I wrote these 6 weight loss realizations after completing a 5K in 2015. This was one of many diet and exercise programs I have completed. The original release for this series was over 6 weeks.
Check them out below. There’s some good stuff in here!
Table of Contents
My view on weight loss and running might be a little skewed. I understand you can lose weight by running but I would like to lose weight in order to run further. Having a big ol’ body makes it harder to keep up the pace with muscle fatigue and joint pain.
With that said, my goal is still to lose weight while simultaneously building up athleticism to run 5Ks regularly (key word here) once again.
For many people, losing weight isn’t as simple as “put down the hotdog and go do laps around the building.” I know I struggle with basic health decisions. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve improved my diet and added exercise, only to revert back to my old lifestyle.
There are other factors in play such as mental state, sleep pattern, stress level, etc. That’s why I want to outline some realizations about losing weight.
This particular 6-part miniseries will focus on the mental and planning aspects of weight loss:
- You’re Probably Not as Bad as You Think You Are
- Understand Yourself, Then Know You Can Improve
- Have a Specific Goal in Mind
- Don’t Force it, Take it Slow
- Keep a Schedule and Some Type of Record
- Maintain Progress and Find Support
During the next 6 weeks, I will go over these realizations in greater detail, and then wrap up the 6 weight loss realizations. All 6 realizations are similar in nature and they’re pretty simple to work through. So simple in fact, you’ll wonder why you did think of these sooner.
You’ll learn that it takes time to develop habits (both good and bad) and that you should lay out a plan with small milestones.
You’re Probably Not as Bad as You Think You Are
I know, it seems patronizing, but if you’re anything like me, you’re your own worst critic. Let me give an example to put it into perspective.
For most of my life, it was impossible for me to see myself as skinny, thin, athletic, or even just adequate. Sure sometimes I was beyond chubby, but it wasn’t nearly as often as I thought.
When I looked back at my old photos, I barely recognized myself, especially in the high school era. What I saw was a young, tall, skinny version of myself. It absolutely floored me.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “We were all skinny and perfect in high school.”
Unfortunately no, that’s not true for all of us. Some of us were late bloomers. Even still, you would think this realization would follow me from then on and shape my day-to-day life. But unfortunately, it did not.
Instead of looking at myself through a different lens, I still had the sneaking feeling of being super fat. This, in turn, caused me to be lazier than normal, whether I meant for it to or not. Simple tasks were pushed back ad nauseam.
Since I became conscious of this fact, I started to make the slow (at least for me) process to correct my behavior. I found it to be hard, if not impossible to immediately change the mindset when it relates to the view of one’s self.
The way you get around the false sense of yourself is to avoid trapping yourself in the following statements:
- You can’t _____ because you feel too far behind.
- You can’t _____ because you are too old.
- It takes way too long to get to where you want to be.
- You don’t have the time to _____.
- It’s too hard.
These traps are absolute show stoppers and it’s imperative to get out of the habit of sharing the same thoughts as the above list. But, if good intentions or positive thinking alone can’t make things better then what’s the point of all this?
The point is to become aware of how you’re limiting yourself. Positive thinking alone may not be the answer but I can assure you self-esteem and work ethic is highly important and shape the way you make decisions.
If the foundation of yourself is crumbling, it will be hard to build on yourself. You need to not be so hard on yourself. It’s time to start fresh, to begin anew, to give yourself a clean slate!
You’d be surprised to see how much you can do once you get out of your own way.
Understand Yourself, Then Know You Can Improve
Whether your weight loss goal is to lose excess flab, begin a new exercise program, or simply make better food selections, it’s vital to identify the reason why you want to accomplish your goal. Simply wandering around without purpose will keep you wondering for quite some time.
Do you want to slim down to mitigate back pain? How about eating more fibrous vegetables for better digestive regulation? What about increasing your mood?
It doesn’t really matter what your answer is. What matters is how you set yourself up for change. Think of these points when trying to make healthier habits:
- These new habits or goals need to be important to you.
- If you don’t hold a lot of stock in an idea or plan, it’s simply not going to get done, no matter how much you convince yourself that it will.
- Find out what motivates you and implement it into your new lifestyle.
Once you’re able to plan habits that are important to you it’s time to educate yourself on how to do it. If you are going to make better food selections, look up recipes that incorporate herbs, spices, and vegetables you need; especially select ingredients that contain vitamins and minerals that you’re deficient in.
If you’re going to start a new exercise program, see if the particular program you’re interested in is consistent with your goals or values. Does this program have an unforced way to ease into it or substitute exercises to build up to it?
Once you’ve finished with the leg work, which sounds more tedious than it actually is, it’s time to get your head on straight. If you’ve tried and failed other exercise programs or healthy endeavors as I have, you may have lingering doubt as to whether it’s even possible to get into shape (or back into shape).
A contributing factor to previous failed attempts is having an overly audacious plan. Cut back your goal/plan until you have the confidence level to complete it. Even if the only confidence level goal you can muster is to “go for a walk without breaking my spine,” you need to go for it. From there you can build on top of that goal.
Even if it’s hard to wrap your head around it, know that it’s hard to be depressed when you’re active. Pay attention to moods. Increased anxiety, sudden mood swings, or lack of interest in activities can be signs of depression or other health concerns.
I’ll talk more about goals and starting small in the next 2 weeks.
Have a Specific Goal in Mind
If you don’t have goals, even small ones, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. It doesn’t matter if the tasks you’re completing aren’t very involved or if you are simply going outside to walk or perform simple exercises.
Establishing a new lifestyle or journey without a goal is akin to driving around without a destination. How can you correct a course without a course to correct?
Right? So make a goal!
And when you make your goal, make it specific. For example, you could say something along the lines of “my goal is to lose 30 lbs of excess body fat in 8 months by exercising 3 times a week.”
Does this seem overkill to you? I can assure you it’s not. Look at the difference between that specific goal and these normal New Year’s resolutions, like “lose weight” or “start exercising more.” It’s quite a bit different.
To put it in another perspective, think of archery. Having a specific goal is like having a target to shoot at. Having a broad goal or otherwise having a bland New Year’s resolution is like aiming for whatever is in your backyard. Anything outside is a target and there’s no need for improvement.
Write this main goal down in a notebook, on a whiteboard, or type it up on your phone or computer. Keep it handy. Refer to it often to keep it fresh in your mind.
And while you’re at it, make some more goals. I’m serious. It’s good to have a long-term goal but you should keep yourself motivated by having small goals as well. Having that 5 to 10-year plan and that specific weight loss goal example mentioned above are good things. However, you need to have daily goals as well.
When you wake up tomorrow morning, say aloud “what do I want to accomplish today?” think of some things you need or want to accomplish, and then do them. It’s good to make lists or keep a journal.
When you’re done with the day or when you have completed your tasks, you can review your list in confidence and feel great for the day.
Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.
P.S. – Don’t be surprised if you curtail your procrastination and you find that you’re completing tasks in a matter of hours instead of days.
Don’t Force it, Take it Slow
Let’s have a quick mid-series review. In the first post of this series, You’re Probably Not as Bad as You Think You Are, I mentioned the importance of building a better personal foundation. Back in, Understand Yourself, Then Know You Can Improve, I outlined some basic things to ponder when looking to start selecting better food and looking to start a new exercise program. And finally, in the last post Have a Specific Goal in Mind, I talked about the importance of writing down your specific goal.
Once you build better groundwork and understanding of yourself it’s time to learn to ease into your new lifestyle. Don’t put a multitude of unrealistic requirements on yourself right out of the gate. Otherwise, you will limit more than you will liberate and you’ll have an astronomical chance of tapering off and relapsing into your old lifestyle.
There is another thing of note as you embark on your weight loss journey by beginning a new nutrition program or exercise program is that you don’t have to make an absolute, all-or-nothing decision. Yes, I was deliberately redundant there. It’s very unrealistic to eat superfoods and perform intense exercises every day.
When you’re looking to make better food selections or picking nutrition programs, opt for programs that you can actually do. There are so many diets and nutrition programs out there now that promote weight loss. Look for a diet or other eating program that includes foods you actually enjoy eating.
The more you like your new diet, the more likely you will stay with it. Perform extensive research and try to avoid processed foods and fad diets. As always, be sure to bring any questions to a licensed nutritionist or doctor.
The same guideline applies to picking an exercise program. Choose an exercise program or regiment that you can at least start safely and do something that you enjoy. The important thing with exercise is to get started. As always, those in questionable health should clear rigorous training or any new exercise with a physician before starting.
One way to keep your goals fresh in your mind is to make little improvements in your daily life. This is something you can do right now. For example, drink more water today. Staying hydrated is important for healthy exercise. So If you normally have one full glass, have two today.
You eventually want more than that but that’s a good improvement over normal consumption. If drinking water is not something you think about, buy a water container of some description, preferably a container that doesn’t seep harsh chemicals into the water.
Having it sit next to your desk is a constant reminder to drink more water. Don’t overdo it, but you get the general idea. Next, make a small improvement in your exercise habits, even if it’s as simple as getting up from your desk every couple of hours to stretch your wrists, neck, and shoulders.
See the general idea? You don’t need to go run for an hour and drink 8 gallons of water on your first day. Exaggeration aside, it’s still good advice.
Start small changes now and your goals will get easier. You’ll begin to see improvements little by little.
Before too long, healthy habits will be automatic.
Keep a Schedule and Some Type of Record
Perhaps at one point in your life, you’ve seen someone with a journal or notebook at a gym and after every set, this person would write down detailed information in his or her list. I also imagine you’ve had the same reaction I once did; which was:
“Whoa, that’s way too involved.”
“More worky, less writey.”
“I don’t need that; I’m just here to ______.”
The thing I missed, even though it was so simple, was to keep track. Although, it’s not necessary to be extremely detailed like some of the people you’ve probably encountered, nevertheless it behooves you to keep track of your progress so you know where you came from.
While you’re at it, take a “before” picture of yourself shirtless. Keep it safe until you meet your goal. Then you can show it to everyone. Even people that probably don’t want to see it (just kidding).
Think of how that would feel, saying “look what I was able to accomplish.”
There are also added benefits of keeping yourself interested, as well as seeing your progress. The more progress you see, the more likely you’ll stay with it.
And speaking of staying with it, make a schedule! Preferably one you can keep, time-wise and energy/health-wise. And don’t give me that crap that you’ll go exercise when you feel like it. I know from experience that it happens less often than it does.
Have you seen my training log? It’s an example of keeping a good record. It’s easier for me to organize a spreadsheet than a journal. It’s not too cluttered and it’s enough to keep my interest high.
If you want some templates of training logs, let me know.
Maintain Progress and Find Support
So now you’re keeping a schedule of exercise and you started logging your exercise in a journal of some type. The next step is to “keep on keeping on.” That is to simply stick with it, even when you don’t feel like it and especially when you plateau.
Don’t give up. Don’t accept defeat.
If you haven’t already, find support. Find a friend or family member to work out with you. If that’s out of the realm of possibility then find or develop a support system. Getting support will increase the chance of success. Studies have shown those who have supportive people in their life (friends, relatives, co-workers, business associates, etc.) are more likely to succeed in their new lifestyles and are less likely to get sick.
So what exactly is a support system? Find a class to go to, a mastermind group to join, a forum to lurk and post in, or whatever you can to be a part of a bigger group. This isn’t just a weight loss or lifestyle thing either. Having a supportive group will enhance your success in almost any endeavor.
Just hearing this probably won’t make you reach out to find support. This might be ok for now. However, allow me to scare you a bit. People who lack a strong support structure, made of a network of friends and family are at greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease.
The risk of solitude is right up there with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking. Yikes!
And this isn’t just with actually being alone. Research has shown that feeling alone may hurt the heart even more than actually being alone. Loneliness is a form of stress. This isn’t good normally, and it especially isn’t good if you need to recover from something.
So if you have been going it alone and do not get positive reinforcement, your health will decline. The mind and body form a powerful bond. Mental despair can manifest into physical complications.
Think about this quote about realigning your focus:
“Quitting is not giving up, it’s choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it’s realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it’s learning to be more productive, efficient, and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that bring you strength.”From Osayi Osar-Emokpae from her 2011 book, Impossible is Stupid
My support system is my martial arts class. Every time it’s someone’s turn to perform a move or otherwise be next in line as the focus of attention, the remaining students cheer each other on and give praises when deserved. It’s very therapeutic to be a part of a group that cares about each other’s progress.
Although martial arts are not tied to running a 5K or most other fitness and other health goals, I can still transfer the training and positive vibes to fit my needs.
I would like to eventually get into the benefits of martial arts, as well as awesome exercises, but my primary focus right now is covering my weight loss journey, in addition to the 5K training.
Keep the training up!
Weight Loss Realizations Wrap Up
If we go back to the traps listed in the post, You’re Probably Not as Bad as You Think You Are, you probably noticed those traps could be used for everything you don’t want to do.
“You can’t _____ because _____” is basically the gist of all of them.
How about we insert exercise into the blanks and go through the motions of why you probably can.
- You can’t exercise because you feel too far behind – it’s not a race to get insane results, a little progress is better than no progress.
- You can’t do certain exercises because you are too old – You are only as old as you feel. Of course, you have to take precautions if you have legitimate health problems but there are many ways to exercise.
- It takes way too long to get to where you want to be – You’re standing at the base of the stairs looking up. As you begin to climb it will get easier to determine how much progress you’ve made and where you still need to go.
- You don’t have the time to exercise – You need to find the time to do so. If you are out of shape, the first couple of weeks and maybe even months will be short workouts anyway until you build up strength and endurance. Make the time while you still can.
- It’s too hard – It will be difficult but it is not too hard. Learn the limitations of your body and safely push yourself. It will get easier the more you do it.
Exercise offsets a lot of things, probably more so than what has already been researched. Studies have shown that something as simple as daily moderate activity can elevate mood and reduce anxiety.
It’s hard to conceive right now, but trust me. You need to keep exercising. Once you break through the rough patch you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. The benefits of exercise are amazing.
Now enough excuses, get to it!