In a recent study, over 40% of US citizens were found to be obese. This is, of course, a saddening result. It shows that not only is education about careful self-care not as effective as it could be, but it also means that 40% of US citizens are living a lower quality of life than they would otherwise enjoy. Of course, that’s not to cast judgement on anyone with a little extra weight. At a certain age it can be easy to put this on, and obesity does not necessarily mean indulgence is the only pathway to that status.
For instance, someone in a wheelchair may have a harder time exercises and burning the calories they consume, while someone else may have crippling anxiety and use food as a comforting safe harbor. While that’s not the healthiest approach, it’s not hard for any empathetic human to understand. Also, while rare, some people have genetic disorders that prevent them from losing weight easily, although of course, this is much less common than many people think.
But is it possible to lose weight without it seeming like some overarching authoritarian ideal? Why can’t we make friends with our health rather than thinking good practical self-care is a hardship? Perhaps we can help many people live longer and healthier lifestyles if we managed to disseminate the practical wisdom and remove some of the toxic narratives that have come from the fitness industry thus far.
With these goals in mind, let’s consider the golden principles of losing weight:
Careful, Daily Dedication
Careful, daily dedication is a fantastic method of getting to grips with losing weight, and more than that, it can help you avoid herculean efforts that are impossible to sustain. You may decide that you’re going to attend the gym five days a week and only eat 1500 calories a day cold turkey, but odds are that you’ll start to feel restricted by this and then fail in a binge that lasts for days, or you’ll simply fall back to your old habits.
Dedication is only feasible if you can do it, and if it’s within your potential reach. To that end, making a little effort each day, and slowly improving upon it, is much more important than being perfect from the offset. In fact, it can grant you much in the way of positive progress, and as your confidence builds, the happier you’ll feel.
For instance, you may decide to start walking around the block today, and for the next week. Then, maybe you’ll start to take your dogs for an early walk in the park after the school run. Then you might begin a fitness program after you’ve become accustomed to getting active, something that progressively loads from a starting-point such as Couch 2 5k. The more you practice these efforts, the more you’ll be able to feel confident in your new pursuit and enjoy your daily path to this extent.
Before you know it, you’ll have started to enjoy this process without even thinking about the results. It will just become part of your daily lifestyle. Then, one day you’ll look at the mirror, and notice that your cheeks seems a little less puffy, that your stomach is a little thinner, and that your skin looks a little healthier. That’s when the overwhelming weight of all the progress you have incrementally made will hit you, and there’s no feeling quite like that. Everyone deserves to feel self-satisfaction to this degree. It’s addictive, and now the hard part of beginning in earnest is over, you can continue with care and attention, and moreover, complete and total confidence you can make it. To us, that sounds like something giving yourself credit for.
A Lifestyle, Not A Hobby
We can often see losing weight or staying fit as a chore, or as a hobby that we must apply if we’re to live a life at its best. But it shouldn’t be seen as an add-on, rather a fundamental part of your life. A lifestyle can be easily dealt with, because it’s simply something that you do, and you’ll adapt to it much more easily.
Think about how you stock your refrigerator each week. If it’s filled with items that are high-calorie and high in sugars, you’re going to reach for those items when creating your meals or indulging. But if your refrigerator is filled with low-carb, low-sugar health foods, you’ll start to reach for those more. You’ll enjoy cooking again now that you have a range of diverse ingredients to take care of. You may even start inviting people around for dinner, or perhaps you’ll try a new cuisine you’ve yet to truly appreciate.
These measures matter, because they signify someone starting to appreciate their potential cooking habits in the best possible sense. If you have to wake up at 5am each morning to start a new job role, it can seem very harsh at first, as if you’re completely changing that which you are familiar with in life. Yet after a month or so of taking care of this, you’ll find that it’s more than easy and part of your new normal, no matter if that’s finding a great supplement that reduces fat absorption or spending time with your best friend in the gym as a combined effort. So, curate the new normal. Just make sure it’s healthier this time around.
Remaining Kind To Yourself
Losing weight is not a linear process. In fact, you’re sure to lose plenty of weight at first, and then it will become harder. Some weeks, you may find that you’ve retained weight. This likely isn’t because you’ve fallen back into your old habits, but perhaps your sleep has been difficult to get this week and this has caused your metabolism to slow down.
Remain kind to yourself. If you struggle, or fail one week, remember that you’re doing your best. Additionally, if you’ve lost weight this week but not as much as you would have liked, that’s still a victory. If you fail to be kind to yourself, you’re never going to get better and feel healthier. You’ll continually start robbing yourself of self-esteem, and that in itself will convince you that the cause is hopeless and you have no positive recourse going forward.
However, losing weight and getting fitter will naturally help you feel better within your skin, and that’s a feeling to hold on to. Not only this, but remaining kind to yourself will allow you to empathise and then encourage others who were in your situation without having to be a dictator about it. After all, the rider coaxes and trains their horse with a lump of sugar and not a whip. While that’s not the best metaphor for losing weight, the ethos behind it can be a very important method of treating your motivation.
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s important to internalise this poetic truth. There will always be people who are better than you at losing weight, in better shape, more handsome or beautiful, or more popular. Conversely, you are that person for someone else. Do you see how people are on a spectrum, and even then, the definitions such as ‘handsome’ or ‘beautiful’ can be absolutely subjective?
Social media can be a problem here, because Instagram and other apps can present you an image of people’s lives that are simply not factual or grounded in reality. Instagram v Reality is a great place to see this truth. Whatever you do, do not compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. You have enough of responsibility and opportunity to focus on yourself.
With this advice, you’re sure to adhere to the golden principles of losing weight.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative piece