This post has been brewing in me for some time but it was two separate interactions that made me sit down and write it all out.

First was Robyn’s comment on Friday’s post. She had me re-evaluating my advice and thinking back to what “Old Roni” would have needed to start this journey all over again. What do I know now that I wish I knew then?

Second was this Ask Roni question from Nancy:

How was it that you REALLY got going on your weight loss …..I am so unbelievably stuck….and have been for a very long time…feeling very hopeless……but I know this is something I really want and need in my life….how do I break the awful cycle of negative thinking????

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I did and how I got to where I am today. I’m going to attempt to get it all out of my head. Bear with me, this is going to be a long as I try to make some sense of it. Let me break it down into a few specific parts.

1. Ignoring the Inner Mean Girl

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It all started in 2005. I was 29 and a serial dieter. Before then my weight would literally fluctuate 60lbs and punishing myself for hating my body was at the heart of the yo-yo dieting.

I can remember exactly how I felt the day I started this journey. It’s hard to put into words, but I just had this calm feeling of acceptance. I remember looking in the mirror and saying,

“OK, Roni, that’s it. Look at you. This is YOU. And that’s OK. You are making changes to be a healthier, more active person. Your body will change in the process, but you need to accept yourself now. It’s the only way.”

I would be lying if I told you I immediately felt a sense of self-love. I didn’t just wake up with a healthy body image. My inner mean girl still, to this day, points out every flaw, tells me I’m not good enough, and laughs at me when I put on a bathing suit. However, I decided then I would no longer allow her to stop me from experiencing life. She was no longer going to prevent me from reaching my goals.

Learning to ignore her took practice and patience, especially with myself. It’s been 8 years and I’m still working at it. I think that’s what everyone needs to realize from the beginning. If that negative voice lives inside you, you will never wake up without it. NEVER! Even if you could snap your fingers and be at goal weight right this very second.

The solution, instead, is to do things despite the negative thoughts. Wear the tank top even though it makes you uncomfortable. Try the step class even if you think you can’t keep up. Reach out for support even if you think no one will respond. Take the risks. Prove the inner mean girl wrong. The more you do, the more confident you will get.

Now, how many of you are thinking,

“But what if she was right? What if I try and fail?”

To which I respond: then you try again and again and AGAIN because the alternative is what? To live your life in fear of looking fat/stupid/needy? No thank you. I spent my 20s worrying about things like that. Life is too damn short. Give your inner mean girl the finger and tell her to get our of your damn way. You’ve got goals to reach.

2. Working on Your Own Weight Loss Strategy

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Robyn’s comment was spot on. I did need a specific strategy in the beginning, but I don’t talk about it much any more. There’s a few reasons for this, but most notably it’s because I really believe there is no “right” way. You have to approach weight loss with an open mind and be ready to figure things out as you go.

For me it started with Weight Watchers’ Flex plan. I needed a daily target to help me control portions, I needed to food journal and I needed to weigh-in for accountability. However, I had to make the plan my own as I went along or I don’t think I would have been as successful.

For example, back then Weight Watchers had you count fruit Points. I remember thinking:

There was no way I’m going to weigh out grapes. I’m not going to stress out and get all obsessive about it. Eating too many grapes isn’t what caused my weight gain. I’ll just count all fruit as 1 point and be done with it.

So that’s what I did. I also ignored activity points, counted my dinner points before I ate them, and always rounded up when estimating.

My point here isn’t to tell you exactly how I made the plan work for me. My point is to simply show you I made the plan my own. I made it work for me, my personality, and my lifestyle instead of feeling constricted by it.

I truly believe If you are stressing over every decision and worried about every piece of food that goes in your mouth, you will never be successful at weight loss long term.

You have to be prepared to change your strategy as you go BUT (big “but” here for a reason) not go “off plan” when you do.

When I say “off plan” I’m referring to my concept of Stateless Dieting. You can’t use the strategy as an excuse to eat whatever you want with abandon. That’s what I used to do.

Instead you have to stay “on plan” while you actively change your strategy. If paper journaling seems tedious, try keeping track on your phone. If you find yourself stressing over having a daily target, try an approach where you focus on specific foods like the old Core plan or Paleo.

You may always be actively and consciously working on the strategy (I am) but never going off plan. It’s a strange concept, I know, but it makes sense if you really think about it. In 8 years I’ve continuously changed my approach but I never just walked away completely. That is the key long-term success.

3. Stop Fearing Hunger

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I always fear bringing this up because I know so many have strong feelings about it. All I can do is share my thoughts and experiences.

My diet was so full of crap before, I don’t think I ever really experienced true hunger. I felt the post processed-food cravings, that’s for sure! But once you clean up your diet and eat more sensibly, you can really start to feel the difference between “fake hunger” and “true hunger.”

I’m not advising you to fast or abstain from eating for a specific length of time, but when you get hungry, feel it. Take note. Experience it. Don’t just shove the quickest thing you can find into your mouth like it’s some kind of emergency.

This may not go over well, but I like to feel hunger before I eat. I don’t always do it. Honestly, I’m writing this while munching on popcorn just because I wanted it. There was no hunger involved at all. However, day to day, meal to meal, I always feel better when I feed a stomach growl with a well balanced choice then when I eat just because _________. Insert —> I feel like it, I’m bored, I’m sad, I’m depressed, I already ate ____, I just want something, etc, etc, etc.

I think we all instinctively fear hunger, but for most of us our next meal isn’t a mystery. Next time your stomach growls, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s not an emergency. Then, sensibly decide on a snack that will satisfy you. Don’t just shove a handful of M&Ms in your mouth to take away the pangs.

4. Moving More

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Most people are surprised when I say I didn’t work out to initially lose my weight. Back then I had NO desire to run, go to the gym or take an exercise class. I considered it all torture. I cannot stress enough how I had NO desire to do any of it.

I knew if I was going to lose the weight, I had to do it on my terms, and those terms did not involve a gym membership.

However, I also knew I needed to move more. My 20s basically consisted of three states:

  • Sitting at my desk at work.
  • Sitting on my couch watching TV.
  • Sitting in a movie theater eating popcorn and Snowcaps.

I’m not kidding. That’s all I did. Believe me, I regret it, ESPECIALLY now that I have kids. If I could go back in time I’d punch myself in the face for not taking advantage of those 10 kid-less years!

Anyway, I digress. When I started I simply made an effort to move more. Do more.

Taking after-dinner walks, playing active video games, taking the stairs, hiking at parks, going bowling — these were the baby steps that led to things like step classes, which led to running, which led to boot camps, which led to CrossFit.

Don’t underestimate a simple goal like moving more. You never know where it will lead and I speak from personal experience, it’s awfully fun to find out!

5. Enjoying the Journey

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I’m assuming if you stuck with me this long what I’ve said so far, and how I said it, make at least a little sense to you. I sure hope so, because at this point I feel like I’m just spewing random thoughts on the screen.

The last thing I can think of that really made the biggest difference in my weight-loss success may explain why I continue to do *this.* It’s why I see myself as an old lady posting food photos on GreenLiteBites and reminiscing about feeding picky kids. It’s why I continue to do #YogaADay month after month and why I challenge myself to come up with a new #DailyYogurt day after day. It’s why I continue to post my weight on Wednesdays, quotes on the weekends, and Sensational Sundays.

I do it all, because it’s FUN. I enjoy it. I’m inspired by inspiring. I stay motivated by motiving.

Now, I’m not saying you have to be a weight-loss blogger to actually lose weight, but I am saying you have to find what inspires you. What motivates you.

I know weight-loss success stories who have never blogged a day in their lives. They do what they do, day in and day out, because they found their way and they enjoy their journey. Some are motivated by the group of friends they met at the gym. Some are inspired by their kids and staying active with them. Some fell so in love with running they do it daily.

You have to fall in love with the journey. Your journey. Find the activities that you WANT to do. Latch on to things that inspire you. Maybe it’s blog writing. Maybe it’s blog reading. Maybe it’s a Weight Watchers meeting. Maybe it’s joining a running group. Maybe it’s a challenge to eat more meals at home. Maybe it’s a challenge to eat healthier out. Maybe it’s learning to cook, trying new vegetables or joining a CSA. Maybe it’s weekend weigh-ins with your friends.

I can’t tell you what will work for you. You have to discover that for yourself just as I did. Stop doing things just in the name of short-term weight loss. If you are, I’m going to bet you aren’t enjoying them and you won’t want to do that for the rest of your life.

Enjoy the journey.

It’s really how I lost the weight and maintained my loss for so long.

 
  • Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    Knowing what was real hunger and what was emotional hunger was an important part of my weight loss journey too.

  • http://www.ConfessionsOfARecoveringChocoholic.com/ Laura Jane

    Great points! I think there’s no real “answer” to how to lose weight. If there were, I’m pretty sure somewhere in my 16 years of being overweight, trying to lose, and reading practically everything I can on the subject, I would have found it. You do have to make it your own – so much easier said than done.

  • Sondra Brown

    Great post Roni! I love your point – stop doing things for short term weight loss. When I settled into the idea of this being a total overhaul of the way I ate and moved, things finally changed for me. I took it one step at a time, small changes, and tried to fight that desperate feeling of wanting it off instantly.
    Your blog has been a huge help to me in getting it off and keeping it off.

  • Sandy

    This is so good I’m going to read it again. Thank you so much.

  • Georgia

    this is a great post. How you succeded on WW is much how I did too (though not with such big numbers). And I totally agree- learning that hunger is okay and natural is important. I know it’s taboo b/c our society is all wacked out. But obviously, being fearful of hunger is part of the problem. Well done and thanks!

  • Lauren

    Roni I love your blog! This post is great.

  • Jeanine

    great post, Roni!

  • nancyabc

    Once again thanks for sharing–like you say it is a journey. Sometimes we need to change the scenery to know how far we have come and take a different path but we will get there or be better for trying.
    Ok after reading this I need to put away the chocolate chips I found and get some school work done.
    Have a great week.

  • Tammy

    You and your journey have inspired me so much! Thank you for your honesty, your personal truth, and your tips/advice! I hope you continue to enjoy sharing YOUR story! Tammy from Columbia, CT

    ps. I love the videos of you presenting your mom with tickets to Italy and the videos of your morning runs!

  • http://thirteenpointonemom.wordpress.com/ Maria

    Love this! Thanks Roni….what a great post and so many wonderful tips….thank ou, thank you, thank you!

  • Darcy

    Hi Roni! I’ve been reading your blog while losing weight for some months now – 29 lbs. gone, 9 (stubborn!) lbs. to go. I’m using a plan made for me by a nutritionist. When I got it, I was amazed at “how little” food it was. I realized I was actually FRIGHTENED of being hungry. (And I’ve been fortunate in my life not to have ever been truly starving.) This irrational fear made me look closely at my relationship with food. My diet plan IS enough food. My idea of a portion had grown far bigger than what I actually need for fuel. Now I’m delighted with the fact that when I’m hungry, it’s just my stomach that’s hungry – no longer the shaky, weak, distressed feeling I used to get between meals that made me desperate for a snack. Normal hunger is really “normal.” Thank you for making that point along with your other great comments. It keeps me going!

  • LisaM

    We are all so lucky that inspiring us is inspirational to you! Reading your blog keeps my furnace lit, and some days I really need it. On any day you feel a funk, you should look at your photo from Step 5. You are so cute, fit, and sparkly with joy in that shot!

  • Jenn@slim-shoppin

    Love it Roni – you are right – you have to make your weight loss journey something you love and can stick with

  • Sam

    This post reminded me of why I started following your blog in the first place – years ago. Lately, I’ve been skipping some of your blog posts because they seem so far away from my reality – I can’t see myself ever doing the things you do now…
    This post reminded that you started the journey a long time ago and have worked your butt off (literally) to get where you are today. You are an inspiration and I appreciate you taking the time every now and then to remind us that it’s not an overnight trip – it’s a lifelong journey. One that we have a choice every day to start or put off until tomorrow…

  • http://twitter.com/stratcat45 Laura

    Great post!! Many people go into weight loss mode when they have an “ah-ha” moment whether it be medical or such. I never had a “ah-ha” moment; I just got up one day and decided to do it! And I have no idea what got me there. I did Weight Watchers, lost 40 lbs., reached lifetime, but was never able to maintain that goal weight and slowly but surely, 15 lbs. came back quite quickly. After another try at WW stuck at the same weight for several months (I kept telling myself that at least I wasn’t gaining, that’s good); I finally said goodbye and now log over on MyFitnessPal – it’s a huge eye opener seeing some of the calories of things low in points, hmmmmm. I now have more of an idea of what I need to do. I do recommend WW, I think they have a valuable program and I did need them to get started; but I don’t need them to continue. I know what to do and how to do it; you have to graduate from that program eventually.

    • Lydia

      Actually, you do not *have* to graduate from that program, or any program.

  • Robyn

    Great post! I frequently think about your idea of stateless dieting – it is one of the best mental shifts I have heard about diets and living life. I also really love your thoughts about self-acceptance and going out to do the things that make life fun, regardless of how much thinner you want to be. Great reminder. Thanks for responding… I’ll go back to reading religiously without commenting :)

  • Peggy

    Self-acceptance and emotional eating – I believe those issues are the biggest reasons that most people have a hard time losing weight. Plus, If one has baggage from childhood, or outright abuse as a child, then it’s even harder to learn self-acceptance. That’s why weight loss – or changing any behavior that is meant to escape painful emotions, whether it’s being a chronic rager, sleeping all day, compulsive spending, compulsive sex, etc. – doesn’t happen overnight. The good news is, bouncing back every time you fall off the wagon IS THE CHANGE. People think change is stopping one behavior and starting a new one, like turning a page in a book. No. Change is falling off the wagon, then getting back on. Falling off again, then getting back on. I know this will sound crazy, but with each fall, you should actually feel the pain of what you’re doing, and let your pain teach you that this (whatever behavior you’re trying to change) is not good for you. Pain is NOT proof that you’re a failure. Pain means that you need to learn something (including, maybe, that being overweight isn’t the issue, but a symptom of something else – like issues from childhood, or unhappiness due to bad relationship or bad job you’re in now, or sadness over a lost aspiration that you still want to fulfill, etc. Pain isn’t always easy to understand, but you can always assume that it means that understanding is needed). The mistake people make is thinking: “I messed up again, so that’s proof I’m permanently like this, I’m a hopeless case.” But “messing up” is an opportunity to do your learning. “Man, I feel like sh– now. This pain is proof that this thing I’m doing is not good for me. This pain is telling me that I’m completely, totally, f——- miserable when I do this.” Well, that is learning. That kind of supportive self-talk is difficult, because in the beginning, one’s impulse to just beat yourself up is very strong. So it’s worth enlisting a good friend or good therapist help you stay in learning mode, not shame-blame mode. It’s very hard to do alone. But if you can be kind to yourself in the middle of your pain, well, then, you have just reduced your pain, and reduced your need to act out. Do it more and more, every time you fall off the wagon, and you get better and better at supporting yourself. And that’s how change happens. Clearly, it requires time and support. But that’s how it happens.

  • Amy

    Great post. Do you ever think about how much blogging helped, the fact that you have an audience, so you have more accountability? Do you think that was an additional influence?

    • RoniNoone

      All the time! But you have to remember I didn’t really have an audience in the beginning. Just a few random comments. I think the act of blogging, the commitment I made to it instead of a specific weight goal, and having a place to vent helped immensely. It really was the the part of the journey I fell in love with: exploring my feelings on the blog.

  • NatMcC

    This post is perfect! Love everything you pointed out. ANd it is all what I’ve realized since July 2012. I have a competition in my head to be healthier than my sisters. Tired of felling like the fat sister. They have never said that to me but I have always felt that way. I enjoy running now and took the challenge to join a Barre class and OH WOW i love it!!! Thanks Roni for EVERYTHING you do!

  • MattnBecky Freckleton

    Great post!

  • Alisha john
  • lawmom96

    Great post!

  • Martha

    Great post. It very much parallel’s my experience. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on how I made the transition from being in a constant battle with my food and weight to this recent place of “food freedom” and so much of what you mention is true for me – learning to ignore that mean inner voice and accept myself, learning to stop fearing my hunger and deciding to enjoy the journey. It takes a lot of work to make these life transformations but it is so so worth it!

  • caroline

    Amazing… “Give your inner mean girl the finger and tell her to get our of your damn way. You’ve got goals to reach.”

  • http://www.gypsyforlife.blogspot.com/ Trista Crass

    Okay, I hate fitness BS, dieting BS. All of it, it’s boring, and it’s usually this really trite “Love yourself the way you are/Crazyfuckingdiet”.

    I lost 65 lbs, but it took me about two years, all said and done.

    And I did it, JUST THE WAY YOU DID.

    Like, insanely so. Stop drinking calories. Eat better, move a bit more.

    People SAY this, but they don’t EXPLAIN it. You did, and you did a fantastic job, and I’m keeping this article to pass to people that want to know how to lose weight. Because that “Eat betterblaghblahblah” isn’t telling people HOW to change. Changing our relationship to food is HUUUUUGE. It’s not comfort, or happiness-it’s fuel. It can do those things too, but it shouldn’t be your default paradigm.

    Well done, keep on it, and you are fucking awesome.

  • weshallovercomb

    How tall are you and what was your starting weight? I’m trying so hard to get serious but it is just hard when you’re retired with nothing to do and nobody to do things with!!

  • Simo Ben

    I’ve just read the article, which i find
    very helpful … very very helpful especially that I can easily recognize myself
    in all what you said.

    First of all, I believe motivation is
    the key to a successfully long period diet. I went through many diet these the
    last couple of years without being successful because I wasn’t motivated enough
    to make it last.

    I am 28 year old now; reaching this age
    and hanging around with people who have very good and perfect bodies made me
    hate mine and start thinking about what I can do to make it looks good … kind
    of acceptance you were talking about above in the article.

    I have lost 15 kg in 3 month by controlling
    what I eat and doing a lot of sport – running – workout etc etc and I start to
    like it and enjoy myself doing it, I just can’t see myself without doing sport
    on regular basis anymore as I helps me having good and comfortable sleep in
    addition to good shape.

    My advice to people out there to start
    with motivation as without it, there would no point of starting as it is a
    complete waste of time.

  • natz185

    this is the first thing I have come across and read and its made me feel like I can actually do it.. im starting my diet ‘journey’ today, and I must admit I have been dreading it, as exactly what this post says I have no desire to exercise which yes I hold my hands up to is very lazy and I need to snap out of it.. thanks for the post.. great!!

    • RoniNoone

      You are so welcome! Hope it helps!

      -Roni

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