When trying to become healthier, whatever that means to each person, there is for most of us many, many times when we just want to give up. Not losing weight, being so tired, not seeing improvement, being out with people and feeling like you’re the odd one out eating a salad. I haven’t started my healthy journey now. It’s been a year since I started and I almost gave up many times. I broke my disciplined routine more times than I can count. It took me a full year of trial-and-error, but I had a LOT of time to think about my weak points, my psychological behavior, and find out why I felt frustrated and how to deal with it.
So the stuff I describe below comes from a lot of thinking, a lot of researching and seeing what WORKED for me.
I look back at my progress
Some days it’s so easy to put on my sneakers and go running, I’m so motivated I want to push harder, go farther and faster, don’t crave junk food and feel energized. Those are great days.
But just as many days, my legs feel like lead and I don’t want to walk, much less run. The same exercise I did last week is so much harder today. The goddamn scale won’t move, except upwards. I look on the mirror and see no difference at all from where I began.
I document my journey and remind myself of how far I’ve come (more on that on a post I’m writing about motivation!). How much more weight I can lift now than I did half year ago. How I actually did go running this week, even if I didn’t do so well – it’s more than I could before. And looking at pictures of myself from not that long ago, I can totally see a difference on my face – it looks slimmer. I fit on jeans I haven’t wonk in over a year. Looking back on how I was doing months ago helps me put things in perspective and appreciate the person I was back then for being consistent and keep trying, so that I could look at myself today and think: I can do even better.
I say no
Social gatherings are quite bothersome for me. I have social anxiety, meaning I sometimes need to sleep for 12h to recover from being out with people for… 3h. What is a simple happy hour for everyone else, is for me a day-long activity that requires lots of planning so I can get enough rest afterwards and not fall behind on my work, house chores, workouts etc.
In addition to that, I always feel pressured into eating certain things – at my workplace for example there is cake ALL THE TIME and everyone pushes you to eat it, even if you say no. For everyone else, it’s just a piece of cake. For me, it’s the third time that week that I try to reduce my sugar intake & eat heart-healthy food but have to eat stuff I don’t even want to eat (or like that much) and get bloated & sluggish (I’m lactose intolerant) for half a day because of it.
So I started refusing. I don’t go to events I know will drain me (or I go but only once every two weeks, maximum), I don’t eat what everyone else is having. I know this is difficult for people who are socially anxious, just trying to fit in, or get really peer pressured. You can start slowly, practicing excuses if you would like to. I can normally get away with a simple “No, thank you” and “I can’t make it today”, but for social gatherings where people are way more insisting and watching closely everything I eat (families, huh…), I try to fill my plate up with other things (fruit, for example) and eat those first, then I will be full already and only have a little bit of the other stuff I feel obliged to eat.
Also my workplace is basically only men, so if I want to get out of things and need an excuse, I just say I have my period and everything hurts and I will go home instead & take pain medication, thank you. #nofucksgiven
I focus on things that aren’t related to my weight
Weight loss can be particularly frustrating. Most women’s bodies have hormones that are programmed to not let us lose weight, especially fat. Adding to that, stress, resting metabolism, age, desk jobs, illness… So when the scale stops going down no matter how much effort I put into eating healthy, how much I run and lift weights, it’s awful. It feels like it’s all for nothing – all the effort, all the sweets I didn’t eat, all the times I could’ve taken a nap but went to the treadmill instead. It honestly feels like it’s all so useless I should just give up. But I don’t.
So I focus instead on other things: how much better I sleep now than I did before, how much more comfortable I feel showing off skin now (more related to my confidence than to my weight, honestly. I wasn’t comfortable in shorts and skirts even when I was quite thin), trying out trendy clothes I’d NEVER have the confidence to wear before, how I take less time to go to the gym now (I go on foot), although I don’t particularly try to walk faster. How I’ve been feeling less lazy to go places. How I don’t crave junk food so much anymore. A healthy lifestyle is much, much more than losing weight. It’s good to keep that on sight.
Having someone who will listen to you is really, really important. It doesn’t have to be a best friend you can call at anytime (A lot of us don’t really have that), just someone you can tell things to. Honestly, you can even vent on my comments in this post. I will read it and answer it, but more importantly, your problems and frustrations always look smaller when they’re out in the open.
Complaining I am not losing weight makes me realize that it’s not something I can’t solve. Venting that my runs are so ridiculously short and I’m so bad at it makes me realize: well, I can keep trying until I’m better. The solutions look so much simpler. You just need to let it out there and for someone to listen.
I refuse to give up
No matter what. The whole month I don’t work out isn’t going to be the mark of my failure – it’s just what’s happening now and I can change that. I can meal prep next time, even if I ate only junk food for a whole week. A “failure” does not mean a permanent or overall failure. It’s ok to have setbacks. When I reached the exact same weight I had started with a year before, I simply told myself I refuse to give up. I am made of stronger stuff than this – I have achieved so much in my life, and this will be another thing I will not give up on.
I lost count how many times I wanted to give up on my degree and do something easier. How many grades I was disappointed by and how it felt to fail a class for the first time. How awful it felt to realize I couldn’t run for more than 60 seconds. Failure always feels like it’s forever, but it’s not. It’s just what is happening now, not what is going to happen forever. I have agency, I have strength and I have focus. I can do this, no matter how long it takes.