One change at a time

When I look back at the beginning of my weight loss journey, I can truly see how *this* time was different.

You know how I know that? Because I didn’t start out saying “this time is going to be different.”

A big reason people fail when they try to lose weight is because they focus too much on a dream of a different life and believe that simply being skinny will give them that different life.

Then they lose a bunch of weight through unsustainable methods and when they realize their life is no different, they go back to food as comfort.

Or at least that was how it had worked for me.

Hundreds and hundreds of times I would wake up full of enthusiasm always to end up, an hour later, a day later, a week later or a month later, hiding in my room eating everything in the kitchen. And when that food was gone, I would buy more.

It sounds crazy to think that a whole lifetime of habits can change in one single instant, but how many of us hold on to that hope?

Think of any skill, such as playing the piano. No one would expect to sit down at a piano and know how to play, but that’s the mindset of so many people when they say they want to lose weight.

When you take on too much too quickly, you’re bound to end up overwhelmed and eventually discouraged.

When I first began losing weight, other people thought I was crazy because I didn’t exercise and I didn’t plan on exercising. Seriously, I began my weight loss journey with a conscious decision  not to exercise.

Instead I focused on one change: food.

I lived and breathed and obsessed over nutrition every second of every day. I wrote down what I ate when I was awake and – true story – often dreamed about what I had eaten when I slept.

At first I tackled small challenges like weaning myself off of Lean Cuisines and learning how to go food shopping and then moved on to bigger things like exploring the reasons why I was an emotional, secret and binge eater.

Once in a while someone would tell me, “You know, you would lose weight faster if you exercised a couple of times a week.”

Good advice, maybe, but time was and is still not of the essence to me.

I continued on that path until one day I realized that healthy eating habits were suddenly mindless and just something I did. Grocery shopping no longer requires two hours in the store reading food labels, I can recognize real hunger from wanting to eat in response to my emotions, and the idea of ever consuming another Lean Cuisine again makes me gag.

I had a similar journey to exercise. Each day I would wake up with one thought on my mind: When can I walk today?

I walked before work, after work, in the dark, in the cold and rain and when temperatures rose above 100 degrees. I walked to get coffee, to meet my friends at the bar, to run errands and for frozen yogurt. If it was within a few miles, I would walk there. I canceled plans to fit in a walk and often made my friends walk with me.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to do everything at once, or everything perfectly from the beginning to lose weight. A lifestyle change doesn’t happen with a snap of a finger. There is no time limit for you to get it right. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by losing weight, especially when that number is over 100. But if you focus on actions and doing instead of results, and break down what needs to be done into manageable steps, everything really will fall into place.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

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