Having lost 64 kilograms (141lb) on my transformation so far, I often get asked: 'What is the secret?'
Most people are looking for that 'one thing' that will change their life, and so they turn to the latest fad diet, or powder, or pill. For me, weight-loss success has been a combination of things, but if I had to narrow it down to 'one thing' I would say it is self love.
I have always been an 'I'll be happy when...' kind of person. For example: I'll be happy when I finish university, or I'll be happy when I move into my own place, or I'll be happy when I go on that holiday...
Whenever I achieve a goal, I immediately push out the goal posts. I don't enjoy my achievements, instead I focus on the next one. It got to the stage where there really wasn't any point achieving anything that I set out to do, because as soon as I had I was already focusing on 'the next thing.'
The biggest (no pun intended) example of this has been my weight.
I have been overweight/obese for as long as I can remember. I have been on diet after diet since I was four years old. My weight has either been going up or down -- I have never maintained it anywhere. I am a classic yo-yo dieter.
In hindsight it seems really obvious. But at the time, I was caught in some kind of illusion that I would lose all my excess weight and everything would be perfect, and I think that is what led me to yo-yo with my weight for so many years.
In the past, when I was losing weight, there was a lot of self-loathing involved. I would try and 'punish myself skinny' and, well, you can see how that turned out. My typical cycle would be that I would get to a point where I couldn't stand myself any longer and so I would start a diet.
I would stick to that diet to the letter and I would punish myself with exercise. I would stand in front of the mirror and hate what I saw, often grabbing hold of my stomach or my legs and saying horrible things to myself.
All this negativity needed an outlet, and so I was a massive binge eater. It really was a horrible cycle and, on the other side of it, I don't know how I ever thought I could hate myself happy. How could saying horrible things to myself and punishing myself with exercise I hated, and food I loathed, ever result in joy? It was really rather absurd, but so many of us do it.
I can't pinpoint the exact turning point for me. I didn't wake up one day and decide 'that's it, I am going to love myself'. It was more of a gradual thing. I kept coming across the message over and over again in the personal development work I was doing. Gradually it kind of dawned on me that I couldn't 'hate myself healthy'. I couldn't do all the things I loathed to, then live the life I loved.
In hindsight it seems really obvious. But at the time, I was caught in some kind of illusion that I would lose all my excess weight and everything would be perfect, and I think that is what led me to yo-yo with my weight for so many years. I would lose a bunch of weight, realise I was still me, then freak out and gain it all back again.
So, here are my top four tips on how to love yourself now, and let the weight take care of itself:
Do the things you want to do now -- don't wait!
Now, there are some things that you might not be able to do now, depending on your weight. But, I will hazard a bet that there are things you could do but you won't let yourself because you hold yourself back.
For me it was swimming, I wouldn't let myself go to the pool because what would people think seeing me in bathers! Buying myself a pair of size 24 bathers was really challenging. But, I am so glad I did, as swimming and water aerobics have been amazing for me! So, my advice is to do something you have been holding yourself back from, and then when you are comfortable with that then do the next thing.
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Make a list of small goals and plan your celebration for when you achieve it and DO it.
You don't have to just celebrate your goal weight, celebrate along the way! You took your multivitamins every day for a week, awesome, have a hot bath. You drank your water every day for two weeks, celebrate by buying yourself a new book (one only has to look at my shelves to see how many small successes I celebrate with books).
The thing is to celebrate everything, the more you celebrate the more joy you bring into your life, so go for it!
Buy yourself a lovely outfit NOW -- do not buy it in a size smaller for when you lose weight.
I no longer buy clothes that are too small, EVER! Gone are the days of doing that because, firstly, it's depressing, I mean I want to celebrate myself now, not in five or 10 kilos time. Secondly, I don't know where I am going to lose weight from next, there is nothing more depressing than missing out on a lovely outfit because your weight doesn't come off from where it's 'supposed' to!
Buy clothes that make you feel good NOW, and then when you grow out of them buy more clothes -- to save money I suggest op shops, its amazing the bargains you can find.
Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.
Really tune in to your self-talk. If you say something to yourself that you wouldn't say to your best friend, really stop and question that. When you think about it, you are the only person you are going to spend your whole life with, so it might as well be enjoyable.
No one wants to be complained at or made to feel guilty all the time. If you do something that you regret, treat it as a learning experience, imagine what you would say to your bestie if they came to you with that issue and say that to yourself.
The final thing I want to say is that this is a gradual process. You didn't get to where you are overnight, and so you aren't going to read one article and then everything changes and your life is perfect (that only happens in the movies). Trust the process, and take this one step at a time.