Many thanks to Dana Brown for this lovely guest post. Dana is the creator of HealthConditions.info, which aims to provide Internet users with helpful content and resources that will lead them to making healthier decisions.
Losing weight is about more than your waistline. It’s about building a healthier body so you can enjoy the life you’re meant to lead. But all too often we frame weight loss in negatives: we lose weight, cut back, restrict. In turn, the entire experience ends up feeling like an exercise in self-denial. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s how you can treat yourself kindly while meeting your weight-loss goals.
Work out where you’re comfortable
Don’t think the only way to get in shape is by paying for a gym membership. Gyms bank on people buying memberships and not using them because people assume that the guilt of wasting money will drive them to exercise. But if you’re intimidated by the gym, $50 a month isn’t going to change that.
If going to the gym is scary, that’s OK. There are a lot of workouts you can do without leaving the house, especially with a basic home gym setup. Home gyms are great for beginners because they let you follow along to workout plans and videos at your own pace and in total privacy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a home gym either. You can do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises for cardio with nothing more than free Fitness Blender videos and a yoga mat, or get started with strength training using a few resistance bands, a kettlebell, and a Swiss ball. You can add to your home gym as you gain ability and confidence.
Don’t punish yourself
If you hate running, then don’t run. If you loathe the stationary bike, stay off it. If you force yourself to do exercise you can’t stand, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Instead, find a mode of exercise you actually enjoy. Do yoga, learn to rock climb, pick up hiking or trail running, swim laps, or join a team sport. There are countless ways to stay active that don’t involve torturing yourself on the treadmill. However, it’s important to realize that everything is going to be a bit difficult when you’re starting out. The important thing is that you finish your sessions feeling motivated to try again, not with every ounce of confidence squashed.
Fuel your body
You can’t starve yourself and expect to make fitness gains at the same time. Regardless of how much weight you want to lose, it is possible to restrict too much. But that’s not a free pass to eat whatever you want, either. If you’re going to have the energy to exercise, you need to fuel your body with high-quality foods.
Talk to your doctor or use a TDEE calculator for help estimating the number of calories you should consume per day to reach your target weight. Once you have the number, create a basic meal plan. Your meal plan should focus on fresh fruit and vegetables, unprocessed meat and fish, legumes, and whole grains.
Take care of your mental health
Changing your body is as much a journey in mental wellness as physical wellness. Rather than making a list of everything you want to change about your body, try to view fitness and dieting as a way to treat your body well, improve its function, and feel better day to day. Track your progress, even the small achievements, for a visual reminder of your progress when you’re feeling like giving up. Arm yourself with Greatist’s body-positive mantras and learn to appreciate exercise’s stress-relieving power.
If you have a preexisting mental health condition, now is the time to address it. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can contribute to weight gain and unhealthy lifestyle choices, and it’s nearly impossible to stick to healthy goals if your mental wellness isn’t on track.
Losing weight is rarely easy, but that doesn’t mean it has to feel like a punishment. Follow these practices on your journey to a healthier body, and you’ll improve more than your figure. You’ll create a more positive outlook toward exercise, diet, and your own body’s amazing capabilities.