There is this fantasy that we are sold with the promise of weight loss. Some people imagine that their lives will somehow be perfect (i.e. any relationship or work issue will immediately disappear) because they're fitting into a smaller clothing size. This, unfortunately, is not reality. When you lose weight, your physique will change, yes. But your entire world will not unless you are taking real action to make changes in those areas happen. This is a big letdown and a real eye opener for many during their fitness journey. Romanticizing weight loss is doing you no favors, during the process and even after. Below are some misconceptions regularly associated with weight loss that you need to be aware of to set yourself up for success.
1. You thought you would just wake up feeling happier.
This a really sad "now what?" moment for many people. They hit their goal weight but are still suffering from low self-esteem. You will not magically wake up one morning with these issues vanishing into thin air because you're thinner. Happiness and confidence are an inside job. This regularly happens when someone isn't working on themselves while their physique is changing. You have to work on yourself and learn to accept yourself as you are at all sizes. That doesn't mean that you’ll be looking through rose-colored glasses the entire time. It does mean actively working on your self-esteem, shutting down negative self-talk and becoming more self-aware and accepting.
2. You thought you could go back to your old ways and maintain results.
The weight loss process requires real lifestyle changes and once you reach your goal, you can't keep your results while reverting back to your old ways. Many have this "grind" mentality and crash diet thinking that really sets them up for failure from the start. In order for change to be permanent with your physique, your lifestyle needs to change permanently. The only way this can be accomplished is to like what you're eating and like what you're doing. If you hate your new lifestyle then it's time to make changes now, before you find yourself slipping back into bad habits. One of the areas you see people struggle with is nutrition. You can't eat plain chicken and rice every meal for the next 60 years. It's not going to happen. It’s essential to put some effort into your new lifestyle and make it a priority. Search for and try new healthy recipes and ingredients. If you like tacos for instance, then you need to find a healthy recipe for them that you can enjoy regularly. You should not be feeling deprived and white knuckling your way through. You should be enjoying your meals and looking forward to them. That's how lasting change is made.
3. You thought you'd grow to love the gym.
Motivation comes in waves for everyone, even gym rats like me. Once you reach your goal, you are not going to wake up motivated every day. No one does. It's not reality. There are times when motivation will be very high at its peaks, but there will also be times when you will have to ride out the low valleys. Instead, this motivation should be replaced with discipline. You just have to ride the waves. Set goals based around performance instead of just appearance. You may have worked hard and reached your ideal weight, but now you can set new goals to work toward. Strive to lift heavier, run faster or learn and master a new move. Exercise is a celebration of what our bodies can do. Keep that in perspective and make activity exciting and fun.
4. You envisioned a perfect physique and the reality doesn't measure up.
First of all, no one has a perfect physique. It's critical to be realistic about what you can and can't do with your body. This is where there is often a big letdown. If you're 5'6", you may realize you don’t have the legs of a woman who’s 5'10" after reaching your goal weight. You may have some loose skin or stretch marks when you're done. You may still have cellulite at a healthy weight – many women do, including myself. It’s important to remember that everybody has something they're not happy with. Choose to focus on the areas you do like and on the progress you've made. What you focus on magnifies. Your body is much more than just its appearance.
You can’t wait until you've reached a magic number on the scale or a "perfect" measurement to start living and accepting yourself as you are. Your life shouldn’t be on hold during the process. Not only does this make the process less enjoyable, it also makes you less likely to succeed. Real transformation starts on the inside. Get your mind right and the body will follow.