Early in my adult life I worked as a personal trainer. I had overcome weight struggles myself and wanted to help others do the same. I was young, naive and idealistic. I was also SINGLE, had DISPOSABLE INCOME, was WITHOUT CHILDREN, and without anything else that placed large demands on my time (a stressful career, caring for a loved one, etc.).
So basically, I was in an ideal position to manage my weight by eating healthy and being active (which we all know by now is the key to success), and that’s what I did. And I wanted others to do the same…
Fast forward almost 10 years and now I can actually understand what my clients were battling. (I’d be such a better trainer now!) With a family, a job, anda post child-bearing body I still don’t recognize in the mirror…weight loss is daunting and at times seems impossible.
So, to help explain where I am coming from, let me introduce you to two people:
Meet Louise, she was 40 or so and was tired of being embarrassed when her sons would bring friends home from college. She decided to do the Body for Life program, and the day she came for her personal training consultation, she was already sitting in my office when I arrived to work. She had a little cooler with her snacks and water for the day and when I mentioned a food journal, she produced one on the spot. After visiting for a little while it was clear that she was investing in time with me to accelerate her weight loss, not to facilitate it.
Within 3 months she had shed 50 pounds and wasn’t looking back. Louise was one of my only successes as a trainer because: She was focused on weight loss, in fact she had placed so much value on it, that she was funneling ALOT of energy towards planning her meals and snacks, working out and learning all that she could about nutrition and exercise. She was the poster child for success.
Meet Liv, she was a stay at home mom of two adorable little kids. She would arrive late most days, (I can still see the exasperated look on her face as she came in the door, “I’ll be just one minute” as she hurried over to the children’s check in) and while she dressed the part, spent a lot of money on her gym membership and my services, outside of the gym, her life was busy and chaotic. Her kids were involved in numerous activities and her husband had a demanding job and wasn’t able to offer her much reprieve.
In the end, our sessions together became more of time for her to unload and I rarely brought up her eating habits because it only brought frustration and shame. She never lost a pound, BUT THAT WAS OK…Viv’s energy was being funneled toward her family and I was glad to be a friend to her, and in that season of her life, I think that is all she really needed.
So who can you relate to? Let me tell you, Liv and I would have some good laughs now about marriage, parenthood and weight loss!
And, even though you may not be in a place right now to devote massive amounts of energy to weight loss, like Louise, I do believe there are a few things that you can do to shed a few pounds without exercising or changing what you eat, here is what I suggest:
1a. Realize you aren’t alone. I see what everyone pins on pinterest. Fitness tips and “secrets,” smoothies and detox recipes… the truth is: I click on those skinny, toned, tan girls, too, I mean if they really did find a secret, I want to know about it! The other truth is: MOST (the majority, almost ALL) of the people I know struggle with their weight and would like to drop at least a few pounds (even the ones who I would consider “skinny”!)…and many have been struggling for years, if not decades. You are not alone in this.
1b. Please, please, PLEASE stop beating yourself up. Weight loss is difficult. It is very personal and most often there is emotional pain associated with it. Be kind to yourself! If you mess up, IT’S OK…we all do! And even if you never lose a pound, you ARE STILL LOVED. Even weight loss icon Jenny Craig says this: “Self-love is the only weight-loss aid that really works in the long run.” Too bad she couldn’t find a way to package that.
2. Eat a little less. This is how I have lost weight after my third. Weight loss is not easy, but it is simple: eat more = gain weight, eat the same = maintain weight, eat less = lose weight. Of course I want to be healthy, and I want my family to be healthy, but right now, during this season, we eat healthy about 50% of the time and the other 50% is whatever is convenient (while I would like to improve that ratio down the road, this is where we are at right now–my former personal trainer self would be horrified right now!). So until you are in a place where you can dedicate more energy to preparing healthy meals, just eat LESS of what you are already eating.
3. Focus on two good meals a day. Now again, this is just what has worked for me, but I cut out snacks and now, most days, just focus on getting in two good meals. For me, snacks were just an opportunity to overeat. By eating two meals, I never feel deprived because I eat good tasting food at those two meals. (We do need to realize, though, that this can leave us vulnerable at times if you encounter large amounts of food (like at a party or buffet) read more about that here in the FAQ.)
4. Keep the junk out of reach. No really. (next to #2, this has been the biggest key to my success) I don’t know about you, but if there is candy, cookies, chips, ice cream, frosting, animal crackers, or anything of the sorts in the house I WILL EAT IT. Oh not all at once, one here, a handful there, a little more here. And if something happens where I get my feelings hurt, I will likely eat more because I feel justified. Yuck. :(
At first I didn’t think we could clear out the house of this stuff because I didn’t think it was fair to my husband, I was the one wanting to make these changes, not him, and after all, I should have the self control to keep from eating it. But after this third baby I finally reached the point where I said, nope, it all has to go. I told him that if he wanted to keep snacks in his truck for his lunch or other times that he could, but asked that we no longer keep it in the house. The funny part? After a couple months of this he is glad that it is gone, too.
5. Don’t buy new shoes, a gym membership or a bunch of healthy food. In my experience, unless you are ready to make an all out commitment like Louise, these just bring shame, guilt and remorse when they go unused. First, work on developing some new habits, and then, reward yourself with these things.
Or… 6. Acknowledge that now isn’t the right time…maybe you’re caring for a loved one, adjusting to the routines of a new school year, trying to keep your head above water with work and family, going back to school, basically dedicating all of your energy elsewhere right now…then please give yourself permission to not worry about losing weight right now.
Most importantly, know that YOU ARE LOVED, and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. And that just like winning the lottery won’t bring happiness, being skinny won’t either. Believing the truth that you are loved and investing in meaningful relationships with your spouse, friends and family, now that is a recipe for happiness :)
I Think this article hit home! We had over 100 comments before we switched commenting systems and lost them…you are not alone!