. Health has nothing to do with weight. It’s about working towards improving your overall physical, mental and emotional life experiences.
If you are at the start of wanting to lose weight, start your process with the mindset of better health. Better health imposes less pressure than weight loss. You are more mindful of all aspects of your life. The things that you do become a part of your lifestyle and the weight will come of as a result of bettering your overall health and wellbeing.
10. A Set Back is Not a Failure
I cannot remember the amount of times I had a set back in my journey. Each time would affect me in different ways. No matter how long it took me to get back on track – I always did. I never gave up. Yes, this made the journey longer. But just imagine if I had completely stopped.
Not just imagine the weight, but imagine how I would feel about myself. What belief’s my quitting would have reinforced. What other negative thoughts would plague me due to my quitting nature.
There’s always going to be a time when you need to take a little break, stop making progress or just can’t be bothered. These points in your journey do not mean you have failed. You cannot fail until you totally quit the idea to try. When ever there is a set back – take a breath. Look at the triggers of what caused the set back. Pause and then take a small action to start up again.
Just keep going.
Everyone’s weight loss journey will be different, but there are ways you can help yourself succeed in what you want to achieve.
Let me know which tips above you think will help you on your own journey.
Are there any other tips you have discovered in your on journey which would help other Brazen women?