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.

It’s not a DIET it’s a LIFESTYLE!

I follow the Weight Watchers plan but no I am NOT on a diet.
Diets set people up for failure because it limits what you can and cannot have … and I do not like being told what to do. I can become the queen of self sabotage so by following a program that works for me in and molds to everyday life is the best thing.  Sure, I pay a monthly subscription but knowing I am spending money is only one reason I want to succeed.  It’s kind of like when I went to college – I knew at the end of it all, the loan was in MY name and I wanted to be happy with myself and not just “ride it out”.  I feel as though when you pay for something, with your own money, and you work for it, it’s far more rewarding.  Plus the great thing with Weight Watchers is once you hit goal and then lifetime, you no longer have to pay – as long as you maintain that status.
Following Weight Watchers, I have lost 185.6 pounds thus far – all that weight lost while eating real foods.  Some of my favorite foods and snacks like pizza, potato chips, French fries, onion rings, ice cream, cupcakes and my all-time favorite thing: bread! The difference is I have those things in moderation and I do not beat myself up for having them. I simply track the item and move on. There are some foods that I love that I’ve decided to make at home to bring down the calories/points – but cooking is therapeutic to me and I love that while cooking I know exactly what I put into a dish without having to guess.
This is a lifestyle change that I will maneuver through the rest of my life.  I’ll always be faced with having to make healthy choices; I’ll always have to be aware of what I am putting in my mouth.  For me, that’s not a lot of work, because this is something that I am passionate about.  I love myself and I want myself in the healthiest state possible. I know, that if I was to follow a diet that would limit things is not something I would follow the rest of my life.  I would end up back at square one, mad, angry and extremely broken hearted because I’d go overboard on the “no-go” foods.
Think about the fad diets that start: the grapefruit diet, the cookie diet and even Atkins. These diets do provide short term results not longstanding results. That’s a huge difference!
Over the course of 3 years, I’ve continuously lost weight eating some of my favorite foods. I’m living an everyday life in an everyday world. No limitations. No exclusions. A healthy lifestyle is about being aware, portion control and getting in activity.  If I can do it – anybody can!

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3-years worth of weight loss transformation

I was going through my Facebook photographs and decided to show myself (and the world) my transformation in pictures.  The first photograph was taken May 2009.  I admit there are not a terrible amount of photos of me during my heaviest because the camera was not my friend (that is as long as it wasn’t JUST a face shot here or there).  Part of this goes into my denial of how large I truly was and my blinders not wanting me to see it before I was “ready” to.

One thing that is clearly evident is as I dove into my healthy lifestyle, I began to appreciate life more.  I began to truly smile in photographs. The happiness I began to learn to build was shining from deep inside me as it’d been hidden and lost for so long.  I didn’t mind having my photograph taken because it showed me the progress.  I saw the number on the scale while at my Weight Watchers weigh-in, but I enjoyed seeing me because that’s what mattered.  The way my clothes fit.  I started to want to wear clothing that was “flashy” (I’m not talking bedazzled I’m talking colors!) not the staple dark blue, grey, green and black I had become very accustomed to wearing.

These days, I try to not shun clothing when I see it on a rack.  A small part of my brain still says “you can’t wear that” but I still take items into the dressing room to try them on because you never know how something is going to fit until it’s on your frame.  Being a former morbidly obese person it’s surprising to step outside of your comfort zone.  For instance — the yellow shorts worn int he last photograph? I fell in love with them on the rack — the color, the style, but almost never tried them on because for 25+ years of my life I never wore anything that wasn’t above mid-calf level.  Turns out the shorts fit me perfectly and made me really actually LIKE the legs I “grew” into.

Also if you are on Facebook and would like to follow my journey, please feel free to “like” my page:

Why Weight Watchers works for me!

I have am active Weight Watchers member and have been for 3+ years.  Without the tools, tips and tricks I have learned with many thanks to the Weight Watchers program and my original leader (Carol) I admit I would not have achieved the success I have found today.

I joined Weight Watchers because I KNEW it worked.  I was a member when I was around 18 years old and I lost around 40-50 pounds.  I stopped going for one reason or another (I was a member with my mother then – who I would like to note before she got pregnant with me lost over 100 pounds following the program).
The #1 reason Weight Watchers has worked for me is because I believed in the program from the very start.  Even if you start out as a mediocre believer – my only advise is to fake it ‘til you make it because believing in the program AND yourself makes the journey that much easier.  The program is very versatile; it fits into any lifestyle because there are absolutely NO foods that are off limits.  This is all about a lifestyle change – it’s not a diet.  There are no pre-packaged foods you live off of (admitted there are frozen dinners available but those are there for convenience for members, they are not a meal plan), you eat what you love (but the key to this is learning to eat it in moderation and being honest when you track it).
When starting a weight loss journey we should all remember that our journeys should be catered to us.  Since we are all individuals, we take things in stride because at the end of the day we are all different.  I personally dived right into the tools given to me from Weight Watchers and went chopping away.  Admittedly I was a little grumpy for a few weeks (because I went from eating everything and anything I wanted down to a regimented meal plan).  But I knew if I started it not 100% I would procrastinate until I got to that full 100%.  I know of members who cater the program to themselves so they can get acclimated with particular aspects so they don’t get overwhelmed and quit.  I say do whatever works for you, to help you get initially comfortable with the program.  Conquer the bigger aspects – whether that is portion, weighing/measuring, or even eliminating some “problem” foods/drinks (meaning the foods that tend to make you binge).  Once you got those key areas under control, the rest if a breeze and it’ll be the best decision you’ve made in your life.
I admit, even three years in, I still find I have some “trigger foods” that pop up from time to time that I am more comfortable having at a distance than right on hand in my kitchen.  It’s not always the same thing and sometimes trigger foods just happen randomly, even though I’ve never found them to be a trigger before. By the way – if you’re not sure what a trigger food is – it’s a food that when you have just a bite, you simply cannot stop and you will eat it until it’s essentially gone or thrown away.
Because this is a lifestyle and not a diet, I do go out to eat, I eat pizza fairly regularly (it’s my favorite food and if someone told me I could never eat pizza again I don’t know what I’d do) and I do enjoy my sweets. But the difference between me now (as a Weight Watchers member) and before is I enjoy the foods I love and crave in moderation.  I look up the points plus values – and if I cannot find them I do my best guest judgment and I enjoy what I eat.  No guilt because nothing is off limits.  One of the biggest changes is, I cook a lot more now than I have ever in my life. I actually prefer to cook my own means than I do go out and buy them because in my mind I know exactly what’s going onto it and I know the points plus values.  I love food, I would have never become a Weight Watchers member if I didn’t, but cooking gives me a nice, enjoyable outlet to experiment with new foods and flavors.
And remember … if you don’t tell someone something is a Weight Watchers recipe, 9 times out of 10, they’ll never know.  Just a little helpful tip!
If you’ve started your journey – how did you personally incorporate Weight Watchers into your lifestyle? 

My most memorable NSV’s (Non-Scale Victories)

  • Being able to walk up and down the stairs, repeatedly, without gasping for air
  • Being able to sit in a restaurant booth and swivel chair (that are connected to a table) comfortably WITH room to spare
  • Went from a 5X shirt down to a Large
  • Went from a 30/32 pair of jeans down to a 12
  • Donated ALL clothing that is not in my current size to family or charity
  • Is able to make it through a 50 minute gym class without sneaking out early
  • A stranger at the RMV, when renewing my license said, “Great job sweetheart, you look amazing!” after seeing my license photo and me in front of her
  • I no longer completely shun doctors because I’m ashamed of my size
  • My doctor is no longer “mad” at me when I show up for physicals
  • Being able to shop at ANY store I want because I can fit into non-plus sized clothing
  • Blossoming into a positive AND happier person

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    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!

    Because you’re worth it

    There are many positives that come with weight loss.  Smaller clothing sizes, healthier stats (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), being taken off of medications, and an enriched attitude.  As long as you keep yourself in a positive frame of mind, you’ll be unstoppable.  But, unfortunately, with any success there are individuals who will try to derail your success.  That is intentionally or unintentionally.
    On my own personal journey, I’ve found a lot of individuals really embrace my journey and aid in coaching me along.  Those people and the support are awesome and really help in boosting my confidence and keeping me focused.
    You just have to be aware that not everyone is going to be your personal cheerleader. It’s important to know that there will be individuals who will try to derail your success.  This isn’t always intentional, while sometimes it is, but it’s best to keep your eye on the prize and not let those words and actions belittle your confidence.  Don’t let that instance be the reason you throw in the towel.  Put your chin up and understand that as long as you are healthy and happy, that is all that matters and everything else is moot.
    Unfortunately, this sometimes means distancing yourself from the person(s) that belittle your confidence and road to success.  You don’t have to cut a person out of your life completely (while, some may have to), but you can choose to not be around them for extended periods of time especially if it really starts to grate your nerves.  Be aware of the situation and if you’re able to, calmly explain to the person your feelings.  There’s a 50/50 chance they aren’t even aware they are doing it (such as in the case of food pushers).
    Just remember … don’t let another person take hold of your dream and squash it.  The world is your oyster and there’s a whole lot of living to do out there.  So keep your head up, your mind right and keep chugging along because you are worth it.

    Shannon’s experience: Weight Watchers – One Amazing Day


    I had the immense pleasure of sharing my weight loss journey with a group of individuals at a Weight Watchers One Amazing Day event yesterday.  When I was asked to participate I admit I was scared to death and part of me wanted to back out.  I’m not the most comfortable with public speaking and being heavier practically my entire life I’ve always slid into the room (as unnoticed as possible), mingled in the back and quickly exited.  So the thought of being the center of attention panicked me just a little bit.  But the new me stepped into place and said “You’re passionate about this and a lot of people tell you you’re an inspiration to them.  Do this.  Do it for them.  Do it for yourself.  YOU deserve this!”  So I did it – I signed up and took the 1 o’clock spot.

    I know I am not at my goal weight, but I have lost a significant amount of weight over the time I have been a member.  I openly participate at my home meeting and am not afraid to share my advice, my thoughts and any tips/tricks that I have found that work for myself.  If they work for me, they may very well work for someone else.  So my philosophy is why not share?
    I joined Weight Watchers in February 2010 because I wanted change and for the first time in my life and most importantly: I wanted it for myself.  I’ve always been the heavier kid as early as my days in kindergarten all the way through college.  I was unhappy with my size and because I was an emotional eater, I would eat to pacify my feelings about my looks (while I would also eat to pacify any emotion I was feeling – happy, sad, angry, elated) – which only aided in me gaining more and more weight.  Family and friends would tell me I should consider losing weight because I had my whole life ahead of me – but I wasn’t in a mind frame where I wanted to take advice from anyone.  I was comfortably wearing blinders and those blinders did not allow me to SEE myself.  I knew the outside world could see me but if I didn’t see me, they couldn’t – right?
    Months later, I had my “ah-ha moment” when I finally saw myself for the size that I had become (in a photograph).  I also found myself going shopping to buy clothes in a larger size and thought to myself “This is crazy… what am I doing?”  At that point, I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired I had decided that enough was enough – I needed to get healthy for myself and for myself only.  I knew Weight Watchers worked, I had joined with a family member when I was about 18 years old and lost a good amount of weight.  So, keeping my intended journey to myself (because I didn’t want anyone to tell me to join Weight Watchers because if they told me, I wouldn’t have joined – self sabotage at it’s greatest) I joined Weight Watchers on a Thursday afternoon, on my way home from work, and have never looked back.
    To date, I have lost 175 pounds on the program.  I’m about 30 pounds away from my goal weight (BMI) and I plan on obtaining that goal weight this year.  It’s been a long, amazing and incredibly rewarding three years.  Weight Watchers has helped me change my life for the better  I’ve embraced this lifestyle change (including my tracking, measuring and weighing) with open arms and have praised the program and how fabulously it works (if you’re willing to work with it).  I’m a healthier, happier and utterly positive person today.  Such a night and day switch from the person I used to be.
    So my advice to anyone who is considering joining or even considering giving up – BELIEVE.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in the program.  It works, but you just have to be willing to do the work and work with it.  It’s not something that’s going to eat up all your free time.  Once you get the hang of it and figure out the points for your frequently eaten foods, it becomes second nature.  And as you see results, you’re going to feel more in-tune and you’re going to want to try a little harder to reach that next goal.  My advice to anyone who’s frustrated: BREATHE.  You did not put on your weight in a week.  Think of how long you’ve been the weight you were/are currently.  Realize it takes time – but once you’re on the journey it’s the most fulfilling thing you’ll ever do.  My advice to anyone who’s struggling: RE-EVALUATE.  Dig into the problem area – what are you struggling with?  What are your goals at this current phase of your journey (because they do differ from when you first start).  If you’re bored – switch it up!  Switch up what you’re eating, add an extra 10 minutes of a different activity and remember continue to keep that positive frame of mind.
    You will get there; just believe in yourself that you can and that you will … the rest of just a proverbial cake walk.