When people find out I have lost a lot of weight, the follow up question is invariably “How did you do it?” They are surprised to find out that the initial 90 pounds involved changing my diet without any exercise. My philosophy was improve your health and the weight will follow, because I saw so many people get attached to losing a certain amount of weight. What I also saw were people turning to fad diets, such as Atkins and Paleo.

Both of these groups had success to a degree and some people even lost a lot of weight, but these same people also re-gained most of what they lost. The only person I knew that had successfully lost a lot of weight and kept it off was my sister. She had success with Weight Watchers, so I began by looking at that system.

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Improve Your Health First Not Your Weight

Our health is quite possibly the most personal aspect of our lives. Health issues are never convenient and have the power to bring everything else in our world to a screeching halt. We all know a legitimately utilized sick day is anything but a vacation.

Apropos of this I believe that being healthy requires an approach uniquely tailored to our lifestyle and mindset. This is why the one size fits all approach of fad diets and weight loss goals fails in the long term. What Weight Watchers offers is the ability to make your own diet as long as you stay within your allotted points.

This approach made sense to me, because it just never seemed realistic to cut out a certain food or group of foods entirely. It is just a recipe for future binge eating of those forbidden foods. So, I began logging my meals and studying nutrition to better understand why I needed more of certain foods and less of others.

Discovering Wellness

It was around this time that I first began looking into the concept of wellness. A family friend had recently introduced us to a company dedicated to promoting wellness through natural cleaning products, sports nutrition, and various other items. This same company was launching a website for logging meals, which was far less widespread back in 2006. Through my education in the sciences I wondered about the potential harms of abrasive chemicals in household cleaners, the drawbacks of genetically modified foods, and the benefits of natural solutions.

Wellness resonates with me because instead of focusing on one aspect of my life it focuses on the whole. I believe the most successful people in life are those of us with the ability to take a step back and see the whole picture. To really understand the world around us, and ourselves, we need to not only understand the individual pieces of the puzzle but how they all relate to one another. Many of us get so focused on one particular aspect of life (e.g. work or physical health) that we neglect other things.

This is equally true when learning about a huge topic such as health. Just like we must balance our life in terms of emotional needs, physical needs, etc. our diet is the same way.  It is about more than the numbers. For example, even though I judiciously logged my meals down to the milligrams of sodium; I also recognized the need to cut myself some slack here and there.  Even when I was the most strict with my diet, Chicago style deep dish pizza and cheeseburgers were still on the menu.

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Change to Last a Lifetime

I credit my success to this flexibility.  Instead of trying to force myself into a draconian set of dieting rule or being uncompromising with my current diet, I found a solution that worked for my life.  While I no longer log meals every day, I still utilize meal logging apps such as MyFitnessPal from time to time.  Even though I have kept the weight off for over a decade, my weight still fluctuates and sometimes that little bit of structure is just what is needed to get back on track.

I always stress to improve your health and forget about a specific number of pounds.  After all, the goal is to live a longer and happier life which cannot be done if you are a slave to your scale.  Healthy living requires vigilance and even years later it is still challenging, especially when you love food as much as I do.

What strategies do you use to improve your health?  Share them with me in the comments below, on social media, or any way you prefer.  There is no better time than right now to make a change.  I would love the opportunity to help you make that change via the Force of Well coaching service.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and be well.

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