Lessons from significant weight loss
The result of significant weight loss is not just a drop in numbers on the scale, but also lessons learned outside of the training room.
Having done this myself, I’m familiar with the struggles of changing your body. Believe me, I’ve been there and got the t-shirt…or rather, thrown away the t-shirts because they were far too big after 2 years. Not only did I learn how to sustainably lose body fat and keep it off, I learned a lot about myself along the way. I was unhappy with the way I looked when I was 17.5 stone, but more so I was unhappy with how I thought about myself. I would look in the mirror and constantly look for the parts of my body I felt didn’t look good. It’s taken a while for me to get my head around this especially and so I would consider the lessons I learned much more valuable than the weight loss itself. Here’s my take on what the journey, rather than the outcome, can give you.
Re-framing the goals: finding a goal that REALLY means something to you
The first thing I want to mention is setting a goal other than just losing weight on the scale. If my story is sounding similar to yours seeing the lbs drop on the scale can be a big motivator and theres no problem with that. However, I want to present you with an additional idea for measuring progress. (Note: don’t feel as if this is the only way you could measure this. It could be a t shirt, a bikini, a new pair or jeans or even an item of clothing or accessory you haven’t bought yet) I had a pair of jeans that were 36 inch waist and I was a 42 inch waist, so I set about trying on these trousers every few weeks to see how they fit. Little by little they got more and more manageable and I was starting to nearly fit into them. A little while after that I had squeezed into them. Before I knew it I had to throw them out because they had become too big. This whole process was over about 6-8 months. Now, I firmly believe that if I was only looking at weight on the scale, this process would not have been nearly as rewarding. Without realising, I had given myself a goal that I felt more emotionally attached to. It was a powerful thing. Having this avoids the temptation to get caught up in a numbers game with the scale. I wanted to lose weight so I felt happier, not so I could reach X stone. The losing weight would be a part of the process in feeling happier in myself. What came as a consequence of this was that I could actually fit into my clothes and it helped me to feel more confident.
Take away message: Having a goal for weight loss is great, but whats the reason you’re wanting to lose weight? Thats your goal, the weight loss however can act as a facilitator along with other things in allowing you to reach your ultimate goal. Finding a goal other than weight, body fat % or inches can give you a different kind of drive towards reaching your goals. You know those jeans you’ve been looking at, but there too small for you? Buy them. You’re going to fit into them one day soon.
The helpless perfectionist: perfection never comes, but excellence does
I’m as guilty as the next self admitting perfectionist…for a long time I was not happy because I had not achieved the ‘perfect look’ (I still to this day can’t define what this is, or how I would have to act to get there…signs that it isn’t really what I was aiming for). It’s something I think everyone going through a change in body composition will have to confront at some point or another. Know this… perfection will never arrive and thats okay. In fact its better than okay, its awesome that you’ll never be perfect. What you can be is excellent. I speak from experience when I say the only person that expects perfection of you when it comes to weight loss is yourself. So stop sweating the small stuff, make changes you can manage and be consistent with them. Nobody is perfect, so embrace your individuality and let weight loss become part of your personal journey through life. Do the best you can. That is excellence, not perfection. Anyway, if we were all perfect we’d get bored of each other!
Take away message: It’s fine to have an off day, don’t sweat it. You’re progress is the sum of all of your efforts, so take the lessons you can from mistakes and think about how you can learn from them and put this into action in the future.
There’s no rush: sustainability is key
This is perhaps the lesson I revisit most often, because once you’ve put it into application in a meaningful way once it’ll help you when you need to do the same again at a later date. I understand how frustrating it can feel at the very start of your journey. Having friends with six packs while your belly overhangs your already tight 42 inch waist trousers doesn’t make for comfortable changing before rugby. But celebrating the small victories does help. When you see a small change in the mirror, you bloody well earned that. Be proud of yourself and keep on going. Another will come soon. It took me 2 years to drop 4 stone and while that might seem like a long time for some of you, it was worth taking every minute of that 2 years to chip away at it. It’s stayed off and I allowed myself time to develop habits one at a time. By the end of the two years, I looked back at where I started and I couldn’t really believe that it had been 2 years since I started. This isn’t to say that you can’t do it faster, but doing it at a pace that suits you is much more effective long term than crashing into something unsustainable.
Take away message: You’re going to get there. If you want this, don’t fret about how far you’ll be in 6 weeks in comparison to your long term goal. Celebrate your short term achievements, day to day and week to week. The small victories add up to make one hell of a journey.
Losing weight can sometimes lead to a focus on numbers on a scale, body fat or tape measure. However, what you’ll gain from your decision to do this is much more than just a figure of how much you’ve lost. In fact, I’d say theres actually much more to gain than there is to lose.
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