There are a lot of shared milestones in people’s lives, and Emily Abbate is no different. She remembers moving out of her mother’s home, paying her first rent cheque on her own, and getting her first real job in New York City. But something that stands out brighter than the rest is the day she started her weight loss journey.
“I was sitting in my college dorm room working on statistics homework when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye. The silver digital scale resting below my bed in the same place I stashed it on move-in day… As the homework procrastination grew, my curiosity piqued.”
Like many of those who struggle with their weight, they very rarely like to deal with it head – on, something Emily admits to grappling with as well. And when she finally got the courage, she was brought face to face with the issue.
“How did I get here? I wondered, as tears instantly welled up in my eyes — momentarily obscuring the number on the scale. Two-hundred and four pounds. “
Instantly, Emily put on an old sweatshirt, leggings, and rushed out the door of her dormitory and started sprinting as fast as she could down the road beside her dorm. Within 30 seconds, she collapsed on the ground, overtaken with emotion. How did she get here?
“It didn’t take long, lying there, before I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to make a change. I knew I had to lose weight. I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. In that moment, I promised myself I wouldn’t.”
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And that’s what she did. In the 7 years since she stepped on that scale, she joined Weight Watchers and went to weekly meetings. She picked up running and competed in her first half marathon, then a full marathon. And then another. And another. And then she ran two full marathons in two different continents in 6 days!
But Emily knows that she can’t stop now, “Still, as a woman in my late 20s, I’m well aware that maintaining this weight loss and an active, healthy lifestyle is a daily commitment. I know that my journey is lifelong.”
Here are 3 things that Emily has learned in her 7-year weight loss journey that she has used to help keep her motivated and keep that weight off.
Never Completely Eliminate Anything
Many fad diets preach completely eliminating foods, but for many completely cutting something out makes them want it even more. Then the guilt of caving can cause many to give up their goals and revert back to their poor habits. In fact, researchers have proven that restrictive diets don’t work, not only because of the strain on your willpower, but because of physiological reasons.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found hunger-related hormones are disrupted by dieting, and can remain out of balance for over a year after the diet, often causing dieters to regain all the weight they lost in a short amount of time.
Dr. Charles Burant of University of Michigan Nutrition Obesity Research Center also speaks on the biological design of eating and fasting: “Multiple mechanisms have been developed, over eons of evolution, to get you to regain weight once you lose it…to tell your brain you’re hungry and to ensure that you don’t stop eating,” he says. “If you don’t have those drives, you wouldn’t be alive.” (2)
Instead, learn about proper portion sizes and moderation for long term success.
Find an Activity You Enjoy
Emily remembers hours she spent on an eliptical and how she loathed every minute of it. Out of necessity, she started running and there she found her passion. Not everyone needs to be lifting weights or trudging on a treadmill. Try swimming, jogging outside, rowing, anything that will keep you active and you actually want to do, that way staying motivated is easier.
The better you actually enjoy physical activity the easier it is to push yourself to do it on a regular basis. Remember, it takes dedication to create a new good habit.
A Solid Support Team Is Important
It’s important to find people that support and understand your health goals and don’t guilt trip you for not wanting to go out one night, or binge on food and drink. While the may not be right beside you on your runs or spotting you at the gym, being supportive is the best thing they can do to help you reach your goals.
Everyone’s goals are different, but we all go through the same struggles. Don’t worry about the end result, the journey is what truly is important.
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