I’ve mentally written my weight loss success story a thousand times. In my vision, I become super skinny and everyone asks me how I did it! I always imagined my story would be something like, “I stopped eating sugar and never had a craving to over-eat again!” I wrote my imaginary “Body for Life” essay and became the triumphant winner of 1 million dollars! I declared every new dieting attempt as the VERY LAST ONE because I finally found the path to effortless success.
Unfortunately, with all the attempts, failures, and starting over on something new, progress was never made. My weight loss was always too slow to show an improvement on the scale and keep me motivated to continue. I would jump from diet to diet, looking for the one that would give me the freedom from obsessing about it! I searched for the diet I could follow for the rest of my life and not have to white knuckle through daily decisions about what I should or shouldn’t be eating.
My childhood nickname: Thunder thighs
For as long as I can remember, I have been self-conscious about my weight. The earliest memory I have of noticing I was heavier than my peers was at a pool party in the 7th grade. I didn’t feel too self conscious before the party. But I remember the boys from my neighborhood gave me a nickname at that party. It was “thunder thighs.” And the truth was, I had thick legs! They are strong, stocky, and bigger than most girls. Although this stung a little at the time, It didn’t stop me from trying out for cheerleader, or enjoying more pool parties. But always in the back of my mind, I dreamed of being thinner.
From 7th grade to my senior year, I stayed heavier. I loved to eat and bake cookies, but I also loved to exercise! I remember my parents paid for a gym membership right across the street from my high school, that I was very excited about. I would go to an aerobics class before school. I had a dance class for PE, and I had cheer practice after school. Exercise has always been a way for me to manage stress and get lost in my own thoughts. But despite being a consistent exerciser for literally 30 years, I still couldn’t lose weight.
Gaining the freshman 30
As I transitioned to college, I became more and more interested in nutrition and dieting. Which was ironic, because that’s when I gained the most weight. I loved reading books about health and understanding different philosophies about weight loss, but I moved into the dorms with unlimited cafeteria food, lots of studying, and terrible sleep habits. I also was hired by Denny’s as a hostess, and was thrilled about eating endless amounts of cheesy sandwiches and peanut butter pie! To this day, I have no clue how high my weight got, but I would guess somewhere close to 150 or even 160.
While I was gaining weight, my brother got engaged. I got fitted for my bride’s maid dress early in the year. Of course, by the time the wedding was approaching, the dress no longer fit. Devastated and without enough awareness or time to lose weight, I pleaded with my friend to help me alter the dress to fit. She scoured every fabric store in our city to find a fabric that was close enough to match, and sliced my dress open to insert an extra panel!
With my weight at an all – time high, I dove head first into all the dieting ideas and advice I could get my hands on. The first diet book I remember was all about low-fat. I was able to lose a modest amount of weight, enough to feel OK about my body, but never like I’d want to wear a bathing suit in front of people. Measuring at only 5 feet 1 inches tall, I always felt like losing 10 more pounds would be ideal. 10 pounds on my small frame meant the difference in a size 12 pair of jeans, and a size 6! So, for 20 years I slaved away at deprivation and frustration.
I kept quitting diets after 2 days of “no results”
Once I found a new style of eating, I’d spend all the money to buy all the food. I’d binge on information, recipes, and science about each protocol. Generally I’d lose 2-3 pounds, even though I was working my tail off. I’d get frustrated with the lack of progress, despite the intense effort, so I’d quickly be on the hunt for a new plan. I tried hiring coaches, buying online courses, counting calories, counting macros, downloading hypnosis tracks, vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, Paleo, weight watchers, Gluten-free, Low -fat, low-carb, training for marathons, Joel Fuhrman, Jillian Michaels, Bob Greene, Bob Harper, and so many more! So much attention to my weight loss effort was becoming a full time job, and it was exhausting!
I tried “30 days of no-sugar” and still gained weight!
The final diet I tried was no-sugar. It was a turning point in my journey as I managed to go a full 30 days without sugar and gain 5 lbs! I even broke out in acne, even though the books I was reading promised “clear skin”. The experts said that if I would eliminate sugar, all my cravings to overeat would go away, because sugar was “as addictive as cocaine!” For me however, I just overate ALL the other food I loved. I had more trail mix and crackers than my bowels could handle! It was at that point I realized, weight loss had very little to do with the food I was eating. I didn’t need an appetite to eat, so to think that eliminating cravings would stop me from eating wasn’t true. I had to figure out why I was eating, and why I couldn’t stop.
Finding out why I ate so much!
That’s when I started paying attention to my behavior around eating so much food! As I began to pay attention, and interesting thing changed. I started realizing I didn’t like some foods I thought I did. I started noticing that I wasn’t paying attention to how much I ate. The more distracted I was while I ate, the MORE I ate! I could sit down for breakfast and scroll through social media or news articles. I could eat bowl after bowl after bowl of cereal, and not even notice how much I ate. Sometimes I think I would do it to delay starting my day. Sometimes, I was just so sucked in to what I was reading on my phone, that I shoveled food in without even tasting it. I had mindless habits. When we would make cookies, I’d walk by and eat one off the counter. Then another and another, without really tasting the first cookie.
I had stumbled into mindful eating! Which I never thought I’d understand because I don’t like slowing down. I was the opposite of what I considered mindful! But now that I have figured it out, I am finally free from food obsession. Long gone are the days I spent all day planning what I was going to eat and thinking about my next meal.. Reading, listening to podcasts, and trying a new diet a month was wearing me out! Now, I truly feel like it’s easier to enjoy life! And as a bonus- I STILL LOVE FOOD, but now, food brings me pleasure, while effortlessly eating less and seeing weight loss results.
The mindful strategies I embraced to finally lose 10 pounds were:
- Establishing three periods of time during the day for intentional, purposeful eating. No snacks! I literally didn’t eat snacks for the entire time, and it helped me to stay mindful!
- I limited meal time distractions. No phone, books, computer, magazine, TV, etc.
- I Chewed slowly and experience each bite. Even with chewing slowly, my meals didn’t take any longer than when I scarfed it down.
- I tasted food! The flavors, and texture of each bite which found me surprised to find healthy food delicious and junk food less appealing than I thought.
- Put my fork down between bites. It goes without saying, shoveling more food into your mouth before you’ve finished the last bite is not being mindful.
- Checked in with my hunger mid-meal. I learned, I didn’t have to finish my meal, ever.
I’ve been so energized and excited about my weight loss through mindful eating, that I finally had the content for the book I’ve been dreaming about writing my whole life! I’ve written down every thing I did to lose weight. Everything you need to know about mindful eating is in my e-book. My daily rituals, the food I ate, my 40 days of affirmations and journal prompts are all here for you! I know you’ll love this new mindset as much as I do. (check out the book here) And, I’d love to hear about your success as well!
Tags: before and after, intuitive eating, mindful eating, mindfulness, success, weight loss, weight loss success stories