When I first got together with my boyfriend, we discovered we each had a lot of skills. We also discovered that we both lacked one pretty important skill – cooking! For us, this was totally fine because he lived downtown and we were surrounded by restaurants who could do the cooking for us. It was wonderful at first. We tried different places all the time and ate a lot of delicious food. His apartment was always in walking distance so we’d get Caesars and wine or whatever we felt like that night! 35 pounds later (and a decrease in our bank accounts), we realized our restaurant plan wasn’t as great as we thought. Our new plan was to start cooking healthy meals and lose our newly gained weight. So we got a gym membership and looked up healthy things to cook together. We had a lot of fun putting together meals and hitting up the gym 3 times a week… until we just stopped. The numbers on the scale weren’t changing fast enough and we didn’t take enough time to prep our meals and stick to a plan, so we were back to buying lunches and started going to the gym less and less until weeks passed without going. Does this story sound familiar?
It’s actually quite a common routine – you decide you’re going to lose weight. You start going to the gym and put yourself on a strict diet and it works for a while until maybe one day you crack open a bag of chips and eat the whole thing in one sitting (guilty). We went through this “ritual” a few times after and it always ended the same – we gave up. We tried the gym, we tried talking to a nutritionalist, we tried counting calories, we even got into running. So I asked myself – why is this always ending the same way? Why can’t we stick to a healthy lifestyle? There’s so many people out there who live one so why can’t we do it too? I finally have the answer to that question – we were too focused on losing weight. When you have one goal that’s difficult to reach, there’s so much that can get in the way of achieving it – especially because we wished it would just happen over night and that’s just not how life works. It’s like starting your own business and expecting it to take off right away. It takes time, patience and a ton of effort to make it happen! It’s not easy.
The only way I was able to make a healthy lifestyle work for me was by creating new goals that didn’t have to do with the number on the scale. These were my new goals:
- Gain more natural energy
- Lift X number of pounds
- Be able to run for X number of minutes
- Drink more green tea
- Drink less alcohol
- Drink more water
- Eat a healthy breakfast every morning
- Bring a lunch to work (most of the time)
- Go for 15 – 30 minute walks at lunch
- Pre-plan dinner
So I worked on strength and stamina, I drank a ton of water (and I peed a lot), I transitioned from a coffee addict to a green tea drinker (I still drink coffee from time to time – I feel there’s no need to completely deprive ourselves from something we enjoy – I just no longer get a massive headache if I don’t drink it), I made a healthy breakfast almost every morning (we also treated ourselves sometimes), I brought lunches to work (most of the time), I went on walks at lunchtime with my boyfriend and I lost the 35 pounds. Finally. And I didn’t gain it back.
Today, I’m still transitioning between four healthy breakfasts that are simple to make each morning (I have been for the last two years), I’m taking strength and conditioning classes, I love to run mainly during the Summer months and overall, I feel good. I still eat things like bacon, cake, chips, pizza, (I LOVE pizza) pasta, bagels, etc – just not everyday! I don’t count calories. I try to plan my meals as often as I can so I don’t stray too far from the food I know is good for me. Eating good, healthy food isn’t JUST to get you to that “ideal number.” If that’s all you’re focused on, it can be hard to keep it up. The right food helps me feel more energetic, positive and confident. The wrong food makes me feel bloated, tired and unmotivated. When I’m faced with the hard choice between that greasy pizza being offered to me or the salad I brought to work, I remember how awful the pizza makes me feel after it’s in my stomach. Sure, it tastes great going down, but is it worth feeling like crap afterwards? I’m not going to lie – sometimes I say yes if I really want it (like I said, I don’t deprive myself) but most of the time I say NO – because I want to keep feeling good!
So if you want to reach a tough goal, like lose X number of pounds – set smaller, more achievable milestones instead. The thing I came to realize though is it isn’t about losing weight at all. It’s about improving your lifestyle in a way that makes you feel GOOD – and setting smaller goals was the best way for me to do that. They not only make you feel more accomplished and fulfilled along the way, but they will get you to your end game faster and easier. I know you can do this. Remember, you are amazing and you are capable of so much more than you realize.