Consistency is hard! Finding motivation to eat healthy and make good decisions every day is not easy, sometimes the overwhelming thought of this is enough to deter someone.
I remember I used to look at weight loss as a quick fix, if I could restrict myself for a short period of time and lose weight then I could go back to normal. This is commonly the cause of yo-yo dieting, constantly losing and gaining weight again.
We know and research supports that slowly losing weight each week can be more beneficial long-term for weight loss then any drastic change. However, it seems so hard to make healthy choices every day for the rest of my life! The first step is getting away from diet culture.
Diet culture is a system of beliefs that worship thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue (Christy Harrison, 2018). Sometimes it can feel that people are proud they are on a diet, or use an upcoming diet to rationalize their poor eating choices at the time. As a culture we congratulate people who lose weight and ignore those who have gained weight, we equate thin with healthy and fat as unhealthy. When we see someone who has gained weight, instantly we think they have gotten lazy when in fact there are so many reasons for weight gain. Same goes for weight loss, not always is weight loss a positive thing, someone could be sick or managing emotions in an unhealthy way. Point is passing judgement on someone simply based on physical looks is unfair.
Living in this cycle can be hard to break. It is hard to get into the headspace that accepts that healthy eating is a lifestyle and there is no expiry date.
If you go and sign up for one of those 12 weeks transformations, what happens in week 13? It is crazy to me that I used to think that I ate poorly for 25 years that 12 weeks were going to change everything about me. Food played such a role in my life, similar to an addiction; there is no way any weight loss program was going to fix that. I had to learn to accept that there was no quick fix and there is no secret involved.
When I first embarked on my weight loss journey, I was fueled by shame and embarrassment. Here I was meeting with a personal trainer who was ripped and I was struggling through a few seconds in a plank position. I remember I used to use my kids as an excuse, I had 2 children and was busy, of course I was overweight. Then I met women who had children and were in shape—well there goes that excuse! I remember when I saw a woman come into the gym who was in amazing shape; she came in with her son. I said to my trainer “wow she has a kid, there goes my excuse” he simply said using kids as an excuse for an unhealthy lifestyle was a cop out and there was no reason to be overweight. I remember just staring at him and rolling my eyes but ultimately, he was right.
Over the next few months I continued to lose significant amounts of weight, I was proud to stand on the scale and do measurements because the changes were always obvious. I would come in every week and tell all my friends how much I had lost and where I was at. I would have to say at that point my weight loss was fueled by pride—I could shop in any store, I could wear clothes (lululemon) that would never fit before! Anytime I wanted to make a poor choice in my eating I kept that in mind, it forced me to continue to make good choices.
Notice I am only talking about my nutrition that is the hardest part in my opinion. I love working out, always have, just have never been good at it. When I am in the gym, I had all the safety pieces in place, I had a trainer to push me in my sessions and I had an awesome boxing coach that would support me. That only accounts for about 10 hours a week, what about the other 158 hours. I was responsible for that time, I had to independently make smart choices and I thought parenting was hard. Now I had all the support I needed, but in the late evening when I was alone with food, I had to develop the will power to say no. For the first 6 months, I eliminated my house of all food that would trigger me, if my kids were not home it was even stricter in my house. I avoided temptation completely, I refused to try certain treats out of fear that I would slide down that slippery slope.
My goal was to lose 100 lbs before my birthday, which is in a couple of weeks, and I am holding strong at 91 lbs for the last few weeks. The beginning of August I hit my first plateau, this did a number on me. I spent a lot of time hating my weight, pissed off that I was doing enough or that I was failing. This was when the work started in my opinion.
Thankfully, by that time I reached a point I had already started to see immense changes in my performance at the gym. I was excited to start new programs and to try new workouts; I was proud that I was being challenging with exercises that other fit people were doing. I felt so good that I could never imagine going back. I think in terms of how I have stayed consistent, the answer is how I felt. I have energy every day to keep up with my lifestyle, I was more patient with my kids, I could play with them without getting tired and I was kicking ass in the gym. That is why I have always said, if I could just give any woman a taste of how I feel, they would not hesitate to embark in their own transformation.
I struggled with the scale but I eventually weaned myself off standing on it multiple times a day. In order to fully understand your weight, a full body composition is needed, that way you can see how your weight is distributed. I can safely say that I do not let the number on the scale ruin my day anymore.
Like anyone, I do struggle with cravings and being consistent since the novelty has worn off. People no longer make comments about how much I changed because it is now the norm. So now, there is no longer shame, embarrassment or pride fueling me; that is how I know I have adapted to this lifestyle fully.
In order for me to remain consistent, I meal prep, every single week. I love the statement—failure to plan is planning to fail—if my meals are not ready to go, then I am going to eat out. Now I am not saying eating out is bad for you, obviously it depends on what you are eating. Nevertheless, I like to know what exactly is in my food; therefore, the safest bet is to eat at home. I plan for the week what I am going to eat, I already know in my mind how much protein I need and when my workouts are. I plan my meals around my life since I am so busy. Being vegan has reinforced the importance of meal prep even more since I cannot just run to the nearest place to eat; my options are more limited than the average person.
I am the type of person that loves to plan! In every aspect of my life I like to have control. Every Sunday night I schedule my training sessions, I look ahead to know if I box that week and if so do I have days that I train twice? This has an impact on my eating, if I am exerting more energy I need to ensure the food I eat helps my body perform. I intermittently fast daily, I only eat from 12pm to 8pm and there are rarely exceptions to that rule. Fasting for me has curved my cravings and boosted my metabolism and it adds structure to my lifestyle.
Now when I say I plan, I take it to a whole new level—some people have made comments that my lifestyle cannot be maintained but here I am 10 months later loving life. I plan for every outing, if I am simply going to a friend’s house for a potluck I ensure I bring my own food; I never want my friends to feel obligated to know and follow my diet. If I go out for the kids for the day, I pack my own snacks and lunch, there is rarely a time that I am not prepared. Due to the fact I am so active and I fast, when it is time to eat I want to eat, to avoid making poor choices because I am hungry I bring food. I am that person that brings fruit and nuts into the movie theater.
I do have treats, I am just picky on when and what I have. I will not just eat a cookie or a piece of cake because it is vegan. Honestly, just because it is vegan does not mean it is healthy. If I have a craving for something, I sit with it for a while, I don’t react on it just because I want it. I take time to really decide what I want and then I eat it. Like I am obsessed with date squares from Cake and Loaf in the market, but I do not eat them every day the market is open, quite honestly if I did I would quickly gain weight back again. Once I’m finished I don’t sit with guilt, I make it a positive experience and I move past it. Ultimately that is what a lifestyle is—overall I eat healthy and focus on performance but there are times when I eat something delicious just because I want to.
To remain consistent, you need to plan your life. Plan your workouts—no one is every too busy to workout, plan your meals—nutrition is the most important and if you do not plan you face scrambling to figure something out. Focus on a lifestyle and not a quick fix, you will take 2 steps forward and take 1 step back—no one is perfect and you need to be kind to yourself. If you ate something, that was not the healthiest or you had a few drinks, just move past it. Focus on how your body feels. For example when I eat something that is outside of my norm, my body physically feels sluggish and is not hungry. On days like that I make sure to drink green tea and extra water to assist my body in digestion.
I treat every day like it is a new day, I try not to let the events of yesterday negatively impact my current day. I make small goals for myself, if I am struggling on water intake; I challenge myself to drink a certain amount of water that day. Your goals in your journey do not need to be scale related, they could be about nutrition, cooking, meal prepping or water intake. As you see yourself crushing your goals, you gain confidence that you never had before that helps you stay on track.