With 2014 coming to a close, I’m fast approaching the 3 year mark of my (current) weight loss journey. It’s as good a time as any to reflect on why this journey was successful and my other attempts failures. This particular post focuses on my Top 3 Biggest Mistakes (my top successes are coming soon).
Trust me, I’ve made more than 3 mistakes, but these are the ones that really stand out. I’d consistently sabotaged myself, right at the beginning of any weight loss efforts, with these three boo-boos.
Mistake Number 3 – Setting a Weight Loss Schedule
I think I viewed my weight as another project, like writing a marketing plan, doing a budget (work or home), or painting a room. Those kinds of projects have deadlines, so why shouldn’t getting to my goal weight have one too?
Now, I’m not talking about losing weight because you have an event (like a wedding) to go to in 2 months. Setting short-term calendar goals is just fine. I look at those more as fun little challenges. What I’m talking about is: thinking I can drop 100 lbs. a year and setting monthly targets to hit. Talk about setting myself up for failure! Weight loss isn’t a straight line. Some weeks I’m down, some up, and sometimes the dang scale won’t budge. And when I inevitably blew the schedule, what happened? I beat myself up, that’s what, and comforted my bruised ego with food.
It took me 40+ years to reach 325 lbs. Why did I think I could hit goal in less than two years? Yes, at the very start of my current journey that thought did cross my mind. Ugh!
But relearning how to eat healthily, creating good habits to replace bad ones, and building self-esteem all take time. Hell, I’m nearly 3 years in and I’m still working on all of those. Once it dawned on me that this was for the rest of my life, it was easy to give myself permission to not worry about timetables.
Mistake Number 2 – Thinking About All That Fat To Lose
Every time I started a diet, I’d always think about the total amount of weight I needed to lose. The number always seemed so daunting. For me, I could see only the forest, not the trees. This all-or-nothing thinking always got me into trouble. I’d beat myself up before I even started a diet, and any little bump in the road was more proof how everything was hopeless.
As of January 2012, I needed to drop about 200 lbs., and I was miserable just thinking about it. I mean, where the hell was I supposed to start?
“How about using Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.”
My husband is great for nutty ideas, but turning to a financial author for weight loss…well this was genius! You see, we used Ramsey’s financial advice to get out of debt in just two short years. Ramsey advises to focus on your smallest debts first. That way you build momentum and confidence because you pay those off quicker than a much larger debt. I just applied that logic to my weight loss.
So I broke those 200 lbs. into baby steps. I wrote down the Weight Loss Milestones I needed to hit on my way to losing those 200 lbs. My first milestone? Loosing 5% — 16 lbs. — of my total weight. Now 16 lbs. isn’t so daunting. My first 5% flew off in two weeks. I felt so much better – no back pain, increased mobility and easier sleeping at night. Plus, it built up my confidence to lose the next 17 lbs (the 10% mark). Now, 21 months later, I’m 2 lbs. shy of losing 40% of my total weight. Awesome!
And My Biggest Weight Loss Mistake – Picking A “Diet” Over Changing My Lifestyle
Thanks to our weight loss industry, the word “diet” has been corrupted. Technically, diet is simply what we eat everyday. But thanks to the weight loss industry, diet is now synonymous with calorie restriction to drop pounds. Pre-Dot2Trot, I’d dutifully go on a diet, lose some weight (I even hit goal once), and go off the diet back to the way I ate before the diet, only to gain back what I’d lost (and then some). Not too smart.
I never connected the influence my lifestyle had on what I ate. When you work 16 hour days (including weekends), sit an hour in traffic (one way), and get home by 9:00 p.m., the last thing you want to do is cook a healthy dinner. In my case, I’d often reach for the phone to order a pizza.
One disastrous physical later something had to change. After much soul-searching, I came to realize my career/job dominated my life. It got to the point I spent more time at the office than I did in my home. And even when I got home, I was still connected to the office, thanks to my smart phone and VPN connection. Ugh!
My lifestyle was the reason I packed on the pounds. I wasn’t living — I was working, constantly.
After my doctor dropped the hammer on me, those days were over. It was time to focus on me. Quitting a job I was miserable in was the first step to reclaiming my life. I started to learn how to take care of myself emotionally and physically. Part of that was figuring out what triggered food binges and practicing good habits (food prep, measuring food, drinking water, etc.). Also understanding what works (low carb) vs. what doesn’t work (calories in/calories out) for me.
I feel like I’m living my life for the first time. As a result, the weight’s coming off. That’s right, the weight loss is a benefit of this change. I always thought I needed to lose weight to solve my problems. In fact, it was just the opposite.