29 Sep 10 things you should know before you start a weight loss journey
I may have touched on this topic before but I feel like it needs another discussion. Having worked with ladies trying to lose weight and of course having gone through two weight loss transformations myself (First time – 2011 and then 2017/8 post 1st baby), there are some common behavioural trends that I have seen common to us all that I feel I need to share with you if you too are embarking on a weight loss journey.
- Getting ill at the start – So you have done your first consultation, even your first week of sessions, are excited and raring to go and then you fall sick. This is so common, and it could be a number of reasons, you could have had a virus already in your system and the added stress on your body of exercise lowered your immune system causing the virus to take advantage. Or with most cases its psychosomatic – it’s the part of us emotionally still trying to cling to the old self, what we know is safe and sometimes, even though we don’t like being overweight, we have built a whole identity around it and now with the real possibility of losing that what we think to be a key part of who we are, we feel a deep sense of panic as in, if I am no longer “Wardah the chubby girl in my group, who am I now?” – we sometimes feel like we are losing part of our identity so we fight the change and this manifests in us showing flu-like symptoms etc.
- It will be hard and uncomfortable in the beginning – Did you think it was going to be a picnic? Suck-it up buttercup! This is going to be hard. You haven’t done any of these movements ever before in your life or not in a very very long time so your body has to learn to do them or relearn them. And yes, you will be a bit stiff the next day, due to lactic acid damage to your muscles. This is normal and there are safe over the counter products that you can get from your local pharmacist or supermarket to help alleviate the stiffness – I usually recommend ‘Slo-Mag’ to my clients and a nice long soak in an Epsom salt bath – found in the baking aisle at most supermarkets. The stiffness is normal, even me till today have a bit of stiffness after a challenging workout, in fact, as I write this, my shoulders are a bit tender. You will come to love this feeling, I promise, because you’ll know you had a good workout.
- Never Give Up, Slow and steady wins the race – You didn’t gain the weight overnight, so why do you think it’ll be quick to lose the weight? You are now unlearning bad habits that you have cultivated over decades and breaking those habitual bad habits in your lifestyle that caused the weight gain. This does take time, especially if you are making positive changes that you want to adopt for the rest of your life. If you make small changes in the beginning and gradually add to those, change will happen. Losing weight slowly and steadily is far better for your mind and body. Healthy weight loss is 500g-1kg a week, anything more is considered fast weight loss and this is easily gained back – most of the time, with interest! So take it slow, don’t compare yourself or your journey to anyone else, run your own race.
- Ignore the saboteurs – When you make changes in your life, especially positive ones and people see the effects it is having on you, you will have people that’ll be deeply supportive and proud of you, some will even be inspired to start their own journey. But know this, your positive changes will make some feel uncomfortable and they will try to discourage you – know that this has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. Avoid these people, even if they are family – limit interaction with them, you don’t need any negative talk around you during this time.
- Weight loss is NOT linear – In an ideal scenario, weight loss is linear – meaning, you steadily keep losing a bit of weight over a period of time and eventually you reach your goal weight and that’s the end of the story. The reality is a weight loss journey is a winding road, you will lose weight, then you may stumble (go on holiday and overindulge or go through a stressful period and not train as much – whatever it may be) and maybe gain a kilo or two back. This doesn’t mean you’re failing, you just had a minor setback, that’s all – it’s all part of the journey, get back on the horse and keep going. Your weight may plateau, this is normal too, this is your body starting to fight back against all the weight loss. Without getting too scientific – in short, your body’s primary function is to keep you alive, and large weight loss is seen by the body as life threatening more so in women – the body sees the female body as a baby maker, too few calories means less likelihood to conceive and or carry a baby to term– so it’ll cling to those last few kilos, be patient, consult with your trainer, or fitness professional to make some changes to your training and perhaps consult a dietitian to make changes to your eating plan just to shock the body and get you out of that ‘weight loss rut’.
- No amount of the best possible exercise routine can undo bad eating patterns – Reality check! Sorry to break it to you, but even the best training program in the world, the best trainer in the world cannot have you looking better and help you lose more weight if you are eating badly and are not committed to what makes up 80% of your transformation journey – which is a consistent, healthy, balanced eating plan. Keep eating badly – you won’t see results, it’s that’s simple – don’t think your trainer is a magician. Weight loss is simple – calories in versus calories out, if that scale is not leaning towards calories out being higher (meaning you burning more calories than you consume) – you won’t reach the results you want. (I’ll be writing a separate blog on this topic!)
- Prioritise your training schedule – I get it, life happens. There will be times when you have to cancel or shift a training session – whether you are training with a PT or on your own, it should be an unbreakable appointment even if it is just with yourself. You need to make that hour of training a non-negotiable appointment and plan your life around it. Remember this may not need to be the case forever, but while you are chasing your goals and trying to achieve them and in so doing cultivate healthier habits, don’t make your workouts ‘optional’ – then it becomes easier and easier to cancel.
- Don’t be obsessed with your scale – I’ve had clients in the past that have attached their happiness to what the scale showed them every day! This is lunacy! Firstly, you cannot weight yourself every single day and not expect for it to fluctuate by a few hundred grams. As human beings, especially as women, our weight can fluctuate from day to day due to water retention, our hormones, PMS, menstruation, stress levels etc. As a rule, for myself and for my clients, I don’t place much value on what the scale says – mostly because the scale gives you one number which consists of water weight, body fat and muscle mass. If the scale doesn’t move, you most probably gained muscle.
- Take Progress pictures – I have found that visual proof of changes to your body that you can actually see in progress pictures is a far better way to track your progress. The reality is, you can lose centimetres or inches before you actually lose kilos as shown on a scale. Another good way to track your progress is to see if your clothes fit you differently. I’ve had clients look visibly smaller in progress picture but only lose a few inches and then another who dropped three jeans sizes from a size 22 jeans to a 16 but only lose 2-3 kilos of weight shown on a scale. It’s was all obvious in pictures but had she purely measured her progress on what the scale showed her, she would be missed all these major milestones.
- Your transformation journey can change more than just your body – There is a reason I call it a ‘transformation journey’ because I am not limiting it to a ‘weight loss’ journey. In the process of getting a healthier body, you may just change as a person too. You may find a confidence and strength that you never knew you had. This may spill into other parts of your life and perhaps be the catalyst you needed to make other positive changes in other areas of your life. This is by far for me the most exciting part of the entire journey.
Enjoy the Ride
Happy Healthy Fabulous
Photography: Tegan Smith