Before we jump right into today's post, let me preface it with this: we all have different experiences in life. We have ups and downs and each of our ups and downs looks different. There are plenty of you who have gained less weight than I did, but likely felt the same discouragement, frustration and stress that I did. But there are also plenty of you who gained more weight than I did and felt a similar misery, disdain and depression.
No matter what the details of your particular journey are, I want you to know that you're not alone and you're definitely not stuck.
In some capacity, we've all experienced that depression and anxiety that comes with not liking how you look or feel. I've been there too.
If you're looking for added motivation to kick-start healthy changes, join me for free every Friday, where I'm doing a weekly Facebook live series: Real Talk: Motivation for a healthy lifestyle. It's full of tips, questions, answers and just plain real talk about getting motivated to make healthy changes. There are over 400 people currently tuning in, and you should be one of them!
About 6 years ago, I was the heaviest I had ever been. I wasn’t comfortable in any of my clothes. Nothing fit right and every time I thought I had found a good outfit, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I hated what I saw. I would change over and over and over again, just searching for an outfit I wouldn’t feel absolutely miserable in.
And pictures!? I took very few and couldn’t stand looking at pictures of myself (it’s still hard to look at those).
I felt ashamed of the way I looked. I didn't want people looking at me and I didn't want anyone to remember the way I looked at that time because - ugh!
Talk about a confidence killer.
But I could just use really good makeup, right? The makeup didn't cover any of my body, which was obvious as soon as I took a step back from the mirror and could see more than my face.
I felt uncomfortable, embarrassed and self conscious in everything I was wearing. I hated looking in the mirror and couldn’t believe how heavy I had gotten. And not only that - what did I have going for me? I had a college degree and a $12/hour job. I thought we went to college so we could make better money.
And I had debt.
And I was pretty much broke.
And I had to move back in with my parents.
I had always played sports - so I was supposed to know how to workout, right?! I was supposed to know how to fix this - how to get back to being healthy and feeling great.
I totally “knew” what to do, and somehow I guess I thought that meant that one day the pounds would start magically dropping off and I would all of a sudden crave, eat and buy healthy foods -- and for sure one day I would have a light bulb moment when I finally knew how to workout in a gym.
It’ll happen one of these days, just not today. I’ll do it when I’m ready, I just can’t think about that right now.
Boy, was I wrong!
I had absolutely no idea how to use a gym and it seemed like everyone around me owned a gym membership. I didn’t want to look like an idiot at the gym - I mean even if I got a membership, what would I do when I showed up there?
And wait.. buying a gym membership? I didn't have any money! I was trying to pay off the debt from my student loans.
And isn't healthy food really expensive? Why isn't there a dollar menu at Whole Foods? Oh wait, there's no drive-thru at Whole Foods?
And I'm half Samoan, so does that just mean I'm destined to gain weight and never lose it? Is it true what people say -- that some people just can't lose weight -- that some people are just genetically prone to gain weight and there's nothing they can do about it??? Have I just reached that point in my life? Do I need to accept it and move on?
Am I stuck???
I was totally discouraged. I was frustrated because I felt like I should know how to workout and how to lose the weight. But I didn’t. I HAD NO IDEA WHERE TO START - everything seemed confusing -- and the more confused and discouraged I got, the more stressed I was.
It seemed like everything was out of my control. I felt depressed, I was anxious and just wasn’t excited about anything in my life.
I didn't change overnight and I didn't wake up one morning feeling miraculously motivated and knowledgeable. That may have been a fantasy I was hoping for so I didn't have to put in the work, but it's definitely not what happened.
One day I came across an article that said whatever habits you have when you turn 30 - you’ll have for the rest of your life.
I don’t believe that now, but it did give me a reality check. I realized that the longer I let myself stick with bad habits, the worse I would get.
I wouldn’t feel any better by putting off healthy changes - I would probably feel worse! I knew that the longer I took to make changes and take back control, the harder it would be - and probably the heavier and more miserable I would get.
So I started to really deliberate whether or not it would be worth it to make healthy changes. Could I really find the motivation to lose my weight and create healthy habits?
You would think being miserable would be enough motivation, right? Nope. I decided to make things complicated for myself.
I researched and did some major soul searching.
As I researched, I found two big motivating factors. The first: I WANTED CONTROL!!! The way my life had been, I had absolutely no control! I was depressed, broke, frustrated and stressed - and in a way, my life was spiraling - or at least I felt it was. I didn’t feel like I had any control - and I wanted control.
I wanted to control the way I felt when I looked in the mirror.
I wanted to control my confidence.
I wanted to be the one who told the scale if that number was ok or not.
And if I needed to go shopping, I was going to be excited about it!
I was so DONE with letting my circumstances control me. I knew it was possible -- and I knew it was time. I NEEDED to take back control. I needed it for my sanity and my confidence.
That control became a major motivating factor in my healthy changes.
My second huge reason? For some reason, I had a lot of family and friends of the family die. All around me, it seemed like adults who were way too young were just dying. All for different reasons, but all waaay too young - I’m talking mid 40’s to 50’s - maybe one or two in their 60’s.? WAY TOO YOUNG.
Death became really real and gave me a lot to think about.
And you know what? I didn’t want that to happen to me.
Not that I thought I was about to be on my death bed or anything, but I didn't want to be facing serious life-threatening diseases within the next 20-30 years.
I’m half Samoan, which means I’m more likely to get diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But you know what? Being more likely doesn’t mean it has to happen to me. Too many family members and close friends of mine struggle with these diseases and they’re ones we can control!! With healthy eating and exercising - those illnesses can go away! I decided I was taking control of that too.
I would not be a person to get a disease I could prevent by my lifestyle!
I started making changes - little by little, I did the best I could with what I knew and the circumstances I was in.
I did tons of research, trial and error and I’m still improving every day.
I didn’t buy into some fad diet or exercise program - I knew that wouldn’t last. Instead, I slowly started making changes that I could sustain for a lifetime.
And this healthy "adventure" I decided to go on? It wasn't all daffodils and daises. It was hard.
Some days I was super motivated and other days I just wanted to stay in bed.
Sometimes I was super disciplined, and other days I just wanted to veg out and eat everything in site. Netflix marathon, anyone?
I had to learn what I liked and didn't like - and what worked for me versus what worked for other people. And I really had to learn not to care about what other people thought. I had to learn to love myself and celebrate my progress and know that as I was making progress every day, I was making my way down the path of a long journey.
Sometimes I failed, but other times I succeeded, and when I would look back at how far I had come, I was always surprised by my progress. I was always further than I thought.
I definitely had lots of discouraging days when I thought my progress wasn't good enough or my results weren't coming fast enough. But I kept pushing, because I remembered that I wanted to be confident and I wanted to have control over my own life -- and the only way I would do that was if I took control. Nobody was going to give me that control. I had to take it.
So on those days I got discouraged, I had to remember that I chose this. I want a healthy lifestyle and if it means getting past one hard day, I could do that.
The more hard days I got over, the easier my choices became.
My life now
Now I’m confident. I feel great. I enjoy shopping for new outfits. I feel healthy.
Now I feel empowered and know that I'm the only one in control of my health, my weight and my lifestyle.
Now my healthy choices have become healthy habits. Now I don't have to rack my brain and do a ton of research (ahem, Google and Pinterest) to figure out what "healthy snack" I can grab or what healthy options are available at restaurants.
Now I just know.
Because I found the proper motivation, I've turned my healthy choices into healthy habits, which have turned into a healthy lifestyle.
I understand proportions, I'm not too hard on myself and I let myself indulge. I eat super healthy (most of the time) when I'm in control of my circumstances, and when I'm not, I just do the best I can.
And when I say I eat "super healthy," even that has continually changed and improved over the years.
And you know what the best feeling is? That it's totally ok!! I am NOT worried about every little thing I eat. I'm not worried if I skip a day at the gym -- because I know I'll be right back to it.
Now I'm consistent. I don't care what others' opinions are and I'm never tempted to try fad diets or workout programs that look miserable -- because why would I choose to be miserable when I can choose to be happy, productive and confident instead??
I've found that consistency is a lot easier than I thought it would be -- especially because I've formed habits now.
So now I know how to make healthy choices like it's second nature. And I kind of feel like a boss. And that's pretty sweet.
Sometimes I still have hard days, but the good days FAR OUTWEIGH the bad days.
Now I feel confident walking into the gym. I know how to create my own workouts -- and I've kept track of them! Which means I have a catalog of nearly 200 workouts I can choose from on any given day. AND, If I show up at the gym without a plan, I can create an effective workout on the spot - but it didn't happen overnight.
Now when I go into a gym, I own that gym. I totally have the philosophy of the Rock - don’t mess with me while I’m working out. You’re welcome to talk to me before or after my workout, but please don’t mess with my groove while I’m working out. I’ll like you less.
Because I decided to take control and go down that long journey, I lost 30 lbs and I’ve kept it off for over 5 years. I am capable, I’m empowered AND I have balance - I go out to eat, I eat dark chocolate almost every day, but I understand how to have that balance so I still have a healthy lifestyle.
My process isn't magic or a secret
Feeling miserable, uncomfortable and ashamed might look different for each of us, but the process to get back is the same. Every single one of us is capable of making healthy changes. YOU'RE NOT ALONE, MY FRIEND! The road might seem hard and long at times, but it is absolutely worth it. You can choose to have years of hard work that turn into second-nature healthy choices, or you can choose not to do anything about your weight or health - and end up miserable for years - or dying way too young.
I invite you to take control and start choosing to make better decisions.
Join me every Friday on Facebook Live for some good real talk about motivation for a healthy lifestyle. Let's talk about the ups and downs, the ins and outs - and really help you get on your feet. Plus, everyone in there is on the same and we can all use support.
When you register for the free weekly series, you'll also get a complimentary motivation checklist to help you along the way.