After years of trying just about every diet on the planet, I just lost 18 kilos! So, how did I do it?
I am going to tell the secret straight up. There is one vital key that all the many programs, including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig etc that I have tried have not taught me in a useful way. The crucial key to permanently losing weight is… MOTIVATION!
“Without the ‘correct’ motivation, the method, system or plan you choose to manage your weight will be of no long-term use”.
Yes that’s right. No use.
How do I know this? Let me tell you a story… When I was 15 years old, I joined the first Weight Watchers group in Auckland New Zealand. That was decades ago, and I think it is safe to say that I am a ‘Lifetime Member’. I had made a new friend, named Terry, who was from America and her mother had moved to NZ to start Weight Watchers there, which was a burgeoning business in the US at that time.
I remember so well that dark, cold and drizzly evening in Auckland CBD. As I made my way to the meeting, I began to contemplate the ensuing deprivation, so I made a stop at the milk bar and as I stood around the corner from the stairway leading to the room in which we were meeting, I anxiously devoured 2 (not 1 but 2!) Chokito bars. Anyone remember them? A thick cover of chocolate with rice bubbles inserted into the chocolate layer and fudge in the middle. Yummy.
Anyway, with scarcity, hunger and self-denial looming, I STUFFED THEM DOWN! I was ravenous. The photo here is me with my friends when I was 15 years old in 1971. Jossy is in the middle, Terry is on the right and that’s me in the pink. I weighed 8 stone. Yes, I weighed 50 kilos and was my current height of 165 centimetres so had a BMI of 18.4! I thought I was “so fat” and was “too embarrassed” to go swimming.
How the hell and why the heck did Weight Watchers even let me join? But they did because money trumped health then and it still does.
This unfortunate scenario pretty well sums up the next 43 years of my life up to 2 years ago. Dieting, losing, gaining, gaining, gaining, dieting, losing… well you get it. Over and over and over again.
Like so many women who are desperate to lose weight, I had a psychological demon to wrestle with every moment of my life. I hated my body, felt ashamed and like a failure. I wrestled with myself and my self-worth was inextricably intertwined with my body image and weight.
I have joined and left Weight Watchers at least 15 times, spent a lot of money on meetings, snack bars and trying to cheat the system. I have so many books on dieting and nutrition it is downright impressive! I just opened iBook on my phone to see what I have there and without really trying I found the following titles:
- Hungry for Change
- Eat Fat, Get Thin
- The 8-week Blood Sugar Diet
- The 17 Day
- BBC – What’s the Right Diet?
- 190 Vegetarian Recipes
- Breakfast with Benefits
- Easy Vegan Meals
- The Fast Diet
- The Great Cholesterol Myth
- The Perfect Gene Diet
- The Paleo Answer
- The 4-Hour Body
I haven’t even checked iTunes on my PC (for books that haven’t been synced to my phone), nor have I checked Kindle or Kobo or Audible books and of course there are dozens of ‘real’ [paper] books on my bookshelves which are all packed with the same fodder (excuse the pun). Oh dear…
I have a LOT of knowledge but none of it helped until my mind was in the right place and none of it got me anywhere but fatter and fatter with short intermissions of thinner and thinner. So, you want to know what I have learned that has led me to successfully lose and maintain a healthy weight of 64 kilos? So here is it again…
Without the ‘correct’ motivation, the method, system or plan you choose to manage your weight will be of no long-term use.
Yep. You can put as much effort into dieting as you want over a lifetime but unless you have a motivating reason to change, it’s a huge waste of time and money because your willpower will fail one day when you see a crispy cream, or your friend is eating nachos smothered in melted cheese and guacamole. You will indulge, and you will feel like crap and then you will think that you may as well eat Maccas and gelato and pizza cause you’ve fallen off the wagon now anyway. That’s when self-hatred returns, and the kilos come back on. Rapidly. Sound familiar?
Motivation needs to be in line with your heart, your values and your willingness to feel happy. I strongly suggest you spend as much time as you need clarifying this first because “I want to avoid the shame I feel for being fat” just isn’t going to do it.
I love coaching people who are ready for this. It can take a few sessions, but I see the results in my clients and it is such a joy. I found my personal motivation, but it probably won’t be yours.
Here’s me 2 years ago before I found my motivation. 82 kilos and unwell.
I woke up on New Year’s Day 2016 in pain. I had sore fingers, wrists, ankles and feet. It was horrible, and I knew what it was… arthritis. After a month (and a lifetime) of drinking and socialising, eating whatever I wanted with as much sugar as I wanted, my body and my immune system finally gave up the ghost and sent me a loud and clear message.
“Dear Margie, I cannot take this anymore! I am inflamed all over! I am sick, and this cannot go on!”
But it could. It had gone on… for years. It’s just that my body had finally fallen off some autoimmune cliff, so to speak, and my leaky gut had leaked one too many bits of whatever it is that should never have gotten through the barrier a healthy gut provides.
It was a reality check. A wake-up call. My genetic predisposition had been ignited. Don’t think this is ‘just for older women’ either. Our genetic switches can be turned on at any time. I have met plenty of women in their 20’s and 30’s struggling with autoimmune issues as well as candida, SIBO, diabetes, obesity, acne and many other health issues.
Mine sat dormant for decades while I punished myself with fad diets, alcohol, sugar and bags of processed chips and crap. It finally tipped into a reaction, like levels in that old-style board game, Mouse Trap. You can ignore it and pretend you are fine but in the end your body doesn’t lie.
So, I set about looking for solutions. I knew had a book somewhere about autoimmune diseases and inflammation (of course) lol. I had done several ‘anti-inflam’ diets and I was sure I had a wall chart somewhere about the 20 best foods to avoid and the top 20 foods to eat (superfoods of course).
I began the experiment with a sample of one, me! I commenced trying different types of alcohol to find which ones I could tolerate but alas, after a year of testing gin, vodka, low-carb everything, low-alcohol everything, champagne only (I liked that phase) and red wine (lots of red wine) I had to admit that nothing had worked. In fact, things were worse. My fingers ached, they were red and sore, and I now had spurs growing on the ends of all my joints! Eek.
On 1 December 2016, I made the unexpected decision to GIVE UP ALCOHOL! What? I had been drinking since I was 14 so it was a surprise to everyone and especially to me. Some friends implored me not to. I couldn’t even believe it myself. Yet it was the only thing I had not tested in my one-person experiment on alcohol and its effects on arthritis.
Surprisingly, arthritis became my friend, my barometer and my gift. The constant motivator on my quest for health. And it did not stop at alcohol because while my symptoms reduced, they were far from gone. I needed to look further, and I needed to address both my nutrition and also my external environment. I needed to reduce the toxic load.
You might be thinking “well that’s all right for her, but I don’t have arthritis, so where am I going to get MY motivation”?
You know, the most disturbing thing I learned along the way? If you are overweight, have hormonal issues, IBS, are lacking energy, have aching joints, difficulty jumping out of bed or any of a million ‘signs of ill health’ then you probably have low grade inflammation. Here’s a few more symptoms from the Medical News Today website.
- peptic ulcer
- periodontitis (gum disease)
- ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- hay fever
What shocked me was discovering that if we have any of the symptoms of inflammation in one place, we HAVE INFLAMMATION EVERYWHERE! Brain, heart, liver, blood etc. The body does not discriminate or section bits off. Inflammation is pervasive in the body. Remember alzheimer’s starts in your 20’s.
If you are looking for motivation, most of us need look no further! This is about quality of life.
So, what did I do?
I put the Heartnicity Method into practice.
- Awareness – I did some research, spoke to my GP and faced the facts that my symptoms were the outcome of years of ignoring the early warning signs.
- Acceptance – I surrendered to the face that I would have arthritis for the rest of my life and that I could ease the symptoms by changing my ways.
- Action – I found my heart-based motivation for action which was to value myself, love my body and finally care for myself in a loving, practical and healing way.
You can find out more about my method on the book Getting to the Heart of Stress. See how to get your free eBook copy below.
I found an excellent protocol for healing my gut and repairing my immune system. I used an AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) called The Myers Way but there are plenty of others. It is basically an elimination diet for a month and then you gradually add foods back in. I have been adding back for a while and have identified an intolerance for legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy and all gluten which is incredibly inconvenient but well tested now and a reality at present.
Plus, I have lost my obsession with eating and food. I love to eat but will miss a meal or have a smoothie instead sometimes. Not eating bread is the hardest and there is no replacement because all ‘gluten free’ products and seeds are a no-no for my tricky little fingers too.
Here I am quite literally today…
That voracious ‘Chokito’ eating monster in my head has almost gone (almost lol) which is good, but the best news is that I am IN REMISSION from arthritis most days! Yay!
If I eat too much sugar or accidentally eat gluten when I am out, then I know about it within 24 hours. I am finely attuned to my bodily reactions but not obsessive. I eat lots. I eat well. I eat organic, grass fed and probably less variety. Lots of veggies and yummy coconut everything. I eat organic chocolate! I do ok… It’s a modified paleo diet with some of the paleo staples (like nuts & sees) removed.
The first 10 kilos fell of when I gave up alcohol. The next 8 also dissolved without effort when I stopped eating grains, sugar, legumes and processed foods. As my dear friend and brilliant yoga teacher Bernadette Arena says “it’s not rocket surgery” (check out her amazing Yoga Nidra CD here).
When my resolve weakens, and I want a piece of that delicious smelling, organic sourdough toast, I look down to my dear fingers and I remember how they feel when they ache. How it used to take 10 minutes to ‘warm my feet up’ every morning and how that’s no longer a problem. How I used to be a size 16 and now wear a size 12 and how I love being able to wear nice clothes again.
I love life! My motivation is more than ‘not wanting arthritis’ or look good. It’s wanting to be able to walk freely, to avoid future hip and knee replacements, to take up more challenging yoga, to think clearly and to sit on the floor cross legged with children. My goodness, I have started having baths again and didn’t even notice I had stopped because I could not get out safely any longer! I know I am going to die but I want to live well until I do.
And you can too! Take some time to establish your motivation for becoming healthy and it will change your life. Then you can apply it anywhere! Weight, career, home, relationships. This is the most crucial foundation for all your goals. Special note: remember to always seek your own medical advice as our bodies are complex and no issue can be nailed down to ‘just a lack of motivation’. I am just saying that without the motivation to regain our health, all of the strategies are harder to apply.
If you want support for your own weight loss and health recovery, then subscribe to this blog as I am just finalising dates for workshops on life purpose, stress and living on your path of heart for the second half of 2018. My annual Phenomenal Woman Retreat is nearly set too so stay tuned.
I would love to help you find your motivation and support you to leave the self-loathing behind, love yourself and love life for as long as possible.
Please join me each week by subscribing to my blog. Plus, if you subscribe to my YouTube channel, I will thank you by sending a link for your free copy of my eBook Getting to the Heart of Stress. Remember to let me know that you have subscribed in the comments section. Remember to click on the little bell next to the YouTube subscribe button so that you are notified when videos are posted.
I look forward to sharing with you next week. I post on Saturdays at 3pm. Love, kisses, hugs and masses of gratitude to you for being you. Remember to Love Life!
Love you, Love you, Love you