Weight loss is not something that just happens. Well certainly not for me anyway! And I think a lot of people, especially women feel the same way. It takes a hell of a lot of hard work, time and commitment and it definitely is not about dieting! – Lets get this straight from the beginning – DIETING DOES NOT WORK! The diet and weight loss industry is one of the largest industries in the world and it makes BUCKET LOADS of money from people who are desperate to make a change but are not sure how or where to start. But as long as it’s a diet, its only a short term change and will not be sustainable. For me, it was only when the healthy changes became part of my lifestyle that I saw a massive difference in being able to sustain my weight loss.
Growing up I was a very active kid. I lived on a farm and was involved with Netball, swimming, little athletics and I did really well in sport & swimming carnivals at school. But when I was about 9 or 10 I moved from the farm into town. I slowly stopped all of the sporting activities I was involved with and ate A LOT more food – We had just moved from the farm into town and I loved that I could walk to the shop to get lollies and snacks!
Looking back now it really is no wonder I started piling on the weight. I would eat cereal loaded with sugar for breakfast or 4 pieces of toast! Then, after school I would sit in front of the TV and eat 4 more pieces of toast, some lollies and maybe go down to the bakery and get a treat. Then, after dinner I would have some sort of sugary dessert every night.
In a mater of a few years I went from a muscly active child to an overweight, inactive, shy teenager. And then the bullying started… Because I became so withdrawn I was an easy target and I would get bullied at school most days, I was called fat almost every day and I became more and more withdrawn. Even my dad one day told me that I needed to go for a jog around the block – I understand he was trying to help but It only made me turn to food for comfort.
-At my year 12 formal feeling ashamed of how far I had let myself go
I continued to put on weight and became more and more withdrawn and shy. I felt like I was “the big girl” and would always be that way. Even though inside I felt like I wanted to be loud, funny and the life of the party. By the time I finished year 12 I weighed about 95kg and couldn’t believe I had let myself get to that point. I felt disgusted at myself, and the negative self-talk was intense. I would look at myself in the mirror and tell myself how disgusting I looked and try to punish myself by eating very little and exercising heavily for a couple of days. But I knew if I didn’t make a change now it would only become harder and harder as I got older. I didn’t know what I was going to do but knew something had to change.
In 2011, the year after I finished school I decided to join the gym and started going to classes 5 times per week. I had never stuck to something like that in my life before, but I consistently went to the gym everyday! I was so proud of myself for sticking to something for so long and it only made me want to eat better and exercise more! Even though It took about 3 months before I lost any weight! It became easy to go to the gym everyday and it was something I really enjoyed and craved doing. BUT the real changes didn’t start happening until I made some changes with the food I was eating.
I did what a lot of people do when they are trying to loose weight and I went out and bought a whole bunch of ‘diet, fat free, low fat, no sugar’ foods. I know now that these foods are absolutely LOADED with chemicals and other crap to make up for the lack of flavour. And they are some of the most processed foods available!
Don’t get me wrong, I lost about 10 kg by going to the gym everyday and eating what I thought were ‘healthy’ foods. But when I met my partner who is a personal trainer and health coach, he had a very different perspective on loosing weight and making changes that would last, and not lead into a vicious cycle of going up and down with weight forever.
My eyes were opened up to the amazing world of whole-food and the power of simply eating fresh foods. Over time I made small changes. I think the fact that it happened slowly over a few years made the changes more permanent and part of my new lifestyle. I think too often we say to ourselves “okay – Its time to get fit and loose weight! I will go to the gym 2 times a day – every day, I’ll eat lettuce and kale for breakfast lunch and dinner and while I’m at it ill become a better person, start volunteering for charity and learn a new language” – Okay I’m probably exaggerating a little bit, but you get the idea. We put so much pressure on ourselves and try to implement a lot of changes in that moment of inspiration. But when we don’t stick to them all, we make ourselves feel guilty and are way more likely to just give up on everything. So my advice is to start small. Make a change that you can stick to that feels right for you. One change I made early on was to cut out gluten, I focused only on eliminating that one thing for a while until it became easy and required no extra focus or energy. Then I decided I wanted to cut out dairy, I allowed myself time to make this change – I found alternatives that worked well for me and became comfortable with this change before I made another.
Some of the other changes I made over the years were to eat less and less processed food. I made a rule for myself that if I didn’t recognize or couldn’t pronounce an ingredient I wouldn’t eat it. I also kept an eye out for added sugar in my food (which can be disguised under so many different ingredients its SUPER easy to accidentally have processed added sugar if you don’t know what to look for) – Check this out for the hidden ways sugar can be labeled in foods to confuse you!
Over the years I also reduced the amount of meat I was eating as I realized after I ate meat I would feel sluggish and like my body was struggling to digest it. Now I hardly eat any meat at all. It wasn’t a hard change to make because it happened so slowly and felt right to me. I don’t subscribe to being vegan or vegetarian, or any other particular diet or way of eating, because I just eat what feels right for me and my body. I know if I eat dairy it makes me feel like crap the next day, so I try to avoid it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes have a little bit if I feel like having a treat. These days my diet is almost 80% fruits and vegetables, and I love it! I’m not kidding, a salad gets me way more excited than chicken and broccoli would have!
It took me about 3 years to loose 20kg, and I know that might seem like a long time, but I did it slowly and made changes that I know I will absolutely stick to for life.
Something I am still slowly working on is the way I talk to myself about my body image. Sometimes I still catch myself looking in the mirror and thinking something horrible or picking at things I don’t like about myself. But I try to catch myself in those moments and instead love my body exactly as it is and feel proud of how far I have come.
At the end of the day, if you want to make a change to your body, and more importantly the way you feel about yourself, then it is up to you. Of course there are people who can help you along the way like personal trainers, health coaches etc. BUT you have to commit to making the changes for yourself! If your someone who has struggled for a long time with weight issues I would recommend writing out all the positives that would come out of making the changes. And if that isn’t motivation enough, write out all the negative consequences if you don’t make the changes. Human beings are hardwired to avoid fear and negative outcomes, so this can be a lot more motivating for some people. And if you have a bad day or a bad week, It’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up – Your only human. Just slowly start again and over time you will have more good days than bad and it will become a habit that is easy to stick to.
Some tips for staying on track;
1. Just start! – If all you can do right now is to implement one small change like drinking more water, getting enough sleep or exercising 1 extra time per week – Then do it!
2. Instead of removing all of the “bad” foods from your diet and feeling as if your depriving yourself. Start adding in more good! More vegetables, more fruit, more water, more sleep, more exercise and eventually you will notice the bad will be crowded out and become easier and more natural to stop.
3. Love yourself! – Develop a self-care routine and start to love your body, everything it has done for you and slowly change the way you talk to yourself. Take baths, burn your favourite candle, wake up early and watch the sunrise, keep a journal, take a walk – Do whatever makes you happy.
4. Keep a journal of the foods you eat and how you felt after the meal. We so often disassociate the foods we eat and how they make us feel. One of the most helpful things I did to make cutting out crap food easier was to realise the way it made my body feel. I noticed I was more tired, lethargic and bloated after eating gluten, so my choice to remove it was super easy!
check out my previous posts for some healthy recipes to get you started enjoying whole, real food!
Be kind to yourself & love your body, you’ve only got one!
Love Bell xx