Weight Loss: Overcoming Setbacks When Trying to Lose Weight
Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will know that there are setbacks along the way. Whether these setbacks are big or small, how you deal with them can mean the difference between success and failure.
Many people see setbacks as failure and allow them to define their success. They let setbacks derail their progress, and often slip back into unhealthy habits, even if they've come a long way on their journey to get healthy and fit.
My own personal struggle with weight loss
I have always struggled with my weight. It hasn't always been a huge concern, but as I get older I realize it's held me back at times. I found myself wondering if my weight was the reason I'm so shy. I assumed it was the reason I have low energy levels, feel tired a lot of the time, and I know it's a huge factor in my issues with self-esteem. I also began to worry about the myriad health issues that can be a result of obesity - diabetes, heart disease, asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and stroke, just to name a few.
At the beginning of 2010, I decided it was finally time to do something about my weight. I had tried many different things over the years with little success because I couldn't stick with them, or I let setbacks dictate my idea of success. Things finally clicked into place for me and I made an effort to exercise every day and eat healthier. My main form of exercise was walking - it's easy, I could do it anywhere, and I really enjoyed it. Within four months, I had lost 35 pounds - far more than I had ever lost at any one time. I was so proud of myself and I felt better than I ever had. I had more energy, more confidence, and I found I was happier and more content.
I had a few setbacks over the summer and I almost let them be my undoing. I slipped back into old habits and allowed myself to gain some of the weight back. I say allow because these things don't happen by accident, as much as we try to tell ourselves that. We are the only ones who can control what foods we eat and how much or how little we exercise. We have to take responsibility for our actions and learn to make conscious decisions.
I knew that I had gained back some of the weight I lost at the beginning of the year. It became most apparent just recently after coming home from a weekend away and seeing the pictures from my trip. I was disgusted with the way I looked; I haven't gained that much weight back, but I had finally managed to get to a place where I was starting to be happy with the way I looked in pictures. I hated myself for letting so much of my hard work come undone by allowing myself to gain weight, and I felt a huge drop in my self-esteem and confidence.
The time to lose weight is NOW - don't put it off
So when I decided on November 30th that I would get back on track the next day, I had a moment where I thought to myself 'great timing, your birthday is in two weeks, Christmas is in three weeks and New Years is in four weeks'. But then I realized not doing it because of those things would be a cop-out. All we really have is now, we can't live for tomorrow or next week or next month. I'm not saying I won't eat junk or have a few drinks to celebrate the upcoming holidays, but I'll work hard at finding ways to make up for it.
I'm the type of person who doesn't believe in depriving myself. I try to stick mainly with healthy, whole foods, and do all my own cooking so that I know what goes into my food, but I allow myself treats once in awhile. For me personally, if I feel deprived (for instance, if I'm really craving chocolate) I'm apt to end up pigging out if I don't allow myself a little bit of a treat every once in awhile. I also try not to feel guilty about a little binge here and there, or eating something that's not on my list of healthy foods. Life happens - parties, outings, restaurants, cravings, holidays - and you can't live your life around trying to lose weight and never allow yourself to have fun.
The main thing is that when you slip up - or even when you make the conscious decision to have something not-so-healthy - make up for it in some way. Cut calories somewhere else during the day, or burn off extra calories somehow. Many people seem to have the mentality of 'well, I've slipped up, might as well just carry on'. I admit I've had those days, but when I was really dedicated to losing weight, I always made a point to make up for it one way or another, whether it meant eating a bit less at dinner or walking an extra mile.
Staying motivated while losing weight
If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've probably had moments when you wonder, 'Is it worth it? Worth cutting out the foods I love, counting calories, exercising regularly, etc?' Or perhaps you find yourself wondering, 'Does it really matter if I lose weight?' The answer to both questions is yes. Absolutely, without a doubt, yes. Yes it's worth it, yes it matters. Losing weight, especially if you're overweight or obese can mean the difference between life and death. You can prevent - or in some cases, like with diabetes and high blood pressure - even reverse serious health issues by losing weight. By getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, you can add years to your life.
It's fairly easy for motivation to falter while trying to lose weight, and setbacks can have a major impact on how motivated you feel. Find ways to stay motivated, whether it's working out with a friend, setting goals daily, weekly and/or monthly, or rewarding yourself - just preferably not with food! Think more along the lines of a new pair of jeans, a night at the movies or a CD you've been wanting.
Don't allow setbacks to be your downfall. If weight loss was easy, there wouldn't be an obesity epidemic in North America. It takes hard work and dedication; there will be setbacks along the way, but if you let them take over, you'll never reach your goals.
Books about staying motivated during weight loss
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