6 Things No One Told Me About Weight Loss

I want to start this article off by saying I am in no way a professional anything. I am not a doctor, a fitness trainer, or a nutritionist. What I do have is experience in trying to lose weight. I mean I can't keep track of all the things I've tried. So who am I?  I am a stay-at-home mother of two children, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl, approaching the dreaded 40 birthday quicker than I care to admit.

I've tried everything to get my weight under control: Isogenix, cabbage soup diet, South Beach, 21day sugar detox, Weight Watchers, running, swimming, regular gym workouts, and other random cleanses and diets. It always felt like there was something “getting in the way” of my weight loss success. I would start out strong and then a week later it would all fall apart. The kids would have a bad night and I'd find myself short on the energy needed to stick to my weight loss goals. Looking back, I realize I was missing crucial information, information I want to share with you.

6 Things No One Told Me About Weight Loss

The first thing that helped in my weight loss success was doing CrossFit, 3 days a week, for a year. Admittedly, CrossFit is intense. There was not a day that I didn't come out sweating and I spent the first month sore. I lost weight quickly, maybe about 10 pounds or so, and then nothing. Five months later my body composition was changing but the weight was still there. Then I learned that weight loss is only 20 percent exercise. That means that 80 percent of weight loss comes down to diet. You can do CrossFit three times a week but eat tons of calories and lose little, or you could be sitting behind a desk all day, watching what you eat, and still lose weight.

The second thing I came to terms with was that I am not a person who can make big lifestyle changes stick. For those of you out there that have this ability, you have my complete admiration.  Instead, I started making 2-3 small lifestyle changes a month. The first two changes I made was drinking more water and cutting back on coffee. You should drink about 2 liters of water a day, but if you are trying to lose weight aim higher.  

The third thing I did was hang out with people who wanted to lose weight too. These friends kept me accountable and provided the motivation needed to keep going.

The fourth thing I did was change the way I ate. I set a goal of eating more raw vegetables in a day and less empty carbohydrates. Another key to success? Healthy grab-and-go snacks. By having healthy snacks ready to go I avoided the regret that often follows hurried snacking. 

The fifth thing I learned, and likely the hardest, was to stop stepping on the scale. Make your lifestyle changes and then let your body speak for itself. If your jeans fit better, you have more energy, you're sleeping better, your mood is stabilizing, and your skin looks better, use those changes as an indicator of your success.

I can't tell you how many times I felt good about myself, stepped on the scale, and then felt depression. The number on the scale told me I was failing and so I would quit. I used the scale as a barometer for success rather than trusting the results. The numbers on a scale are only one aspect of weight loss.

The sixth thing I learned was that you need to have roughly a 3500 calorie deficit to lose one pound. You need to know how many calories you are eating and where those calories are coming from. I hate calorie counting, but it gets easier. By the end of the first week I could create a few 200 or less calorie snacks pretty quickly, meals became easier to track. There are a number of free apps that can help, my favorite is MyFitnessPal. You can even copy a URL from a recipe and it will import and calculate the calories. It also helps to keep track of your sugar, salt, fat, etc. and tells you when you exceed the daily recommended dosage. It's also easy to use.

By following these six tips I managed to lose 20 pounds last year. Not only have I lost the weight, I've managed to keep it off. I have more energy to keep up with my kids and I feel stronger. The progress is slow, but that's OK. I'm striving to make lifestyle changes I can maintain for the next 40-50 years.

Be kind to yourself. Weight loss and lifestyle changes are a process, there are going to be times when it goes great and times when it feels impossible. There are random weeks when I have four birthday parties to attend, or kids that are sick, and it takes all my energy just to survive. During those weeks remember: it's only one week out of 52. The longer you stick to your goals the easier it is to keep healthy habits. It's never too late, and you are never too old to work towards a healthier you.

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