I’m a health and weight loss coach and I had gained weight.
This is the plain truth as it is. Yet it’s scary to face it since it challenged my identity, my authority as a professional and made me feel kind of embarrassed since I’m a woman – as many of us women are conditioned to want to feel desirable and loved. This usually, consciously or unconsciously, translates as “pretty”.
Yet, I decided to be open and honest about it. I think so many people nowadays need to hear the raw truth rather than Instagram-filtered, wrapped in shiny paper stories and carefully painted illusions of an “easy and always happy” life.
Why did I gain weight?
On the surface level, I gained weight (13 pounds to be precise) because I ate more than normal and because I ate the foods that were not optimal for my body; like sweets, baked goods and fried food. But my weight gain wasn‘t random or accidental.
I truly believe that our biography shapes our biology. I was facing some adversities in my life in the last year. My mom got diagnosed with cancer so I had to move back to my home country and cancel many of my business plans and projects. On top of that, I spent almost five months away from my partner and we‘ve been together for almost eight years. As you can imagine, it was a tough time in my life.
In order to hide and numb my emotions I often turned to food and my old habits, like coffee and wine, to escape and feel good in the moment. I know, I should had known better, but the feeling of the unknown about how my mum‘s situation would turn out just put me completely out of focus.
However, being the optimist I am, I truly believe that everything in life is here to help you. The last year has been such a journey and I‘ve learned from my challenges and failures more than I‘ve learned from my successes. I feel like a completely new person and now I‘m ready for my outside to reflect my beauty and strength that is inside.
Another great thing about gaining weight was that when I shared it openly with my friends, clients and on my social media women felt relieved and inspired by it. We see so many perfect images on magazines, websites and on social media, so we assume that this is how life should always be and feel that there‘s something wrong if we don‘t live up to those expectations and imposed standards.
Many women have confessed to me that in the past they used to get inspired by the airbrushed Instagram pictures of the perfect-looking fitness models. But now more and more often they feel depressed and hopeless because they feel that their reality is so far away from that shredded girl with killer abs.
Therefore one of the reasons why I‘ve decided to get back in shape and document my journey was to inspire and show others that an average girl with “fat genes“ can look and feel amazing when putting in enough effort, dedication and focus.
Here are the top 5 elements that were essential for achieving my fitness goals:
1. Become self-aware
I must confess that for a little while I denied my weight gain and wasn‘t ready to face it.
Worrying about the weight may look quite vain, but in fact, it goes way deeper than just wanting to look good. The body shape is only a result of what‘s going on inside. My denial was merely a by-product of me using food and other habits to feel good and numb my emotions.
It was only when I found the courage to face myself and embrace the pain in my life, rather than running away from it by eating, that I could finally move on and start changing. I became honest with myself and made a commitment to be as truthful and transparent as possible. It‘s scary, but once it‘s done, it‘s so liberating. The truth will set you free.
2. Make a commitment
As Yoda said, “There is no try, only do”. In order to achieve what you want, you must go all chips in. If you think, “I’ll see how I feel”, chances are you won‘t feel like exercising, or skipping your favorite treat. That‘s exactly why you gained weight in the first place.
Obviously, I didn‘t wake up one day with this extra weight on my body. It took quite a few vegan cupcakes, pasta dishes and chocolate bars to get there. I kept telling myself almost daily that I should stop eating so many sweets and such large portions. But I would just attempt to go back to my healthy habits for a day or two, and then would indulge again. I kept justifying to myself that there was not much fun going on in my life at the time, so at least food brought me some pleasure.
But then I reached a point where I was no longer feeling good in my body – even a few pounds puts a burden on your back and joints. I also felt awful that I was a weight loss coach and that my physique didn‘t reflect what I teach. I wanted to be an inspiration to my readers and clients so that I could help more people improve their health and wellbeing. Finding a reason larger than myself has truly inspired me to be unconditionally committed.
3. Create a clear routine
If you‘ve tried to lose weight in the past, you may have noticed that willpower never works long-term. Recent research suggests that willpower – the capacity to exert self-control – is a limited resource that is depleted after exertion. When we exhaust it or reach something called the decision fatigue, we’re more susceptible to giving in to temptation.
In order to avoid the decision fatigue, you must literally remove as much decision-making from your life as possible through setting a clear daily routine. By deciding when, what and where you‘re going to eat, what time to wake up and go to bed, when and how to exercise, etc. – you‘re putting your weight loss on autopilot.
4. Become accountable
Some people can motivate themselves and don‘t need any external motivation. However, the majority do way better if they‘re accountable to someone else.
I‘m a pretty self-motivated person but the added positive pressure from announcing my goals and ‘before’ pictures publically definitely helped me to stay committed and on track.
Announce your goals to your friends and family, or even better – do it publicly. If you just do it silently by yourself, you can think of million excuses why you can skip your workout or indulge in junk food.
5. Avoid early inventory
Focus on the process and the result will come automatically.
I know from my past experiences that if I just focused on a certain number on the scale and it was not happening, I‘d get discouraged. Taking an early inventory, i.e. weighing yourself obsessively or too early in the process, is the fastest way to doubting yourself, disappointment and self-sabotage.
I know what diet and exercise regimen is the most effective for my body. I knew that if I practiced the Lovetarian Detox principles, which means eating a well-balanced whole-foods plant-based diet, I‘d eventually come back to my ideal shape, which I did! I just needed to be consistent and stick with it.
Focus on your actions, and the result will take care of itself.
6. Have fun
Most importantly, the whole process needs to be fun. You have to find the way to eat, exercise and take care of your body in a way that is inspiring and feels exciting. That‘s why I switched up my workouts, always introduced some new exercises into my gym routine and only ate the foods that I absolutely love!
I gave myself 90 days to get in shape just because it sounded fun to do it before the end of the year and it felt exciting to have a deadline. However, even after the challenge is over, I‘m still continuing my healthy lifestyle. Last year I got reminded that living with some extra weight is no fun at all, which is a great motivation to stay on track.
7. Practice gratitude
It really sounds like a cliché but you need to appreciate your struggle in order to overcome it and glean the most wisdom from it. All the challenges that have happened in my life have shaped me as a person and taught me the things I couldn‘t have learned otherwise.
Gaining and losing weight might look like a very superficial issue, but truly it‘s just a catalyst or a trigger for rediscovering self-worth and self-love.
Even though I wasn‘t in my best shape last year, I learned to love and value myself at a level I didn‘t know was possible. And for that, I‘m immensely grateful to my struggle.