Six Steps to Joyful Weight Loss,
The Simple Answers to Sustained Weight Loss.
As the spring rolls in it is a time many people declare, “the summer is almost here! I have to lose 10 pounds fast!”. With swimwear lining the racks at every retail store, pictures of idealized men and women sporting what is declared “in”, the expectation looms, I have to fit into that or I’m not going to enjoy my summer.
Weight loss is a true necessity for some individuals in order to improve health and mobility. However, for many it is a belief that thin is beautiful while cellulite, soft bellies, and rolls are ugly. This is a truly unrealistic expectation of many typical (and beautiful) bodies.
Isn’t the goal of healthy eating to simply eat with no obsession, fear or rigidity?
Weight loss for the sake of increased confidence and enjoyment of the body’s appearance can be a wonderful experience. It can be a totally reasonable and attainable venture (as long as realistic expectations are held in mind), but the way it’s sought after currently is ludicrous at best.
I cannot count the number of “fad” diets that plague the media, work places, and communities which rarely lead to long term weight stability… because isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Isn’t the ultimate goal to achieve a body type that you enjoy and maintain with sustainable effort? Isn’t the goal of weight loss to enjoy it for years without it wildly fluctuating with moods, stress, or life adjustments? Isn’t the goal of healthy eating to simply eat with no obsession, fear or rigidity?
Not only accept... but embrace.
Here is the simple answer to sustained weight loss using six strategies… and, no, I am not going to chant “you’ll lose 30 pounds in a month if you do X, Y or Z”, or “these super-foods are the key to a perfect washboard belly”. Because these are simply not accurate. The key to achieving an individually ideal body is totally available to you, yet comes with no unrealistic expectations.
One… Accept where you are right now. Not only accept... but embrace. Embrace your rolls, curves, “beer” bellies, and cellulite. Why? Because in order to sustain weight loss you first must embrace and love your body. You need motivation to eat foods that offer nourishment, motivation comes from caring and dedication. Caring and dedication come from love.
If you do not love your body as it is, it is hard to surrender to the sometimes lengthy process of weight loss. Eventually, you could become resentful of your body and give up. But if you love your body, accept it as it is and simply take care of it everyday. Why would you give up on it?
Your body deserves appropriate nourishment all the time...
Two… Detach from expectations. One key to detaching from expectations is getting rid of the clothes that don’t fit your body as it is currently. You might declare, “but I’m going to fit into them after I lose all this weight!” Maybe. What if you don’t? What if that’s simply not where your body will end up if it’s taken care of appropriately?
Looking at those clothes might feel like a goal, yet it can also be a frustration and hindrance. You can always purchase or make new clothes. It is time to shed the past. Returning to step one, your goal is to love your body as it is now. Eyeing those old jeans in your drawer is only wishing your body is different than it is and will not uphold current self love. Let it go… getting rid of these old clothes
is symbolic of current self acceptance. To let them go is to let go of self judgement.
...losing the heavy skin of the past...
Here is a symbolic activity, try on those old clothes. Feel how uncomfortable they are. Feel the frustration or disappointment. Then, while visualizing shedding self judgement, pull them off slowly as if you are losing the heavy skin of the past, tossing them into a donation bag and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that comes up. You might cry, you might grieve… and then… let go. Or you might be relieved and freed. Either one is okay.
Three... Do not engage in extreme dieting. Why? Because, first of all, your body deserves appropriate nourishment all the time. It deserves time to change. It deserves your kindness and attention. It does not deserve (you do not deserve) to be subjected to harsh restrictions. Going back to full acceptance of your body as it is now does not lend itself to the need to “hurry up” or “lose weight fast”. After all, if you love your body as it is, why do you need to change it fast? The pressure of expectations is relieved.
...anger, shame, self hate is more damaging to your body than those donuts...
Four… Only do the best you can and forgive yourself for “messing up”. You ate a donut (or four donuts)? Okay, no problem. There’s no need to give up. Sure, you’re body may not like that food very much, but it also won’t benefit from anger or self hate. In fact, anger, shame, self hate is more damaging to your body than those donuts.
You are human. You get to be messy and imperfect and loved and valued all at the same time. Return to acceptance and nurture your body anyway. Embrace it, tell it “I’m sorry for giving that food to you, but I love you nonetheless and we’ll work together to make the next meal better for you”. That’s it. Done. Then simply seek to use nourishment and kindness with the next meal.
...guess what… you can have whatever food you want whenever you want.
Five... Enjoy all the food you eat, no matter what it is. And remind yourself “I can have (insert favorite delight here) any time I want”. Hmm… it sounds like this a contradiction. There is a method to this madness.
If you tell yourself “I can’t have this, that or the other” it creates a couple of unwanted effects. First, a sense of deprivation. Because, guess what… you can have whatever food you want whenever you want. It’s there for you and if you eat it, that’s okay. Enjoy it, savor it, no guilt and no shame. Deprivation may only cause you to retaliate and that spells self sabotage. Second, when we feel anger or shame it creates a battle within us. The battle only creates resentment, which creates retaliation, which creates self sabotage. It is pointless to feel ashamed about anything you eat. It’s just food, not “good” not “bad”, it is an inanimate object with no moral value.
Enjoy what you are doing, whether you choose weight lifting or restorative Yoga, no judgement.
Six… Simplify, simplify, simplify. Keep your meals simple and easy. If you’re confused about what things to change in your diet visit with a nutritionist or coach, create a plan and call it done. Find the easiest ways to meet your needs as possible. If you are not used to cooking or preparing meals ahead of time, this can become overwhelming, and if you are aiming for unreasonable expectations you might abandon the endeavor all together.
As for exercise...
Apply all the above. Accept where you are right now and Detach from expectations. Avoid Extreme regimes that are over exerting, Forgive yourself for missing days and simply start again. Enjoy what you are doing, whether you choose weight lifting or restorative Yoga, no judgement. And, lastly, Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. The best way to maintain a disciplined routine is through simplicity and regularity. Try choosing one activity to do three to five times a week for a week or two, such as walking. Then, switch the activity or add one more in, such as walking and Yoga or walking and weight lifting, etc.
These six strategies can be extraordinarily healing while bringing you the weight loss you’re looking for. Yet, the beauty of this “diet plan” is that it’s not only the end results you get to enjoy, it’s the pleasure of the journey itself. And that is the key to sustainable and joyful weight loss.
Enjoy your journey.
Sarah is a Yoga psychotherapist and life coach specializing in prenatal and postpartum women battling anxiety, eating disorders and body shame. Sarah works virtually with women around the country and in-person in Middleboro, Massachusetts.
However, Sarah is a spiritual seeker and often blogs on issues outside of prenatal or postpartum concerns. She has many years experience as a grief counselor and spiritual teacher. Today she focuses her attention and energy on women during one of the most sacred times in all of life.