I have been thinking a lot about the only successful way I have ever lost weight, because I don’t hear enough people talk about it. I feel like it is bizarre, and then one other person will say “Me too!” and I realize maybe it’s not that weird, after all.
This was me in college:
While I was never fat, I was always conscious of an extra 10-15 pounds that I really, really wished I could lose. In retrospect, it seems like I tried in vain constantly.
And this was me after my first baby:
I was happy, distracted and completely overwhelmed – I mean engrossed – my new baby. For the first time since puberty I didn’t pay attention to what my body was doing. And to my shock the baby weight kind of vanished.
However, after my second baby the same thing did not happen until I realized how I was sabotaging myself by anxiously trying to rush the process. I chose to calm down and sure enough, got back to pre-baby weight.
Here’s my trick: I only successfully get down to my lightest, happiest self when I stop obsessing over it. If I am able to be happy and busy; if I am able to focus on positive daily habits and choices, and not get all caught up in my head about end results, I drop weight effortlessly – at least that’s how it feels.
Too often I have second-guessed this thing that I discovered about myself after my babies. I internalize negative attitudes from other people – “It’s so much harder after the second [or third] baby”, etc… I allow them to make me feel anxious. Or, I have gotten impatient on a bad body day (which totally happens, just like bad hair days!) and decided to JUST CONQUER myself. I have tried strict calorie counting, food group elimination, sugar fasting, intense working out, etc. The ounces would cling stubbornly to my body and I would be incredibly discouraged.
But then – something will encourage me to try that little trick one more time; that thing where I let go and focus on what makes me feel light and healthy in the moment, and do my best to forget it all.
And just like that, something clicks. The extra poundage evaporates.
So here are my tips that I have found for myself. For what it’s worth.
- You are unique. Know yourself. The older I get, the more I realize – everyone is different! What works for one, doesn’t work for all. It is so funny how I resisted this for so long – how I felt that the idea of Truth was somehow threatened by this reality. When I accepted that we were simply created differently – with as wild a variance in our personalities as you see in flora and fauna – I have been able to love myself and others much more.
You may be one of those people for whom Whole30 is the only thing to get your mind off weight loss. I am the opposite. A restrictive diet that demonizes entire food groups and is, I find, rather contrived, non-traditional and arbitrary (every established culture confidently used a whole grain as the foundation of their natural food pyramid – it was more economical and it kept them alive for generations, so as Pollan says in Food Rules, it’s probably a safe bet), stresses me out and I find myself eating more of the few things I am “allowed” to eat than I need to. Unsurprisingly, I suppose, I never lose more than a measly few pounds. And they don’t stay off.
Maybe you can’t drink and stay slim. My husband feels this way. However, when I allow myself a glass of wine any evening that I want it, I am able to drink a very little and be satisfied. Therefore, part of my way to losing weight is stocking up on nice red wine, dark rich chocolate, and quality gelato. This helps me STOP going for seconds when I don’t really need it.
- Weight loss is NOT physical. It is mental. The mind is a powerful thing! It can sabotage the best efforts, or it can accomplish the seemingly impossible.
You may be able to mind over matter; you can never matter over mind.
If your head is not totally on board and relaxed and peaceful with what you are doing, then you will epically fail. I believe that, deep down, we all know this. Why else would we always fall for those retarded clickbaits – you know the ones, don’t lie! – promising to share “The weird little Secret!” to losing weight? Even though most of us should know by now, there IS no secret? Eat less than your body uses to move per day, and the weight drops accordingly.
The HOW we are looking for is not a physical answer; we want to know each person’s mental solution that helped them get out of their heads and into skinnier jeans. And since, everyone is different (see the first bullet!), I honestly believe this answer can vary infinitely, while yielding the same success.
But part of the key here is – you have to get out of your head for your mind to help you out. You have to stop second guessing yourself and stressing yourself out. Otherwise you are creating the angel on one shoulder, devil on the other dynamic. You have to find a way to be one with yourself and totally at peace, mind and body. When women say “I look at lettuce and gain weight!” I believe them – because they are telling their bodies to do that.
If your mind is at war with your body, the results will never make you happy.
With all that said, it has been key for me – again, this is just what works for my personality! – to STOP VISUALIZING RESULTS. Do not be goal oriented. I just have to find what works to make me feel good in my own skin in the present moment. This most easily happens if we go on a trip and I am busy and distracted and happy. It really helps reset me to feeling skinny. And when I feel skinny – as I am sure you can relate – I eat healthier and less and I do not feel deprived.
When I need a reset, don’t have a trip coming up, and have been in a rut of feeling yucky, my thing is to just try to spend one day only doing and eating what makes me feel light and energetic and happy. Not sluggish and bloated. Just one day. Then I do it the next day. And the next. It typically is on the third day that I start feeling great.
What makes me feel light and energetic? drinking my coffee black. And waiting a bit after I wake up to eat breakfast, instead of anxiously stuffing my face first thing in the morning because I read some article on how essential that was. Focusing on my water intake. I like trying to space my meals by at least 3 hours, but with the caveat that I always allow myself to eat if I’m really hungry. Baby-sipping ONE glass of wine while I cook dinner, so I don’t nibble on food. Walking for an hour in the fresh outdoor air.
I think if you need a reset and you are trying to figure out how to do that, you can play around and experiment with a few things. Please share your findings! you never know who will need to try them! 😉