It’s January, which means we’re all about to be bombarded with the usual diet detox bullshit so I thought I’d throw my Wholeheartedly Healthy approach into the mix! It’s now been 7 years since I made my New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, going on to lose 4 stone in a year. Since then, as regular readers of the blog will know, it has been an up and down journey for me, but I’m happy to say I’ve kept off most of the weight. As a holistic health coach I have lots of experience on the topic of weight loss so I thought I’d start a mini series of blog posts all about it this January.
Where better to begin than my take on the truth about losing weight! So much will be written about it now and over the next couple of weeks, but there are a few realities that you can’t sugar coat…
It’s ok if you want to, and it’s ok if you don’t
I feel like there’s such pressure on us women. Half the time we’re told we should be losing weight, and the rest of the time we’re told we should love our bodies and be happy as we are. For me, I don’t think those things have to be mutually exclusive, however it’s the messages we get that can be confusing and make us feel bad whichever path we choose. It’s ok to love your body as it is now, and want to lose weight. It’s ok to love your body as it is now, and not want to lose weight. You are the commander of your own ship! Only you know what feels good and is healthy for you, and that’s the approach I’d advocate here. If you feel like you’d be healthier losing some weight, that’s ok, it’s how you approach it that is key.
There are no quick fixes
Honestly there is nothing that is going to help you lose weight overnight or even in a few weeks, certainly not if you want your weight loss to stick. It’s going to take time, sometimes months and even years to find a happy weight for your body. Speaking from experience though, it’s so worth it!
Eating healthy food might not be enough
There’s a big belief that if you just start eating ‘clean’ foods that you’ll automatically drop weight and become a size 8. Unfortunately for some of us that’s simply not enough. If you have underlying hormonal issues, mindset problems or blood sugar level imbalances, you might need to do more than just eat clean to lose weight. I’m talking about reducing (not necessarily quitting) sugar and natural sugars, managing portion sizes and most importantly dealing with the mindset and emotional stuff that holds you back.
Less is not more
Eating less and less food will not help you lose weight. It’s true when people say that your body will enter starvation mode and its metabolic rate (the rate at which food / fat stores are burned for energy) will drop. It’s finding a balance where your body is losing 1-2 lbs a week that’s the key.
Cardio is not king
I used to spend hours and hours in the gym on the cardio machines. Yes cardiovascular exercise like running is good for you, but unless you’re training for a marathon or half marathon, constant rate cardio probably isn’t the best thing to help you lose weight. Weight training supports your body to build muscle which is metabolically active (i.e. burns calories) even at rest, so even if you’re not burning as many calories during your workout, you’ll be burning more calories overall. High Intensity Interval Training is a form of cardio which is performed over a shorter period of time (shorter workouts, score!) and also has a greater effect on metabolism.
A calorie is not a calorie
I have a lot to say on the topic of calorie counting which I’ll cover in a future post, but for now what I will say is this: a calorie is not a calorie. You can eat 1500 calories of processed crap or 1500 calories of real food and the difference will be huge! This is a big part of being Wholeheartedly Healthy, we want to be nurturing your body to its healthiest and losing weight at the same time.
Your life won’t be better and you won’t be a better person when you’ve lost weight
It’s true. As much as it may feel like all the crap in your life will disappear when you fit into a size 10 pair of jeans, sweetheart, it won’t. I say this with love: if you aren’t happy with your life now, losing weight isn’t going to change that. You also won’t be a better person when you’ve lost weight. I’ll admit, when I was on my weight loss journey I almost felt superior to other people. I could stick to eating less (and as it happens, less and less) and eating ‘pure’ food and I’d be better than everyone else. It’s a hard thing for me to say, because I know what a total bitch I sound, but that was my way of thinking back then. That’s incredibly dangerous and it lead me down a dark path of very disordered eating. Now, I can look back and see where that mindset came from.
Losing weight might make you healthier, it might even make you more confident and you might get fleeting moments of happiness when you go shopping for new clothes or receive complements from family and friends, just remember that it won’t transform your life completely, there’s a whole lot of other stuff you might need to deal with to do that.
If you don’t love your body now, you won’t love it then
I truly believe that cultivating self love whatever size you are is key to being able to successfully lose weight. It makes the weight loss journey more enjoyable and nourishing for your body and soul and it means that you’ll actually be happy with the result. When you don’t love yourself, no goal weight will ever be enough. Again, I’m speaking from experience here, I had a goal weight of 11st, but found myself at under 9st still hating my body! Self love doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and work, much like getting healthier and losing weight. Why not work on them all at the same time?!
You don’t have to use the scales (but they can be useful)
I have a full post planned all about using the scales, but in a nutshell, there’s no need to use the scales if you find they are a negative influence on you. Weighing yourself every day is not healthy! Remember that weight is subjective. 10st on one woman looks different to 10st on a different woman. We don’t walk around with our weight tattooed on our foreheads do we? Size and shape is usually more important and you can measure that with a tape measure or the fit of your clothes. If you can keep to weighing in once a week, then the scales might be more useful and motivational for you.
It’s f**king hard
There’s no other way to say it, losing weight if you’re doing it right, is hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would be slim! It takes focus, determination, perseverance, willingness to change and acceptance. But the result of being healthier is SO worth it.
Check more of my posts on weight loss here:
Should you weigh yourself? Pros and Cons of using the Scales
How to track for health, wellbeing and weight loss (get your FREE tracking sheets)
If you’ve lost weight, what lessons did you learn? If you struggle, do any of these points ring true for you?
Love this post! I’ve tried so many ways to lose weight and definitely agree that mindset is the most important thing – for me it’s about being in a position where you can go out and eat something indulgent but not let it spiral into a loss of control and where you’re making choices beyond just calorie content of foods. Also still agree with your last point!!!xx
Yes, that’s it exactly and I think that’s where people struggle!
Great post! You’ve always got such a good straightforward approach :-) For losing weight the one thing I know is that it has to be a lifestyle change for the long haul, not a quick fix to get from A to B. With my parents I’ve seen them go through diet after diet and just fail each time… they’ve both joined Slimming World and it seems like a really good thing for them as it’s such an all-encompassing thing with a lot of support as well. You can’t do it alone!
Great that they’ve found something with a community element, I think that often makes the difference :-)
This is a fantastic post Laura. Such great points and well articulated. Many people need to read this! Last year was a big year for me learning a lot of this personally. Look forward to the rest of your posts xx
I totally agree around the calorie thing- when I lost weight I did it to a point by calorie counting, but it didn’t always encourage the healthiest choices- for example jam on toast was lower in calories than some hummus, but the sugar boost was short lived! There is just so much pressure though, and the view of “normal” is strange too- eg the comedian Amy Schumer (in Train Wreck) often talks in her stand up about being a bigger girl, or being asked to lose weight before being in the film, and she is not big at all!
I know, that kind of thing drives me crazy, it’s the same that plus size models are anything from a size 12+. Size 12 is not plus size! It’s a very unhealthy way to view things x
I can resonate with so many of these Laura. ‘Half the time we’re told we should be losing weight, and the rest of the time we’re told we should love our bodies and be happy as we are’ – I could not agree more with this. I actually want to post on it soon… There is so much pressure to be slim, active and lean and then so much pressure to not give a hoot and be perfectly loving your body! I have definitely felt the conflict. I feel it is even harder if you have had disordered thinking around eating before as people will judge that you are not ‘healed’ yet etc if you know what I mean… I think you are so right – you can love your body and want to lose weight and you can love your body and not want to lose weight. It is all about your intention! Fabulous post as always xx
Thanks Lauren, glad the post struck a cord with you!
Yay! It’s so good to see a post like this at this time of year. All the adverts are saying lose weight and you’ll love your body and be your happiest self which is just so untrue. We should be loving our bodies now! Thank you for readdressing the balance :)
Thanks Emma, glad you enjoyed the post!