“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
I struggled to maintain a healthy weight for a large part of my life.
Had I known these five things before my weight-loss journey, I would have had a much easier time shedding the pounds and would have realized that weight loss isn’t a magic fix-all solution to my issues.
If you’re trying to lose weight, perhaps some of my lessons will be helpful to you.
Here we go…
1. This has to be for you, not someone else.
Growing up as a closeted gay child, I was taught that homosexuality is a sin and anyone who likes members of the same sex is unworthy of love and affection.
This caused me to develop an internalized belief that I was not good enough, which led me to seek external validation from others as the source my self-esteem.
Being gay was a very heavy secret I carried, and as a result I became very heavy myself.
Afraid to be seen, I used weight gain to hide myself from the rest of the world.
After coming out, I thought if I had the hottest boyfriend then I would finally feel good about myself.
I lost thirty pounds, transformed my body, and achieved my goal of dating a hot guy. My self-esteem was through the roof… until he broke up with me and I never saw him again (whomp, whomp). I had failed to achieve my goal, and I felt terrible about myself.
Now I see the issue started when I attached my fitness goal and my self-esteem to something outside myself that I could not control—a guy wanting to date me.
The reality is, a new body or a new boyfriend was never going to solve my problems. I had to ‘work out’ my inner self before I could feel good about my outer self.
It’s like having an old, scratched-up cell phone that is super slow, so you put a brand new case on it and suddenly it’s nice and shiny again! However, the original issues are still there, and the phone is still damaged below the surface.
Like the phone with the new case, I was still that same little boy inside desperately seeking validation from others.
What I needed was to accept myself and to stop looking to others to validate my self-worth.
Through meditation and coaching I’ve come to see that feelings of worthiness come from within. I choose to lead a healthy lifestyle for the sake of my own health and well-being, and I recognize that I have inherent value on my own, regardless of my appearance or what other people think.
Nowadays I set goals that are within the realm of my own power and are not dependant on validation from others like: “I want to lose weight to be healthy and live a long life” instead of “I want to lose weight to have a guy ask me out.”
Remember: You’re a whole, complete, capable person regardless of how you look. Just because you want to improve for tomorrow doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about yourself today.
No one has the ability to make you feel a certain way about yourself; only you have that power! When you set goals within the limits of your own power, you will be unstoppable.
2. You may lose friends, and that’s awesome!
Let me explain: When I first set out to transform my body, most of my friends were very supportive… until they weren’t.
A lot of my friends weren’t into health and fitness. As I got closer to my goals, they would say things like, “Who do you think you are? Acting all better than us with your salad and healthy lifestyle!”
Sometimes it’s the people who know you best who hold you back from changing the most. They met you when you were a certain way, and they want you to stay that way.
If you surround yourself with people who aren’t used to success, they may become fearful and threatened because you are reflecting back to them something that intimidates them. Not everyone is going to be happy for you.
In letting go, you create space for other likeminded people who can support you on your path. Having help from people who have been in my shoes helps keep me motivated and allows me to learn from the experience of others. This saves a lot of time and effort and makes the journey more enjoyable.
You can find supportive people by making friends with people at the gym, joining a running group from meetup.com, or joining a meditation studio. You can even consider working with a trainer or coach if you need a little extra help.
3. Our self-talk can make or break our progress.
I used to look in the mirror and focus all of my energy on my flaws. I would tell myself, “I want to lose weight so I’m not gross and disgusting.”
Every time I thought about my goal I reinforced the identity of someone who is “gross and disgusting.” This negative self-talk was not helpful for my self-confidence, and it often led to binge eating. Not something you want to do when trying to lose weight!
In order to create lasting change, I had to cut out the negative self-talk by connecting with a positive intention for my goal. So I shifted my intention toward living a healthy life and aging gracefully.
I stopped putting my attention on the things I disliked about myself, which depressed me, and instead focused on the positive goals I was working toward, which energized me.
After I changed my view of myself I was finally able to lose the weight—and enjoy the process.
4. Patience is everything.
Patience is more than just waiting, it’s the ability to put in the work required to achieve your goals and keep a positive attitude throughout the process.
After I set out to lose weight, for the first three weeks I felt like nothing was happening and I was wasting my time. The funny thing is, this is when all the work started to pay off. By week four, I could finally see noticeable changes on the scale and I was moving in the right direction.
It’s the small, seemingly insignificant choices we make every day that add up to something extraordinary. If you don’t have the patience to wait for these things to happen, you won’t make progress on your goals.
Remember, a journey of a thousand miles is nothing but a series of single steps. Take things one step at a time, and you’ll go far!
5. To reach any goal, you need to define success, create an action plan, and fall in love with the process.
I’ve often felt overwhelmed by all the conflicting health and fitness information available. I didn’t know which plan was right for me, so I would try a new one every week and never see any changes.
The truth is, the best plan for me is the one I stick to and have fun with.
It’s important to fall in love with the process. Fitness is a lifelong journey, and if you don’t enjoy the process you’ll give up.
If you’re feeling confused about which plan is best for you, try picking one that sounds fun and stick with it for eight weeks. If you haven’t seen any progress, try something new.
Also, be sure to define what success looks like for you—whether that means hitting a certain number on the scale or being able to hike a specific number of miles—so you have a clear direction of where you are headed.
When I set out to lose thirty pounds I had a defined goal in mind. This allowed me to focus my energy and weed out distractions. It also gave me motivation, purpose, and a clear vision for my future.
Lastly, track your progress as you go, since this will keep you focused and motivated. I resisted doing this for a long time, but it’s made a world of difference. It’s like using a road map. When you see how far you’ve come, it’s a lot easier to stay committed to reaching your destination. Apps like MyFitness pal are great for tracking fitness goals.
Ultimately, every fitness journey is about more than losing weight and changing your physical appearance. The most successful transformations are those that begin with self-love and require ‘working out’ your inner being as well as your physical being.
Losing weight was merely a side effect of my bigger goal to lead a healthy lifestyle, and my fitness goals have grown to focus more on the health of my mind, body, and spirit, rather than solely my physical appearance.
Because I find it hard to prioritize my own needs, I created a daily self-care routine and I devote a minimum of one hour every morning to my health and well-being. Self-care is the secret to my weight loss success because weight naturally falls off when you make healthy lifestyle choices and take care of your body.
And finally, remember the power of intention! It’s not what you do but why you do it that will enable you to succeed.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey, and am sending you all my love!
About Timothy James
Timothy is a health coach focused on using simple mindfulness strategies to build habits and achieve weight loss goals. He’s created a free course to create your own self-care routine and get your mind and body in shape with simple strategies you can use today. Click here to get instant access and discover how to stop anxiety, kill stress, and eliminate exhaustion with your free self-care planner!