Congratulations! You have done the hardest part of the whole journey. You have A) admitted to yourself that you have a problem and B) decided to do something about it. The next few months and years are going to be incredible. They're going to be tough, yes, but so worth it. Trust me.
A year and a half ago, I made the decision to get healthy and get active. It's been an absolute world-changer. In December 2008, I realized I wasn't happy being obese and now--less than two years later--I'm 120 pounds lighter. I've run three marathons and completed an Ironman, and, most importantly, have become a happy person. Life is good now.
The number one question I get in messages asking about my weight loss journey goes something like this: "I'm where you were when you started--overweight and unhappy--but I'm starting my journey. Do you have any tips or advice to help me get started?"
So, here are my top eight tips on weight loss and doing life, as they have applied to me.
- Be public. I've found that the natural instinct when you decide to take on your obesity is to keep it to yourself. For whatever reason, it's somewhat humiliating to talk to people about your decision. I don't know why this is, but it is. But here's the thing: you'll find that more often than not, the people that love you and care about you are going to be thrilled when you tell them about your decision. You're not going to be able to do this journey alone. You're going to need a support system to help you through, to talk to when things get difficult, and even to work out with you when you don't want to do it alone. The other important thing to consider is that you'll need some accountability throughout this journey. It will be easy to quit if you're the only one who knows about it. But if you know people are excited for you and watching you change, you'll be more motivated to stick to your plan.
- Get involved. This is kind of a subset of rule number one. Get involved in something official. Whether it be a running club, a master's swim class, a regular yoga class, or anything that will help you meet people with the same goals and dreams. Getting involved will also help you to keep coming back. It gives you an obligation and accountability system that is crucial to your success. Rather than just going out each day and saying, "Well, what should I do today?," you will start to make your lifestyle change part of your everyday routine--which is the ultimate goal. As a runner, I suggest signing up for a race and training to that race every couple of months. Having a tangible goal (whether it be "just finishing" or a specific time goal) will keep you motivated to improve.
- Overhaul your eating. This is where things get tough for most of us. You can't really become obese without an eating problem, so this is the area where we all have to look at ourselves, be honest, and work hard to make the change. I know, I know... Food is just SOOOO good. Believe me, I've been there. I'm a guy who ate at restaurants an average of three times a day for the past six years of college (yes, college took me six years, but that's a different advice column...). Readers sometimes ask me for a name brand diet, usually in book form, that will tell them what to eat. I always have the same answer, "Sorry, I stayed away from name-brand diets."I'm sure there are some well thought out diet books or plans that actually work, but my attitude was always, "Just be smart." The thing is, most of us know what eating healthy looks like: more fruits and vegetables, less red meat, less fried stuff (sorry), fewer soft drinks, etc. It also means more grocery shopping and less eating out. You know what it takes, and it's going to be hard. But you also know it's going to be worth it. Don't do anything drastic, though, unless you want to lose weight quickly for a couple months then gain it back with an additional 10 or 15 pounds extra. You know what it takes to eat healthy. Just do it.