During my early 20’s I gained a lot of weight after I was diagnosed with a serious illness. I began taking medication that caused some unfavourable side effects like a significant increase in my appetite. At first this was a huge novelty to me, I had always struggled with my appetite for most of my life so I allowed myself to fully indulge in the new change. Looking back, I was probably over eating to comforting myself during a very frightening period of my life. By my mid 20’s I had become incredibly overweight, I had always been a slim girl growing up due to my genetically fast metabolism but it seemed for the first time in my life I was dealing with a battle with the bulge. It was not pleasant. Clothes did not look good on my body, I did not feel comfortable in my own skin and felt incredibly unattractive. I would sometimes be startled by my own reflection because I often did not recognise myself.
One evening after spending over 2 hours staring at my large stomach in the mirror, constantly measuring it and feeling hopelessly sorry for myself, I snapped. I made a decision that I was no longer going to accept the way I had become and made a vow to myself to change. I decided I would lose the weight. It took over a year to get to my goal weight but since then, it has been over 6 years and I have managed to stay at my goal weight. During that one year period I learnt a lot about myself and weight loss. First of all, the biggest mistake one can make is to think that the goal is about losing weight.
I am a firm believer that what you focus will intensify, so in order to achieve my desired goal it was crucial that my focus was directed on the most appropriate area. I realised that weight loss is merely the side effect of my real goal, that is, living, feeling, being and looking healthy. This was not a temporary goal but my life long goal. Rather than focusing on numbers, calories and what foods I am withholding from myself, my energy was targeted at creating a life that promoted healthy living. As a result, I cut out all processed foods and significantly reduced artificial sugars while increasing my consumption of organic whole foods. I incorporated regular exercise that I enjoyed, such as, cycling, Yoga, Martial Arts, swimming, jogging and light weights. I did something different every day for about 30 minutes. I made sure I did some form of physical activity during the day, such as, take the stairs wherever possible, get off one station before my actual stop and walk a little further to work in the mornings and ensure I wasn’t sitting idle at my desk at work for more than 40 minutes at a time. I also increased the frequency of my meals to compensate for all the energy I was burning with regular activity and exercise. I would plan my meals ahead of time to ensure I ate nutritionally strategically. For instance, I would have a carb rich meal an hour or so before a big work out and enjoy a high protein meal with some fruit after a work out to nourish all the muscle and fructose that was burned. It was important to ensure my body was not malnourished or left hungry so my metabolism would run at it’s peak. Maintaining a healthy, active and nutritious lifestyle meant that the weight would not only come off at a healthy rate, but would stay off. My body wasn’t subjected to the dangerous ups and downs of yoyo dieting, or starved during periods of detox.
The root of any physical problem we may have in our lives stem from an internal emotional problem that needs to be addressed first before any lasting changes can be made. When a person chooses to feed their bodies with unhealthy, highly processed and sugary foods there is usually an element of comfort that this behaviour is supporting. When we learn to love and support ourselves holistically, without resorting to external comforts, but rather choose a life that is focused on promoting our health and fitness, our bodies will reflect that. A diet is merely a temporary period of deprivation that will ultimately lead to “cheat days” then “cheat months” and finally permanently back to our old ways. Deciding to live healthy is not about depriving ourselves of the things we love, we can still have our cake and eat it, so long as we enjoy it modestly, and increase the things that form part of a healthy lifestyle.