Obesity has been the bane of my life, my entire life that is. From childhood I struggled with a weight problem, which quickly moved into an issue with major obesity. I tried in vain to lose weight, only to give up after a few hours of restricting my food intake. There was no way I could maintain a diet. As far as I knew, obesity was to be my future.
For those of us who struggle with major obesity problems, it is a tough journey. We are a unique group of people. We are not just overweight and need to lose a few kilos, we have a mountain to climb. Our struggle is often one of genetic predisposition and a lifetime of unhealthy coping patterns.
Given my history, how did I lose over 100kg? The answer is quite simply, very slowly. Below are some of my insights from the journey. Even if you want to lose a small amount of weight, I hope this helps.
What is your ‘ideal self’?
Having a goal is a good way to start as it helps decision making along the way. Is your picture of your ideal self realistic? What is your bone structure, your genetics, your body type? I’ll never be a runway model, but I can do the best with what I have now. I aim to be my best self, that is feeling healthy and happy within myself and accepting all that I am.
Why do you want to lose weight?
For what purpose is your weight loss, to improve your health or to just look better? Do you want to look like someone you can never be? The best purpose is to improve your health. This means losing weight slowly and carefully.
How did you become obese?
Weight gain doesn’t happen by chance. If you are addicted to high calorie, rich sweet food, how did it start? This is important. We don’t just start uncontrolled eating because it’s what we want. In my case I was seeking comfort. Food was my way of getting my emotional needs met. I learned to feel my emotions rather than shoving them down with food in shame.
If I can’t eat to satisfy my emotional needs, what can I do?
When I restrict food, I become moody. In denying myself what comforts me, I create a bigger problem. I need more comfort for the pent-up emotions as my need for comfort is greater. Back to food I go, but now I need more food and quickly!
The solution for me is to replace food with another form of comfort. The release of endorphins when I walk partially satisfies the need. I also write out my feelings and get a regular massage. Being alone in the garden or nature means I can be me, with all my feelings.
Change only one thing at a time.
It’s tempting to go all out when you desperately need to lose weight. But starting small works best to maintain change. Too many changes at one time are difficult to juggle. I started walking small distances, when I was comfortable with this, I went for longer walks, then in nature. When this was part my lifestyle, I gardened. The same process worked well when changing my diet. Instead of going cold turkey, I didn’t reduce how much I ate, but what I ate. I chose nuts over lollies which helped to fill me. Substitute spice for sugar. Cinnamon in tea is a great substitute for sugar.
Go easy on yourself.
You have been this way for a long time, and it’s going to take time to turn your life around. I liken my journey to turning a large ship in the water. The bigger the ship, the more time and difficulty to turn. So, it is for us.
Other than food, what else can I change to be my best self?
There are many things which impact our health and wellbeing. My latest change has been to reduce the toxins I use in personal items. This has meant changing washing powder, soaps, deodorant and shampoo and conditioner to those which contain fewer toxins. Another idea is to spend time doing what makes you feel good about yourself to reduce stress. This may be taking a bath, going to the beach or for a drive.
We are more than fat.
We are more than our appearance. We are living, breathing human beings with feelings, thoughts, experiences, and relationships. Remember not to become so engulfed in your weight loss journey that you neglect what makes you truly you.
Finally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the safest way to be our best self at any age. Treating ourselves with respect is the only way to age healthily, whatever our genetics.
In love, Jenny