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Lessons Learned

These are some of the key things I’ve learned so far, and I continue to learn all the time. Sometimes it’s helpful for me to remind myself of what I’ve learned, as this path is not strictly linear. I hope some of these lessons are useful to you, too.

Lesson #1: Make Your Own Rules

I have found that throughout an abstract process, it helps me to have certain things that are more concrete, to have a bit of black & white among the grey.  These lessons/rules/tips serve as shortcuts to good decision making because I’ve already done the work to balance out the decision for myself.  I understand why people want to be told what to do throughout the weight-loss process: it makes it a little less complicated, which is essential because it’s draining to juggle all of the variables.  The trouble is, what works for others won’t always work for you.  But you can make your own rules!  What matters most, even more than the content of the rules, is that they are truly YOURS so that they are beneficial to your individual body and sustainable for your life.

Lesson #2: Don’t Go Hungry

You don’t need to go hungry to lose weight. Sometimes, when frustrated with my body, I really believed this would be the only way to lose weight.  In reality, going hungry is not sustainable for your lifestyle, which is a red flag telling me it’s not a balanced choice.  Plus, starving yourself just slows your metabolism down even more, so when you stop going hungry, you start gaining really quickly.  Which actually makes a lot of sense:  you are living out of balance and your body is seeking balance… it has to compensate for the starvation.  But you end up worse off than you were before.  Plus, it’s not loving to your body to ignore its needs.

Please note: If you find yourself in a position where you are eating all of the calories you need but you still feel hungry, make sure you are choosing foods that are high in fiber, high in protein, and not too densely caloric, as you don’t want to use all of your calories on something that isn’t going to fill you up.  In this way, you can prevent being in a situation where you aren’t getting what you need.  You can also try eating more frequently and less at a time.  If you make sure that you are never FULL, you can spread out your calories more evenly through the day so that you are never starving either.

Lesson #3: The 2-Day/3-Day Rule

I have found, through trial and error, that a good working out rule for my body is the 2-Day/3-Day Rule:  Don’t go more than 2 consecutive days without working out, and don’t do a heavy workout more than 3 days in a row.  This leaves plenty of flexibility to go to the gym 4-6 times per week, which is my other guideline, and it prevents both the I-Haven’t-Worked-Out-Crankies and the I-Overdid-It-Remorse (which, in my case, is usually accompanied by pain in my bad knee).  But, again, you need to find the rule that works for your body.

Lesson #4:  Whatever You Choose To Eat, Enjoy It!

There is an art to enjoying your food.  Try putting your utensils down after each bite and focusing on the flavors.  Really taste the food, notice how it makes your body feel as you take it in.  Some foods have a really powerful impact on your energy.  Sometimes, just being present while you eat can tell you a lot about what you should choose to eat next time.  For example, if you find that you are feeling too guilty to truly enjoy the flavor of what you are eating, you can choose to put that food on your “red light” list for a while.  If a food makes you feel happy and light, you know that would be a good food to choose again.  Lastly, when you really enjoy what you eat, you will probably be emotionally satisfied with what you eat and therefore not feel the need to eat more than your body needs.

Lesson #5: Balance Your Viewpoint

In the search for self-love, I have had to find balance mentally as well as physically.  It’s pretty easy for me to see how the “there’s something wrong with you now fix it” mentality is hurtful and counterproductive, but the tricky part was learning that the “there’s nothing wrong with you, don’t change a thing” viewpoint isn’t quite it either.  Acceptance and tolerance are not enough; they are not as complete as love. They are more passive and complacent than love.  Loving yourself requires vigilant engagement with yourself, not through a critical lense, but not through a submissive one either.  It’s about learning to say to yourself, “You are worth caring about; what can I do to take care of you better?” And it’s something I’m definitely still learning how to actually do.

Lesson #6: Learn to Love Cooking

I know, some people hate to cook. But cooking your own food can be fun, liberating, and powerful. It is the best way to have knowledge & control of what you’re putting into your body. It is the cheapest and most efficient way to ensure that you are eating the freshest ingredients with no allergens, chemicals, hormones, or any other undesirable ingredients. Cooking also puts you in touch with your food and allows you to enjoy the whole process, not just the eating part 😉 Shopping for ingredients, carefully preparing them, and discovering new ways to combine them can be a creative and satisfying process.

If you don’t enjoy cooking, here are a few tips: First, keep your kitchen clean and uncluttered. This is hugely important… otherwise cooking becomes an arduous and sometimes icky task. Second, try cooking with a partner who is more comfortable in the kitchen. They can show you tricks and make life more fun. Third, try throwing little dinner parties to give yourself a reason to learn. Once you know how to cook, it does become more about creativity and less about the technical stuff.

Lesson #7: Break Your Own Rules

Just as a test, try breaking your own rules.  Take note of how it feels.  This may remind you of why you made the rule in the first place and it will keep you from feeling confined by your rules.  It also gives you the chance to re-evaluate your rules. If it feels consistently good to break a certain rule, try going back to the structure of the rule for a while and then try breaking it again.  If you still like breaking that rule, the rule probably needs revising.  If you don’t enjoy breaking the rule so much the second time around, it may be that your body is finding a healthy balance that feels better than your old habits, so it’s probably a good rule.  This is why it’s important to do round 2 of testing.  Also, sometimes just giving yourself the option of breaking your rules and then choosing the healthy choice anyway is empowering.

Lesson #8:  Never Stop Searching For Answers

If it feels like the pieces don’t add up, you are probably missing some.  Don’t just give up on figuring it out!  Trust that little nagging feeling that something is not making sense.  If I had kept ignoring that feeling, I would never have figured out that I am gluten-intolerant.  So go ahead, jump down the rabbit hole!  It may get more confusing before things become clear, but it is worth it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2011 11:03 pm

    I like what you say about loving yourself and being worth it!


  1. balancing my perspective « Balanced Body Blog
  2. life without gluten « Diana Banana

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