It's not a diet it's a lifestyle

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One thing I do find interesting is the attitude a lot of people seem to have to weight loss. Some people “get it” and take a holistic approach to fitness - they live it, breathe it, and love it. But the majority of people do not. They get too caught up in the outcome, the numbers and the end result, and this can cause frustrations. Yes, you need to keep the end goal in sight, however I think the realisation that it’s the journey, and the process that you must learn to enjoy, is a game changer. The penny drops…. It’s no longer a chore, or a punishment. If you step back, and take things one day at a time all of a sudden the pressure of reaching certain goals lessens, but the funny thing is once you allow yourself to do this, reaching the goal simply happens anyway.

Most of us have been guilty of focusing purely on the outcome, setting unrealistic goals and having extremely high expectations on ourselves, and others. There is nothing wrong with having high standards but I think we also must learn to take some of the pressure off ourselves.

How many people will set a goal to lose x amount of weight by a certain time? Or they want to get to a certain body fat percentage (maybe for comps) and then they’ll be “happier” when they get there. They may be, but the problem I see with this attitude, is that it is too focused on the outcome, and a number. A number on the scales is just that. Just a number. It shouldn’t define how you feel. It shouldn’t make you happier or sadder, but it does. It is amazing how those scales, a number, can make or break you for that day or week.

If you focus on losing x amount of weight in a certain amount of time, then when the scales are moving in the “right” direction it does make you feel good. You’re making progress, or you think you are. You’re happier, and it makes you want to stick to your diet or program. However, when the opposite happens this can cause havoc not only on your mental state, but also on your hormones, which can affect your progress. If you are so focused on losing weight, and today the scales say you have gained what does that do to you? It doesn’t make you feel good. It can make you feel like you have failed. So you must work harder. You put more pressure on yourself. You spend more time at the gym and are stricter with your diet. You weigh yourself again later in the day – no change. The next day, no change. Maybe a slight increase or drop, but it starts to turn in to an obsession.

Letting the scale dictate how you feel is not healthy. The scale does not measure body fat or muscle accurately. The scale doesn’t measure fluid retention. The scale can’t tell if you’ve had a good nights’ sleep or not. The scale doesn’t know what time of day it is. It can’t tell whether you’ve just drunk a bottle of water, or had an alcoholic drink the night before. It can’t tell where females are at with their monthly cycle. And it can’t tell whether you’ve just smashed out a big leg session in the gym either. You know what? The scale doesn’t know shit!

Yet somehow we all seem to obsess over what that stupid scale tells us! We let it mess with us, and we let it determine how we feel. We let it put us in a glass case of emotion!

As soon as that tie to the scales goes, it is amazing how much happier you feel. But for some it isn’t necessarily just as simple as not worrying about it, it does take practice to get in to the right mindset.

The way to do this is to instead try to focus on the process. Break it down and take it one day at a time. Find something you enjoy, commit to doing it once, or twice a week and go from there. If you love walking, then walk. If you enjoy running then do that! It doesn’t have to be a big change, and if anything I think smaller realistic changes are better to start with. Make it achievable. You can always add more in later.

Going from completely sedentary to trying to eat right, and run 5x a week, plus do an extra 2 spin classes may be over doing it. If you add things in to your routine slowly, and make small changes at a time, you turn these in to habits.

By trying to do everything at once, and quite often, too much too soon, is what can ultimately lead to burn out and failure. Especially if you go by the scales and they lead you to believe that what you’re doing isn’t working! Those damn scales…

Take the focus away from the weight loss or the end result. Take the pressure off yourself. And instead start to simply think about what you need to do each day. The rest will take care of itself. Each week that you consistently hit your new goal of going for 2 walks and 1 jog (for example), you know you’re making progress. Newsflash! Slow progress is still progress!! And instead of having that goal weight or number in your head and looking at how far you still have to go, instead look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s pretty motivating. Everyone started somewhere, and the point is that they started.

Trust the process. You may have heard people in the fitness industry say this. Trust the process and enjoy the journey. Learn to love what it is you’re doing every day. If you consistently tick off what you need to do each day/week, and you’re enjoying yourself while you’re doing it then this is the key to success. You’ll start to relax and be happier simply knowing that what you are doing, albeit in small steps compared to previous attempts, are still steps that are taking you in the right direction. And the slower the approach, the more realistic it is to expect that you will continue with these habits long term.

If you “fall off the wagon” or slip up, it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Don’t beat yourself up. Just accept it, and move on. One day is not going to be so detrimental to you that it’s ever worth worrying about. Especially when the majority of the time, day in and day out, you are consistently taking steps in the right direction.

Worrying and stressing can affect your results as this increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone and it can cause your body to store fat. I can’t imagine that having a slip up and getting straight back to your routine would affect cortisol anywhere near as much as continuing to worry about it would. Beating yourself up, worrying and feeling bad about it can really affect that stress hormone and cause some problems. Learn to let it go. Accept it, move on, and get back to what you were doing.

Obviously if you are having these slip ups every other day then there’s a separate underlying issue. However if it’s just every now and then, it is nothing to be worried about. One “bad” meal won’t make you overweight just like one “good” meal wont make you lean. And naturally you will find this happens less and less, the more you get in to the “zone” anyway. 

The Zone. The process. It’s the lifestyle. If you want to be “healthy” and/or lose weight, you must embrace the life style. If it’s simply a quick fix, and a short term thing then its only going to last short term. You cannot expect to lose weight quickly then stop eating/exercising that way yet still get the same results. It takes patience and consistency. It doesn’t have to be hard work; if you simply want to get fitter and leaner, all you need to do is move! Fuel your body according to your goals, find an exercise you enjoy, and make it a priority to include this in to your routine and your lifestyle. If for example you love eating chocolate, find a way to include this in your diet if it will make it easier for you to adhere to.

The life style you create must be done so in such a way that it is sustainable long term. You can add to it and adjust it as your goals and interests change, but the bottom line is that it’s the journey that is the most important part. If you are able to enjoy HOW you get to your goals, then it makes reaching them a whole lot easier.