We often look at weight loss as a numbers game. If you burn and/or cut x number of calories from your diet, you should see x number of pounds drop from the scale.
Tracking these numbers can be like a full-time job, writing down and counting the calories we eat, monitoring our exercise intensity and the calories we're burning and, finally, stepping on the scale day after day to see if what we're doing is actually working.
The results can, sometimes, be excruciatingly slow.
When you think about it, what really changes these numbers, or at least the number on the scale, comes down to our choices. The choice to exercise, to eat less, to move more.
These don't always feel like choices, do they? To many of us, they feel like chores, things we must or must not do if we want to lose weight. But, your perspective on weight loss, exercise and diet plays a major role in your success. If these choices feel more like restrictions, you're always going to feel like you're missing out on something and, therefore, you'll always go back to those things you think you're missing.
What if there's a different way? What if these choices weren't chores or restrictions, but based on the decision to take care of yourself? If you think about it, all the things you need to do to lose weight are also all the things you need to do to take care of yourself: Eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're full, eating foods that give you energy and make you feel good. Taking care of yourself means moving your body and getting out of your chair as much as possible, simply because your body feels better when it's moving.
Taking care of yourself means getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, dealing with your stress in healthy ways...all things that, when accomplished, can also lead to healthy, natural weight loss.
Learning how to take care of yourself is an important part of the weight loss process and it starts with:
- Knowing where you are - How well are you taking care of yourself right now? Keep a health journal for a few days and track your sleep, stress levels, exercise, meals, water intake and how you feel in general each day. How are you doing overall and what could you change?
- Checking in with yourself - Taking care of yourself starts with being aware of how you feel throughout the day. This is especially important if you tend to be an emotional eater, reaching for food to deal with stress, boredom, fatigue or loneliness. Set an alarm to go off every hour and take a moment to check in with yourself. Then, ask yourself what you really need right at that moment. Practice giving yourself what you need before giving into emotional eating.
What do you think? Does healthy living feel different when you look at it as a way to take care of yourself? Would you find more success if you focused less on losing weight and more on taking care of yourself? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.