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July 22, 2017
What makes a true friend?
I have plenty of friends, but very few close ones. I deeply value the closest people to me because genuine friendships are so difficult to find. I want authentic people in my life who, if asked, will tell me if my outfit looks hideous. I want friends who give me real advice, not the advice they think I want to hear. I want friends who will let me know when I have a giant piece of parsley between my teeth. They'll hit me with the hard truth, even if it's uncomfortable for both of us.
It is in the spirit of a true friend that I write this post.
I'm not writing this to cause controversy or to offend, so please keep your defensive comments to yourself. If you're happy with your body weight, I am happy for you, and this post is not for you. I'm all about embracing the body you have, IF you're truly happy and IF you're truly healthy. This post is for people who want to lose weight and regain their health. If that's not you, click on outta here.
I do want to be real, because hearing the difficult truth is often what pushes us toward change. I love this quote by a well-known weight loss doctor:
"No one wants to fat-shame. We all want everyone to be comfortable with our bodies. But this movement to be comfortable with our bodies has made us comfortable with being sick." -Dr. Garth Davis, M.D.
The immensity of this problem is indisputable. Our country has never been so ill. According to the CDC, two thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 dibetes, and some types of cancer. Fatigue, depression, and an overall lower quality of life are associated with being overweight.
On average, obese Americans spend $1,429 more per year and nationally the cost is estimated at $147 billion annually. Next time you try telling yourself it's too expensive to eat healthfully, remember that number.
I spent a lot of years overweight. My highest weight was 199 after having my first child.
I've struggled a lot with a terrible addiction to food. After my divorce, I put on fifty-three pounds in less than six months. My weight problem felt hopeless, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get used to or be happy with my overweight body. Today, I'm 5'7 and 134 pounds. I still have tough cravings, and I still give in to them from time to time. But for the most part, I eat for nutrition, and that has made all the difference.
Looking back on all those years of trying fad diets and making excuses, I see four key problems in the way I was thinking. If I would have swallowed my pride and accepted the following four truth bombs back then, I would have gotten to a healthier place much more quickly. So here they are...and, warning, they're not pretty.
I told you. This isn't going to be pretty. But let's just get right to it, shall we? If I were to write a book about weight loss, it would be very short. In fact, it would be one sentence long:
"STOP EATING CRAP AND GET OFF YOUR ASS."
Just like I tell my children, the "easy" option is rarely the healthiest. It's easy to sit on the couch drinking rosé and binge-watching Game of Thrones all evening. It's easy to drive through Taco Bell and get 3 chalupas for dinner instead of cooking a nutritious meal. It's easy to order pizza or Chinese. It's easy to eat what impulsively sounds good. I get it. It's much more difficult to get off your ass, go to the store, purchase foods that are nutritious, and prepare them.
It's also easy to try the stupid fad diets. It's easy to drink some ketones and hope your belly fat starts melting away while you lick a stick of deep fried butter. It's easy to try a juice cleanse that will inevitably leave you starving and cause you to binge on Krispy Kremes. At the risk of sounding like my father, I'm going to say it: If it seems too good to be true, it is. Even if you lose some weight on these silly diets, it's not healthy, and statistics say you will gain it back, and more.
You've had three kids so it's impossible to lose the weight? I get it. I've had five and thought I would never be able to lose the weight. But the reality is, you can. And more importantly, your kids will be healthier if you're setting the example. They're not benefiting from three (or 7) happy meals every week. Their health is a direct result of your habits. Teach them through example.
You have an illness that keeps you from exercising? I've had MS for 13 years, and for a lot of those years, I used it as a crutch. Now I view this disease as more motivation for me to focus on my health and start eating for the nutrition that will help my body perform its best. Eating healthfully will improve the way you feel. It will more than likely prolong your life and decrease your symptoms. What are you waiting for?
You're fat because of genetics? This is my least favorite of all the excuses, and the one I hear most commonly. Yes, genetics can play a small part. The bigger part of the familial link in obesity has been proven time and time again to be the habits you learned from your parents and the habits they learned from theirs. Break the chain. Be the change. Stop it with this nonsense and get healthy.
You don't have time? STOP. You have time for what you decide you have time for. Which leads me to reason number three...
Dig deep. Take a hard look at yourself. We do what we really want to do. If you wanted to lose the weight, you would lose the weight. I know it's not easy, but it's also not rocket science.
I feel another cliché coming on...When there's a will, there's a way. My god, ok. No more clichés. But seriously. If you want it, you'll do it.
Ask yourself why you remain overweight. Are you afraid of the attention you might receive if you make a drastic change? Are you afraid said change will affect important relationships? Get to the root of your WHY. Write out a pros and cons list of staying overweight, and a pros and cons list of losing it. Don't forget the YEARS you'll most likely add to your life. Take some time (like 20 minutes, not two years) for reflection and figure out the emotional side of your issue. This will play a key role in fixing it.
This was my biggest reason, and it's perhaps the most difficult to swallow (pun intended). Ask yourself the following difficult but pertinent questions from Food Addicts Anonymous:
Do you think you cannot control your intake of food, especially junk food or high sugar foods?
Do you find yourself feeling depressed, hopeless, sad or ashamed about your eating or your weight?
Do you find yourself eating when you are upset or reward yourself with food when you do something good?
Have you ever noticed after eating sugar, flour, or other junk foods that you become more irritable?
Do you eat in private so no one will see you?
Do you avoid social interactions because you feel you do not look good enough or do not have the proper fitting clothes to wear?
Are you more interested in what food is served at social gatherings than looking forward to the warmth of being with the people attending?
Six years ago, I would have answered 'yes' to all of these questions. Still today, food is always on my mind. As the saying goes, once an addict, always an addict. But I'm recovering, I'm healthy now, and you can do it too.
I wrote the following in a post about my battle with Binge Eating Disorder. Maybe it will help you find a way to get through the first 30 days of breaking your addiction:
"Those first 30 days were not easy. The urges to binge were overwhelming. Just writing about them makes my heart race. I previously thought the only way to get rid of a craving was to give in to it, but I realized those bastards were indeed temporary and I would NOT let them win.
I learned to separate myself from the urge and observe it with my mind’s eye. An urge was like a giant, powerful wave. From a distance, I watched as it grew more and more powerful. I’d talk to myself like a crazy person. “Look at that wave. It’s huge. I can't believe I used to be a slave to that f**king urge. My god, it is powerful. I can observe it from a distance now and not let it control me. I am in control now. I hate that wave. I will not give it power.”
As the craving reached its highest point, my body shook. My stomach growled, my head pounded, every part of my body ached, and I cried as the voices in my head begged me to give in. With tears streaming down my face, I watched that giant, ugly wave with my mind’s eye. After what seemed like forever, the wave started to go down, down, down until it was finally gone. I felt relieved and proud of myself every time I was able to remove myself from the wave and observe it from a distance. I took a deep breath and moved on.
I had some set-backs of course. There were times I gave in. The temptation when I stumbled was to feel like a giant failure and return to binging in full force. I told myself during those times that it was not about winning every single battle, but about winning the war. I WOULD win this damn war. I could not live like this any longer. Two steps forward and one step back was still progress, and I would keep moving forward no matter what."
We've established the four main reasons why you're still overweight. So, what can you do about your weight problem starting today?
Often, I over-complicate my problems to avoid having to really deal with them. My weight was no exception for a long time. But, the key to weight loss is simple.
Four steps. Are you ready? Let's do this.
I do mean ALL the junk. There are so many "health foods" that claim to be good for you but are just as bad as regular junk food. Wheat Thins? Junk. Protein bars? Most are junk. If it has a long list of ingredients you can't pronounce, THROW IT OUT.
Take charge of what goes into your body. Once you've rid your cupboards of the garbage, avoid restaurants like the plague and fill your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Think about every single bite of food you take. Ask yourself, "Am I truly hungry? Do I need this?" Eat all the fruits and vegetables you can. Don't count calories. Eat. Eat up all the delicious, simple, glorious nutrition your body has been deprived of for years.
Changing your eating habits is the biggest key to weight loss. But exercising helps, and breaking a sweat daily feels great too. I'm not asking you to go join some crazy expensive gym or become the king or queen of Zumba. I'm just saying MOVE.
Again, don't complicate things. Get up thirty minutes earlier and go for a walk. Try an easy yoga video on Youtube. You don't need fancy equipment or a degree in exercise science. Just Move. Your. Ass. Every damn day. It's invigorating. It's great for the mind, body and spirit. Do it.
I promised myself I wouldn't use anymore clichés, but here I go:
Knowledge is power.
It's true. Stop making excuses. Turn off the TV, shut down Facebook, and learn a thing or two about feeding your body for health and healing, rather than for impulsive pleasure that leads to regret, poor health, and misery. The following list is what I'll call the "No more excuses, must read/watch list." And no, I am not paid by anyone to list these. I wish. Please don't skip this. It's so important:
-Read the book Eat to Live. It changed my world. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It transformed the way I view food and that has made all the difference. Buy it. You can find it used on Amazon for $2.25. Read it. And then read it again. TODAY.
-Read the book The Miracle Morning and do what it says. This book is not about weight loss but it WILL help you lose weight. It will also help you improve every other area of your life, no joke. You can find it on Amazon for $9.99 used. The benefits of reading this book and implementing its teachings are priceless.
-Watch the movie Forks Over Knives. It's on Netflix. This movie changed my life. I've watched it many times and I have my kids watch it at least once a year. Please watch it. And share it with your friends and family.
-And last, but most definitely not least (another cliché): Watch the movie What the Health, also on Netflix. This movie blew my mind. It's fantastic. Please don't wait. Watch it. Have your family watch it.
You can absolutely do all four of these things TODAY and be on your way to looking and (more importantly) feeling fantastic.
You get one life to live, as far as any of us knows. Do not spend your one life unhappy with your body and feeling sluggish, tired and unhealthy. It's never too late to regain your health and happiness.
If you truly desire change, make it happen. Keep it simple. Do not give in to the temptation to try the "quick and easy" fad diets that never work long-term.
Take it one day at a time and be patient with yourself if you stumble. You may lose a battle or two, but you WILL win this war if you follow these simple steps.
You got this! Reach out to me if you need some encouragement and I will do my best to give it. You CAN do it!
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