It is called a “weight loss journey” for a reason. It is compared to a journey because it is process of progression. You are constantly learning more and more about yourself throughout the process. These personal discoveries about yourself are a crucial part of helping you create the new lifestyle that leads to sustained weight loss as a byproduct.
I am on the other end of a 125 lbs weight loss journey. I learned many things about myself along the way. I know so much more now about weight loss than I did before I started but it was learned piece by piece over a period of time. It was not learned all at once. Some of the lessons learned came at exactly the right time and some other lessons I wish I would have discovered sooner.
The following is a list of things I wish I knew sooner on my weight loss journey.
It is never too soon to start resistance training.
Positive affirmations actually work.
Getting okay with repetition.
Seriously, eat what you want!
Never Too Soon to do Resistance Training
I started with swimming when I first began this weight loss journey. I liked to swim and I knew I needed to do something. I liked it because it was easier on my joints, I didn’t have to feel sweat all over me, and people couldn’t see me in the pool. It had lots of upsides. On top of all of that, I figured swimming was the best exercise from a calories burned per minute of exercise perspective.
While doing the swimming was good, and any exercise is better than no exercise, I didn’t realize that I was not getting the most return on my time investment.
About 4 moths into my journey I started to learn more about resistance training. I had a co-worker who was into body building. He mentioned something in passing about how strength training continued to burn calories after the workout. This had me very curious. What was he talking about? This was new information to me.
What is this “burning more calories without working out” concept he was talking about? So I started to research about body building. To learn about the science of what was happening. As I looked into this, I started to realize that there is a MAJOR difference between cardio and resistance training in terms of calories burned per minute of working out.
To summarize what I learned, cardio burns calories while you’re working out and when you’re done working out the calorie burning stops. Resistance training burns calories while you’re working out and it continues to burn calories as the muscles are being prepared from the work out! It’s like the workout counts for double!! Well, it is not exactly double, but the effectiveness of strength training was too much to ignore.
In addition to the additional calories being burned I learned that there is another benefit to strength training that helps with weight loss. Streght training triggers the development of muscle mass. Increased muscles mass increases your BMR allowing you to eat more per day even on days you don’t workout. Additionally your overall quality of life is improved due to making it easier to move around from the increased strength.
No matter how you look at it. Resistance training provides so many benefits that are hard to ignore and many of the benefits help with the process of losing weight.
Positive Affirmations Actually Work
I was raised on Anthony Robbins, Zig Ziggler, Les Brown, and Steven Covey. I have heard about positive affirmations more times than I can remember. Even though I heard about them time and again I never gave them a real chance. The issue is that I thought they were silly so I never even gave them a chance. Till I did and realized the power in this practice.
Later in my weight loss journey I started to realize that I was saying positive phrases to myself both outloud and in my mind via my inner monologue. I have now realized these positive affirmations were reprograming my brain to give me the end results that I desired most.
Yeah, I admit this all sounds silly. How can saying something out-loud have an effect on my actual life? It does this by creating conflict in your mind. Our brains don’t like conflict and will go to great lengths to resolve it. To ease the tension. This is where positive affirmations come into play. Saying “I am losing weight” makes it more real and forces you to recognize that you are living with a self limiting belief.
In the beginning of my Journey I would say things like “I guess I’ll never lose the weight” and I said that often. Eventually I started to believe it. Then once I started to believe it I had no reason to take ownership of what I was eating. Why would it matter what I was going to eat if I was never going to lose the weight.
It was a game change when I realized that what I said to myself matters much more than I realized. I began to recognize the harm in the self talk I was feeding myself before.
I would tell myself things like “I deserve to lose weight” and “I AM losing weight.” The more I said it the more I believed it! The more I believed it the easier it became to make smarter choices that led me closer and closer to my weight loss goals.
Be Okay With Repetition
Tracking is a 100% essential part of the process. It is also 100% annoying to do! I can’t think of anyone I know who would say “I love tracking!” Shoot, even myself I didn’t like tracking. Never have. I did however learn to make the process of tracking easier and learned to like the comfort tracking brings. One thing I did to help make tracking easier was embrace repetition in meals.
I looked at my past eating habits and realized I rotated between the same several lunches most work days. Then I figured if I was mostly eating the same things anyway I might as well come up with a list of items that better serve my weight loss goals. My cheese burger was replaced by a Chipotle burrito and my chicken wings were replaced by salads, and my tacos were replaced by….well they were not replaced because tacos. I wanted to lose weight not reject the basic happiness of life!
This leads me to my next point.
Eat What You Want!
This is the single most important thing I wish I had learned. Losing weight is not about giving up foods you enjoy! I always thought that to lose weight I had to give up all foods I actually enjoyed eating. What it is actually about is taking ownership of the foods you eat.
I ate chocolate, chips, cookies, steak, potatoes, chicken, salmon, tacos, pizza, salad, burgers, & BBQ through out my entire weight loss journey. I didn't however eat as much of those whenever I wanted with complete disregard for the repercussions of those choices.
Once I realized I can take ownership of my food choices, I was empowered to eat whatever I wanted. If I wanted to eat Pizza I just owned that choice. I figured out the calories, saw where I would need to adjust, and then ate the pizza. I didn't learn this at first but over time I figured out that it is totally okay.
Is it better to eat healthier whole foods? Yes, yes it is, but it is not required. If you are just getting started, think of the diet you are eating now. You don't need to go from where you are now to absolute ideal perfection. Progress and moving in the right direction is completely okay.