February 21, 2017

Losing Weight: It’s All In Your Head

As each new year begins, many women decide that it’s time to become healthier, fitter, and skinnier. Weight loss can drastically improve and change your quality of life, but there is so much that can go wrong as well.

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Forget Your Flaws and Focus on What You Love

I have always had disproportionately big legs– you could say I’m “pear” shaped. I used to hate my legs. I lost 60lbs, and my legs were still too big. Losing weight stopped being about health, and started being about losing my enormous thighs and calves.

Focusing on the flaws of your body can lead you down a path you don’t want to go. Some people use self-hate and body shaming as motivation. If you don’t go to the gym you’ll just get fatter. Your flabby arms won’t ever get firmer if you eat that chocolate. Ultimately this kind of mindset will wear you out. Negative self talk only leads to more negative self talk, and you’ll find yourself giving up with excuses like well I’m already fat, so what’s one more chocolate?

Instead, focus on what you already love about your body. I have always had a small waist in comparison to my hips and legs, even at a higher weight. Accentuate it, and work to improve what you already love about yourself. If you have long, sexy legs but a bigger midsection, focus on making your legs stronger by doing resistance exercises and cardio exercises like biking, walking, or running. The rest will take care of itself, and you will be encouraged to continue on because you will be excited about what you are doing.

Structured Diet Plans like HMR and Weight Watchers Can Help

I would never encourage a woman to go on any type of extreme diet, or eliminate any food group; however there are plans that can help you lose weight the healthy way. I have a hard time even calling these plans “diets”, because it is more simply a system to help you learn to eat mostly healthy foods, and any food– but in moderation.

Systems like Health Management Resource programs or Weight Watchers work for many people because although they are considered a “diet” and you have to follow “rules”, you still get to eat normal foods like pastas, veggies, and meats, and you get small indulgences as well.

What’s important whether or not you choose to follow a diet plan is that you learn to love healthy foods, not that you ban “bad” foods. By entirely eliminating foods that you love, you are setting yourself up for failure.

The internet can also be a wonderful resource for nutrition and diet guidelines, but it should be taken with a grain of salt because much of what you will find is not written by professionals. If someone says to eat 70% of a certain food group and none of another, it may be best to pass on their advice and find something a little more sustainable.

Because the internet is so vast and has so many conflicting opinions, talking to a dietician or doctor, or using medically guided programs like HMR can be helpful at first.

You Do Not Have to Do This Alone

Being overweight can seem shameful, especially if you have poor body image. In reality, the CDC estimates that close to 70% of Americans age 20 or older are medically overweight or obese.

Finding a friend with similar goals is a great way to keep yourself on track, positive, and motivated. Because you have a different perception of yourself than your friends, it is harder to insult yourself when you have someone similar at your side. If you say, man I’m fat, you are indirectly telling your friend, man, you are fat. We are much harder on ourselves than we are on those we love, so we are much less likely to get trapped in a cycle of negative self-talk if we have someone beside us.

If you don’t have a workout and dieting buddy, there are plenty of in-person and online support systems as well. There are many free websites where you can track your progress and discuss health and fitness with other community members. There are also blogs by fitness and nutrition companies that give you free recipe ideas and fitness tips.

On Tumblr, a free blog platform, thousands of people have personal weight loss blogs where they document their successes and failures and comment to encourage each other.

Losing weight, especially when you have a lot of weight to lose, can seem like a daunting task. There is no shame in seeking professional help if you don’t know where to start, and having the support of your friends and family can make all the difference in your success.

Andrea Singer

Andi Singer is a fitness expert from Boise Idaho who writes about health and weightloss for www.ihmonline.com. She has been through her own weight loss journey and now focuses on improving her strength and her skills as a martial artist.

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