One year ago this was me.
Tipping the scales at 300+ pounds with a desperate desire to lose weight. That girl in this picture felt trapped under a lifetime of food issues and diet failures. That girl wanted so desperately to be skinnier, stronger, healthier, to be….well just different. That girl wanted to be able to step on a scale at the doctor’s office and not have to stare blankly at the cheap art on the walls to avoid glancing at that dreaded number blinking on the scale like a warning beacon. That girl wanted to go on vacation without worrying she wouldn’t fit in an airplane seat.
In fact, that girl wanted change more than anything in the world…but then again she had longed for that change her entire life.
Oh sure I wanted to start a million times! I would be all motivated to lose weight…the “That’s it! I’ve had enough!” moments. I would see a motivational weight loss story or the latest commercial on a new weight loss plan and get all fired up! “YES! Look at that! She did it, so I can do it!” Instantly I was motivated to start…this time would be different! This time I would succeed…let’s do this Mandi!
But suddenly I would stop myself before even starting…
And the reason was simple…I had absolutely no clue HOW to start. In other words, my heart was in the right place…but my brain had no idea how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task.
Starting a diet is one of the hardest things in the world to do. I mean after all, to successfully lose weight and find health you have to change your ENTIRE LIFE. You have to change how you eat, how you think, how you act, how you move…you have to change everything! So it’s no wonder that most of us spend our lives stalled at the starting line.
Yes, I’ve been there, I’ve basically spent my whole life there.
But it’s time to get off the starting line…
Don’t wait for Monday.
If you are like me, the idea of dieting always seemed like it needed to have a big kickoff event. I mean after all, I’m about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime, I have to have a proper send off!
But here’s the problem with waiting for your big moment to start your lifestyle change…if you wait for a big kickstart moment, this moment may never come. There is never going to be the perfect time to start a lifestyle change. You may think that you need to wait until Monday to start, or January 1st with all the New year, New you crowd, or after you finish that package of Oreos in your pantry (can’t waste food after all!)
My friends, don’t wait for Monday. There is no better day than today. Yes, even if you are reading this at 8:00 p.m. after a day of eating doughnuts and pizza you can start…RIGHT NOW. This past year has been the most monumental and pivotal year of change in my life, both physically and emotionally, and it started with no bells and whistles, no big send off day. No proper before picture. I didn’t even know my technical start weight (I use a weight from my last doctor’s appointment which I called to get 1 month into the journey). I just…well started.
Understand going in that it’s going to suck for awhile.
Let’s get this one out of the way. ……a lifestyle change of his magnitude sucks at first. I won’t sugar coat it for you. Do not expect it to be smooth sailing, easy, fun or even remotely doable at first. A lot of people go into a diet and the second it gets hard, they instantly stop because they think: “There’s no way I can live my whole life like THIS!!?!”
Why do you think it took me several months before I started telling my story, blogging, writing articles etc?? Truth be told when I started I was so miserable that I doubted my own sanity for doing this to myself. I would not have recommended what I was doing to even my worst enemy. In fact, if I would have blogged it would have read “Just eat the pizza…because this is insane!”
Completely changing the way your body is used to eating is very hard, especially when you are depriving it of sugar and carbs, two things that your body has been so used to all these years. I’ve read that sugar is like a powerful drug and taking it away from your body will make you feel withdrawal symptoms. Well, I now know this is true. It’s even got a name…”Low carb flu” they call it. It’s definitely a real thing.
When I started I was hungry all hours of the day. I felt deprived. I mourned the loss of bread like someone mourns the death of a loved one. I had headaches, I was tired. I was moody. I was miserable.
And working out??? Well, … I hated… no despised.. no full out loathed working out!! I looked stupid sweating bullets through my way too tight spandex pants. I was always out of breath and couldn’t even walk 2 laps around the track without feeling like I would collapse. And yes, although I hate to admit it…. I even rolled my eyes at sweet old people when they lapped me on the track.
So why am I telling you this when I’m trying to motivate you to start? Well, knowing this up front makes it easier to handle. Just know that this introductory “I hate everything” stage is very short lived. It’s temporary, and if you can get through the first 30 days, I do promise it gets much much easier.
DON’T try to see the forest for the trees.
You have heard the classic advice 1000 times – “See the Forest for the trees”! In other words, don’t focus on the details when you are faced with a problem, but rather focus on the larger picture, the end result.
Well, that might work for a lot of life’s problems, but in my opinion it has no place in a daunting task such as losing weight or finding health. Too many people when they start diets are focused on the final goal. But here’s the problem with that, if you only focus on the end result you will become so overwhelmed! 100 pounds…how on earth am I ever going to lose 100 pounds! That will take forever! I’ll never make it without bread that long!
Goals are okay to have, but don’t overly focus on them. Focus on the details, all the little things you have to do and accomplish before you reach that end goal. I have to learn how to survive an occasional drive thru lane. I have to find time to work out during a work week. I have to find a way to love veggies again. These little problems are manageable and easy to conquer. Focus on each “tree” and before you know it you will be loving life in your new forest!
Imitation is the highest form of flattery but the quickest path to failure.
I’ve dieted for over 20 some years, and when I dieted in the past I always followed the “new diets”, I read about how so and so was doing it and copied what they did to a T. I wanted to mirror their every move so I got the same results.
The problem with this is that we are all different. That’s why I shy away from questions about how many carbs I eat a day, or the meals I prepare in an average week. My life is different than yours. You have different problems, different time constraints, different cravings. Simply put, you are not me.
Let me give you an example. I work out every day. To you that may seem impossible. You may have younger children and have child care issues, you may not have a flexible work schedule like I do or a husband and Mom to help cart around your kids while you work out. In your world, working out three times a week may be what works. That’s okay. This journey is about finding your own path, not taking mine.
So be careful about mimicking what others do. It’s okay to get advice and tips from people, and follow recipes and what-nots on Pinterest, but try and take the ideas from others and adapt them to work in your world. Some will work, some will not.
Rome wasn’t built in a day… so neither can you.
Dieting success happens at different times for different people. I lost 20 pounds my first month of dieting, you may only lose 2. Don’t expect fast results. If your results happen to happen quickly, then that’s awesome, but it’s also okay if they don’t. This is not a race.
So take things at your own pace. When I started, I was not a runner (actually I was hardly a walker), I would never in a million years take an exercise class because I thought I looked stupid. The idea of going in a room full of legit weight lifters and lifting was absolutely mind blowing. Now of course I do all of those things. But I don’t want you to sit there thinking you have to start day one in exercise classes and running a 5k in order to be successful. Take things at your own pace.
In fact my first 75 pounds lost was accomplished doing nothing but getting 10,000 steps a day, by walking….slower than old people as I told you earlier. Yep, that’s how I lost 75 pounds. Just me, my tennis shoes, and this track.
The fact I am a workout “beast” as my husband calls me, came with time. It came from bravery, which came with confidence, which came from meeting goals and getting stronger. It’s a process. You can do this without stepping foot in a Body Pump class or working out a gym full of people that look like sculpted Barbie dolls. Work out in the comfort of your own home if that makes you feel better. After all thanks to You Tube you can pretty much do any kind of exercise class hidden in your dark basement. Stay in your comfort zone until the bravery comes to step out of it!
Stay away from scales… far far away.
Do me a favor when you start and do not under any circumstances weigh yourself every day, or even every week. Doing this will make you a slave to the scale, and make you doubt the process. Along my journey I weighed myself every month. That’s it. This made weighing myself a joy, because after a month I saw larger numbers lost. Seeing 20 pounds lost on a scale is better than seeing .2 pounds lost because you weigh yourself every day. Scales are more destructive than they are helpful. Remember that.
The smallest changes will lead to your largest ones.
Going low carb is completely a baby step game. You do not have to dive right in. I most certainly didn’t. Make small changes, and remember it’s LOW carb, not NO carb. Swap out your morning cereal for a sausage patty on a low carb tortilla. Switch from regular to low sugar ketchup. Order thin crust pizza instead of thick. Get a salad instead of a sandwich at lunch. Find the little changes that are doable. These are what adds up to a new way of eating.
Stop asking and start doing.
Which leads me to my final piece of advice, and it’s a big one…stop asking and start doing! Stop wondering how you can get started. Stop wondering how you will live without sugar. Stop wondering if you will be able to devote workout time to yourself every day. Stop overthinking the process and just get started. I honestly credit my success with the fact that 9 times out of 10 my feet start moving before my brain starts thinking. Be like Nike and just do it!
Okay ready to get started? Let’s do this!