Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: Every year, I vow to lose the extra weight I’m carrying around. And every year, after the first few months, I lose my motivation. I want this year to be different. How can I stay inspired? – Patty
DEAR PATTY: All over the country, millions of heads are nodding in recognition of the boomerangish cycle of New Years resolutions, particularly those having to do with losing weight. Sigh. I want this year to be different for you, too.
Before I get to the advice about staying inspired, I want to say one important thing: This year, try focusing on the behaviors it takes to achieve a healthy weight rather than on the number of pounds you want to drop. Make it your goal to, say, stay within a certain calorie count, eat more vegetables and/or fiber, work out four times a week. The fact is that you want to adopt these behaviors for the long haul – to make them as much a part of your routine as fixing your hair or brushing your teeth. You have much more control over whether you make these things happen in your life than what the scale says. Many things affect the scale – hormonal fluctuations, hydration, biological functions. Some days and weeks, despite all your best efforts, the scale isn’t going to budge – or it may inch up instead of down. If you tie your feelings of success to the behaviors that lead to a healthy weight, you are more likely to stick with it long term. Whether you hit that number or not, you will be healthier for the changes you’re making. And that’s one of the reasons why you’re doing this, right? I mean, it’s not all about fitting into those skinny jeans, is it?
On to the inspiration bit. Here’s my advice:
Read. Plenty of magazines (including Spry) feature stories about women and men who’ve successfully lost weight. These pieces aren’t just inspiring — you can pick up valuable tips too.
Write. Write down what you want from your journey and refer to it at least once a day. Think beyond the pounds: How do you want your LIFE to look? What do you want to do with your newfound confidence? Keep your eyes on the prize! I love “mantras,” too, to help remind me to stay strong. Find some that work for you, and post them where you can see them. A few of my favorites: “Whatever it takes.” “It’s not an option.” “Slow and steady.”
Surf. I’m privy to lots of “success stories” from Spry readers and writers hoping to share them via our magazine and website. But finding healthy living and weight-loss inspiration online is almost just as easy. Check out the Biggest Loser Weight Loss Gallery (click on “Photos”); or the success stories on Weight Watchers or E-Diets whenever you need a nudge.
Join a group. You don’t have to look only to “success stories” for inspiration. Sometimes what inspires me most are the women in my little running group that meets several times a week, or in yoga class. Just being among people — even people I don’t know personally — who are active, who have similar goals and interests, who are making it through a workout without quitting, spurs me on.
Start an Inspiration Scrapbook. If you’re an HGTV addict like me, you know that designers use “inspiration boards” when they’re working on decorating a space. They pull together fabrics, photos, colors, objects, you name it, all with the purpose of sparking their creativity. Well, why not borrow that concept and create a scrapbook of inspiring stories, quotes, photos — you get the picture. Of course, you can bookmark favorite websites and message boards, but I like the idea of something tangible and visible you can keep on your desk or somewhere handy — something you can flip through and add to over and over.
Open your eyes — and your mind. On my way to work today, I passed an older couple — possibly as old as their 80s — walking in their sneakers, she in her housecoat, he in his long gray pants. I see them every day, doing their morning walk, despite the 80-degree heat at 8 a.m. The fact that they’re out there, every day, together, fuels my resolve to stay fit and healthy for the long haul. I have found that once I started looking for inspiration in the everyday, there it was, as if it were waiting all along for me to recognize it.