Ah, the first week of a new year. Lots of people with goals, searching for tips and tricks and things they haven't tried before to reduce their weight! It never fails that I get a lot of pitches from companies trying to get me to share the latest tools in the weight loss revolution, or questions from reporters who have seen me on a “top weight loss bloggers” list.
This week, I was quoted on Oprah's website. O-P-R-A-H! Being on Oprah's website is a big deal. I'm so thankful that her team reached out to ask for my “unique or unexpected healthy living and weight loss tips.” But I'm having conflicting feelings about Oprah right now. Her large ownership stake in Weight Watchers and the insane amount of Oprah-facing Weight Watchers commercials have me feeling squeamish. It's the mantra of “love yourself, but do it while paying for this weight loss service that I partially own and make a lot of money on.” I've had a hard time getting my thoughts down about this, but thankfully someone else has done this more eloquently than I would ever be able to (RSS readers, embedded Facebook post below)
So with that being said, I have nothing against the Weight Watchers program, or Oprah herself. It's the machine behind weight loss and profits fueled by making people feel inadequate for not being thin that really bothers me. Ironically enough, in my post about dropping the “weight loss blogger” categorization from my blog, I quoted Oprah.
I wanted to share the other tips I gave the writer from Oprah. I replied that I'm much more into body positive fitness over weight loss these days. So with that caveat, here were my unexpected healthy living tips:
- Don't run… if you don't want to. So many people start out walking and running because it seems like that's what everyone does. Then they groan about how they don't like it, and dread doing it, but do it anyway. That's great to find that persistence, but it makes less mental energy in the long run to find something you really enjoy. It shouldn't be a struggle. It took me doing 5K's and a half marathon to fully admit that I never got runners high, and I'd rather use that “oh my gosh, I have to get out of bed and do this thing I hate” energy on doing activities that I looked forward to. That meant trying spinning, heavy lifting, Zumba, swimming, hot yoga, and more. Plus, trying all of these new activities gets you out of your comfort zone by facing new experiences head-on.
- Reward yourself now. We are often told to dangle carrots for when we hit certain weight loss milestones. Perhaps we say we'll buy new clothes or take a trip. I call these the “When I's,” and I think it just creates a feeling that we're not good enough NOW for these things. I understand the practical side of it – if you lose weight, you need clothes that fit – but rewarding with experiences can make you feel like you're not good enough for these things just as you are, in the body you have. So for example: When I _____, I will ____. When I lose 50 pounds, I will take a trip. When I fit into a size 6, I’ll wear a bathing suit. Life is way too short to put your life on hold until you reach certain milestones. If you want to do things, do them. Accepting yourself now will only help boost self-esteem and confidence that can give so much more motivation to living a healthy lifestyle.
- Feel your body. I don't mean to literally touch your body – though if you want to, go for it. Focusing on how your body feels is often more motivating than what the scale can show you. Since I started my journey over 455 pounds, I remember what it felt like to stand up for even short periods of time. Or I remember what it felt like when I could barely make it on the treadmill for 5 minutes at 2.8. It's not easy to remember these feelings, so sometimes writing them down helps. It's immensely helpful for those weeks where you see zero movement on the scale but can remember that your legs felt super strong during squats versus the week prior when you could barely walk afterwards. It's a way to focus on functional physical improvement versus a digit.
- Don't watch The Biggest Loser. At the beginning of trying to lose weight, these sorts of shows or reading other success stories can be incredibly inspiring. But as you work hard and don't see the same results they do, it can be really deflating. Cutting out my exposure to these shows helped tame the comparison monster. There are enough distractions in the day-to-day to derail your confidence or motivation without these added comparisons. (Also? These shows have the tendency to show a struggle with fitness or with food, and I think it makes people feel like they have to kill themselves to lose weight. You don't.)
- Dress your best. Even if you don't like the number on the scale or the size on your pants, you should always have some go-to outfits that make you feel great. I find that when I dress better, I feel more polished, and then it leads to more energy and motivation to get to the gym or go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for a new, healthy recipe I found. Plus, it seems to inspire others to give compliments, which are nice fuel to the motivation fire. You don't have to break the bank: you can start with some basic pieces that you can wear a few times a week, and then have them tailored as you lose weight. Ignore the size of the dress and focus on the fit. Even if you just have 1 piece you can put on that makes you feel polished, it makes you feel better about the hard work you're putting in!
No matter what your goal this year: self-acceptance, weight loss, sanity – I'm cheering you on. Here's to a great 2016.