Are you setting out on a weight loss journey or getting interested in setting some new goals for yourself? While setting out to shed a couple of pounds can be beneficial, focusing on weight loss in itself isn’t necessarily the best direction to go. We all want to be better versions of ourselves, but that requires swallowing some hard truths. This is especially true when we’re on the path to transform our bodies, our health, and the way we see ourselves. Do you really want to lose weight? These are the truths you have to accept.
We all want to be healthy.
Our society is one that is often superficial, with a major emphasis on looks and the presentation of the physical body. This obsession with appearance has led us down same dangerous roads — namely right into the heart of the idea that fad diets are a good idea and being skinny is the only way to be happy and loved. All of these beliefs do us a disservice when it comes to building a better life, though. We have to accept the truth about weight loss if we truly want to transform into a healthier, happier version of ourselves.
It’s good to have sensible health goals.
We all want to be healthy and we all want to look “good”. It’s only natural, and it’s not inherently bad. What is bad, though, is when we stop listening to our bodies and we insist on listening to all the voices around us? How can you lose weight or be healthy when you’re treating your body the way your neighbor is treating theirs? You can’t. You have to come up with a plan that’s unique to your needs and set goals that are realistic and reasonably able to provide you with a body that makes you feel powerful and confident.
The real truth about losing weight.
When it comes to losing weight, there are 5 core truths that you need to remember. Firstly, low-fat diets don’t work. Next, your age definitely plays a role — but it doesn’t prohibit weight loss. You’ve got to focus on both changing the way you nourish yourself and exercising more. This is the only sustainable way to effectively lead a healthier life. It’s clinically justifiable and one of the best ways to take charge of the way we feel.
Low-fat diets are a joke
For a long time, we were told that the best way to shed fat from our bodies was to shed fat from our diets. But that just isn’t true. Cutting fat from our diet is ineffective, especially when you consider the good fats our bodies need to function. The truly effective way to diet is by finding a balanced meal plan that’s varied and full of different whole foods — instead of all the processed sugar you’re probably used to. Combine this with a personalized exercise plan, and you’re on the road to long-term success.
Age is a factor, not a barrier
So many of us have been conditioned to think that our bodies aren’t capable of “getting in shape” after a certain age, but this (as well) is a lie. While our age certainly plays a role in how our bodies function and bounce back, it’s not prohibitive. You can still come up with a nutrition and exercise plan that is effective in getting you where you want to be. Don’t get in your own way by using your age as an excuse. Find creative ways to get yourself back on track.
It’s a combo affair
A lot of people have this idea that weight loss and health is only reflected in the diet you eat or the exercise regime you follow — but the truth is that true health requires both. Diet adjustment and exercise work better than doing just one or the other. They help you lose a greater amount of weight and using the two in tandem also allows you to increase the health of your overall body (rather than focusing only on weight).
Sustainability is key
Weight loss isn’t a one-and-done event. You can’t just get yourself where you want to be and then go back to your old ways. Building a healthier body is a management job. Once you get where you want to be, you have to switch from fight mode to manage mode. That means keeping up your exercise, and that means making sure your diet stays aligned to whatever health needs you have. That’s the cost of living a life we’re not miserable in.
It’s okay to admit that there are confirmed clinical advantages to looking after your health (and therefore your weight). Those who are extremely beyond their ideal weight can find themselves at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and an array of other physical maladies that impact their quality of life and relationships. Losing some of that weight by focusing on increased health is a great way to improve that quality of life and return a sense of normalcy and happiness to life.
What to keep in mind.
Taking the truth to heart, it will better equip you to select a nutrition and exercise plan that helps you make effective adjustments. There are a few other things you need to keep in mind, though, as you go about setting goals and creating a vision for your healthier future.
1. Skinniness is not healthiness
Too many of us get focused on this idea of being “skinny” as the ultimate goal of any diet, but that’s just not the case. Thin is not everyone’s body type. We don’t all operate at our healthiest when we’re starving ourselves or striving to fit a blanketed standard. Losing weight is great, but not if your only goals is to be “skinny”. The point of any diet should be to feel better and improve your health. Nothing more and nothing less.
We each have a different ideal when it comes to our health and our weight. Being skinny or hitting a certain number on the scale does not equate to healthiness — especially when you torture your body to get there.
Get the idea that you have to be thin in order to succeed at a diet out of your head. Instead, start associating losing weight with being healthy, and give your body permission to settle in whatever place feels the best to it. What is the point at which you can comfortably move and live the life you want to live? What is the point at which you feel your most powerful? That’s the only goal you should be aiming for.
2. Fad dieting is not it
We are a society obsessed with fad diets. From cayenne pepper lemonade, to South Beach flushes and cranberry fasts — there are fad diets to satiate every wacky appetite…and they’re rarely ever effective. There’s no magic to reaching a healthier you. There’s no secret equation or any other mystical solution that will give you the body you need in two weeks. It took work to put ourselves in terrible shape, and it takes work to get out of it.
Fad dieting is often reckless, lacking in clinical support, and rooted in dangerous and superficial ideology. For the overwhelming majority of people, it’s not healthy to strip your body of nutrients or crash-diet it into a panicked shedding of weight. These diets fail time-and-time again. Because they don’t work, and when they do, they’re dangerous and unmanageable.
Dieting is not a fad. Creating a healthier life is not something you can do on trend the same way as your neighbor, your partner, or your best friend. We each have different health and weight-loss needs — and while they may contain similarities — it’s important that we are setting our own goals. Break away from the crowd and forge your own path. It’s time to fall in love with your body, on your own terms. Leave the fads behind and get where you want to be.
3. Misery is not sustainable
When you make the decision to go vegan, there’s a lot of literature out there that advises you not to go “cold turkey”. Instead, you phase our different aspects of your diet and behavior for 1–2 months, until you arrive at full-blown vegan-hood at the end. The same goes for any diet and exercise changes we choose to make to our own lives (not just being vegan). Change is uncomfortable. Give yourself the best chance of overcoming this discomfort by making things as easy as possible.
If every second of your new regime is tortured, the odds are very low that you’ll manage to stick it out. That’s why you need to focus on small adjustments over time, so you can ease into a healthier way of living and not punish yourself or turning the idea of weight loss into a torturous chore.
Don’t rush into something that makes you miserable. Don’t lower your chances of success by biting off more than you can chew. Whatever plan you make for yourself, ensure that it is one that allows you to gradually build up momentum over time. If you’ve never been to the gym before, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to start going 7 days a week. Set an easier goal for yourself (say 1–2 days a week) and maintain that for a time. The better you do, the more steam you’ll be able to build up.
4. You are going to mess up
Changing our lives isn’t easy, and it’s usually something we’re rather reluctant to do. We’re creatures of habit and we find comfort in the food we eat and the environment that we build for ourselves. Even when you find the strength to make some changes, you’re still going to long for those comforts and be tempted to fall back into them. No matter what diet or exercise plan you follow, no matter how much support you have, you need to admit that you’re going to mess up.
Make no mistake: you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have cheat days. You’re going to have days where you have no choice but to hit the drive-thru and rush back to work. You’re going to want to comfort yourself after a bad day, and you’re straight up just going to forget about your diet.
Allow yourself to be human. Allow yourself to make mistakes and don’t beat yourself up when you get things wrong. Be kind to yourself when you cheat. Be kind to yourself when you don’t stick to the plan or you miss that day at the gym. It’s okay. The world won’t end. Your entire nutritional plan doesn’t have to fall apart. Embrace these mistakes as learning opportunities. Do they point to triggers that still linger in your environment? Figure out what led to the slip and try to figure out how to prevent the same in the future.
5. It’s going to take some tweaks
Are you someone who has a tendency to stick with the first thing you try — even if you know it’s not effective? That’s not always the best idea, especially when you’re trying to come up with a plan that’s going to alter your life. You need to give yourself some room for trial and error. You need to feel things out and make sure you’re really sampling the options and figuring out what new lifestyle is most effective for you.
Finding the right nutritional and exercise plan may take some time. It’s not just about finding what works for your body. It has a lot to do with building something that can realistically be managed within your busy lifestyle.
Allow yourself to make tweaks where needed and don’t commit to one plan doggedly. It’s okay to switch things up or go in a different direction entirely. You can change your mind. You can not like what you’re doing and want to do something else. That’s fine. Just make sure you’re giving your body the chance it needs to adjust and make sure you’re focusing on plans that can realistically fit within the lifestyle that suits you best.
Putting it all together…
Are you someone who wants to lose weight? Are you in the pursuit of a healthier body or a more confident perception of self? Losing weight can be a piece of that puzzle, but not when it comes at the cost of our health. In order to bring it all together, we have to focus on building a healthier life — rather than strictly losing weight. Then, we can learn to become powerful and confident in the version of our body that works best for our peace and happiness.
Remember that skinniness does not equate to healthiness. We all have different body shapes and types.They all require different things nutritionally and in terms of exercise. Learn to listen to your body and understand that miserable nutritional plans are not sustainable in the long-term. If you want to make changes that last, they need to fit into your lifestyle and they need to allow you the ability to build up in tolerance over time. Take it easy and take it slow. Know that you’re going to mess up and be kind to yourself when you do. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Test the waters over time and focus on finding the right plan that works for you. If the first trial doesn’t work out, move on to the next one. You’ve got plenty of time to get things right. Do good work for your body and nourish it the way it deserves to be nourished.
- Harvard University, 2021. Weight Problems Take a Hefty Toll on Body and Mind. [online] Obesity Prevention Source. Available at: