Hundreds of people have asked me how I lost so much weight and kept it off. People are desperate for answers, and I understand why. Needing to lose fat is frustrating, and there are many people out there with a very specific solution, many of whom have never been fat. I don’t have a straightforward answer, but if I did it would be this: “perseverance and consistency.”
So much has contributed to my weight loss success. Here is a collection of answers I’ve given when people ask me how I did it:
- I have a mantra. “Trust the process.” I know what to do, and I do it. It’s that simple. My success was, and continues to be, determined by how compliant I am with what I am supposed to do.
- I follow the principles of success for fat loss: I eat good, clean food on a very consistent basis. I continue to improve. I eat enough lean protein. I drink little alcohol. I consume very little added sugar. I eat healthy fats. I get enough sleep. I take care of myself. I lift weights 3 or 4 times a week. I stopped doing traditional cardio. My workouts are based on quality, not quantity. I drink plenty of water. I avoid artificial ingredients in food. If I begin to slack in any of these things, I can feel it.
- I have never measured success by the scale. I’ve probably been on a scale about 20 times in the last 8 years, and most of it happened at the doctor’s office. The scale f&$*s with your head. The weight of fluids in the body fluctuate, especially females. Carbohydrate storage fluctuates, depending on intake of carbs and water. That affects weight. Hormones fluctuate. Fat loss and lean mass gains are not linear. You don’t immediately lose 0.25 pounds if you burn 875 calories at the gym, or if you create an 875-calorie deficit. That’s not how it works. You prove to your body that you’re serious about fat loss by your commitment and consistency on a daily basis. That’s how you lose fat. It does not happen overnight, because you’ve got to show that your commitment is for real.
- It’s cliche, but I really have changed my lifestyle. Like the phoenix is reborn from its own ashes, I completely transformed myself. I laid a new foundation. The habits I engaged in — like justifying ice cream for dinner after a workout, or eating until I’m completely stuffed– are no longer a part of me. I just don’t do those things anymore. The person I am now is committed to a new way of living, a new perspective, and a new sense of self-care. To change your lifestyle, it requires that you also transform yourself intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
- There are many ways of eating out there than can work for you, if you work for them. Vegetarian; vegan; paleo; high protein/low-carb/moderate-fat; clean eating; dairy-free/gluten-free, etc. All of these approaches can be healthy if you are knowledgable about them, and if you practice them intelligently and consistently. Different people feel good with different approaches. I prefer a plant-based diet, with a moderate intake of eggs, meat and fish. I get 15-20% of my calories from protein, 25-35% of my calories from fat, and about 50% of my calories from fiber-rich carbohydrates. I do not calculate these percentages. In the past, I did so, do illustrate what that looks like on a daily basis. As you can imagine, though, I’m flexible in my approach, and I eat almost all food groups. That’s what works for me on a consistent basis.
- I have never bought into the “new thing” of the moment as a miracle solution. I’ve never bought gogi berries, garcinia cambogia, green coffee extract, meal replacements with artificial ingredients, or done a raw foods or juice detox, with the expectation of a noticeable difference. Sure, 100% cherry juice is very good for inflammation, and you should drink tea for its anti-oxidant properties, but going into a store on a mission for “XYZ” cure-all product is taking you off-course.
- I believe in myself. This is a BIG one. You can say the words, “I believe in myself” and they don’t mean anything if you actually don’t. You’ve got to feel it in all your cells. You’ve got to value yourself, appreciate your life, and have a sense of urgency to make yourself healthy. Here’s a quick tip: take care of yourself in all aspects of your life — relationships, job, family, home, hobbies, self-care — and it begins to be easier to take care of yourself food-wise.
- I love myself. Deeply. If you love yourself, you’ll begin to re-think all the ways in which you nourish yourself, or the ways you DON’T nourish yourself. I did a talk in March at the Chicago Women’s Conference titled, “Looking at Food through the Lens of Self-Love.” If you look at each individual food choice as a reflection of how much you care about yourself, you’ll begin to make better choices.