Have you ever found yourself sick of being overweight and dieting for months and months only to come out the other side still looking and feeling the same? Ever feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to figure it all out? I think I might just have the answer you’re looking for. And thankfully, it’s not anything overly technical, difficult or time consuming.
Like many others, I gained a couple of pounds during my college years. Well it was just a tad more than a couple. Being frank, I had gotten myself up to 205 pounds, and pairing that with my vertically challenged height of 5’6”, the BMI scale had me sitting well and truly in the “Obese” range. Not good!
It all happened so fast, too. I hadn’t noticed any significant weight gain or changes in my activity or diet, but one day I awoke to some fat young man staring back at me in the mirror. As a teen I was fairly active in sports and of slim build; this new reflection wasn’t something I enjoyed seeing.
Something had to change.
I knew what I wanted but had no idea on how to get it. So, I turned to the internet! I spent hours documenting every exercise regime I should be following, what “superfoods” I should be eating, taking account of all the must and mustn’t do’s, documenting every cardinal sin that you can expect to come across through any weight loss journey.
I had it all covered.
A fun way to spend a few hours it was not and I came out the other side just feeling confused. Sure I had a list of great and wonderful information, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. Apparently though, it was all I needed, and so I attacked it head first.
The result? I gained 10 pounds.
It was all just a waste of time. I felt lost and exhausted with no idea where to turn next. And this is the harsh truth of most people’s weight loss journeys, they’re periods that usually end up with them being fatter, sadder, and unhealthier.
Well, you’ll be happy to hear that I did eventually manage to lose all that weight. In the span of 5 months I dropped 60 pounds and felt like I had a real grasp on what worked for me. And it was all driven by a simple mind shift when it came to thinking about my diet.
I had gotten so damn frustrated trying to figure out what foods I should be eating, whether I should cut out carbs or focus more on protein. I was sick of trying work out the trick or hack that was going to work for me, only to be left deflated and demoralized at the end. It was rough.
Well, one day I just sat and asked myself one question: “How does the person I want to be eat?” Being a football player, a young working professional and a person who wanted to be more active, I just figured that someone who ticked all those boxes would eat mostly home-cooked meals, maybe takeout once a week and would follow a weekly exercise regime.
So I decided that was the plan I’d take. I swapped out lunchtime Subway sandwiches for homemade ones, replaced my post dinner chocolate with homemade popcorn or fruit, got plenty of sleep and water, and went outside for a couple of sprinting sessions during the week. That was it.
The weight just fell off me.
This isn’t to say that it was easy, it was still challenging and after a long day at work the last thing I wanted to do was cook my dinner. But at times like these I just reminded myself of one thing: “Shane, you can eat whatever the hell you want for dinner and the world will not end. It will not cause your life to collapse and realistically this one meal won’t hinder your diet progress too much. But remember, if you want to be that young, athletic football player, you need to eat like one. So what do you want more? That take out, or that dream body?”
I’ll be the first to admit; this isn’t a hugely altered way of thinking. It’s only a slightly different take on the typical approach. Given how influential our thoughts and outlook can be on our actions though it had a huge impact for me.
I went from having a very negative outlook on my diet where I was saying that I can’t eat this or have to do that to a more positive one where I had choices. Real choices. I could pick whatever path I wanted, so long as I was aware each path had different outcomes that would either bring me further from, or closer to my goals. Ultimately, it gave me back my power.
The reality is that weight loss is tricky. Everyone will take calorie restriction differently than others for a million different reasons. This is also one situation where I don’t think having the internet is very helpful. There are thousands of coaches and bloggers out there are sharing what worked for them, documenting the process you should be taking to replicate their success. All of them are just trying to share something that has made them immensely happy, which is awesome. But often times it makes us feel like we need to force ourselves into their exact same plan, telling ourselves that we can’t eat this or have to do that. It’s all very negative.
Now, I understand that my advice here today could be regarded as being the same thing, but it’s not. For some people following complex diets with exact rules, calorie calculators and meal plans might be what they need. They might need the logical structure to keep them dedicated and on track. But on the other hand, many people will also see better results taking a more relaxed approached where this positive spin on thinking will be a huge benefit!
If you take but one message away, let it be this:
Remember that nothing drastically bad will happen if you deviate from the diet plan a little. The world will not end and puppies will not be killed. Will it impact your progress? Maybe. But you have the power to choose the path you go down.
Every action you take will either bring you closer to your goals or further from them. And if you’re one of the thousands who are sick of putting in the effort, dealing with the frustrations, and not getting very far, maybe a mental shift is what’s needed.
Rather than telling yourself that you can’t eat that chocolate bar, and you’ve failed if you do so, remind yourself that you can eat it if you want but if you chose not to, you will be one step closer. One step closer to that ever elusive dream body that you so desire will make the sacrifice that much easier to live with!