“Fall in love with the process. The results will come.”
In the last four years, I’ve discovered the secret to permanent weight loss and weight loss success. I’m officially down 50 lbs. and I’ve lost over 100 inches over my entire body. I’ve gone from a close-to-size 22 to a size 16 in that time. That success lies in the decisions you make each and every day. From rising early and downing eight ounces of room-temperature lemon water to getting in that ten-minute, sweat-inducing workout session at the end of your workday before dinner needs to be on the table and the parent-teacher conference that has been on the calendar since the school year started. Life can and does get crazy, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice taking care of ourselves. I stumbled on this list, written by Chris Freytag, this morning and I’ve discovered that these things combined with godly self-care goes a long way in being able to care for others and do the work God has called you to.
I included her list below along with my own comments on what I’ve done myself and what has worked in my life.
Weight Loss Motivation
- Set a small, specific goal. Stick it on the fridge or your bathroom mirror. I don’t think I’ve stuck my goals to the fridge or my mirror, but I’ve had them set as a message that displays on my smartphone, which is a great tool to utilize when you’re at the gym. When it comes to weight, I do not set a deadline. I have a goal in mind, yes, but I do not submit myself to a deadline. I am not defined by a number and I’m learning to embrace the truth of who I am in Christ regardless of what the scale says or what others say.
- Use your scale a gauge to track your progress and not as a body-shaming device. That number doesn’t define you. It never should. No matter what the scale reads, you are still a joy in the eyes of God. You are His son or daughter. That’s just it…you are His.
- Take before and after pictures. You won’t believe how much real proof motivates. I have before and after photos. Many of them, actually, and I barely recognize the girl in the photos prior to December 2010. Sure, I remember her and she is a part of my past, but she doesn’t define who I am today. In fact, she motivates me to keep at it.
- Buy a new outfit that you want to rock. Hang it where you can see it daily for a visual reminder to stick to your goals. Or, reward your small wins with new workout gear! I held on to a pair of jeans I wore during my freshman year of college and I can’t even wear them now. I’m smaller! Today, I prefer to get myself new workout gear. Having something new to wear to the gym or owning a new piece of equipment that I can add to my exercise stash at home adds another layer of encouragement. I look forward to trying them out!
- Focus only on losing the next two pounds. Whether you want to lose ten pounds or 100 pounds, focusing on micro-goals can you from feeling overwhelmed. Think two pounds at a time. Small goals + persistence = success. Success comes in all sizes, big and small. Focus on the smaller number and you won’t be overwhelmed. Fifty pounds in four years…that’s about 12.5 lbs. a year and…the slower it comes off, the longer it will stay off. Plus, you give your skin and mind a chance to catch up with the rest of you.
- Try on your jeans once a week to gauge how you are doing. My go-to is actually a beautiful tank top my mom got me when I was in college. It fits now!
- Surround yourself with support. Support can be friends, family, inspirational images, a fitness app, or all of the above. I’ve been blessed with like-minded friends, encouraging family members, Pinterest boards full of inspirational messages and images and plenty of fitness apps on my phone and online to keep me going. Having that group of friends and family member who cheer you on and support you makes losing weight and keeping off that much more fun.
- Make a list of what works for you and keep doing those things. Now you have your own little success list. Not everyone enjoys running. I don’t. I prefer high intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga and Pilates. I like the elliptical. I like to bike. I like strength training. I don’t mind sprinting for 30 seconds at a time or jogging for a minute. Beyond that, I hate it. The goal here is to find out what you like and what works and sticking with it. Note here, finding out what these things are will take time. It’s recommended that you stick with a routine that you like/enjoy doing for 6+ weeks in order to see results. Contrary to popular belief in this microwave society/culture we live in, results will not come overnight. It didn’t take me three days to pack on the weight and be lazy. It took years. It’s the same with losing it and becoming the healthy person you long to be. It’s taken me four years to get to where I am now. I’m not where my goal is, but I’m content with where I am right now. Not satisfied. Content. Two very different things. Satisfaction implies the idea that I don’t have to work anymore. I can just stop. Hopping on the fifty-year-plan band wagon does not allow me to quit. I have to work just as hard or harder to stay where I am at or move forward. Contentment simply means that I am happy here. I can find joy here. But, just as Jesus didn’t leave me where He found me, I won’t leave myself here. I enjoy a good challenge…unfortunately, only when I’m the one throwing myself into it, not when it’s unexpected. Control freak I am…
- Visualize the way you want to look. I can only imagine the way I’ll look when all is said and done. Do not compare yourself to fit-looking, thin girl lifting some serious weight in the squat rack. You won’t look like her. You weren’t created to look like her. You look like you. God made you. He loves you as is, but he loves you enough not to leave you there. I’ve dreamt how I would look and it’s not what I see in the mirror today. It’s better.
- Cancel negative thoughts and replace with positive thoughts. Practice the positive and build it up over time like a muscle. Only you have control over what you think. Being naturally optimistic, I’ve been able to see the silver lining in many situations. I don’t like the way negative thoughts leave me feeling and by the grace of God, I’ve been able to stifle those with His truth which can only be found in Scripture. Pray for discernment in that area. Ask Him to open your eyes to what He sees when He looks at you…not what this broken world or even your own broken perception sees.
- Find someone to be your accountability partner. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. My friend and personal cheerleader has often threatened to beat me with a CrossFit® training class if I don’t make it to the gym at least three times a week. How does she know I’m there? I check-in on Facebook. I tweet about my workout. I log it in my online workout diary. She sees it and encourages it. She holds me accountable with grace, mercy and truth. You have to have all of that and it’s a fine line to balance on, but when it’s done right, it goes far.
- Celebrate your small wins and share your progress with a Facebook post, Tweet or Instagram pic. This is why I check in and share what week I’m on or how I’m doing. I also blog about it. Find your out, your own form of encouragement and do it.
- Practice self-compassion. Stop beating yourself up for missing a workout. Stop regretting what you ate. Practice kindness and understanding with yourself and simply make a better choice next time. Guess what? You are human and that’s okay. I couldn’t agree more. Encourage yourself. Tell yourself you will make the better choice next time. I’m not perfect and this health thing has not been easy. It has been worth all the ups and downs and days I’ve wanted to call it quits. Exercise
- Vary up your workouts. Don’t “Ground-Hog-Day” your workouts. Avoid having each day look the same. It’s important to do something different. I don’t do the same thing two-three days in a row. Your body gets use to doing the same thing when repeated day in and day out. Shake things up. Keep it guessing. Plus, you’ll mitigate your risk of injury by shaking up your workouts.
- Incorporate strength training and focus on specific muscle groups. Avoid exercising the same muscle groups two days in a row. I currently do full body strength-training on Tuesdays and Fridays. This gives me at least three days in between to allow them to heal, rest up and get stronger before I have another go at it. Feel the burn, friends. Feel the burn!
- Track you exercise. You can use an app like MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, or you can go old school and write it down on a calendar. Logging your workouts gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment. I use FitClick.com to track my workouts. They’ve got an app for the iPhone, but not for Android systems yet.
- Warm-up. You will accomplish more and stay injury-free. Note: This does not mean static stretches before you work out. We’re talking arm circles, a brisk walk, marching in place, etc. This will warm your muscles up – hence “warm-up.”
- Have a workout DVD ready to go for those days when it’s dark, rainy, snowy or cold and you don’t want to venture out or go to the gym. Now you’ve got your Plan B in place (or you could utilize the small, not-so-great gym in the lower of your apartment complex if you’ve got one).
- Download a new fitness app. Here are Chris’s favorite apps.
- Aspire to sweat from exercise at least three times a week. Ideally, I strive for five, but there are some weeks where I only get three to four sessions in.
- Don’t over-train. Signs of over-training include irritability, tension, restless sleep, aches and pains and a decline in athletic performance. Be aware of your body. It will tell you what it needs. Rest when it needs rest.
- Do some bodyweight exercises weekly. Planks, squats, lunges and push-ups anyone?
- Stretch after your workout when your body is warm. This will go a long way in keeping you injury free.
- Sign up to your first 5K to jog or walk and catch the motivation of a crowd. I have yet to do this. Bring it on 2015!
- Try a Plank challenge. I have done this and boy…my entire body ached with “deliciousness” when all was said and done.
- Master the micro-workout. Even if you only have ten minutes, use those ten minutes wisely.
- Use hand weight and resistance bands at home for some bonus strength-training.
- Breathe deeply during your workouts. Your muscles and body need oxygen to work effectively.
- Schedule exercise like an appointment. You wouldn’t cancel an appointment with your doctor or a friend, would you?
- Do something active with your family at least once a week.
- Add intensity to your workouts: add time, speed or effort to your regular workout to take it up a notch.
- Put your treadmill on an incline and vigorously move your arms while you walk. I’ve come to think of this as indoor hiking.
- Join a group fitness class.
Food & Nutrition
- Eat fiber rich foods like green beans, broccoli, avocado, bananas, spinach, pears, Brussel sprouts, oranges, apples, beets, almonds, beans, brown rice, flax seeds, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and raspberries. I also keep an eye out for what is in season. It’s winter. Reach for that squash!
- Calories are the holy grail of weight loss. Keep your eye on your portions. Use the salad plate, not the big one. And men…go for the recommended serving size or just a few more. Do not double this. Being a “guy” is not an excuse.
- Keep a food journal. Tracking keeps you more aware of your choices all day long. You’ll be amazed at how much more aware you’ll be about what you’re eating.
- Eat clean. Stop eating foods that come in a package and try to each more foods that come from the earth. My go-to on this: if you can’t pick it, pluck it, milk it or shoot it, don’t eat it.
- Set it and forget it. Make slow cooker meals to eat healthy and keep your life easy-breezy.
- Give up soda and diet soda. This was the first thing I did…way back in 2009. This is one decision I have not regretted. Your teeth and body will thank you.
- Eat healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, avocado and seeds.
- Schedule planned indulgences. You can your favorites without any guilt nonsense. Amen!
- Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Try to reduce the amount of packaged and boxed items in your grocery cart.
- Have a prep day. Cut up veggies and have them ready to go in the fridge. Make up a batch of brown rice or cut up a rotisserie chicken for salads or a snack. Make some healthy grab and go snacks. Make eating healthy easier for you to do. I cannot stress these last two points enough. Shopping the perimeter of the store and taking a day to prep your food for the week will enable you to lead a healthier life and make room for the things your enjoy during the week – like spending time with friends and family.
- Add more protein to your diet: lentils, beans, quinoa, eggs, fish and lean meats.
- Create a fail-safe environment. Make a list of your trigger foods (those you can’t stop eating if they are in the house) and don’t buy them. Why make it harder for yourself? My trigger foods include Oreos. I don’t buy them for that reason.
- Try healthier dessert recipes. Just in time for the holidays!
- Drink water all day. Start your day with a tall glass of lemon water. Squeeze about half of a lemon into your room temperature water. So simple and yet so good for your body. Read more about lemon water and how it benefits your body.
- Love your music playlist. Music motivates. Music YOU love motivates YOU even more.
- Sleep 7-8 hours each night.
- Stand up more than your sit down. If your job doesn’t allow for that, stand up once an hour and try to sit less when you aren’t at work. I got a sit-stand station at work in April of this year. I sit less than 20% of my day. The rest of the time, I’m either standing, moving or sleeping.
- Quiet your mind. Use blocks of your time to unplug, enjoy the silence, recharge and organize your thoughts.
- Switch from diets to lifestyle change. Diets are temporary and something you on or off, lifestyle is permanent. I’ve seen first-hand what living on a diet plan does to people and I’ve experienced it myself once. I tried NutriSystem back in 2007 and while the scale moved down, I didn’t feel any better. Plus, it was expensive living on that processed food plan. I now make healthier food choices and prefer to have homemade soups or salads and fresh meat verses any of that. These choices are things I can live with and change up if needed during the rest of my life.
- Get regular health screenings for blood pressure and cholesterol. If your numbers are good you will want to
keep doing what you’re doing. If they aren’t so good, your numbers will motivate you to change some habits.
- Spend time in nature to clear space for your mind and stay focused on your goals. I enjoy taking long walks. I may live in the city, but Minneapolis and St. Paul (and the surrounding metro area) have an entire trail system and lakes to enjoy…not to mention the Mississippi River, which is my go-to spot since I live about a mile (12 blocks) away. I’ve even gotten into the habit of layering up to get in my seven-mile walk around the river in the winter. The cold will not kill you or make you sick. Just be mindful of the weather and take extra precautions as needed.
- Follow some fitness enthusiasts on social media. Are we connected on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram or even here? I’m here for you!
I’ve done most, if not all, of the above and have found that they do indeed work. Don’t be too rigid with yourself. Set small goals and reward yourself for meeting them (not with food). Living on the 50-year plan is about patience and positivity. Tweak your lifestyle one little piece at a time and you’ll soon discover that you’ve completely remade how you were living a few years ago.
If you’re in need of accountability, support, tips or just looking for a cheerleader, connect with me or any other fitness enthusiast. I would also love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below.