If you’ve ever googled “weight loss” or “how to lose weight”, or if you’re on Facebook or Instagram and follow any fitness influencers, you’ll know what the answer is. It’s eloquently put as “eating less and moving more”. Sure, it sounds easy enough, but is it really that simple?
I can tell you now that it’s definitely not. If it were, wouldn’t we live in a society where nearly everybody walked around with washboard abs?
Yes, the principle behind it is simple and quite easy to understand. Energy balance is what determines weight loss. Period. If you want to gain weight, you have to sit in a caloric surplus and be consuming more than what you expend daily. If you want to lose weight, you must be consuming less energy than what you are expending. Which, in even simpler terms, means you have to eat and drink less calories than you burn through your day to day activity and exercise.
However, what a lot of these google search pages and fitness influencers fail to mention is that losing weight is far more complicated than this. I want to share with you the challenges I faced when I got serious about losing weight and how I managed to overcome them in order to keep the weight off (arguably the hardest part of the whole journey!)
I want to preface this by saying that it wasn’t easy, I don’t want you to think there’s a magic pill or a secret tool that I used. Anybody who tries to sell you that is probably, no, definitely, full of rubbish.
You can have the best program and the best plan in the world, but if you don’t want to put in the hard work and make a lasting change, then nothing is going to help you. This is not about finding a quick fix. If that’s what you’re looking for, stop reading now.
This is about changing your life and building a healthy and happy lifestyle that you can sustain forever.
If I did it, so can you!
I tried every quick fix under the sun. I wanted so desperately to lose weight, but I had no idea how. Going from one fad diet to the next, thinking I would stumble across the key and unlock the secrets of weight loss. Boy was I wrong! I started restricting carbs and all of my favourite foods (in fact, my calorie intake was very low) and granted, I would lose weight, only to then slip and fall and wind up bingeing on all the foods I was avoiding and would end up hating myself for it. This was such a vicious cycle of self hatred as I just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Why didn’t I have the willpower to stop eating these foods?!
Challenge number one – healing my relationship with food.
I was sick of feeling like I had no control when it came to my diet and eating. I felt like I would do really well and go a whole week of eating only broccoli and chicken, only to then eat an entire pizza and tub of ice cream to myself come Friday night. I felt like I was trapped. Even the idea of eating out with friends would make me so anxious that sometimes, I would cancel my plans.
So, I decided to learn about what exactly calories were. I educated myself on macros (macronutrients, ie. protein, carbs and fats) and stumbled across some articles about “IIFYM” or If It Fits Your Macros. Essentially, this is a way of eating and tracking food that allows the flexibility and freedom to still enjoy the foods you love, as long as you can “make them fit your macros”.
Whilst it goes without saying that the quality of your food should always be a priority (think of those micronutrients like your vitamins and minerals), it’s very reassuring to know that I can have my cake and eat it too (in moderation, of course).
Learning about macros showed me that there are no foods that are inherently bad just like there are no foods that are inherently good. If I needed 2000 calories a day to maintain my weight, technically it didn’t matter where those calories came from, so long as it was only 2000 calories.
Again, let me stress that food quality is incredibly important, but it was eye opening to learn that carbs weren’t actually the enemy after all!
Tracking my macros taught me a lot about what was in the food I was eating and how much I was really eating. By allowing myself to still enjoy the foods I loved, I broke the horrible restrict and binge cycle that I felt I was prisoner to for so many years of my life.
I still adhere to this method of eating today! I like to adhere to the 80/20 rule, where 80% of my diet comes from unprocessed, whole, clean foods and 20% comes from what I like to call soul food, such as chocolate and ice cream.
Challenge number two – changing how I viewed exercise.
This may sound like a weird one to you, but I think it’s super important to talk about! When I first started exercising, it was because I wanted to lose weight and needed to burn off the food and alcohol I was consuming. I bought different programs, all of which promised results, but I could never see it through. The bottom line was, I wasn’t enjoying it and my priorities were all out of whack. I had pretty much accepted that I hated exercise!
Until one day, I came across a group exercise class near where I lived. My mum knew the lady who was running the classes so I agreed to tag along with her. I ended up having the best time and couldn’t believe that exercise could be so much fun, I became obsessed! I started going once a week, then twice, until eventually I was attending 4 or 5 classes a week and loving every second of it!
And THAT is when I started to lose weight. I stopped seeing exercise as a way to punish my body for the food I was consuming and instead found out that exercising is actually a celebration of what your body is capable of! I was loving how it made me feel, so it made it easy for me to want to commit to attending classes. Eventually, my goals changed and I wanted to focus more so on building muscle and “getting toned”, so I decided to join a gym. That’s when I fell in love with lifting weights and my ever growing love of strength training was born (and we lived happily ever after!).
Challenge number three – Changing my environment.
By this point, I was pretty invested in this new lifestyle I was creating for myself. My priorities started to shift and I found that a lot of what (and who) was surrounding me wasn’t actually aligning with my values. I found that drinking and partying on the weekend would make me feel less inclined to go to the gym on a Monday, and if I did muster up the strength to go it was only a half-arsed session. This is when I realised that something had to change. Something was holding me back from reaching my full potential.
I wrote down and listed what the ideal version of myself looked like. Who was she? What did a day look like for her? What did she value? From there, I was able to see what I needed to change about my environment to help me get to where I knew I wanted to be.
This meant not going out binge drinking and going on benders over the weekend, much to the dismay of a lot of my “friends” at the time. I say “friends” because they weren’t actually supportive of me at all. “You used to be fun, Jordy” and “the old Jordy would have done it” became phrases I heard more and more frequently until I decided enough was enough and I cut the toxicity out of my life.
If the people in your life aren’t willing to support you and accept you for who you are and who you’re trying to become, then they can stay behind with the version of you that they’re struggling to let go of.
I now have an incredible circle of friends who are all like-minded individuals and are incredibly supportive no matter what!
Like I said at the beginning of this blog, it wasn’t easy. But it was damn worth it.
If I could lose 20kg and keep it off, there’s nothing stopping you from making a change but you!
Fix your relationship with food. Seek professional help with this if you need to, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for a helping hand!
Stop punishing yourself and find a way of moving your body daily that you actually enjoy. Be ok with this changing too! It can be running, yoga, weight lifting, pilates, whatever!
Finally, create an environment that breeds success for you, not one that pulls you further away from who you want to be.