No secret diet, no magic pill. I'm sure we have all realized this by now. All the people who have successfully tried to lose weight and have managed to keep it off, Sparkers or non-Sparkers, managed to find their own unique combination of healthy eating and exercise. Each one of us is a different person, with different needs, who needs a different approach to weight loss.
But we have things in common. Looking back at my own weight loss journey and browsing through blogs of other people's successful stories, I think I have pinpointed some attitudes that seem similar, sometimes even identical. And I believe that if these attitudes are put together with our own individual ways of eating and working out, they can easily pave the road to success.
So, these are the things that most "biggest losers" have in common:
- They realized they had to make permanent changes.
Most of them had been tortured by diets many times in the past. Some of them hadn't. But they all knew that a small period of eating differently and a month of exercise in a year of complete absence of activity would bring changes that wouldn't last. Sooner or later they would go back to their old habits. It would be like a drop in the ocean. It would only affect the surface of the problem. Only if they changed their habits permanently could they hope for long-lasting results. And this realization was critical to their success.
- They moved on by trial and error.
What worked for me won't necessarily work for you. People who successfully lost weight were ready to accept failure. They tried many things that proved to be wrong and many times they would bring them back to square one. They just researched and found another way. A new way of exercise, a new trick to deal with cravings, new menus, new breakfast ideas, anything they had a hard time with, they would just replace it with something new. Eventually they found what worked for them.
- They created a support network.
Struggling is part of everything in our lives. Sometimes we struggle with our jobs, with our studies, with our relationships. A weight loss attempt couldn't be an exception to the rule. There will be difficult days. Days that nothing will seem to work. Days that all our willpower and motivation will have vanished somehow. And when we struggle, we need someone who can relate. A friend or many friends who can put themselves in our shoes, give us a pat on the back and help us move on. Most of the people who managed to lose weight had their own support system. One or more Sparkfriends, a gym buddy, a family member on the same weight loss journey, they all played their own role in someone's success story.
- They constantly motivated themselves.
What did you think? That all these people lived in gyms and never missed a workout? Or they had hired a 24-hour nutrition expert who cooked all their meals for them? No, they lived in the same world we all do. Where everyday life issues continue and smaller or bigger problems come up and draw our attention away from our personal goals. And, of course, motivation is diminished. But those people didn't let their motivation meter reach zero. They would motivate themselves weekly, daily or whenever they felt it was needed. They would make visuals, read success stories, browse through motivational pictures, reflect on inspirational quotes, blog, do anything they could to keep the spark alive. And their constant vigilance rewarded them with success.
- They put "health" in the equation.
Vanity reasons are good. Who doesn't want to look good in skinny jeans or swimsuits? We all do. But there's a problem with vanity motives. They can easily be postponed for... later. This way: "Well, I still have my baggy T-shirt to hide in. I'll try for the tank top tomorrow. Now bring me those donuts!"
But when the factor "health" appears, things change. When you know that your unhealthy way of eating and your non-existent activity levels are kindly inviting Mr. Diabetes in, you don't get lots of time to postpone your decisions. When cholesterol and blood pressure have started using the elevator and are flirting with "the upper floors" of their values, you have to act. All those people who managed to lose weight didn't necessarily have a health problem. But they educated themselves on health statistics and they measured the odds. And they decided that to the extent they could, they would get in control of their health.
- They wanted it badly.
Probably the most important ingredient in the "weight loss success recipe". The key attitude. A strong desire. The starting point of all achievement. They wanted to reach their goals and they wanted it badly. So badly that they refused to quit no matter the obstacles. They would always get up no matter how many times they fell. They had the visual of their goal in mind and they never let go of it. And, in the end, they made it happen.
There are so many success stories on Sparkpeople. Have a look at the strategies of those people and you'll soon realize it's all a matter of the right attitude. They say that attitudes are contagious, don't they? Well, I believe you're in the right place to "catch" them!