The 7 lifestyle pillars of weight loss

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I’ve been dieting for a long time. I’m embarrassed to say how long. I have had some success but it’s come at a cost and it hasn’t been sustainable.

The fact is that dieting equals pain. Period.

When you’re dieting, you’re doing something that isn’t enjoyable. You’re usually hungry. It’s a constant battle that will eventually be lost due to the pressures of your body and in your life.

Today is a perfect example. I had a busy, high energy day. It wasn’t exactly stressful, but I came away from my day in a mood where I wasn’t in control of myself. I wasn’t centered. I wasn’t in the right mindset and I was hungry. I snacked on Cheez-it crackers when I got home. I ate some leftover pizza that my wife had left from lunch and I made a sandwich.

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I couldn’t stop myself. I was starving and just not in the mindset to be good.

But here’s the thing. I can put it behind me because I know that it was a mistake. For whatever reason I needed to cut loose a little bit, and honestly, I enjoyed it. But I can and I will put it behind me because I’m aware of the foundational things that’ll cause me to maintain my weight over the long haul.

Commit

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The first thing to do is to commit to a lifetime of change. You will absolutely make mistakes. You will need to drink beer, eat hot dogs and french fries. This will happen.

But when this happens you need to commit that it doesn’t start to happen every day. Commit to the long haul and you will win in the end. Just don’t give up because you’ve had a few setbacks.

Cultivate Self-Acceptance

Self Acceptance is knowing that you’re not perfect. You will never be perfect. You will fail, and that’s ok. If you strive for anything other than self-acceptance, you’ll be striving for perfection and that is usually unattainable.

The pursuit of perfection is usually rooted in a feeling that you always need to be approved and accepted by others. We don’t like to be criticized, judged, hurt, rejected or ashamed. But these are exactly the feelings that we have when we fail in our diet. If you can’t accept the fact that you will absolutely fail from time to time then you’ll always be chasing perfection. Since it’s unattainable, you’ll be on a path unhappiness and even depression.

Trust your body

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Learning to trust what you mind and body are telling you is a critical practice to ensure success in weight loss. The mind is intimately linked to the body, and not separate, as Cartesian duality suggests.

Trust what your body is telling you when it comes to what you need to eat, how much sleep you need and how much stress is acceptable. All of this affects your ability to lose weight if you’re not in balance.

Eat well, not less

They say “A body is made in the kitchen, not in the gym”, so essentially, it’s easier to watch what you eat than it is is to eat less or worrying about burning it all off in the gym.

Exercise

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Even thought you eat well and follow the rest of the guidelines here, exercise is still critically important to weight loss. You should think about it differently though. The purpose of exercising is to burn calories but it’s so much more in the grand scheme of things.

Exercise helps with your overall health. When you exercise you simply feel better. When you’re active your brain releases chemicals that make you feel good. You feel energized. You feel good about yourself. You’ll be stronger, you’ll have more energy and you’ll generally sleep better. All of these things help in the weight loss battle.

Be Mindful

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Being mindful equals being in control. As I mentioned in the previous story, I didn’t feel in control when I came home from work today. I started shoving food and generally just acting on impulse. I wasn’t centered and mindful of my actions.

Establishing a practice of mindfulness and meditation can be a transformative strategy for weight loss. It will help you be present in the moment and make better decisions throughout the day when your goals are challenged.

Be positive

Committing to long term success and not short term gains while continuing to be positive is a foundational best practice. Know that you will fail at times but if you stay positive and continually remind yourself that you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll gradually and eventually see success.

Celebrate small wins on a day-to-day basis. Strive to have a day where you meditate in the morning, you eat well throughout the day. In the afternoon you exercise and you can identify times where you were mindful and present. Then have dinner, relax with your loved ones and get a good night sleep. This should be celebrated. This is success. If you can try to celebrate and be positive when you have small wins, the big wins will eventually come. But if you get down on yourself over the failures, you almost certainly fail in the long run. Stay positive. It’s the only way to success.

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Your Manifesto:

Print out this list of 7 pillars and stick it on your refrigerator. That way you’ll be reminded on a daily basis of what you need to work on. Having these simple reminders will help you when you’re struggling and need to be guided back onto your path of success.

 More Information and further reading:

12 Ways to Accept Yourself

Book: Eat Well, Not Less

How To Motivate Yourself Into an Exercise Routine You’ll Actually Stick To

Mindfulness: Getting started

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