Four years ago I embarked in a journey to shed some unwanted weight.
8 months later, I managed to lose 20 kilos.
Right after that massive success, people start to compliment me and for the first time in my life, I felt included and accepted. Not because I was finally in a healthy weight range, but because people acknowledged my presence more than when I was 20 kilos heavier.
It’s a mean society, but as much as I didn’t want to believe it that way, it’s a fact.
It’s like it didn’t really matter if you were standing up for a cause, or you’re doing something every day to give back to the community or if you’re just generally a kind person, what you weigh makes a whole lot of difference.
And I know this because I experienced it myself.
Last night, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this and she wholeheartedly agreed to it. In fact, we came up with 6 non weight loss lessons we learned as soon as we started to lose weight. From friendship, to loving ourselves, to having full acceptance over our body, it’s interesting what we discover after losing weight and no matter where you are in this journey, I want you to know this too.
Lesson 1. You’ll realise who your real friends are, and who are just in for the ride.
Losing weight, becoming leaner and being able to pull yourself up a bar is not an easy feat, and it can be quite a big deal. Interestingly, I didn’t have much friends in the past because when it comes to parties and social events, no one seems to want to invite Aqilah.
Sounds depressing but hey, that also means I knew who are the people in my life that mattered and who didn’t.
Losing 20 kilos, as I’ve mentioned before, suddenly saw me having tons of friends because people just want to hang out with me. You’ll start noticing the hypocritical behaviour of people and then realise that your real friends are those who invites you to stuffs the same way they did in your yesteryear, no matter how you look like or how big you are.
Lesson 2. There’s a million and one bullsh*t things out there when it comes to fitness.
Right after losing all those weight, people start wondering what I did to attain that much success. They start questioning if I was on the Atkins diet. If I was a Herbalife customer. Or I did P90x all day long. And when I told them I just started exercising and eating better, they didn’t believe me.
You soon realise that there are tons of fitness marketers out there trying to beg you for your money to buy their latest scientifically proven way of losing weight and all of a sudden, you start to question yourself, ‘Why didn’t I think of that earlier?’
There’s a million and one things out there that confuses the hell out of you when it comes to losing weight but let me tell you this: The only way you can achieve sustainable, long-term results is by eating better, and making a habit to move more than you usually do.
Supplements might benefit a subset of people out there, but you don’t need it.
There’s no such thing as a magic potion or a quick way to lose weight.
And you don’t need any random guy to tell you to go on some random diet.
Start eating more unprocessed foods and moving. Do it one step at a time if you have to. Just don’t let yourself be a victim of an extremely convincing fitness marketer.
Lesson 3. You’ll learn that the best kind of fitness program is the one that works for you.
And you better believe that.
When people ask me what is the best kind of diet or fitness program, I’m usually stumped for words. No, not because I don’t know the answer, but because all of us are unique individuals and unless I know you a lot, I probably would have to say that the best one is the one that works for you at this moment.
This is actually even the secret to all weight loss success stories. Surprise!
Yes, you may have a plan. You probably even listen to your trainer who tells you to do 3 reps of heavy squats, but if a particular way of eating or moving makes you feel terrible each time you do it, it’s time to swap it off with something else.
The key to sticking to a fitness program is to legitimately enjoy what you’re doing.
Surprisingly for me, working out 6 days a week and counting calories back then was enjoyable. I actually liked looking at what and how much I’m eating so I stuck by it like glue. But did it work out in the long-term? Probably not. I don’t like counting anything right now. But it didn’t matter because back then, I liked it.
Lesson 4. You’ll see that most fitness program focuses too much on the end result, and then leave you hanging once you’ve succeeded.
And then what?
And then what?
And then what?
I remembered clearly after losing weight and following a strict 1200 calorie diet, I was left hanging by my ‘personal trainer’ who didn’t tell me what to do after that. Do I still stick to a 1200 calorie diet? Oh wait, I think there’s something in the book that says ‘increase your calorie intake to 1500’.
So I ate 300 calories more than I did while I was dieting.
But boy I got so hungry all the time, I can swallow a horse if I could.
Combine that with a feeling of guilt for eating more than usual, I was stuck. And that lead to some undesirable eating disorders I never thought I would experience.
See, if you’re on a fitness program right now, have a pause and look at what you’re planning to do once the program is over. If it’s anything more than what you can afford to do just to maintain that lost weight, then that program is probably just another fad diet.
Your fitness and nutrition plan should teach you how to eat for life, not just for the next 12 weeks.
It should at least educate you in making the right food decisions even after you’ve lost all those weight because 12 weeks compared to the rest of your life is nothing.
It should also at least give an excellent reason on why you should be eating that instead of some other food because when the 12 weeks is over, you’ll be on your own.
Making a priority for what happens next is important and so many of us focus too much on the current situation that we struggle to survive when the program is over. Think about your future and the rest of your life because your diet is nothing compared to that.
Lesson 5. And that maintaining the weight loss is way harder than losing the weight.
This point goes back to point number four and it happens because of that.
Think doing 3 sets of 20 push-ups every Monday for 12 weeks is hard?
Wait till you’ve lost all the weight and then try to maintain it. As mentioned earlier, many fitness programs likes to scare the sh*t out of you when it comes to losing weight. Let’s see…
Don’t eat carbs after 4 or else you’ll store them as fat. Drink 1 litre of water as soon as you wake up or your metabolism will be sluggish through the day. Don’t eat more than 1200 calories per day, your body don’t need it.
How about instead of that, put it this way instead: Learn lifelong nutritional and fitness principles so you can take it with you for the rest of your life?
Yeah I don’t see that happening.
If there was one thing I wished my ‘personal trainer’ told me before I started losing weight is that. And then maybe, just maybe, I would put in more effort into learning why I’m eating 1200 calories per day instead of just following it because the book says so.
Lesson 6. You’ll realise that accepting your body before losing weight is crucial to your success.
I’ve tried so many methods to lose weight before I succeeded and for all the times that I failed, I don’t blame it entirely on the weight loss technique I was on. I blame it on the fact that I had zero acceptance of my body when I started to lose weight.
The first time I decided to lose weight was because I hated my body to the greatest pits of my intestines. I hated the way I look. I didn’t like what I see every single time I looked in the mirror. And that mindset was the exact reason why I decided to go on drastic weight loss methods such as skipping meals or replacing them with liquid ones. The results was great, momentarily. Until I came off it and then gained several kilos more than I lost.
Until I honestly accepted myself and started being kind to my body was when the results followed.
Body hating and shaming does not get you far in the success ladder of losing weight. Instead of bashing yourself up for being overweight, learn how to accept it first before even beginning your journey. It goes a long way.
And if you think that’s ridiculous, think about this:
If you can’t fully accept your body now, how do you think you can accept your body when you’re much lighter? You will never truly be happy.
My Message To You…
The reason why I wrote this up today is simple, because I want you to know them before you start losing all those weight.
I know you’re probably carving your success story right now as you read this, or you’re still trying to find the perfect way to lose those kilos you unknowingly put on for years but learning from others, my mistakes particularly, can help you be prepared for the future ahead.
And most importantly, I want you to know that change takes time.
It takes at least 4 weeks to get used to making healthier choices.
It may take you months before you start seeing results.
But it does not take a lot to start feeling great from working out and eating better.
Give your body a chance to live a life they never thought they could and be kind to it. Your body is an amazing system and whatever you’re trying to do with it, whether you’re trying to lose weight, or simply feel better every day, you will reap the maximum benefits if you can put your mind and heart into it.
Most importantly, do not give up and results will come. And should you ever need help, rant or tell me about your situation in a non-judgemental setting, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do whatever it takes to help you succeed.
Have an amazing week.