I don’t like to complain too much, it’s bad for the soul, but I will tell you something that really grinds my gears: When people try to tell you that losing weight, or getting “skinny” (everyone’s ultimate goal, right?), can and should be done as quickly as possible.
All you have to do is quit eating/drink this tea/never eat junk food again/do a monkey dance, and you’ll lose 10kg in just six weeks. Ta-dah! Finally you will be happy and fulfilled and your life will be meaningful because hooray you’re skinny! All hail skinny!
Maybe you’re not happy with your body right now. Maybe you haven’t been treating yourself very well. You may have put on weight or maybe you just lack energy. Perhaps you feel self-conscious around people, or you can’t wear the clothes that you’d like to.
If you lost weight and you were a size 10 then you’d definitely feel happy, right?
The quicker the better, because you’re sick of being unhappy and feeling awful about yourself!
Right, better eat lettuce for the next six weeks and suck down those meal replacement shakes.
You ate a little bit extra with your dinner tonight? Oops, better go work out to burn 1000 calories!
Feel like some chocolate? Strip off in front of the mirror and guilt yourself out of the idea because your body is so disgusting you don’t deserve it!
Feeling hungry? Just drink water instead!
This is literally the kind of things being pushed out there, and believed. But I want to tell you what I have learnt. A quick weight loss fix will not work.
Things or ideals do not bring you happiness. Waking up tomorrow morning at your ideal weight would not make you instantly happy. You would be confused, you wouldn’t be mentally prepared, you wouldn’t understand your body anymore, you wouldn’t know what foods your body needs and you wouldn’t know what exercise to do to maintain your new body.
This is what it’s like to expect a quick fix.
This is why we grow over time.
You are a child, who learns and adapts to the world around you as you grow older. You then learn harsh lessons as a teenager and young adult, and so on.
Each and every day you learn something new, you grow in some way so that you can be prepared for school, for university, for working life, even just for the next day and the next day.
Your health, fitness and weight loss journey is exactly the same.
We start whenever we are truly ready, in whatever way we are prepared.
Each and every day we learn and grow in ways we didn’t even know we needed to. We build strength physically and emotionally. We learn to understand our bodies and how to fuel them properly. We learn about exercise and what works for us, what we enjoy and what makes us feel good.
For some this takes many years, for others maybe it’s not so long, because we are all on a different path, we all have different knowledge and understanding and strength.
Losing weight is much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. It truly is a “lifestyle change”. It’s about adapting what you do now and creating a better life for yourself every day.
It’s not about torturing yourself every day for certain results because you think that end result will bring you happiness.
What you do and achieve and experience day-in and day-out is what brings you happiness.
Having a goal and having focus is excellent, that’s what we all want and need. But you can’t expect yourself to wake up one day and never do anything unhealthy again. It’s unrealistic and it’s not good for your mentality or emotional state.
But what is achievable, and still OK, is taking a rest day from the gym, eating a piece of cake to celebrate a friend’s birthday, or eating real food instead of a meal replacement shake full of promises. Your sanity and emotional strength is 1000 times more important than consuming a few extra calories.
I remember one day saying to my partner Adam that when I saw people who were overweight I felt motivated to stay healthy because “I don’t want to end up like that again”.
Adam replied: “I feel the opposite, I feel motivated when I see fit and healthy people, because I want to be like that, too.”
That was a light-bulb moment for me.
We need to start treating ourselves right, choosing to be healthy, making good food choices and exercising because we LOVE our bodies and because we want to feel great. Not because we FEAR being overweight or because we loathe our body when we’re naked in front of a mirror.
Shame will not help you achieve happiness, which in my opinion is the true reason a person decides to lose weight.
And once you make that decision you will realise that happiness doesn’t come from seeing a certain number on the scales, but from the process that got you there.