By: Heather Wright, FNP-C., Red Mountain Clinical Assistant Director
After losing 147 pounds, I feel like a new person. I am healthier, happier and more active than I ever could have imagined. Now, I can do activities that I never would have been able to do at my heaviest weight, like hike regularly, scuba dive, and snowboard. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be healthy, happy, half my physical size, and counseling others about weight loss, I never would have believed it.
I am here to tell you that you can change your family legacy, too. The work throughout your journey won’t always be easy, but it will definitely be worth it when you see the positive changes in yourself and your loved ones.
Here are some important things that I found helpful for succeeding in changing my legacy:
TIP #1: Take one day at a time
Weight loss can be a very touchy subject because of the emotions associated with it. I tried many diets over the years: Weight Watchers, Keto, and any other fad diet that seemed easy enough to produce my desired results. I would lose weight, but always gained it back over time.
In the past, if I slipped up one meal, it would turn into an entire day–and sometimes the week– of poor eating. In my mind, the important thing I didn’t realize was that I could always choose to get back on track. I didn’t eat perfectly every day. I had slip ups at times; they happen – but I started to work through these issues and before I knew it, I had completed 4 weeks on the RM3® program and was 22 pounds lighter.
Remember that even though you may have messed up at lunch, you can refocus with healthy eating at dinner. If you make a mistake or have a food slip-up, get right back on track! Forming healthy, daily habits will make choosing healthy choices an automatic process, and it will require less discipline over time to complete healthy tasks, like meal prepping and going for a daily walk. Habits take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to form, so be gracious and patient with yourself. Build your inner strength and focus – know that changing your unhealthy patterns into healthy patterns will change your results. Consistency is key.
TIP #2: Be nice to yourself
When you are heavy, people think the easy answer is simple: eat less and work out. It sounds easy enough, but when you are feeling down about your weight, then those “simple” tasks aren’t so simple. It’s easy to be hard on yourself, feel down, beat yourself up, and use food to soothe the pain, but this results in the cycle of weight gain — sometimes more than your initial loss.
What made the biggest difference for me was the support that I received at Red Mountain Weight Loss. I never felt judged or unimportant like I did when trying other weight loss solutions. Their accountability and kindness helped me find long-term success.
Instead of telling yourself that you can’t do something or that you made a bad choice, try talking to yourself nicely. Even if you made a bad choice, try to discover why it happened instead of beating yourself up by saying things like “I am such a failure.” The fact is you can’t change a decision that you made in the past, but you can learn from it.
Reflect: Do you fall off of your diet plan when you are stressed, emotional, poorly prepared, etc.? What can you do to replace the habit of eating as a coping mechanism?
Being kind to yourself has many emotional and mental health benefits as well. Psychology Today reports that researchers found that the more self-compassion you have for yourself, the more positive the consequences, including:“greater life satisfaction, emotional intelligence, interconnectedness with others, wisdom, curiosity, happiness, and optimism. Self-compassion is also associated with less self-criticism, depression, anxiety, fear of failure, and perfectionism.” In other words, a kind attitude towards yourself will build your confidence and foster a positive attitude that will contribute to reaching your weight loss goals.
TIP #3: Give yourself permission to change and excel
When I was at my heaviest, I thought that I would never get to my goal weight. I secretly felt that it was physically impossible to achieve my goals. Simple tasks such as cleaning or walking long distances were taxing and often required multiple breaks. I remember being nervous about sitting in a booth, a plastic chair, or an airplane for fear that I would need the dreaded seat belt extender. I took one flight where I was too embarrassed to ask for a seat belt extender so I positioned my jacket over my lap so that it appeared like it was fastened.
As I was embarking on my journey to get my Nurse Practitioner degree I decided that it was finally time for me to get healthy. After all, how were patients going to listen to me about health if I wasn’t setting the example? Plus, I was tired of feeling tired, shopping in plus size stores, and not living my best life.
At times we can get stuck in a way of being. We do this to ourselves or our friends and family may be used to seeing us a certain way. For example, you may be the one who everyone can count on to share dessert. It’s okay to change this; don’t let people make you feel bad for making improvements or changes.
“When we feel bad about our bodies, we often turn to loved ones — families, friends, and romantic partners — for support and advice. How they respond can have a bigger effect than we might think,” said Professor Christine Logel, lead weight loss researcher from the University of Waterloo in a Good Housekeeping article. If you have a critical circle of friends and family, this could negatively impact your weight loss journey – but it is not impossible to overcome. Remember that you are in control of your own future! Their words do not have to define you or your future.
TIP #4: Dream big
At my heaviest, I tipped the scale at 322 lbs. Now, I have friends and family members seek out my counsel about weight loss and healthy living. My 80-year-old grandma decided to start the RM3® program, and lost 80 pounds, and my sister has lost 70 pounds! We are able to focus on healthy habits together and are better for it.
You may want to lose 50, 100, or more pounds. Visualize where you want to go and make sure that your daily decisions move you toward your vision. Take the time to imagine your new, healthy body. Take the time to imagine eating delicious, healthy portioned food. Take the time to imagine being confident and finally doing all the things that you couldn’t do because of the weight. Shape Magazine reports: “If you start to see yourself as a success from the get-go-replacing thoughts of a ‘heavy’ you making poor choices with a fitter, healthier, and happier version of yourself –you’ll be more likely to stick with your [weight loss] plan.”
You can change your legacy and start a new trend of healthy living for yourself and your loved ones. I am proof that it is possible!
Heather Wright, FNP-C is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and the Red Mountain Weight Loss Clinical Assistant Director, balancing her time between patient care and administrative duties. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Arizona State University and received her Nurse Practitioner and Masters Degree in Nursing from the University of Phoenix. Heather is currently a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
Take the first step to becoming a healthier version of you by booking an appointment today.