I get it. Losing weight can seem like you’re climbing a 14,000 foot high mountain. As you stand at the base of the towering rock, you wonder how in the world will you ever survive making it to the top. Now, I will be the first to tell you that your own weight loss journey will most likely not be easy, but it will be extremely rewarding. New habits will be created while old habits are purged. You will have to face sacrificing the “old” way you did things in favor of creating a “new” you. Through all of this, thinking about the length of time you’re required to commit to the process can seem daunting, overwhelming and even so heavy, you simply won’t start! And believe me, there have been many times where I have done just that! I gave up. I gave in. I felt so hopeless it was depressing. But, as you get your mindset adjusted, just like climbing that 14,000 foot mountain (we call them 14’ers here in Colorado), it begins with your first step.
Here are a few of the weight loss processes that I’ve felt discomfort from in the last twelve days of this project:
- Creating the habit of a daily food journal
- Saying “No!” to the chocolate chips that are in the cupboard, or the stock pile of soda in the fridge, or sugar cereal in the pantry.
- The slow pace
- Only being twelve days into this project (That’s it!?!? I swear it seems like it’s been months already).
- Not seeing a distinct visible change…yet (It can often take a week or two for you to notice your own change, and up to a month before other people start to see it as well).
- Acknowledging that I still have months of work ahead of me
- Knowing that I still need to go a little longer before I allow myself my first indulgence meal.
- Thinking ahead to my indulgence meal, fearing that I’ll allow it to be a binge session rather than a reasonable reset meal.
- Meal planning
- Meal prepping (It makes me grumpy how long it takes!)
- Eating the same thing multiple days in a row
- The changes to my body as it is adapting, such as detox headaches, lack of energy, acne break outs on my face, needing to pee ALL. THE. TIME. (TMI?)
I could sit here and give an explanation for why we have to go through each of these things (and more), but that’s not what this post is all about. This post is intended to show you that you CAN push through the discomforts of the weight loss process.
Let’s talk about mindset. What does that even mean? Trusty old Miriam-Webster defines mindset as a mental attitude or inclination or a fixed state of mind. This being the case, we need to first dig deep and hear what our thoughts have previously been telling us about how we feel about the weight loss process. If those thoughts are what have kept you away from embracing the work to lose weight, then acknowledge that. This might require you to call yourself out on the fact that you had a previously fixed state of mind which was against doing the work required. Have you heard of the six stages of behavior change? These stages are:
- The first stage of change is known as the Pre-contemplation stage. In this stage, you might not even realize, or you straight out deny that there is anything that needs changed about your current behavior. This is where you might be unaware (blissfully or otherwise), that you have habits or behaviors that aren’t doing you any favors.
- The second stage of change is the Contemplation stage. In this stage, you have become aware that there are benefits to making a change. But you are also aware that these changes will come at some sort of a cost. You might be hindered by your awareness of the sacrifices you’ll have to make in order to make the change. You might “hang out” in the contemplation stage for quite a while as you work to wrap your head around the work required towards self-improvement. You’ll weigh out the pros and cons, and at the end of this stage, you’ll finally make the commitment towards the change, which you believe will help you improve.
- The third stage of change is known as the Preparation stage. Here, you begin the process for change. Since our focus is weight loss, you might take steps like joining a gym, hiring an online personal trainer, throwing out the non-strategic foods from your pantry, adding a few extra veggies to your shopping list, write goals or motivational quotes on your mirror in dry-erase marker, and join support groups, etc. You might work to learn new ways to alter your behavior in this stage (Perhaps since you’re hanging out with me here in “self-improvement blog land”, you’re finding this is the exact stage you’re in?).
- The fourth stage of change is the Action stage. This is the point that you’re all in with your efforts. You understand the processes required of you, and you are working hard to make consistent efforts (Notice that I don’t say that you’re working for perfection, just consistency). It’s important to point out that many people find themselves retreating to their old ways after only a few weeks in the action stage. (This is why all of the regular gym goers love the last week of January. At this point of the year, all of the “New Years Resolutioners” have cleared out by then, and it’s less crowded on the gym floor). This can be avoided by making sure that you mentally work through each of the previous steps before “going all in” on a new goal. Make sure that you are also rewarding yourself for the efforts you are taking. I had a grand idea recently, that for every day I comply with my nutrition and exercise strategy, I would put $2 into a jar. Then either monthly, or when my goal is met, I can go and buy myself something fun. I have yet to act on this, though. I guess it’s still sitting in the contemplation stage until I’ve processed it enough to move the idea up to the preparation stage.
- The fifth stage of change is the Maintenance phase. Here, you are in the habit of continually avoiding former behaviors and consistently acting on new behaviors. You have systems in place which help you to avoid the temptations of breaking your goals. You are replacing old habits with more productive and positive ones. Once again, rewarding yourself is a useful tool to help you continue to maintain your efforts. If (or dare I say when) you have set backs, you’re kind to yourself. You quickly get up, brush yourself off, and are back to work. You understand that your efforts are not sabotaged by one slip up, allowing yourself to continue recognizing the positive behaviors that you’ve been exhibiting. This stage is really empowering as you’re able to recognize that you have changed yourself from your old ways, and you are able to continue making progress in your efforts.
- The sixth stage of change is Relapse. That’s not what you want to hear when you feel like you’ve made it to the top with maintenance, is it? Since you’re human, this is part of the process. In any behavior that we are working to change, it can be a common eventuality that one experiences a relapse. When this happens, you might find yourself frustrated, disappointed, wanting to quit altogether. But don’t! You can’t allow these hiccups to undermine your self-confidence. If a relapse happens, call a time out, and dig deep to understand why it happened. What was the trigger? How did you entertain the trigger to hang around with you? How can you avoid such trigger as you continue on your journey? The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep going in your efforts in the preparation, action and maintenance stages of change.
Where do you find yourself on this list? What do you need to do to move yourself up to the next stage of change? What are you going to commit to in moving yourself forward with your weight loss efforts?
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