Before losing 50 pounds…Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Here are the 10 things I wish I knew before losing 50 pounds.
I began my weight loss journey with basically zero knowledge of what I needed to do or what I could expect. All I knew was I wanted to be in shape in 3 months for our trip to Hawaii.
Spoiler Alert: I was not.
Turns out this whole weight loss thing is simple, but not at all easy. Once I figured out that the only way to get it done was to be in a calorie deficit (if this is new, start here), it was just a matter of trial and error. A lot of error, mostly error in fact. So let me save you the time and the heartache.
Here are the 10 things I wish I knew before losing 50 pounds.
1. It takes way longer than you think.
When I first started, I figured three months was plenty of time to get to my goal weight of 145 from 196. That would have required 4 pounds a week loss, which I learned was not only unrealistic but also very unhealthy.
At most you should lose 1-2 pounds a week for optimal health. Slower loss also allows your body to adjust your Set Point as you go. This makes maintaining your goal weight much easier. It took me about 3 years to lose 50 pounds, but I have also managed to keep it off.
2. You will not automatically get your dream body.
I know you have one too, that pinterest board with all your goal outfits. But I hate to break it to you, weight loss is not the only key to having a perfect bikini model body.
While losing, your fat redistributes and you can lose muscle tone. It may be hard to see results as your body changes, even though you are successful. Loose skin can also distort how you see the shape of your body and hide your hard work.
Remember that losing weight will not make your body look perfect. The standards we see on TV, social media, and in American culture are very misleading. Make sure to give yourself grace and remember not even the models look like that in real life.
3. People will be rude.
I think the one of the hardest things about getting healthy can come from your friends and family. They are used to perceiving you as they always have, so when you start to make changes to your habits and lifestyle, they will absolutely notice. For better or worse, they will make comments and judgments.
You will be told that you’ve worked hard enough and deserve that cookie (even though you may disagree). You will hear that you are getting too skinny, that carbs make you fat, and tons of other remarks, comments, and suggestions. As soon as you are changing your lifestyle, everyone will become an expert. My best advice, just let it roll in and out, keep doing you.
4. Most health & fitness information contracts itself.
You may have already noticed, but 90% of health and fitness information you find online completely contradicts itself. For example: Skipping breakfast makes you fat, but intermittent fasting (ie. skipping breakfast) helps you lose weight. Sugar is bad for you, but fruit is good for you. Some say a calorie is just a calorie, where others only care about “Clean Eating.”
As if this wasn’t difficult enough, now add in false and misleading claims made my companies selling useless products. At the end of the day, you don’t need to buy anything to lose weight. Monitor your energy balance (Calories In Vs. Calories Out) and forget about everything else.
5. Keep it simple.
When in doubt, you probably don’t need it. Supplements, pills, powders, vitamins, BCAAs, proteins, counting macros, heart-rate monitors, and the countless other products you can buy to lose weight are completely unnecessary.
Don’t get distracted by the Professional Bodybuilders trying to sell you their protein powder, or their personalized macro plan. You do not need anything that they are doing. There is a huge difference between a layperson who just wants to get healthy and a professional fitness model. Do not get lost in the hype!
6. Take photos.
One thing I really regret is not taking enough photos. I have a small handful of photos from my highest weight. I did not take starting pictures or really any throughout my actual weight loss.
When you get closer to your goal weight, the loss will drastically slow down. And it becomes so much harder to see and feel your success. Having pictures to compare to makes a huge difference and can be a great help when you are experience body dysmorphia after your loss. It is very common to still see the same body you were once in, and many women frequently feel like they don’t see their weight loss. Pictures are the perfect way to put it all in perspective and really see the changes over time.
7. Consistency matters.
Besides your calorie deficit, the only other thing you need to lose weight is consistency. Every single day, every single step, and every single calorie add up and will make a difference. I am here to tell you that even when you’re on track, and doing everything right, the scale will not just continuously go down.
Your body is doing much more than simply burning fat. Which means that your weight is fluctuating for far more reasons than whether you have burned fat and stuck to your calorie deficit the day before. Remember, weight loss does not equal fat loss and vice versa. Do not expect the scale to go down in a straight line. It will jump, frequently, and not for the reason you think.
Learn to look at the scale as a tool of measurement over the long term, not the short term. The key here is the downward trend. Look at my own weight loss graph from two years ago, shown here to the right. I was not perfect every day, but you can see how frequently my weight spiked and dropped over the course of the year.
It will be slow going, you will make mistakes, and you will need to restart frequently. But no matter what happens, no matter how bad you binge, or how many days you skip your activity, you just have to get back to it. If you stay at it, you will see changes. And if you stick to it long enough, you will get to your goal, I guarantee it.
8. Enjoy your small indulgences.
Weight loss cannot be just about deprivation. Don’t get me wrong, you are going to miss things, you are going to be hungry, and at times, you may feel deprived. But the key is to find a balance between staying under your calorie intake and still enjoying your life.
I found that really assessing my personal needs, I was able to identify a few small pleasures that I allowed myself to indulge in. And by keeping my eye and stomach set on those small delights, it was so much easier to maintain my control when it came to the rest of my day. Don’t consider these “guilty” pleasures or “cheat meals.” Treats can and should be a part of your healthy lifestyle without any guilt or regret to tarnish them.
9. Automate everything.
Why is it so much easier to continue in our same lifestyle, than it is to make changes? Because when we make a change we have to actively think about it. Humans love to automate and habituate our daily tasks, even eating. So when you set out to change your lifestyle, the best thing you can do is immediately automate your new behaviors.
If you are trying to go to the gym after work each day, make that habit easier to follow through with. Try changing into your gym clothes before even leaving work, have your workout and music chosen ahead of time.
Don’t allow yourself any roadblocks where your brain can interject and talk you back into your old habits. Automate those new behaviors as quickly as you can, and they will be easier to implement and maintain.
10. Maintenance is harder than weight loss.
And just when you thought you were done, you hit your goal weight, and you finally made it! Well, not really. Maintaining your new weight will be harder at first than actually losing the weight to begin with.
Maintaining those new healthy habits, and being very consistent with your activity are the keys to maintaining your hard fought loss. Regain can be a slow creep and all of a sudden you’re up 20 pounds without even realizing it. So pay attention to how your clothes are fitting and how you are feeling on a day to day basis.
Making sure to check your weight at least once a week and continue to make health choices to ensure your weight is easy to maintain. This is really why it is so important to take the time and build strong healthy habits as you go. So many get to the flinish line too quick or using unsustainable methods. Don’t waste the time or the anguish, and create a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain from the very beginning.