Practicing meditation and mindfulness has had a huge impact on my life. But recently I realized how much it has helped me on my weight loss journey. It’s actually played a HUGE role and is critical to my success.
I can see now that MINDSET is the key to my success in many things, and that’s definitely the case with weight loss too.
For years I have struggled with being overweight. For as long as I can remember I have been at a weight that is heavier than what I want. I always longed to be thin. In fact, my desire to be thin was part of what led me into drug addiction – once I found out that using methamphetamine took away my appetite I was hooked! Oh, I’ll just do this until I get thin enough and then I’ll stop, I told myself. How naïve I was!
Over the years I have gained and lost a lot of weight. After getting clean and sober at 25 years old, I put on 50-60 pounds and reached my heaviest weight ever. I probably weighed around 250 pounds.
After settling into my new clean life I realized that I was using food instead of drugs (which was ok for that time because it helped me stay clean!). I knew I needed to do something about it, but this time in a healthy way.
The Inner Work Begins
Through my recovery, I started to do some real inner work which included looking at my body image issues. I started practicing body love instead of body hate. I found the gym for the first time in my life. I remember going to the gym for the first time, I was so nervous! I felt like such an outsider, like I didn’t belong, but I did it anyway. I dropped a little bit of weight and then discovered yoga for the first time. I fell in love with yoga. I joined Weight Watchers with a friend and lost 40 pounds. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I was in the flow and it happened relatively painlessly. I felt happy and healthy.
Then I finished my bachelor’s degree and ended up getting my first professional job and moved to Chicago. I didn’t continue with Weight Watchers and slowly the weight started creeping back. I gained about half of the weight back and then made many attempts to go back to Weight Watchers, and I would do well for the first couple of weeks, but then would stop losing and just couldn’t do it. I did this several times over about a 6 year period.
I just couldn’t lose the weight. And I couldn’t figure out why! I was doing the same thing as before – why wasn’t it working now? I just couldn’t seem to stay on the plan. It wasn’t like I was eating on the plan and not losing, the problem was that I couldn’t stay on the plan. I wanted to, so desperately, but I just couldn’t seem to do it. I would go back and try again, and then would fail again.
Healthy California Living was a Dream
Then my work brought me to San Francisco. Which was a total dream and I fell into the healthy eating and living vibe of the Bay Area. Naturally I lost some weight just by changing what I was eating. I fell in love with the fresh, delicious, California produce and loved shopping the local farmers markets.
I belonged to a gym and worked out regularly. I practiced yoga. I walked a lot and adopted a healthy California lifestyle. I got back to my lowest adult weight.
Fast forward a couple of years. I left my stressful job in San Francisco and moved to Barcelona to study and live a more rewarding life. Living in Spain has been life changing in many ways. I decided to let myself eat ALL THE FOODS. I let any kind of diet restrictions go, and tried everything!
After 2 years of eating whatever I wanted, I found myself back up to 240 pounds and feeling totally out of control. I am an addict. For me, no-holds-barred eating is dangerous and leads me to an unhealthy weight and into a cycle of binge eating.
My binge eating had progressed. In the past, when I’d buy a box of cookies I’d eat maybe 5 or 6 and then I’d be able to stop. But I found that the last year in Barcelona I’d buy a box of cookies and eat half of it. My mouth would be raw and sore. I’d be eating WAY past the point of wanting to eat. But I just couldn’t stop. And then the next day I’d eat the other half of the box. My relationship with food felt exactly how it was with the drugs. Something needed to change.
I started calorie tracking, but struggled to stick to it. I started seeing a naturopath nutritionist who put me on an eating plan and weekly acupuncture sessions. I was successful for the first couple of weeks, but then stalled and couldn’t stick to the plan.
Even though I was struggling, I was determined. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to figure this out no matter what, and get my body and mind back to where it was.
I Sought Help and Started to Change
I began working with a holistic health coach to add healthy habits back into my life. We worked on making small, manageable changes that I could commit to – like eating a healthy breakfast every day – and I started to make some progress.
I started journaling daily. I recommitted to a daily practice of meditation. This turned into a healthy morning routine that became the biggest tool in my toolbox. I started setting and writing down weekly goals for myself. I started following a bunch of bad ass babes on Instagram who were into body love and brave enough to share their journeys of body transformation.
I was inspired.
I tried different ways of eating, more plant-based, low fat, low sugar, and then in July 2017 I did the Whole30. The Whole30 is 30 days of eating a VERY strict diet where you cut out all the crap and food groups that can potentially cause issues. You eat only whole foods, and eliminate dairy, grains, legumes, and anything artificial. It’s basically paleo on crack. It was the first time I had totally cut out sugar for more than a couple days at a time and wow – this was EYE OPENING.
Once I stopped eating sugar, I stopped craving it
For the first time in a long time I felt like I had some sort of control over what I was putting in my mouth.
The Whole30 made me realize how addicted I was to sugar and carbs. I’ve known for a long time that sugar is a problem, especially for me, but I wasn’t quite ready to face it.
Meanwhile, I kept journaling and meditating and staying focused. I would lose a couple of pounds – up to about 8 pounds, and then I would gain it back. I repeated this pattern for about a year, just really focusing on my mindset and my daily practice of meditation and journaling and trying new ways of eating.
I kept losing and gaining those damn same 8 pounds.
But I didn’t give up.
In the past, I would have said fuck this and head to the nearest bakery. But this time I was not willing to quit.
What made the difference? It was my mindset. I made a commitment to myself to figure this shit out and how to be successful with the weight loss that I truly wanted, and I followed that commitment up with inner work. Every day I wrote and meditated and eventually added visualization to my practice – this gave me the mental strength to keep moving forward even when it felt like I wasn’t making any progress.
But I can see now that I WAS making progress. I was making very important progress in developing a solid foundation with my mindset.
My mindset helped me stay the course and keep trying different ways of eating until I found the thing that worked for me.
In January 2018 I found that way of eating. For me, it means a no sugar, very low carb and high fat diet. I got past that 8 pound mark. I got to the 10 pound mark. I got to the 20 pound mark and was like holy shit I’m actually doing it!
Looking back on my journey, I can see that it didn’t matter what eating plan I was doing, without the proper mindset and inner tools I would go back to my old ways. Doing the inner work helped me to stay the course and try different ways of eating until I finally landed on the one that works for me.
My meditation routine is mostly a mindfulness-based practice. Through this practice I have become super aware of my thoughts and learned to relate to them in a healthy way. This has helped me relate to my body in a healthy and loving way too.
I recognize those unhealthy, unhelpful thoughts when they arise, and have learned to change the conversation that’s happening in my head.
Mindfulness has helped me tremendously with ACCEPTANCE. Practicing being ok with the present moment and whatever is happening in it is has taught me radical self-acceptance.
It has softened my judgments and criticism – towards myself and others.
I’m so grateful that I figured out the pieces of this complex puzzle and even though it feels super vulnerable, I needed to share my truth. At the time of this writing I am down 24 pounds and feel amazing. I’m not turning back!