Fact: I am not athletic.
I hated gym in high school, and I was absolutely stoked when it was no longer a mandatory subject after grade ten. I hated sports, and I gravitated to things like Theatre and Choir. The trouble was, I was still in pretty good shape. I was thin all through my teen years because my mother always cooked delicious, healthy food and taught us to have an appreciation for our veggies. She made healthy cooking look so easy. And while I was active, I wasn’t “athletic”. I took dance, but only because it was fun, not because I wanted to lose weight.
Long story short, I never learned the value of exercise or needed to work for something I wanted.
Fast forward to when I’m twenty four. I had a desk job in a call center so my activity level went pretty much to zero. On top of that, my job was very stressful, and I started stress eating. I would come home at the end of the day tired and depressed and in absolutely no mood to cook a decent meal. And I wanted chips. And ice cream. And pizza.
I gained fifty pounds within the first year of working at that job, and it was a downward spiral from there. I’ve always been prone to depression, and as my weight went up, my depression deepened. So I would eat junk food, which would make me gain weight, which made me depressed, which….you see where I’m going with this.
Finally I was sick of feeling that way, and I realised that while pregnancy is no picnic at the best of times, being over weight certainly doesn’t help, and I knew I wanted to have children someday. So I started working out in Fall of 2015…
…and my weight hasn’t gone down. I’ve fluctuated within the same 10-15 pound range for over a year now. On paper, I have made nearly zero progress.
But I have learned some very important truths in that time that will enable me to reach my goal. Maybe not immediately, but I will reach it. This is what I’ve learned:
10 things I’ve Learned By Not Reaching My Goal Weight:
- Don’t Trust the Scale. Did you know your weight can fluctuate between one to five pounds in one day? So don’t step on the scale more that once a week to get an accurate idea of weight loss. Pay more attention to how you’ve progressed in your work outs, how your clothes fit, how you look and how you feel.
- Food Matters. You can’t kill yourself in a work out and then sit on the couch the rest of the day eating bon bons and still expect to see results. Eat your veggies, and pay attention to what you’re eating. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. Take the time to educate yourself on nutrition, nutritional supplements, and portion control.
- This is a Life Change, Not a Quick Fix. The changes you want aren’t going to magically appear after working out and eating clean for a couple days. If you’re looking for a lifetime of health and fitness, you need to realise its going to take a lifetime to achieve and maintain. You need to make the commitment to change your lifestyle if you want to change your body.
- Do What You Love. There are hundreds of different ways to stay active. I don’t run because I would rather cut my legs off. Instead, I practice yoga, go for walks, and do a 30-45 minute work out video every day. Because that’s what I enjoy, and I’m more likely to keep doing something if I enjoy it. Try out different things and stick with the ones that make you happy.
- Every Body is Different. Shocker, right? While I envy those people with a high metabolism that just need to go for a run three times a week, my low thyroid means that I need to keep active every day, all day. Originally, I was doing one work out every day for 45 minutes, but then I would sit around for the rest of the day and wonder why I wasn’t losing the weight because it turns out my body needs more. I had to tailor my work out plan to my own personal health needs.
- Fad Diets Don’t Work. If some magic concoction claims that it’ll help you shed pounds within x number of days, RUN AWAY. While it may do as promised and you find yourself a few pounds lighter a few days later, you’ll gain that weight back again just as quickly. There are no cheat codes for weight loss. In order to make a permanent change you need to put in the time and effort. Anything promising quick, easy results can be harmful to your health and is, frankly, a waste of time.
- No One Is Going to Do It For You. Get up and move. End of discussion.
- Shake It Up. If you do the same work out sequence/video/routine over and over again, your body is going to become accustomed to it and you’ll stop seeing progress. You need to keep your body on its toes (pun intended), so that it never has time to get used to what you’re doing. Alternate cardio with weight training, with a yoga day for recovery thrown in. Or rock climbing. Or dancing. Or hiking.
- Don’t Listen to the Haters. This is your journey. They don’t have any say in what you do. Put on your favourite tunes, get in the zone and go. You’re doing this for you and you alone. Also, encourage others who are on their own journey, no matter how it stacks up against yours.
- Be Kind to Yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for eating a donut. Donuts are delicious. Just don’t eat four in one sitting. Love the body you’re in now. Be grateful to it for the things it can do, instead of focusing on the things it can’t do yet. Celebrate the little accomplishments: that extra push up you managed to squeeze in, the fact you did one burpee today when last week you couldn’t do any, the way your legs are starting to look better in your jeans. Find joy in the journey and take it one day at a time.
I’m not a success story. I’m a work in progress. Although I haven’t achieved my “goal weight” yet, I am stronger, happier, and more energetic than I used to be. My progress may not be measured on a scale, but I have grown and changed in ways that I wasn’t expecting. There are more lessons I could have added, but I think it’s important for you to discover them for yourself.
So, get out there and learn them.