Positive thinking brings positive results


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One thing I learned early on into my weight loss journey as that as the old saying goes Positive thinking brings positive results!  As cliché as it might sound, it’s so very true.  The moment you can change your thinking, you can change your life. This saying has become such a staple in my life that I actually have a mini dry erase board behind my bedroom door with it written on it – so I see it daily as a gentle reminder.
At the beginning of my journey, the first 2-3 weeks were the hardest. It was a new routine; I had to be conscious of what I was eating.  Grocery shopping became a 1+ hour ordeal, instead of a quick dash and grab routine.  I actually had to give thought about what I wanted to eat, and then I had to figure out what the points were for those items that I wanted to eat.  It can seem a little overbearing and stressful but if you remember why you originally started this journey it makes all those things not so bad.
As I progressed in my journey, I found whenever I thought negatively (which was all the time – I was VERY negative) everything was harder. Nothing was easy, I’d get frustrated easily – but the one thing I can say is I never gave up.  The first 2-weeks were the hardest … declining temptations (like all you can eat cookies, cakes and snacks in the kitchenette at work), sticking with what I brought to work for lunch instead of ordering out on Friday (or in my pre-Weight Watchers day 2-3 times a work week), and eating portion sizes of foods instead of my normal “all you can eat” mentality.
After losing my first roughly 80 pounds, I felt more comfortable in my skin.  I had more energy and I felt comfortable enough to go to the gym.  I admit when I first walked into the gym to walk on the treadmill (I had been an active gym member years prior but as I packed on more weight I simply stopped going) I felt like everyone was looking at me thinking look at that one….  In reality, nobody was looking at me, but in my self conscious mind I turned my step into getting healthier into a negative experience.  It took me until my third trip to the gym to realize that no one was looking at me; everyone was too busy doing their own thing to care.  There was no WWE announcer announcing, “And here’s Shannon, 300 pounds, entered the gym, on her stalk to the treadmill. Let’s get ready to rummmbbbllleeeeee!!!!”
The gym is a common place – people go there to get healthy (whether that be lose weight, build muscle, train for an event, or attend a class they enjoy).  Once I changed my attitude towards the gym, it made going to the gym so much easier.  Eventually I got a bit bored with the treadmill and decided to step WAY out of my comfort zone and I went to my first zumba class.  I stood in the back mind you because I was the new kid in town and had no idea what I was doing. After dancing like a fool (I was legitimately born with two left dancing feet) I found I was really enjoying myself and I was sweating up a storm.  Even though I was very uncoordinated in the beginning and was off doing my own little versions of the steps, I learned I wasn’t concerned others were looking at me, because no one was. Sure there are mirrors on the walls, but no one can focus on the instructor bouncing around, focus on themselves bouncing around AND focus on me bouncing around.
In all reality, the instructor was the only one who paid me any attention.  They’re there to help you get a good workout but they also don’t want you to hurt yourself. I may have felt a little self conscious the first time the instructor came near me to show me the correct foot work (because it all starts at your feet), but she followed that up with a “great job” and I felt better about the experience.  The more I went to the classes, the more I picked up the routine and it eventually got to the point that I felt like a superstar and like I could help lead the class (in my mind – haha).  I taught myself, by training my brain, that the gym was a safe place and it was a place I didn’t have to be shy or make daunting.
I won’t say changing the way you think is a simple task, nor will I say it is something that you can change overnight.  It takes time, it takes work, but if you want it bad enough you’ll work towards that goal.  I find it was especially rewarding for me because once I began changing my attitude towards things and towards life, good things started happening.  The more my thoughts changed to a positive perspective, the happier I became (funny how that happens).
As my thinking began to change to a positive frame of mind, I began to pick up and recognize on the behavior of those around me. I quickly learned that if I was around someone who was genuinely negative I started to become negative.  Negativity is a vicious cycle, a leech, and it will latch onto anyone standing within arms reach.  Not liking the experiences I was becoming part of, I realized that perhaps it was best to remove myself from those situations.  That meant removing people from my life, distancing myself from certain people and remaining with those that were simply positive.  It is a difficult thing to do, but in the end, it had to be done.  At the end of the day, my happiness matters more than being around someone that brought me down.
Thinking positively isn’t always easy. It’s something that requires daily work because things happen. Stuff arises that we weren’t expecting and it may knock us upside the head and our immediate reaction may be a negative one. But the more positive I am, the easier it is to step back, take a breather and think “what can be thought positively about this situation?” Even in the darkest of situations, there is always some glimmer of positivity and if that glimmer is what’s focused on, things get bigger, better and above all easier.
Positivity has given me such a clearer and cleaner way of thinking. It’s provided me with endless possibilities. It’s allowed me to find happiness.  It’s allowed me to focus on me and filter out the toxicity I was surrounded by.  It’s given me encouragement during my weight loss journey because I’d look at how far I’ve come instead of throwing my hands in the air and saying “forget it” over something small.  It’s given me this ray of light from inside that makes me overall a happier person.  That in itself is rewarding because it truly shines on my face.
And without it … I would not be where I am today.

Why I can eat what I want and still lose weight

I frequently get asked “how can you eat that and still lose weight?”  Sometimes, the question boggles my mind.  The first few times I was asked that, I was honestly, flabbergasted and didn’t quite know what to say because I was taken back.
The word “diet” gets thrown around so much when someone is trying to better their health/lifestyle. I don’t like the word diet because diets are a temporary solution to a permanent problem.  You can change your habits, you can be as strict as you want – but in my case I have to ask myself “will I be willing do to this the rest of my life?” and when it comes to diets the answer is no.  I could not live off drinking a shake for 2 meals a day.  I could not live off eating canned beans and a boiled egg.  I could not deal with giving up foods that I enjoy simply because it’s what my diet says I need to do. And I would probably hurt somebody if I had to eat a plain piece of cooked chicken with broccoli for dinner day-in and day-out.  Actually, put me on a diet like that for a week and I think everyone who walked in front of me might get the evil eye.  I’d be miserable and at the first whiff of whatever “unhealthy” food I smelled, I’d dive in and eat until my stomach was about to explode … or I passed out.
I’ve never considered my weight loss journey with the help of Weight Watchers a diet because it’s not. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a plan I can follow for the rest of my life without feeling deprived. I love Weight Watchers because nothing is off limits.  I’ll be completely honest, if the day I walked into my Weight Watchers meeting to sign up and was told “you can never eat cake, chips, or bread again” I’d have froze, looked around the room – said screw this and walked back out.  I’m the type of person that if you tell me I can’t do something, the stubbornness in me is going to come out and I’ll do it JUST to show you I can.  I love Weight Watchers because it allows me to live in an every day world without feeling as though I don’t “fit in” because I’m not eating the way others are eating.
Everything boils down to moderation, not starvation, or deprivation.  I’m a big snacker.  Always have been, always will be – it’s a part of my lifestyle and it’s something I enjoy.  There are snacks I’ve enjoyed in the past that I simply choose not to have anymore because 1) I can’t control myself with them (known as a trigger food) and 2) they’re just not worth the points associated with them. It doesn’t mean they’re off limits the rest of my life – but they’re foods I don’t keep around, at least until I can feel comfortable with them in the house.
So, back to how do I eat what I eat and still lose weight?  Well, these days I know what a portion size is. I hold myself accountable by eating what is recommended as a serving.  If I want a little extra, I have a little extra, but I hold myself accountable to those extra points plus values associated with that “extra”.  Secondly, I don’t eat out every day. I for the most part cook (or have a pre-packaged meal I weigh-out a serving of) every single meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I can have pizza, cupcakes, French fries, steak and cheese sandwiches, and chips when I want them (granted, not all at the same time!), but I track what I eat, I track what I want and I don’t feel guilty about it.  One thing to keep in mind is I’m not eating these foods day-in and day-out.  Lastly, I don’t even remotely eat like I used to.
I keep myself accountable for whatever I put in my mouth.  I eat my cravings – because I’ve quickly learned that if I try to not have something I want, I eat around it when all is said and done, I should have just eaten what I originally wanted. I enjoy my food. I’ve learned what is and what isn’t worth it. I enjoy preparing meals and shaking things up because the possibilities are endless.  I get in activity when I can.  And I’m not on a diet … this journey isn’t temporary, its a lifestyle.  That is why I can eat whatever I want and still lose weight.

My personal philosophy around the psychology of weight loss


One thing that’s not always talked about with weight loss is how it’s not only a journey into finding health and wellness – but it’s also a journey that’s psychological and emotional. Now, I am not a clinical psychologist or anyone with a psychology background – I am simply a girl who has struggled with her weight her entire life (and I’m talking since I was 3 or 4).
I have lost weight countless times in the past, but I’ve learned in order to truly succeed and to stick with it is to work on the other factors that come along with weight loss.  The reason you started your journey alters as you continue down your path, your outlooks change, and your overall environment can and will change.
Weight loss is not only physical, but it’s also emotional and psychological. Our bodies transform, our habits change, but our minds are the last thing to switch over and sometimes that switch can take years. I’ve learned that regardless of what my body may look like (in clothes, out of clothes, etc) I have to love myself for who I am. My body may not be perfect, but I have to remember where it’s gotten me and what I’ve put it through when I was heavier. I try to remember where my legs have carried me, what my arms have lifted. If I focus on the positive, it makes it so much easier and so much more worth it.
For instance after my first nearly 100 pound weight loss, I could look in a mirror and still see myself as that nearly 400 pound girl when in reality I was anything but.  My brain hadn’t caught up with seeing the new me.  I determined to set my thoughts on positive thinking.  Negativity wasn’t and will not get me anywhere in life.  In fact negativity was the reason I was tipping the scale at nearly 400 pounds.  Everything was a downer; there was no light at the end of the tunnel.  I quickly learned that continuing with that mentality I was only going to hit a brick wall, throw my hands up and give up. I didn’t want to get to that point, so I began changing things slowly.  I tried to see the positive in all aspects – life, work, relationships, friends, family, etc.  Just because someone is having a bad day, it doesn’t mean that I have to let that affect me and my mood and I certainly didn’t need to eat over the frustration they were dealing with.  Over time I realized that if someone was affecting me in a negative way I had to remove myself from that relationship.  Negativity is a malicious disease and it can eat away at you and those around you before you know it.
I’m not saying you can train your brain to switch over in a week, or even a month – but I am saying it’s a gradual process and it takes time and it takes effort.  Finding someone who you can trust to talk to is a huge help – boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, family.  If you can’t find that, there are many therapists out there who will listen to you speak and give you completely unbiased platform to express yourself and even provide unbiased advice, etc.
I admit there are still instances when clothes shopping that I find myself in the plus size section. It then clicks and I ask myself “Why am I over here?” and I move over to the other sections to browse for clothing.  I realize the reason why I sometimes end up in the plus size section is because for my entire pre-teen, teenage and adult life I’ve shopped in plus size sections exclusively so it’s what’s familiar.  Shopping in a juniors section or non-plus size section of a store is foreign to me – even after shopping in those sections for over a year.
It’s a journey, a one day at a time journey that coincides with your healthy lifestyle. Learn to love yourself (and if you can’t do it right now – fake it ‘til you make it), to love your body (remember how strong your body is, keep in mind where you’ve been, where you are and where your ultimate destination is – but please keep realistic expectations) and to enjoy life (because life is no fun when you’re glum).
Four years ago I was a very miserable person inside and out. I’d mask my pain but it was evident in my annoyance, my anger and my “I don’t give a shit” attitude.  Today, I smile a lot more, I’m happy and I work on me day in and day out.  This is a lifetime journey – both my weight loss journey and psychological journey. But keeping myself in check really makes things and the journey so much easier.  I wouldn’t change who I am today because I’ve grown so much over the last 3 years – emotionally, physically and psychologically.  I’m proud of myself today and most importantly I love myself today.

Believe in yourself & anything is possible

One very important thing I learned very early into my weight loss journey was that I had to believe in myself. If I didn’t believe in me — who else in their right mind would?  If I didn’t care enough to believe I could do it, I would never be where I am today.  Even if you’re struggling with “liking” yourself in the current stage you are in — fake it ’til you make it.  You’ll get there as long as you don’t let negative thoughts, feelings, etc., get in the way and burden your path forward.

It’s so very important to believe in yourself.  Belief in yourself will get you anywhere and everywhere – it can push you through a workout, it can push you across that finish line, it can assist in you losing 2 pounds in a week. It can get you through a birthday party NOT having any cake or if you do want cake a small sliver.  Belief in myself has made my journey SO much easier because I feel as though I am an unstoppable machine — my views are set at that ultimate destination.

It’s the second guessing, the excuses and the sheer inability to believe in yourself and your program that will keep you from finding success.  Not believing in yourself will push you into “cheat days” and not tracking and eventually giving up all together.  As I have said to many … believe in you first and believe in the program because anything is possible as long as you believe.

Keep your head up and your mind right!