If your goal is to lose weight this year and you’re about to go on a diet (again), I’m telling you now:
It. Will. Fail.
If you’re looking in the mirror and cursing what you see – so hyperfocused on only losing weight, burning fat, and getting a flat stomach – it’s easy to forget what’s really important:
Taking care of your home: body, mind, and spirit.
And when we forget that fact we become detached from ourselves. We create a split within and make our own bodies the enemy. Telling ourselves that we are too fat, flabby, or ugly adds to our frustration at our bodies for not conforming to society’s standards.
Adopting these unreasonable standards for ourselves will only lead to more self-hatred and more failed unhealthy yo-yo dieting.
We’ve all been given the responsibility and privilege to take care of the bodies we have so that we can do the things we love and experience all life has to offer us. It’s time we start living in gratitude for the gift that life has given us along with the power to choose to change.
In order to get yourself into the needed mindset for this shift in perspective (that will yield results!), think of your body as a child.
You Are The Parent
That means you no longer get to bully the child into feeling inadequate or ugly or fat. Stop telling yourself the story that you’re not good enough by punishing your body, and your inner child, with diets. No need to obsess over weight loss and create guilt and anxiety within yourself.
I used to do all of this. And it started early.
I was about 11 when I went on my first diet by drinking my mom’s Slimfast shakes. I would weigh myself every day. I was obsessed with what I was eating and how much I weighed. I was in a cycle of deprivation and binging. I’d skip meals until I had a pounding headache. Then I’d be so hungry I’d have a ham sandwich. And a can of SpahgettiOs. Then a salad. Then 2 devil dogs. Then another salad to “balance it out.”
I’ve always had an addictive relationship with food and I hated my body.
During high school at my worst, I briefly reached 175. Meaning for my height, just 5 more pounds would have put me in the obese category.
Near the end of high school, I started taking a different approach. First, I started focusing on getting myself out of the black hole I was in mentally. (High school is a hellish place). And next, I went to Weight Watchers.
I know. Just hear me out.
At first, yes, it was about counting calories, but pretty soon I switched over to their other program of eating however much I wanted as long as they were real whole foods.
And it worked.
The combination of shifting my perspective on my body, getting happier, not paying so much attention to food, eating unlimited healthy food is what made the pounds fall off.
What really made the difference is I made a commitment to take care of my body so that it can function to the best of its ability. So that it feels energized, vibrant, loved, and happy. When that happens, health is achieved and the weight comes off naturally.
Your body will find balance. Your body will start to feel like your best friend and partner in life who is only trying to tell you that something is out of whack through the “symptoms” you’re experiencing such as extra weight, acne, headaches, or digestive issues.
Forget the scale. Changing your mindset and your lifestyle is the only thing that works. And it does work. But it requires a shift in mindset, commitment, work, and change.
Are you up for it?
Rise and shine!
Getting in the right mindset first thing in the morning will help you reach your goal of losing weight. Every morning commit to giving yourself something that makes you feel good and starts your day off on a great note.
Create a routine over time that feels right for you. It could just be drinking water and reading for 15 mins.
You have your whole life to perfect it!
This is a sample Morning Ritual that I’ve been doing for the past few months. I started out about 3 years ago with only doing 10 mins of stretching in the morning. Build it according to how you feel. You will need to start developing a relationship with your body in order to know what is best for you. Start small! That’s how habits form.
- Drink 8 oz of water
- journal at least one page
- 30+ mins of dance/exercise
- 10+ mins of stretches/yoga
- green juice
- write/work 1 hour
Whole Foods Diet
It should come as no surprise that diet would come into play when talking about weight loss. The only “rule” I’ve made for myself regarding food is to stay away from processed foods. That category of “food product” tends to come with sugar and endocrine-disrupting oils. These are not good for your body or your mental health. I only eat these foods on special occasions.
Get your sugar fix from fruit and don’t rely on bread and pasta to fill you up. This is not to say carbs are bad! We need to stay balanced with all the macronutrients and none of them are bad for you. So make sure to get enough fat, protein, and carbs in every meal.
Start incorporating healthy choices: Fruit and vegetables for carbs. Beans, nuts, eggs, tofu, chicken, fish, and plain greek yogurt for protein. Olives, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon for healthy fats.
While I don’t like telling people what to eat because we are all so different, I can give you a sample of what I eat in a day:
- green juice: celery, kale, cucumber. Tip! If you don’t have a juicer yet, just use your blender (I’ve had the same amazing Blendtec for over a decade), and then pour the smoothie into a nut milk bag and squeeze the juice out. I like these because after I rinse them I can just throw them in the wash and they’re super durable.
- Breakfast: 1/4 cup of rolled oats (I like to grind them into a powder with the coffee grinder), 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, a small handful of walnuts, a brazil nut, a small handful of raisins, and soy/nut milk. If I want to sweeten it up I put in a tablespoon or two of some vanilla protein powder.
- Lunch: A big bowl of my homemade vegan chili with half an avocado. Let me know if you’d like the recipe!
- Snack: A cup of Mediterranean salad with 2 or 3 tbsp of hummus and baby carrots
- Dinner: Baked spaghetti squash with sauteed onions and summer squash, a cup of white beans, tomato sauce, and parmesan cheese. Side of steamed broccoli
- Treat: Golden milk! A cup of soy/nut milk, a teaspoon of turmeric, a dash of pepper, and a dash of cinnamon heated on the stove. Add a tablespoon of raw honey to your mug 🙂
- Water: Don’t forget to drink water when you’re thirsty! *Side note: your urine should be pale yellow. If it’s darker than that you’re dehydrated. However, it shouldn’t be clear! That means you are overhydrated and that comes with its own problems.
I think we make food out to be more complicated than it needs to be. Don’t starve yourself, stay away from processed food and sugar, make sure to eat lots of greens, healthy fats, and lean protein.
These foods make our gut bacteria happy giving you better digestion and a stronger immune system.
Daily Body Movement
I know most people dread “exercise.” That’s why I dress it up as fun!
Exercise is not only important for losing weight. It’s necessary for the health of all your body’s systems. Your lymphatic system, for example – which carries your white blood cells that fight off infection and disease – does not have a way to pump lymph through the body on its own. It’s relying on you to move it.
So move it! 🙂
Do something you enjoy. I love to put on African dance cardio videos from YouTube or just dance around to my favorite music. If dancing isn’t your thing you can ride your bike. Go for a brisk walk. Take up running or hiking or kayaking or paddleboarding. Set a timer to make sure you’re getting at least 15 minutes. If you’re having fun you’ll easily want to fit in more time.
Remember, this is about a change in mindset and creating healthy habits that will be fully incorporated into your life. That’s what will create change and help you achieve your goal to lose weight. When we go in head first we are motivated and excited and go a little overboard. Then comes the inevitable burnout.
Emotional Maintenance, Mental Health & Spiritual Practice
So what does losing weight have to do with mental health?
Well, if we’re looking at the whole body as a system we have to realize that our mental/emotional/spiritual health affects our body. When you’re heartbroken you may feel physically sick. When you are anxious you may feel tightness in your chest or stomach pains. This will also upset your digestion and disrupt your goal to lose weight. We feel more motivated when our spirits are high!
So in order to take care of your whole body, you must also take care of your mental and emotional health. This can start off as journaling to check in with how you’re feeling every day. It could also include stopping yourself when you find that you’re having negative thoughts about yourself or calling yourself names in your head.
I make sure I’m taking time every day to do something I love to do. If you love singing, sing more. If you love knitting, make everyone you love a sweater. If you love languages, learn some. If you love rock climbing, get out there!
Be creative, get active, connect with others, and give your gifts to the world.
If you take all of that seriously you will live a very full and meaningful life that will make you happy. And happiness is key to maintaining a healthy weight and body balance. Personally, it’s when I finally started living my life as if I were in control rather than anyone else – when I found like-minded people and gained clarity and meaning in my life – the weight started to fall off. As a matter of fact, new research has shown that paying attention to your mental health and becoming happier has a positive effect on weight loss.
Mental health is connected to physical health.
Your Body Is Your Best Friend
You only get one body. It’s an incredible living system that has been taking everything you’ve thrown at it your whole life. It’s taken you to beautiful places and it is the ground zero of your entire life. Make sure you’re treating it with love, care, and respect. Listen to what it’s telling you.
If you’re at a weight that feels unhealthy for you, you can change your life to adjust it. If you’re experiencing pain, acne, indigestion, headaches, etc, that’s just your body’s way of communicating to you that you need to change something. The symptom is not the problem. Extra weight is not the problem. It’s the sign pointing to the problem.
It’s in your power to live the solution. You will lose weight when you make the decision to care for yourself no matter how much you weigh.
What would you like to incorporate into your lifestyle? I’d love to know what’s in your health plan! Let me know in the comments.