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: What were some of the things that got you motivated to lose the weight and keep it off? I am constantly finding short spurts of motivation to diet and exercise, and then long periods of inactivity and procrastination. Any tips on motivational techniques?—Hallie
DEAR HALLIE: That’s the thing, eh? What is it that makes you decide, once and for all, to make a lasting commitment to yourself and your health? I have thought about this a good deal over the last 20 or so years, as I’ve offered advice to women who want to lose (and need to, for health reasons). My turning point was something really emotional—it was more than just looking in the mirror (for the millionth time) and thinking, I’m so FAT! Instead, it was more about feeling stuck, weak, out of control. Knowing that I wasn’t living the kind of life I wanted, that I was hiding from people, opportunities, adventures—and happiness as well–behind my weight. And I made my mind up to do something about it—to get rid of this feeling of being stuck, to start moving forward.
So I am a big believer in getting in touch with any emotional issues that may be holding you back. Sometimes, the easiest way to do that is to think about how you want your life to be—how it might be different—if you lost the weight, if you kept going instead of backsliding into your old ways. Take some time out to imagine your Former Fat Girl life—what would you do differently, how would you carry yourself in the world, how might your role at work, in relationships, etc. change? Dig deep. Write it all down. And then ask yourself: How do I feel about these changes? Because here’s the thing—it can be really scary to get what you want. It can be really scary not to have your weight as an excuse not to take risks. You may think you want to lose those extra pounds (who wouldn’t?), but you might find that, deep down, you’re afraid to. That’s the conclusion I came to, and I have heard from thousands of women who have discovered the same thing. Once you figure out that what you’re really dealing with is fear, and not just your love of all-things-chocolate, it somehow becomes a little easier to make healthy choices—or at least it’s harder not to, because you’re not fooling yourself any more.
That won’t completely squelch your need for motivational tricks and techniques. After living as a Former Fat Girl for the last 20 years or so, even I still need them—it’s just part of it. I’ve covered this ground many times before with others who write me seeking advice. Here are a couple of collections of my best tips—I hope they help you get and stay moving!