5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Trying to Lose Weight

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

I struggled to maintain a healthy weight for a large part of my life.

Had I known these five things before my weight-loss journey, I would have had a much easier time shedding the pounds and would have realized that weight loss isn’t a magic fix-all solution to my issues.

If you’re trying to lose weight, perhaps some of my lessons will be helpful to you.

Here we go…

1. This has to be for you, not someone else.

Growing up as a closeted gay child, I was taught that homosexuality is a sin and anyone who likes members of the same sex is unworthy of love and affection.

This caused me to develop an internalized belief that I was not good enough, which led me to seek external validation from others as the source my self-esteem.

Being gay was a very heavy secret I carried, and as a result I became very heavy myself.

Afraid to be seen, I used weight gain to hide myself from the rest of the world.

After coming out, I thought if I had the hottest boyfriend then I would finally feel good about myself.

I lost thirty pounds, transformed my body, and achieved my goal of dating a hot guy. My self-esteem was through the roof… until he broke up with me and I never saw him again (whomp, whomp). I had failed to achieve my goal, and I felt terrible about myself.

Now I see the issue started when I attached my fitness goal and my self-esteem to something outside myself that I could not control—a guy wanting to date me.

The reality is, a new body or a new boyfriend was never going to solve my problems. I had to ‘work out’ my inner self before I could feel good about my outer self.

It’s like having an old, scratched-up cell phone that is super slow, so you put a brand new case on it and suddenly it’s nice and shiny again! However, the original issues are still there, and the phone is still damaged below the surface.

Like the phone with the new case, I was still that same little boy inside desperately seeking validation from others.

What I needed was to accept myself and to stop looking to others to validate my self-worth.

Through meditation and coaching I’ve come to see that feelings of worthiness come from within. I choose to lead a healthy lifestyle for the sake of my own health and well-being, and I recognize that I have inherent value on my own, regardless of my appearance or what other people think.

Nowadays I set goals that are within the realm of my own power and are not dependant on validation from others like: “I want to lose weight to be healthy and live a long life” instead of “I want to lose weight to have a guy ask me out.”

Remember: You’re a whole, complete, capable person regardless of how you look. Just because you want to improve for tomorrow doesn’t mean you can’t feel good about yourself today.

No one has the ability to make you feel a certain way about yourself; only you have that power! When you set goals within the limits of your own power, you will be unstoppable.

2. You may lose friends, and that’s awesome!

Let me explain: When I first set out to transform my body, most of my friends were very supportive… until they weren’t.

A lot of my friends weren’t into health and fitness. As I got closer to my goals, they would say things like, “Who do you think you are? Acting all better than us with your salad and healthy lifestyle!”

Sometimes it’s the people who know you best who hold you back from changing the most. They met you when you were a certain way, and they want you to stay that way.

If you surround yourself with people who aren’t used to success, they may become fearful and threatened because you are reflecting back to them something that intimidates them. Not everyone is going to be happy for you.

In letting go, you create space for other likeminded people who can support you on your path. Having help from people who have been in my shoes helps keep me motivated and allows me to learn from the experience of others. This saves a lot of time and effort and makes the journey more enjoyable.

You can find supportive people by making friends with people at the gym, joining a running group from meetup.com, or joining a meditation studio. You can even consider working with a trainer or coach if you need a little extra help.

3. Our self-talk can make or break our progress.

I used to look in the mirror and focus all of my energy on my flaws. I would tell myself, “I want to lose weight so I’m not gross and disgusting.”

Every time I thought about my goal I reinforced the identity of someone who is “gross and disgusting.” This negative self-talk was not helpful for my self-confidence, and it often led to binge eating. Not something you want to do when trying to lose weight!

In order to create lasting change, I had to cut out the negative self-talk by connecting with a positive intention for my goal. So I shifted my intention toward living a healthy life and aging gracefully.

I stopped putting my attention on the things I disliked about myself, which depressed me, and instead focused on the positive goals I was working toward, which energized me.

After I changed my view of myself I was finally able to lose the weight—and enjoy the process.

4. Patience is everything.

Patience is more than just waiting, it’s the ability to put in the work required to achieve your goals and keep a positive attitude throughout the process.

After I set out to lose weight, for the first three weeks I felt like nothing was happening and I was wasting my time. The funny thing is, this is when all the work started to pay off. By week four, I could finally see noticeable changes on the scale and I was moving in the right direction.

It’s the small, seemingly insignificant choices we make every day that add up to something extraordinary. If you don’t have the patience to wait for these things to happen, you won’t make progress on your goals.

Remember, a journey of a thousand miles is nothing but a series of single steps. Take things one step at a time, and you’ll go far!

5. To reach any goal, you need to define success, create an action plan, and fall in love with the process.

I’ve often felt overwhelmed by all the conflicting health and fitness information available. I didn’t know which plan was right for me, so I would try a new one every week and never see any changes.

The truth is, the best plan for me is the one I stick to and have fun with.

It’s important to fall in love with the process. Fitness is a lifelong journey, and if you don’t enjoy the process you’ll give up.

If you’re feeling confused about which plan is best for you, try picking one that sounds fun and stick with it for eight weeks. If you haven’t seen any progress, try something new.

Also, be sure to define what success looks like for you—whether that means hitting a certain number on the scale or being able to hike a specific number of miles—so you have a clear direction of where you are headed.

When I set out to lose thirty pounds I had a defined goal in mind. This allowed me to focus my energy and weed out distractions. It also gave me motivation, purpose, and a clear vision for my future.

Lastly, track your progress as you go, since this will keep you focused and motivated. I resisted doing this for a long time, but it’s made a world of difference. It’s like using a road map. When you see how far you’ve come, it’s a lot easier to stay committed to reaching your destination. Apps like MyFitness pal are great for tracking fitness goals.

Ultimately, every fitness journey is about more than losing weight and changing your physical appearance. The most successful transformations are those that begin with self-love and require ‘working out’ your inner being as well as your physical being.

Losing weight was merely a side effect of my bigger goal to lead a healthy lifestyle, and my fitness goals have grown to focus more on the health of my mind, body, and spirit, rather than solely my physical appearance.

Because I find it hard to prioritize my own needs, I created a daily self-care routine and I devote a minimum of one hour every morning to my health and well-being. Self-care is the secret to my weight loss success because weight naturally falls off when you make healthy lifestyle choices and take care of your body.

And finally, remember the power of intention! It’s not what you do but why you do it that will enable you to succeed.

I wish you the best of luck on your journey, and am sending you all my love!

About Timothy James

Timothy is a health coach focused on using simple mindfulness strategies to build habits and achieve weight loss goals. He’s created a free course to create your own self-care routine and get your mind and body in shape with simple strategies you can use today. Click here to get instant access and discover how to stop anxiety, kill stress, and eliminate exhaustion with your free self-care planner!

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Enter Into Full Partnership with Love

Love often appears at our door as a beggar in disguise. There are countless ancient myths that tell how the gods would show up at the door of someone’s home, appearing to be in dire straits. On the surface of things, they seem to be seeking food and shelter; but, in truth, they’ve come to ask if the ones they have chosen to visit will make room for them in their lives. And, as these stories go, whoever agrees to make this kind of sacrifice – for the sake of their unexpected visitors – is rewarded by them beyond their wildest dreams.

In much the same way, love is always knocking on our door. But it never does so more stridently than when our heart closes itself off to our partner in the name of some unconscious pain that we blame on them.

In unhappy moments like these, not only do we slam the door shut in the face of the one we love but, without ever knowing it, we also deny ourselves the precious, timeless gifts that only love can offer us: a full partnership with all of its powers. These gifts include the unfailing presence of an unconditional compassion for all that it embraces. This level of higher self-understanding can never be pulled into a fight with our partner because it can’t be deceived into identifying with one side or another of some unconscious opposing force.

Now, if it’s not already clear, the part of us that rejects the offer of such a remarkable power lives on in us largely undetected. This happens because, for the most part, it dwells deep in some unlit region of our consciousness. But, we can begin the process of illuminating this lower nature by looking at a few of our own simple memories from days gone by. I’ll spell out some of my own recollections, hoping that even if you don’t share similar moments you can relate to them enough for us to arrive at the point they’re intended to help make.

When I was still very young, I loved watching TV at night with my parents in their bedroom. Inevitably, I would fall asleep and one of them would pick me up and tote me off to my own room. I can still remember the way it felt to be carried that way, in their arms, and dropping off back to sleep even before I was tucked in for the night.

In later years, there were those most delicious moments when mom would bake a cake. She would make chocolate frosting using an electric mixer. It had a pair of detachable whisk-like attachments that – when covered with the frosting left clinging to them – my brother and I would get to lick clean.

I loved these gifts that came with growing up and, of course too many others to mention. All of them were a part of being raised in a home that, for the greatest part, was governed by love. But, this isn’t to say that being in the hands of love was always so comforting, or welcome. Other memories come from those times as well!

There were many moments, more than I care to recount, that often felt punitive; as bitter as were the better ones sweet. Who can forget being “summoned” to his or her parent’s side where you were brought to task for getting into some kind of trouble at school, with friends, or – as was often the case with me – getting into a scrap with my older brother. Where, in spite of all my clever excuses, I was found “guilty” and sentenced for having broken the house rules…some of which I didn’t even know existed until I broke them!

In short, I adored all the comforts and pleasures, those natural gifts that come with being loved. On the other hand, I wanted nothing to do with the necessary, often painful corrections that this same love often called for. Talk about instant resistance!

As the years rolled on – at least in my case, as I hope is true for you – I came to see that much of this unwanted guidance – dispensed for the sake of love – proved itself wise. And should this same hindsight hold true for you, then it means…we judged our parents falsely. They were not trying to take the joy out of our lives. What they “wanted” from us…was to give us something that we just couldn’t see we needed at that time: a measure of their hard-won wisdom, including the hope that we might understand it enough to spare us some of the troubles and tears they used to pay for it.

While growing up our tendency was to meet much of the guidance offered to us with resistance, if not out and out hostility. And, to remake the point, those who wanted to help guide us through these early days of our journey were not trying to make us unhappy; that was not their wish. We just weren’t wise enough to want what they wanted to give us: a small measure of their understanding intended to help us escape some of the pain they didn’t.

In very much the same way as illustrated above, so goes our present relationship with some of the gifts that love wants to give us. We just can’t yet recognize them yet…for what they are. Which brings us to this next important insight:

If it’s our wish to have and to know unconditional love with our partner, then our relationship can’t just be about what we want – or don’t want – from that love we share between us. If we want the “real deal,” then we have to accept all of the gifts that come with loving someone, not just the ones that we recognize, or that otherwise seem desirable to us.

If it’s our wish to have and to know unconditional love, then our relationship can’t just be about what we want. If we want the “real deal,” then we have to accept all of the gifts that come with loving someone. @guy_finley (Click to Tweet!)

Excerpted from Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together by Guy Finley.

Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.

Guy Finley is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and bestselling self-help author. He is the Founder and Director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for transcendent self-study located in Merlin, Oregon. He also hosts the Foundation’s Wisdom School — an on-line self-discovery program for seekers of higher self-knowledge. He is the best-selling author of The Secret of Letting Go and 45 other books and audio programs that have sold over 2 million copies, in 26 languages, worldwide. Guy’s latest book Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together applies decades of spiritual wisdom to practical relationship challenges, transforming any relationship from mundane to magical!

Image courtesy of Kristina Litvjak.

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How to transform sinking cities into landscapes that fight floods | Kotchakorn Voraakhom

From London to Tokyo, climate change is causing cities to sink — and our modern concrete infrastructure is making us even more vulnerable to severe flooding, says landscape architect and TED Fellow Kotchakorn Voraakhom. But what if we could design cities to help fight floods? In this inspiring talk, Voraakhom shows how she developed a massive park in Bangkok that can hold a million gallons of rainwater, calling for more climate change solutions that connect cities back to nature.
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My Recovery Depended on Me and Me Alone

My boyfriend and I struggled with a codependent relationship and it was my responsibility to grow and change for myself…

Relationships are never easy, they take a lot of work. They must have trust, love and lots of communication. Relationships are also beautiful and amazing when they are healthy. That means that both people in the relationship need to be healthy themselves.

Dating when both people are in recovery is a whole other bag of worms. The person or persons in recovery need to maintain their sobriety above anything else. Their sobriety depends on working a program of recovery, a relationship with a higher power of their understanding, creating relationships with other members of the fellowship, as well as many other factors depending on the individual.

My personal experience is that both my boyfriend and I are in recovery and have been in a relationship for two and a half years now. We are both healthy and happy, but I was not this way for the first year of our relationship. Relapse is a huge part of my story and I just could not get past two or three months sober. I just could not give myself a chance at long term sobriety, even though everyone told me the longer you stay sober the easier it gets. I just could not see the forest beyond the trees and always gave up before I could get to the other side. My boyfriend, God bless his heart, stuck by me through all of this because he said he could see the person I was inside and knew I would get through this. It took me a long time to realize he couldn’t save me and that I was putting his sobriety at risk as well.

After three relapses in that year I was finally ready to get the help I needed. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate my boyfriend for the love and support he gave me through this process.

With that being said doing the work was my responsibility and I needed to do this for me and me alone. I couldn’t do it for him, my friends, my family, or anyone else.

I entered a inpatient treatment center for two months. I worked through a lot of my traumas in individual, and group therapy sessions. I cannot tell you what a healing process this was for me! My boyfriend came in for a couple of sessions with my therapist and I and we were able to establish healthy boundaries and expectations for each other and our relationship moving forward.

Pathways to long-term recovery as reported by NCBI states that recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. For me I can say that the first 90 days were the hardest and each day after that it got easier and easier to stay sober. Now this is not to say there were not ups and downs because come on this is life. Just because we get sober doesn’t mean that life doesn’t happen, but trust me it gets easier to cope with these ups and downs over time. Once I hit my first year in recovery maintaining long term sobriety became a much more attainable goal.

When in recovery and looking at your current relationship Psychology Today states that It is important to take inventory of your current relationships so you can identify those that will help or hinder your progress toward health and healing in recovery. Moreover, consider whether relationships that are not supportive of your priorities deserve your time and energy. If something doesn’t seem or feel “right,” it’s important to pay attention to that gut feeling, be able to communicate about it. Identifying and shedding unhealthy or “toxic” relationships is also part of the recovery process.

Whether you are in a relationship in or out or recovery it is always important to look at if the relationship is healthy for both individuals in it. Working on yourself and the relationship you can learn the tolls to maintain a healthy life for yourself and your relationship. Sometimes when we get sober we realize the relationship is not healthy for us to be in and while we heal in recovery we are able to make this assessment and make this choice from a healthy mindset. Whichever place you are at YOU can heal your life and life your best life in recovery!

Crystal Hampton is a 37-year-old avid writer from South Florida. She loves snuggling with her teacup yorkie, Gator, and boyfriend, Adam. She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.

Image courtesy of Eric Ward.

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How to Deal with Crappy, Toxic People

Sometimes I sit around having imaginary arguments with people I love/hate.

They did this! And this! WHY??

I loved them. How could they do this!?

I did THIS for them. WHY?

I could do this fun activity for hours. Days even!

I imagine what they say. And what I say back. And what they say. And what I say back.

Ugh. What a waste.

DON’T KEEP A SCOREBOARD

One friend of mine asked me, “Do you ever keep a scoreboard about your friendships?”

What do you mean?

“Like, I did this so he/she should now do this. Or… I did X, Y, and Z so they shouldn’t do A, B, or C!”

Yeah, I do that all the time.

Once you find yourself keeping a scoreboard, that’s a sign that the friendship or business relationship or any relationship is already over.

AND NEVER ASK “WHY?”

The most important thing I learned last year about people: never ask “why?”

Some people are toxic. Some are “narcissistic” (an over-used word, but still).

Some people will wrong you. Some friends will stop talking to you for no reason.

I have never ever once found out why. In a hundred different situations over the past many decades.

They just do what they do.

And I have to do what I can do.

The crappy people in my life are never the neighbors down the street who I don’t know.

They are always people who were once close to me.

They are always people who I would once trust with anything, with my life, with my loyalty and faith.

And then… poof.

WHY? W. H. Y.

I’ll never know. And I am going to try really hard this year to never ask.

Again.

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Elijah O’Donnell.

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