• Lauren Ashley

My Weight Loss Journey: Changing my Lifestyle

My goal for the new decade was to break old habits and finally lose this weight. I saw myself going from a dedicated couch potato to a gym queen. I wiped out my cabinets and fridge of my favorite snacks and trash foods. Then I signed up for Beach Body Fitness. I didn't know you had to already be in shape to really get into those programs. One sore body later, I found myself taking a break that didn't end. And just like that my new year's resolution was out the window and I have to start again.

Does this sound familiar?

Many of us have been in this position. We start a new habit with good intentions and fall off the wagon shortly after. We feel like we failed, so we wait for the new year or the next traumatic event to our psyche to kick our butts into gear and try again. But why?

The two hard truths: I hadn't committed to changing my lifestyle, and I'm lacking in discipline. Once I found an excuse to stop I didn't start again. I worked out, but my diet didn't change. I ate less, but that didn't matter; I was still consuming too many processed foods and sugars. If you don't change what you eat, you won't see results. This may not be the case for everyone but as a general rule, the diet is more important than the workout.

As far as the workouts, I went too hard too fast. I am a couch potato at heart; working out is a painful and clumsy experience for me. Going straight into those high intense workouts made the experience unenjoyable and one I didn't want to continue.

When you're creating a new habit, the best way to stick to it is by taking it slow. In research done by Wendy Wood, she and her team found that people revert to old habits because they are tired or overwhelmed. If you try to change everything up at once like I did, you're probably not going to have a good time.

Habits are learned mechanisms. It's a battle of your will and mind when you're trying to change something that you've been accustomed to. My old habits led to where I am now, but I was also comfortable and safe. When you're in a place mentally for so long, it's easier to stay there than deal with the growing pains of change.

I took some time to not only think about the past few weeks, but reflected on my previous attempts to lose weight. I'm making the decision to get serious about this. I was looking at this all wrong. Instead of only being focused on having a better body, I really have to commit to living a better lifestyle. I've spent a long time complaining and hating how I look and the way my life was going. Now it's time to take some accountability; the time I spent wallowing could have been used towards making changes.

When you're in a place mentally for so long it's easier to stay there than deal with the growing pains of change.

This time, I'm trying a different approach and I'm taking it slow. I'm really putting thought into what I'm doing and what my goal is. My main focus is in the kitchen. I've grown wiser now and I won't be doing another 360 grocery haul.

Instead, I took some time to plan out meals and snacks I can introduce slowly. This method kills three birds with one stone: more healthy options, enjoying my faves (in moderation) and not wasting money. Grocery list in hand, I went on a grocery shopping haul, albeit more organized and with clear intentions. I focused on fresh veggies I liked and could use for multiple meals. Zuchinni, squash, and asparagus are my favorite veggies and are so versatile! As far as protein, I picked a variety of chicken and fish. I rarely eat red meat or pork. I love to snack so I grabbed things like fruit, nuts, trail mix and dark chocolate for my sweet tooth.

groceries; grocery haul
pfyt groceries

For some help choosing what foods to introduce to your diet, try On Choose My Plate, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The organization lists different food groups to focus as well as examples of better food choices. Just a note, the list is geared towards women, but it does have good advice that I believe can be universal. Some things they recommend are adding vegetables to every meal, drinking the recommended amount of water every day, and doing research about what's in your food.

Another source I used was The Family Doctor. In their article Nutrition: How to Make Healthier Food Choices, they list out common foods we love to eat and offer alternatives for everything listed. If you need some ideas this is a good place to start. I definitely took my share from the list; I switched from white bread to wheat bread, from white rice to wheat rice and I'm avoiding fried foods.

I've been insecure about my weight for a long time and I finally feel I'm in a position of control. If anyone else is struggling with their healthy life transition, I feel you! Let's go on this journey together and get serious about change.

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