The 15 Things I Wish I Knew at the Beginning of My Weight Loss Journey: Part 3
By: Raquel Phillips
I have been struggling with weight loss in the past three years since having our sixth son at thirty-five. Although I had previously considered myself pretty fit, it was not until after this pregnancy, while I was trying to figure out why I felt so bad physically and struggled to lose weight for the first time, that I truly began my fitness journey. Since the start of that journey, I have discovered a few things that truly mattered in prioritizing my health and deciding the quality of life I truly wanted to live as I approach 40. This is part 3 of the 15 things that I feel have been the most essential in understanding how to lose weight, change my mindset, and change my life.
11.) Track Your Data
Data is king. Get an Apple Watch or Fitbit, download a food log app, and keep a fitness journal. In the beginning, it will be harder to know if you're eating in a deficit or a surplus, how many calories you're burning a day, how often you're standing, etc., without tracking data. The essential data to have when starting on a fitness journey, with weight loss as one of your goals, is tracking your food. An app like My Fitness Pal will bring awareness to how many calories you consume a day as long as you enter your data meticulously. When I began my journey, tracking my food was imperative because I was shocked to see how many hidden calories I was consuming—butter, sauces, and mindless snacks that quickly ran up my caloric tab. Tracking my eating brought awareness to where I was and needed to be. It also helped me easily weigh out decisions. Having a cup of juice when I needed water was much easier when my eyes were on how much of my calorie budget I was spending.
12.) Every Eating Plan Under the Sun That Works for Weight Loss Works Because You Are Eating in a Caloric Deficit
Calories equal energy. Eating in a caloric deficit means you are eating less energy than it takes to sustain your life for the day. If you eat less than you need to maintain your life, your body burns its own energy stores, either fat or muscle. If you eat more calories than your body is burning in a day, your body stores those calories as a part of its insurance plan.
For me, the most crucial part is finding a healthy eating plan that aligns with your DIGESTIVE HEATH and lifestyle! If you want to read more about this topic, check out my blog post "Eating To Live Well: 7 Suggestions That Helped Me Lose Over 50lbs"
13.) Losing Weight Does Not Mean You Should Be Starving
When I realized that I had gotten to 200 pounds and started trying to lose weight, the first thing I resorted to was Keto because it had worked for me in the past. I did not realize that after the first big weight loss surge, which was probably water weight and the remaining muscle I had left, I was sending my body a signal that I was starving. My metabolism was all but non-existent, and even when I was able to do cardio consistently and only eat 1200 calories, the result was a weight loss plateau. At a volleyball tournament with my daughters, another volleyball mom who is a personal trainer and I were chatting. I told her that I had been working out and eating in a caloric deficit, but I was not losing weight, and she said to me that I probably was not eating enough and that I was perhaps not having enough carbs.
After that conversation and completing my personal training certification, I realized that I needed to eat more. The moment that I started to eat more, I was able to lose weight again. That does not mean I was not still in a caloric deficit because I was. I added about 200 extra calories a day, started to eat carbohydrates again, and finally saw some muscle definition. I still made healthy eating choices. I still avoided foods that made me feel bad and left me feeling inflamed. (I will be writing more about this topic). However, I was able to send a signal to my body that I was not starving, and my body responded by releasing some of its insurance policy which is stored fat! As a result, I overcame the plateau and lost weight while eating more.
14.) Use Your Weight to Your Advantage
If your goal is weight loss and you are heavier than you desire at the start of your journey, let it be something that empowers you instead of allowing your extra weight to be a mental source of internal contention. More bodyweight means that moving your body around can help build strength. For example, if you do push-ups, your heavy body weight means you have a more significant opportunity to build strength than someone who weighs less because you are moving more weight. If you follow a good program and eat a well-managed diet, getting stronger will inevitably lead to weight loss. At the beginning of my journey, I constantly used my body weight to my advantage. Before getting equipment for my home gym, I used bodyweight workouts to jumpstart my progress and get acclimated to making working out an everyday habit. So push, pull, and move your body. You will see the rewards and hopefully build a better relationship with your body in the process. Every day I am thankful to my body for having the strength to meet the life demands I desire. So, while you are on your journey, stop loathing those extra pounds and use them to your advantage.
15.) The Most Important Part of Fitness is Consistency
More than anything else I learned, I learned that being healthy is not a destination; it's a journey. Circumstances are constantly changing, and life ebbs and flows. So, while working to fit into a dress for a special occasion may have provided me with short-term motivation to lose weight, focusing on making my health and well-being a lifestyle is not dependent on motivation. It needs to be a daily journey born of consistency and habit. So the best advice I can give is to incorporate your health and fitness into as many facets of your life as you can. Schedule your workouts and add them to your calendar like an appointment. Make healthy eating fun. Explore recipes and styles of cooking that can provide variety and excitement while still stating consistency. (For more advice on that, check out my article "Eating To Live Well: 7 Suggestions That Helped Me Lose Over 50lbs".
Educate yourself and learn as much as you can about your body and health. Include your friends, family, and community, you do not have to shout it from the rooftops, but I have found when the people around you who love you know your plans and goals, they tend to keep you on track even when you feel like faltering. (Insert my daughter's many cries of "mom, are you supposed to be eating that?"). The sentiment here is just to keep swimming. Just do not stop. If you have an off moment (even day), that moment in time is not derailing because if the plan is for life, there are so many more opportunities to get it right, starting with the very next moment or the very next day. Your health matters; you deserve to wake up every day knowing that you are trying your best to make the most of the body that you have. So prioritize yourself because it does not get easier, but guess what, you get better!
Read Part 1:
Read Part 2:
Raquel Phillips is a writer, digital creator, CPT, certified group fitness instructor, and entrepreneur. She is a wife and mother of 6 amazing children. She resides in Virginia Beach, VA.
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