Process Driven Outcomes: Weight-loss

I don’t enjoy talking about myself. Especially this part. It feels like bragging, or something. But, here it is. I lost 35KG. Never did find it again, either. Very careless of me.

Today I want to tell you how. Because if my story helps a single person then it will be worth it.

[Disclaimer: as you read this please remember I am not saying losing weight should be your #1 focus. All too often people achieve absolutely incredible results, and then only afterwards realize it hasn’t actually made them happier. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is learn to love yourself. Being thin isn’t everything.]

For the first 22 years of my life I was absolutely convinced I knew the exact steps needed to lose weight (I needed to lose weight, too).

Absolutely convinced. I would never have believed someone if they told me I was wrong. Conviction is interesting.

I was convinced because I had heard the same message, repeated all my life.

Steps to lose weight (from 22 year old me):

  • Run, and hate it. The more you hate it, the better you are doing. Sweat = success
  • Eat a perfect diet, no mistakes, no slip-ups. Even better if you use some kind of 12-week diet plan, with extra points going to anything involving cleanses
  • Do 500 sit-ups a day. If you can’t do any sit-ups you’re probably past the point of no return

These messages are repeated in magazines, on TV, in movies, in conversations around the dinner table and in the products and weight-loss programs we buy. The message is that you need to out-exercise your weight, or else you shouldn’t bother trying. That’s the message I heard anyway.

Turns out, 22 year old me didn’t know as much as I thought. Shocking. I’ve learn a bit since then. I’m no expert, but I would say I know enough about the basic concepts to know what works.

Lessons on losing weight (from 25 year old me):

  • Exercise is great for your mind and body (e.g lungs, heart, general physcial condition), but not actually that important for weight loss
  • Food is the key. How you eat AND how you think about food. Food is energy, and sustenance. It’s not something to do when you are bored. Start a puzzle instead. Change your mindset and everything else follows
  • Weight-loss is about making changes you can keep up forever. These changes can be half-way points. Don’t go for the all or nothing 12-week diet plan. Small changes, everyday. Let yourself have blow-outs. Create a lifestyle, slowly implement. Healthy breakfasts and lunches, less healthy dinners. Healthy Monday — Fridays, blow-out weekends. Mix and match.
  • Our bodies need different types of food, and there is no single enemy. Fat is great. Carbs are good. Protein is essential. Find a mix. Learn what is best and when, don’t rely on a single source to sustain you (note to 22-year old self: you’ll still be hungry after you finish that entire loaf of bread)
  • Finally, most importantly, weight-loss is process driven. Set up your life so the easiest possible outcome is following the lifestyle you decided. No-one wants to work harder than they need to.

It took 5 years for me to get to an unhealthy weight. It took a while to fix that. Sit back and accept that weight-loss is like watching grass grow. It will take a while. It’s pretty unexciting sometimes. Next time you see your friend you haven’t seen in a year it will all be worth it. The time is going to pass anyway.

If you want to change your life, start small. Don’t set a goal of losing 10KG by December. You can’t decide the length of time it will take. You can decide what you have for lunch. Change it. The outcome will fix itself.