Where Do I Start, Part 1 – What’s a Lifestyle Change?
I’ve been asked this a lot since I started this blog – and yet, weirdly enough, it’s one of the posts I’ve struggled most to write. That’s for a few reasons. Firstly, when I set out to lose weight initially, I didn’t think like I do now. When you first start, you’re all motivation – you know you want to be Beyonce, and you’ll do whatever you have to do to make that happen. You’ll do seven back to back aerobics classes and drink weird concoctions of maple syrup and lemonade if you have to – you WILL GET WHAT YOU WANT.
Yeah, I know that. And I know the two days later feeling, when you’ve already suffered burnout and are having to resort to deep heat and ice cream to fix it. I know. I’ve done that plenty of times.
The thing is – and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this about a thousand times now, but forgive me – it’s got to be a lifestyle change.
These words are such a cliche that I hate how often I find myself using them. They make me feel like I need to be wearing a headset and pacing back and forth, delivering motivational speeches to conference rooms full of bored people in suits.
But the trouble is, they’re the only words I’ve got for what this sort of thing has to be. Because, when all’s said and done – diet’s don’t work. There’s a fundamental flaw in diet logic, which relies upon the idea that you can make dramatic changes to your life with a short-term fix – be that cabbage soup, no carbs, going hungry, or whatever.
Now, it’s entirely possible to see some dramatic results in a short time with diets like this – I know when I tried one of the no-carb diets, I certainly saw a pretty rapid drop on the scales – but they’re just not sustainable for any meaningful length of time. And eventually, you gain the weight right back, with interest on top. That’s why diets don’t work. They’re a false economy. Short term gain, long term pain.
A lifestyle change, on the other hand? That’s a whole different kettle of fish. That’s a permanent thing. That’s you going up to the mirror and saying, ‘you – enough. Put the damn cookie down. I’ve got life-changing to do.’
But you can’t just decide you’re going to change your life, like you can when you go on a diet. It’s bigger than that. This is a full life overhaul.
That’s kind of why it’s a lot more complex than a diet – because when you think ‘all I can eat is food from this one particular food group’ it simplifies it for you. It’s completely, totally wrong – but it is simple. You don’t have to think too hard about it.
When you’re changing your life, though, there are a lot of different facets to it that you have to address. Diet and nutrition are one piece of the puzzle; physical activity is another. Then, there are the practicalities – how much time, energy, and resources can you commit to changing your life? I know all too well that one’s a doozy – the whole job, PhD, blog and weight loss business is hard work, in case I haven’t whined about that enough by now – but it’s possible to do make it work if you really want to.
You just have to get yourself really, really organised. I’ve got so many things running on my laptop right this instant you’d think I’m plotting world domination (clue: I am), and I’m writing this blog whilst making bolognese in bulk and listening to a podcast vaguely related to the PhD. That’s right. Multi-tasking is my middle name.
More complicated than all that, however, is the psychological side of the lifestyle change.
Everyone’s got their own reasons for being overweight. There’s no doubt that the reasons I got so big were pretty complex – self-esteem issues, relationship dramas, and a massive emotional attachment to food, compounded by the fact that I just really, really loved pizza… Yep. It’s complicated.
To make a lifestyle change, you have to address all of these issues in and for themselves – and that’ll require you to be brutally honest with yourself at times, even if you’re not sure you want to – but the long-term improvements in your overall wellbeing, physically and emotionally, will make it completely worth it.
That’s why this blog is ‘Part I’ – because over the next few days, I’m going to post a blog on each of these things, which should hopefully help to clear up the whole ‘Where Do I Start?’ question. Because that’s the other reason I’ve been struggling with this post – it’s too big for just one. I started, yes – but it’s taken two years to get to where I am now, and I’m still very much in the learning process. I’ve still got a good 20lbs to lose until I’m “done” – and there are still aspects of my life that I need to tweak.
Because I’m not perfect, by any means. Losing this much weight isn’t just a case of starting once, and seeing continued success for however long it takes for you to reach your target weight. It’s a continuous process of re-evaluating and understanding your lifestyle, and yourself – but I can definitely say that I’m stronger, happier and healthier as a result. Every day is a fresh start. Hell, every meal is a fresh start – and once you appreciate that, you’ll find that all those positive starts begin to link together… ‘Til one day, you realise, you’ve changed your life.
So stay tuned – and feel free to get in touch with tips and tricks that have worked for you!