I have lost approximately 8 Kgs this past 8 months sustainably. What I mean by sustainably is that I did it while keeping healthy and accepting my body in all its stages. The few times I tried to lose weight before was from a place of self-loathing which led to yoyo dieting which in turn negatively affected my physical and mental health .That was what was readily available to me then but now that I know better I am doing better. Here are the ways I did it differently this time.
Changing my why
I used to get this wrong. Right now, rather than asking, “Do I look great (using the lens of society’s beauty standards)?” I ask, “Do I feel great?”
Accepting my body
I talk about all the ways I felt my body fell short in this post and the perspective shifts I have had. The main reason I wanted to lose weight in the past was in order to change my appearance – I wanted a flatter stomach, smaller arms, less folds…you know. I can’t point to the exact time where it all changed but when it stopped being about changing my body I stopped obsessing over the scale and started focusing on how my body feels. I only realised how much weight I had lost through the fit of my clothes. Not focusing on changing my body actually worked to change my body but I did not need to check whether this new body fits the beauty standards (which are so unreliable in their ever-changing ways btw) it is just my body.
Strengthening my body’s immunity
Aki I don’t know whether it is the desire to survive or spend forever with my loved ones but me I really really want to live long here. Now I know that when my day comes a green smoothie won’t stop it, but I also believe in minding what is in my circle of influence and letting God take care of the rest. Knowing that my family has a history with diabetes and blood pressure, I want to control my weight which is one of the risk factors.
Increasing my productivity
I have found the activities that lead to weight loss have increased my productivity by boosting my energy levels and helping me lead a more active life. I have so much I still want to do for myself, my family and for others and this is what encourages me to keep trying.
Food is not the enemy
This realisation was a game changer for me: Food is not the enemy, why I am binge-eating might be. I love food so all the approaches that meant I had to avoid eating simply didn’t work.
For me eating consciously means savouring every bite of food and considering the needs of my being. Since I love food I was already doing the savouring part but only the first few bites because I would serve so much and then force myself to finish it. I am now reducing my portions and eating only what I need. As for what my being needs, in the beginning of the year a friend shared how there’s two different types of food the ones that makes the soul happy (like cinnamon rolls😋) and the ones that medicate the body (like kale😊). I have been balancing these two pretty well and I think that’s also helped.
I used to struggle with feeling so full and bloated but during a 21-day fast in the beginning of the year I noticed the issue disappeared. I was also reading up on intermittent fasting and unlike the other diets or approaches I had taken before; it did not involve denying myself food. All I had to do was change my eating pattern. My sleeping pattern made things easier because I am usually asleep during breakfast anyway so that’s how I started doing the 16-hour intermittent fast (from 8-9 p.m. to 12-1.p.m.). It has been about 6 months and I wouldn’t call it intermittent fasting anymore it is just how I eat now. Of course it took some getting used to, especially in the beginning, but here are some hacks that helped: I drink black sugarless tea or coffee or lemon water during my fast; I carry fruits with me on days when I think lunch may be delayed; and when it gets hectic – it is not by force – I just eat.
I had a lunch with @kangaikinetics that completely changed my outlook and attitude towards exercise. Kangai is an advocate for moving more, she’s amazing check out her page. She explained to me how we tend to reduce our physical activity the more we grow and made me see how exercise becomes more and more of a chore the more we take out the adventure and play factor.
Finding something I enjoy
Before, I thought the sure way of exercising had to be in a gym. But after that lunch, I rediscovered activities that I truly enjoyed like swimming and running on the treadmill. Most recently, I have taken up yoga – I love that it allows me to meditate in addition to moving my body. If you follow me on youtube, my atomic habits weekly review videos also encourage me to do these activities consistently by getting in at least six 20-minute sessions a week. Moreover, Kangai’s sharing on N.E.A.T (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) here and here has also encouraged me to move more by doing the simple things of playing more with my sisters, dancing, cooking, doing laundry etc. I am really enjoying it all and the energy boost and joy I feel after is only matched by the feeling of eating delicious food, hehe.
Knowing myself enough to discover just how interconnected my body, spirit and soul are changed everything for me! Checking in with myself more helped me to lose weight because I understood the impact stress had on me and decided that I would seek healthier ways to deal with it.
Understanding how stress affects my body
Pursuing my Honours degree last year was one of the most stressful endeavours I have ever undertaken in this life. Without knowing I resorted to binge-eating as a coping mechanism. I also did not cook when I was supposed to because if I wasn’t studying I was eating. This was one of the ways I gained weight but another interesting one I learnt about was how the cortisol hormone produced when one is stressed also prevents the burning of fat. Knowing this means that I now avoid putting my body under high levels of stress.
Building healthy coping habits
However, it seems that adulting and high stress come as a package therefore I am now more intent about building up healthier coping habits. I started with therapy but that had its issues. I share on YouTube the habits I am developing to help me cope with anxiety and general stress better including meditation, journaling, mood check ins and spending more time in nature. I think also moving back home and taking a gap year (more on this post) did wonders for me in reducing the amount of stress in my life as well as building capacity for better stress management.
I wouldn’t usually make a big deal of losing weight because I feel society’s obsession with it has been toxic for me. However, in this case my weight loss is just one of the indicators of me embracing a healthier, fuller and happier lifestyle. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I have a feeling it will only get better from here. Like with many things in life, I just need to keep at it.
What do you think of weight loss? Are there any sustainable weight loss strategies you have embraced? Let me know.
Go forth and fetch your happiest healthiest fullest life!