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The Problem With A “Lifestyle Change”

keep-calm-and-change-your-lifestyleTwo weeks ago I wrote this post and decided to take a mental break from trying to lose weight.  If you have been following my journey, I have been working on it for a solid year… with little to no results. I don’t have much to lose – and I want to lose it mostly for vanity reasons anyway. I am not a contender for the Biggest Loser, I would have to GAIN more weight than I want to lose in order to have any kind of surgery, and even my doctor says she doesn’t want to put me on any kind of pills because she says I just don’t have that much to lose and should be able to do it through diet and exercise.

*sigh*

So after a full year of trying, I took the last two weeks OFF.  I mean really off.  I have done my normal daily activity but skipped out on Zumba a few times, I took off my beloved FitBit, took a break from Fred’s, and really eaten whatever I have wanted to. Including pizza, hotdogs, and cream cheese stuffed pretzels…which are amazing by the way. I haven’t agonized over it, beat myself up for any meal, suffered through chicken&broccoli again, chewed Aleve because I was so sore my hair hurt… none of it.

I weighed in this morning at the lowest weight I have been in two years.

When I told Fred that I needed a mental break, he was concerned.  “This isnt something you turn off and on – its a lifestyle change” I remember him saying to me.  But I was exhausted. Exasperated. Frustrated. PISSED OFF. I was ready to just accept these extra pounds and say “eff it” again. I needed a BREAK.

The problem was that I had completely tried to overhaul my “lifestyle” and throw myself in to a “100% clean, mean, fighting machine” all at one time. Every stupid diet book you read starts with “clean out your cupboards and get rid of every bit of temptation”… umm, what?  So I am miserable 72 hours in to this journey? What good does that do?

The truth is – I have been miserable this entire journey… and up until this break, I had literally not lost but maybe two pounds. Yeah, I have had little changes - like I can sling the 45 pound bag of cat litter around like it is nothing now – but nothing on the scale OR in my blue jeans. I have made my family miserable – they are so sick of chicken and broccoli they want to scream.  I am sure I have been a bear to live with. I have almost single handedly kept Aleve in business when I used to never take any kind of medicine ever. How is this a positive lifestyle change?

What HAS been positive is this break – and even the scale reflects that. I have felt better, slept better, laughed more, and as crazy as it sounds – just simply enjoyed life more – because I wasn’t agonizing over what I weighed, what I ate, or if I worked out. I had completely burnt myself out trying to change everything all at once for this “lifestyle change” – so when I threw away all of that mental anguish, it was like I had been set free… this is not how this process is supposed to go.

Moral of the story: Your “Lifestyle Change” doesn’t have to happen all at once.

habits-quotesNo, this doesn’t mean I am throwing in the towel and giving up on losing this weight – it just means I am not in such a big friggin hurry to do it anymore. I am not going to keep “killing myself” day in and day out trying to make this change in my life. Why? Because I don’s have to! And because clearly doing it that way has not worked.

In my coaching I talk about habits – and how it has been shown that every single thing we do is based on habit – either creating a new one or continuing to strengthen an existing one. And habits can not be broken – they have to be replaced with new habits. For a year now I have been trying to “break” my habits all at once – only replacing at best one or two. No wonder I have been miserable.

So I have decided to take a different approach – and make one tiny, baby step change every few weeks, instead of trying to overhaul my entire life. Changing one little bad habit towards something good – instead of trying to catapult myself (and my family) into this “Lifestyle Change.” Things like walking 10,000 steps every day, focusing on portion control, remembering to take my vitamins… little habits. And when I create one new good habit… then and only then can I move on to the next.

If you are contemplating this “lifestyle change” or maybe struggling with it the way I have been – give yourself a break. We do not have to do this all at once. It isnt a race, there isn’t a deadline, and I promise you burning yourself out is not your best strategy. Forget the “Lifestyle Change” crap… change one, tiny thing at a time. You will have more long term success… and save your sanity in the process.

Success


Comments

  1. You spoke to my heart! I just turned 35 a few weeks ago, joined the gym at the beginning of the year got a fit bit tried not touching soda drive through and crap food and also quit a very bad habit all at once. I have actually gained 10 pounds! Augh. I am spiraling out of control and just want to eat till I’m sick. I need to slow down and focus on one good habit / bad habit trade at a time. Thank you for reminding me!

  2. So much truth here–any time I want to make a change, I get so discouraged because I want to change so much (or so many things) AND want to see results. I’m guessing that if the results came as easily as the desire–we’d all be completely different people.
    Maybe that’s not such a good thing then. Slow and steady, baby steps; OK, I will try not to get discouraged too!

  3. Thank you for saying it, Lynsey! I just so appreciate this post, echoing my thoughts exactly.

  4. Congrats on the weight loss and on your mental breakthrough!

    Focusing on something you want to achieve can be quite exhausting, so taking a break and stepping back can be a good thing as you experienced. And trying to make lifestyle changes all at once instead of one by one….well I guess only a few people actually succeed long-term and I am not one of them!

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