In 2007 my brother was getting married and asked me to be his best man. I was honored, and excited, until the tuxedo fitting for all the groomsmen. Everyone else fit into their tuxedos just fine, except for me.
The kind people at the store did the best they could, but there wasn’t a size that would fit me. I was too big. Weeks later they called and had one specially delivered. The wedding went off without a hitch.
The problem came on Facebook after the wedding. People naturally posted pictures, and I was appalled to see how big I looked. I cried myself to sleep that night.
I woke up the next day determined to lose the weight. When I got on the scale the number I saw was 332 pounds! I was determined to lose the weight, but I didn’t understand what it meant to change my lifestyle.
I went on a crazy diet where I was only allowed to eat 1,200 calories a day and exercised for four hours a day. I lost 132 pounds in six months. Mission accomplished. Right?
Since I didn’t learn healthy habits I gained all that weight back plus 38 pounds that next year. Flash forward to June 15 of 2013. Again I was a best man, this time at my best friend’s wedding.
It was the exact same routine. The pictures were posted on Facebook and I was even more appalled. When I got on the scale I was 370 pounds. I worked so hard the first time — how could this happen again? On June 17 of 2013 I didn’t start my weight loss journey, I started the journey to create healthy habits that ultimately changed my life.
In that journey I quit a job I hated and moved to Maui, Hawaii. I talked about that in my last post here on The Huffington Post. I lost those 170 pounds in one year. At the time of this writing I now weigh 200 pounds.
Learning these seven healthy habits helped me lose the weight and change my life. If you are struggling with weight loss or making big changes, they can work for you too.
Losing weight takes time, especially if it’s a lot of weight. I started my weight loss journey for the second time on June 17 of 2013. All I could think about at first was that big number, 370 pounds. It’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror every day and not see major changes.
The old adage finally sunk in: This isn’t a race. It’s a marathon. Instead of focusing on that big number I focused on taking this journey one day at a time. Every day I would wake up and just focus on what actions I needed to take that day. If I had a bad day I would go to bed, sleep it off, and wake up determined to make that day better than the day before.
By learning patience I stopped trying to get a quick win, I learned what real change means. If you’re going to be successful in your weight loss journey you have to realize it’s going to take time. Patience will teach you what change really means, not just how to lose weight.
To lose the weight it meant sacrificing the things I wanted. I gave up soda; I gave up fast food and junk food. I gave up my TV time to exercise. Instead of trying some fad diet I exercised portion control with my meals.
Making any big change in your life is going to require sacrifice. Instead of focusing on what you have to give up, focus on the why behind what you’re doing. When it comes to weight loss, your why is a long healthy life, it’s being there for your family. Your why will give you to strength to stick with it, even through the rough times.
3. Realistic planning
Success with weight loss means having a realistic plan. I set the goal of losing 170 pounds in one year’s time frame. Breaking that down meant that I had to lose 15 pounds a month. That number was a realistic number in my plan.
Don’t set unrealistic plans for yourself by trying to lose too much weight to fast. Don’t set unrealistic plans for any change in your life. Take some time, and put a proper plan in place before you make a big change. Stick with that plan, and you will see success.
4. Life change
You can’t look at weight loss as dieting and exercise. To have success, and continued success, you have to look at this as a lifestyle change. I didn’t learn that habit the first go around, and the weight came back as a result.
By making this a life change you won’t just do what’s necessary. You’ll incorporate healthy habits into everything you do, which will give you that continued success. You won’t make those same bad decisions because that won’t be what you want for your new life.
5. Consistent exercise
My mother is Kenyan, and I lived in Kenya for two years. When I started exercising I chose running. I couldn’t even run for a mile that first time, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I was determined to be consistent with exercising; my plan had me exercising five days a week.
Running is hard on the body and may not be your thing, but you should incorporate consistent exercise as a habit in your life. Consistent exercise gives you more energy and teaches you discipline that you can use in every other area of your life.
One of the best things you can do for weight loss, and any change in your life, is to keep yourself accountable to someone else. It can be friends or family, but have someone be there to help keep you on track.
When we try to do it alone it’s too easy to make excuses, and justify inaction. That accountable will eliminate that. Just make sure you seek out positive, supportive people. A negative person will feed into all the things that would normally hold you back.
Whether it’s losing weight, leaving a job you hate or any big change in your life, you’re going to need perseverance to get through the 1,000 times when you want to quit. The one habit successful people practice is persevering no matter what.
There will be times when you experience failure. Accept that failure for what it really is: a small bump in your journey. It doesn’t mean the journey’s over, you can totally over come anything that gets in your way. Determine right now that no matter what you’re not going to give up.
I lost 170 pounds, and I’m not worried about gaining it back. This time around I learned what it means to have a healthy lifestyle. I’ve learned that it’s not about dieting and exercise; it’s all about having the right habits that ensure a lifestyle change.
We’re eight months into 2014, long past the time when we would have made our New Year’s resolutions. You may not be where you wanted to be, but this year, and your journey aren’t over.
Life is too short to let regret rule your life. We only get one life to live, and time is the one resource we’ll never get back. Start today. Start right after you get done reading this.