Here’s how I feel about exercise: moving my body feels good, helps me sleep, boosts my mood, and keeps me fit and healthy. The fact that it burns calories honestly feels like a bonus, but I didn’t always feel that way.
Throughout my life I’ve always been active, but for years I separated “activity” from “exercise.” Activities felt like fun things to do, like go cross-country skiing, roller skating or hiking. Exercise felt more like punishment and sometimes I’d count the minutes until it was over. When I finally stopped “exercising” I was much more consistently “active” and as a result, I burn many more calories each week in ways I truly enjoy.
Eating is the same way. Every client I’ve ever counseled who attempted to eat in a way that felt like torture ultimately rebelled. But those who focus on eating healthy foods in a way that makes them feel good wind up seeing weight loss as a bonus.
Here’s an exercise I sometimes do with my clients: list all the reasons for eating healthfully (e.g. more veggies, whole grains, right-sized portions, in balance with your calorie needs, less processed foods, etc.) that have nothing to do with weight loss.
There are a lot of things on my personal list, like more energy, better looking skin, getting sick less often, being in a better mood, and handling stress better. For all of these reasons I’d still eat healthfully, even if there was an easier way to keep fitting into my skinny jeans.
A lot of my clients come to me for weight loss, but after about a week of changing the way they eat I usually hear things like, “I can’t believe how much energy I have, I feel amazing, and I’m getting comments on how great my skin looks – and I’m losing weight.” And in my experience when the weight loss becomes the bonus instead of the primary reward that’s when you’ve found an approach that truly translates into lasting results.
So, that said, how does your weight loss strategy measure up? Please share your thoughts!