Hi. Dana here again.
Last week, I wrote about why we’re creating a weight loss course for you. If you haven’t read that post yet, perhaps you wanna go give it a whirl before reading this one. That’s what I’d do if I were you but whateves, it’s a free country.
At the end of that post though, I told you that this week we’d dive a bit deeper into what I actually did to lose those 23 pounds 7 years ago, keep it off, and finally stop hating my body.
And it’s probably not what you think.
I’m excited (and nervous) to share this. I’ve never really talked so in-depth about this stuff before but, all of the comments and emails I got in response to last week’s post made it worth it, so thank you.
The reason I want to share this with you is because it took me a while to lose those 23 pounds. Longer than necessary, really. Because I simply took the long trail of researching and experimenting on my own. I didn’t really follow a map. I didn’t have one.
Once I got it though, it all clicked and the weight came off pretty effortlessly (and quickly) after that. And I’d like to walk you through my story with the hope that I can show you the much shorter, better-marked path to follow for yourself.
When I think back now though, I think: Man, I would have saved so much time and energy and, not to mention, money, had I had the course we’re creating for you.
You see, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on this transformation:
- $5,000 on a yoga teacher certification
- $4,500 on a holistic nutrition degree
- $3,000 on a health coach of my own
- Let’s call it $1,800 on acupuncture – can’t remember exactly
- Probably $1,000 on therapy co-pays – best money I ever spent by the way, I love therapy
- Gym memberships – that went mostly unused
- And books, thousands of dollars on books on everything from energy healing to superfoods to paleo, Bridget and I can’t read enough about all of this crap
- A juicer, whatever that thing cost
- Oh, and approximately 1 million dollars on weird, fancy Amazonian superfoods and supplements from the expensive health food bodega on 2nd avenue, which all just rotted in my fridge or got thrown out anyway
I’d like to prevent you from having to go through all of that. Because unlike me back in the day, you probably have a life, and a budget, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
But really, I want to show you this because:
- Dieting is the worst thing for weight loss ever
- You can lose weight by eating more and feeling full and normal around food
- Exercise is important but, not for weight loss, at least not for the reason you think
- And you don’t have to do anything crazy or special, you don’t even have to shop for organic produce at Whole Foods if you don’t want to
Most importantly though, if I did it, you can too. Regardless of where you’re at now. Regardless of how much weight you’ve gained. Or how much you currently hate your thighs. Or shopping for anything made out of denim.
You can do this.
I am not special. I’m just a chick from New Jersey with an average genetic composition, a laptop, and a dream.
But I also want to tell you that it’s worth it. It’s so worth it.
When you finally do lose the weight that’s driving you nuts, when you finally do stop hating your body, it feels amazing.
It’s such an incredible relief, both physically and emotionally, to drop all of the anxiety and fear and disgust and live your life again.
Because when you feel good in your own skin, everything else gets easier.
Okay so let’s dive into this case study, shall we?
We’re going to go through 3 parts:
- My Before
- What I had to change in order to lose weight and finally stop hating my body
- My After
Part 1: My Before
Pre-transformation 2009 – 5’6” 150 lbs
Post-transformation 2016 – 5’6” 127 lbs
(As you can see from my stats, I’ve been unsuccessful in growing any inches taller so, we won’t be creating an online course for that.)
I firmly believe that weight on the scale is a silly thing we obsess over but, I wanted to share my numbers so you know I’m not messing with you. Remember though that weight is relative. It’s just your body and gravity being measured and everyone’s frame and constitution is different.
At my personal heaviest and saddest though, the scale hit 150. I remember that moment specifically. I was in my underpants in my apartment on 1st street in Hoboken. It was a dark Tuesday morning in April, dark in more ways than one.
Though most of my adult life I weighed about 130 lbs, I had ballooned over the past year. I had also changed jobs twice, moved twice, was single and not happy about it, was in a bunch of debt and had quit smoking in January. Things were bleak.
130 lbs is my ‘set point’, the number my body naturally likes to hover around.
(We explain more about set points in our upcoming course by the way. Science is so fun! If you’re interested in joining us when it launches in a few weeks, pop your name in here and you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready!)
So anyway, my ‘set point’ is about 130 lbs, so 150 lbs was really heavy for my frame. And I could feel those 20 lbs in every moment. None of my clothes fit. And having to buy two sizes up was crushing my soul. Not to mention, I was really starting to hate looking in the mirror.
I remember one Saturday, I called my friend Diana while trying to find something to wear out that night. I was crying. I remember her saying “D, we’re gonna hang up the phone. You are going to throw on a sweatshirt and leggings and just come over now. We can find you something to wear here. I’ll have a cocktail waiting for you. If you don’t get out of there, you’re going to wind up staying in and feeling sad and fat ALL weekend. Just get out of there.”
We literally had that conversation on my LG flip phone, or was it my Blackberry? I think Ludacris was my ringtone at the time. Diana, if you’re reading, love you!
That’s where I was before.
And here’s the real bitch of it: I was trying so hard and so honestly, to ‘get healthy and lose weight’. I mean, I’d just quit smoking for f’s sake. I was going to therapy for the first time ever. I was dieting and working out a lot. This was supposed to be the Year of DANA!
I was so confused. I was sticking to my Weight Watchers points. I wasn’t having cheese in my salads. I was eating fewer than my allotted calories, you know, when you calculate your BMI online, and then they tell you how many calories you can eat, and if you stick to that, you’ll lose this much weight by such and such a date?
Yeah, that wasn’t working.
I was either eating pre-made grilled chicken with carrots and broccoli from the bodega or a Weight Watchers Smart One for dinner every night. And I’d have one (okay, okay, maybe two) Skinny Cow ice creams for dessert. They were only like 80 calories or something.
And I was running my face off. In fact, that entire week before my phone call with Diana, I was getting up at 5 am, walking in the cold to the gym 4 blocks away, running for an entire hour on the treadmill, before coming home to shower and get ready for work.
I was doing everything ‘right’ and I was still either gaining more weight, or the scale would not budge. I would try so hard all week, only to lose my composure and motivation on the weekend, binge a little, and then want to tear my hair out on Monday morning when the scale was either up a pound or exactly the same.
To say I was frustrated and disgusted would be an understatement. Being fat was ruining my life and it seemed there was no way to turn it around.
This was my before.
Part 2: What I had to change to lose weight and finally stop hating my body
So remember last week when I talked about that time I cried to my brother about being fat and he suggested I go see a nutritionist, which turned out to be a holistic health coach? We’re going to talk more about that now.
The way I see it now, there were three specific things I had to change in order to lose weight and finally stop hating my body. All three of those things, this health coach lady taught me.
The first, was my mindset.
I had to first unlearn a whole bunch of bullshit about food and dieting and weight loss. And then I had to stop being such a bitch to myself. I had to stop thinking of my body as this ‘thing’ other than myself that I could hate and berate into something I loved. And I also had to stop making excuses and believing a dumb story about myself. The story being: I was fat and sad in a way that no one else had ever been fat and sad, and there was no hope for me.
The second, was my body.
I had to heal my body. And in order to do that, I had to change how I’d been eating, which seems pretty obvious now. You know what they say about hindsight. But I had to get comfortable with eating real food again. Which was difficult, after depriving myself and eating processed, low-fat, sugar-free, diet food for so long because the calories were printed on the label. Letting go and feeling full was strange. I was scared to let go of ‘dieting’. Whole food was something so foreign to me at that point that it’s kind of adorable to look back on now. Like yeah, you have to eat some vegetables, 2009 Dana. What’s quinoa? You’re so cute.
The third, was my life.
If I was going to lose weight, I had to stop putting my life off and acting like I’d get back to the business of living it once I was skinny. That mentality, that diet mentality approach to life, was actually preventing me from ever losing a pound. I needed to start acting as if if this was it, because it was.
Being happy helps you lose weight, not the other way around.
(These three things are what we teach in our upcoming course. We lay it all out for you in depth, with exercises and resources and personal stories of our own transformations. If you’re interested in joining us in the course, just pop your email in and we’ll let you know once it’s ready for enrollment.)
So with the help of my health coach (and my friends and my therapist and my acupuncturist and all those self-help books) I dove head first into changing.
I learned how to adopt a healthier, more productive mindset about weight loss and my body. I learned how to feed myself in a way that healed my body instead of depriving it and punishing it with exercise. And I learned how to start creating a cooler life that made me happy instead of blaming my weight for everything and essentially putting my life on hold until I lost it.
It might sound like a lot but, it was actually really fun and it felt great (mostly because I wasn’t starving all the time anymore).
Now, I can’t teach you everything thing I did in one little blog post. It would be too long and you wouldn’t read the whole thing anyway. I’d probably lose you somewhere along the way to a kitten video or something.
That’s what our course is for.
What I can do though, is give you some tips and action steps to get you started:
For your mind:
- Stop calling yourself fat. Now. Stop it right now. Don’t do that.
- Start to take note of every time you see an ad with a woman in it that makes you feel like shit. Now realize that she has been dolled up by professional makeup artists and had her photo taken by a professional photographer in perfect, manufactured lighting, and then air brushed to top it off. That ad is bullshit. It’s not real. No one actually looks like that.
- Realize that you simply cannot hate your way into a body you love. That’s not how it works. If you don’t love it now, you won’t love it after you lose weight so what would be the point? Start telling yourself how beautiful you are now, before you lose weight. Just start telling yourself, you don’t even have to believe it at first. Eventually though, you will. (Muuahhahaha) That’s how beliefs work.
For your body:
- Start eating more real, whole foods, especially greens and vegetables, and start eating less of anything that comes in a package. Anything in a package at all, even if it’s from Whole Foods, even it’s 100 calories, even if it’s fat-free. You’ll start feeling better fast.
- Stop exercising until you feel better and have more energy. The stress of doing otherwise, hormonally speaking, is sabotaging you. And when you do feel better, start exercising in a way that you actually enjoy. Stop going to Barry’s Bootcamp if you dread it and it makes you want to puke.
- Slow down when you eat and enjoy your food. Also, sleep more. And drink more water.
For your life:
- Make a list of the different areas of your life: family, friendship, love, career, finances, your home, physical activity, fun and adventure – and pick one that you’d like to improve. Just one. And then pick one small action you can take toward improving it. Write it down. And schedule it in your calendar.
- Do something on your to-do list that’s been nagging you, get it done. Action creates motivation, not the other way around.
- Start reminding yourself daily that this is it, you only have the present moment in which to do anything. Right now is the only time your life is actually happening.
Part 3: My After
I’m writing this on a Monday and yesterday, Sunday, I had a huge omelet with tons of veggies and two black coffees for brunch. Oh and an apple. Then Joel (my husband) made some delicious homemade pizza for dinner. A favorite Sunday meal around here.
I also had a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food with chocolate sauce on it while watching The Walking Dead, because the grocery store didn’t have Tonight Dough, which is my favorite, and because Daryl was being tortured. I couldn’t handle it. I love Daryl. Who doesn’t, right? Not that I need an excuse to eat ice cream. I’m just giving you the context here.
2009 Dana would have been freaking out at herself for eating pizza and ice cream and ‘blowing her diet’. I would have been stressed out and calling myself fat. I would have said something like “Well I blew it, might as well eat the whole pint now and start over tomorrow.”
But because I now know how to eat to feel really good most of the time, to wake up easier, to have a flat, de-bloated belly, to have a crisp mind and stable mood and to lose weight, I no longer have to worry about enjoying food like that when I want to. And because nothing is ever off limits to me, nothing is ever a binge or induces guilt or shame. It’s just not a thing anymore.
I’m not anxious about food, I don’t think about losing weight all the time, and I don’t hate my body. In fact, I actually kind of like my body. Not that traipsing around in a bikini is ever the most comfortable thing to do, but, even that doesn’t cause me massive stress anymore. And the rest of the time, I feel pretty damn good in my own skin.
Basically, I’m in control because I know what works for me. I’ve lost the weight, and I’ve changed my mind and life to support that weight loss, and to support loving myself as well. Which is really what this is all about. That and eating more broccoli. And ice cream. Sans guilt.
And like I said, you can do this too.
You can change your mindset, your body and your life. You can put this struggle behind you.
But, you’re never going to do it by dieting, punishing yourself with exercise and calling yourself fat. If that’s what you’ve been doing, know that that’s just not the way it works.
If you’d like to learn a better way, if you’d like to learn more about what does work, we really hope you’ll consider joining us in our upcoming course. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, pop your email in below and we’ll give you all the details just as soon as it’s ready for ya.
I shared this quasi-embarrassing case study on myself today to show you what real and lasting weight loss takes. It’s not just about following a meal plan for 21 days. If it was, you would have done that already. It takes real change, in your mind, body and life. And it looks different for everyone.
The good news is that once you get going and you start feeling better, it becomes easy and it feels good. Which is exact opposite of what diets feel like. Yay!
Now we want to hear from you, what are you thoughts? Have you ever tried giving up dieting and exercising in order to lose weight? Have you ever made a life-changing mindset shift that helped you love your body? Please leave a comment below, you never know who it might help.
All photography: Blair Badenhop
Also published on Medium.