Losing weight is one of the most talked about and Googled topics, especially at this time of year. Whether we feel we have a substantial amount of weight to lose or just ten pounds “around the middle,” many of us see the new year as a time to start fresh and finally get serious about our weight.
But let me get real with you for a moment. What will make this year different than any other?
If you’re like most people, you’ve been there, done that in previous years. You’ve tried the newfangled plans, watched your resolutions fizzle out in February, ridden the proverbial rollercoaster.
But here you are in 2022, looking in the mirror and telling yourself it’s time. Time to trim down, time to get serious, time to commit.
I have good news. You’re in the right place at exactly the right time. Every part of your past has brought you to this place. You want more, you want better, you want healthier. That’s the perfect place to be.
But what will it take for 2022 to be your year?
It will take a decision. Not a wish or desire. A decision.
You see, when you decide to do something, you take action to bring it about and you follow through. If you decide to sell your house, you spruce it up, contact an agent, put it on the market, allow for showings, sign a contract, and move somewhere else. If you only get so far as putting your house on the market but never sign any contracts, you haven’t really decided to sell your house, have you? You’re just toying with the idea, maybe testing the market. Exploring your options. The same goes for your health. If you join the gym but don’t follow through with regular exercise and a healthy diet, you are just toying with the idea of healthy living, testing it out, exploring your options.
Half the time, pizza will feel like the better option.
So let’s cut through some of our own mindset barriers and get down to three essential shifts to help make healthy living a decision this year, not just a wish. My hope is that you will shed not only those extra pounds, but plenty of mental and emotional weight too.
Focus on the Journey
The biggest weight loss trap is the “shortcut” method or diet. You know what I mean: the type of program that promises a fast and effortless way to lose weight. If a brilliant scientist were to concoct a formula for rapid and effortless weight reduction that lasts, where people arrive at a final destination and can finally lay down their weight loss struggles and rest in perfect, weightless peace, such a guru would become an overnight sensation.
You and I both know these magic solutions don’t exist.
The evidence is clear: the maximum rate of sustainable fat loss is between one and two pounds per week, perhaps a little more if you are technically obese. Rapid weight loss is generally a symptom of disease (or dehydration or muscle loss) rather than good health. The evidence is clear on another point too: shortcuts set us up for increased problems – and weight gain – down the road.
So if there are no shortcuts, what are we to do? There’s only one answer. Commit to the journey.
A journey with ups and downs. A journey with two steps forward and one step back. A journey with discipline and learning and frustration and celebrations and sweat and aha moments and grit and determination. A journey that recognizes that the only sustainable and healthy weight loss comes from lifestyle changes and a healthy mindset. A journey that says “I am in this healthy living thing for the long haul, regardless of setbacks, dry periods, or my day-to-day feelings and motivation.”
This journey asks you to become more – more aware, mindful, congruent, patient, curious, enlightened, committed, balanced, trusting, willing, whole.
I know, that’s not a formula or a quick “how to” guide. But it’s the only way. The journey will not always be easy. But it will be worth it.
Focus on Longevity
The second mindset shift goes hand in hand with the first. You must shift your focus to your long-term health rather than your short-term weight goals.
Your body is a miracle. It’s hard at work for you every day, processing waste and toxins, maintaining a delicate equilibrium, keeping you alive. It has so many nutritional needs for energy, organ function, cellular repair, cognition, and so on. And although your body is incredibly resilient, your systems become more delicate as you age.
Food is fuel. Instead of focusing on how little you should eat to have the ideal shape today, focus on making sure you are getting enough of the nutrient-dense whole foods, i.e., the fuel, your body needs so you can still be here doing your thing 30 years from now.
The bonus? When you make this shift, you will naturally decrease your intake of the stuff that’s making you sick and overweight. Your current and future you will thank you.
Focus on the Right Metrics
And finally, stop obsessing over the scale. The scale is only one piece of information and it says nothing about how healthy you are on the inside. Yes, it can be helpful to know your general weight so that you can stop the runaway train from barreling too far down the track. By all means strive to adopt habits that will help you lose weight.
But the point is - don’t measure success exclusively by what the scale says. First of all, the scale does not tell the whole story. Second of all, if you’re focused on healthy eating and exercise, the scale might not initially tip in your favor as you gain muscle and increase your level of hydration. With sustainable and long-term healthy habits, your weight will eventually take care of itself.
There are so many “non-scale victories” that make more sense to focus on. How’s your energy level? Are you getting stronger? Is your skin more radiant? Are those muscles firming up? How does that sense of accomplishment feel? Are you cooking healthier meals? Trying out new fruits and veggies? Drinking more water? Are you setting a good example for someone you love? Do you feel more confident? Are you learning to love yourself? These are victories worth celebrating.
What Will You Do With Your Time?
This next year is going to pass regardless of what you do. A year from now, you will either be healthier or you won’t be. Even if you think you have 100 pounds to lose, this can be done in a year to 18 months by making a decision and shifting your mindset. A year from now, you could be 5, 10, 30, 50, 70, 100 pounds lighter and so much more confident and empowered!
Or you could be eating more pizza and watching more Netflix.
Your decision to be healthy doesn’t require A+ work every day. It requires staying in the game, no matter what. Ask yourself: what’s the alternative?
I’ve decided to be on the healthy living journey for life. I hope you will too.
Alison is one of Merritt Clubs’ Health and Life Coaches. If you would like to schedule a session with Alison or are interested in additional information about our Nutrition & Wellness services, please reach out to Sherri Lively at firstname.lastname@example.org.