Starting out on a new journey is exciting.
You anticipate new adventures, possibilities and a better, stronger, happier you at the end of your chosen path.
The thing is, sometimes it works out and sometimes, things don't go the way you expect them to. You never know what lies at the end of that path until you get there.
The same thing applies when you set out to lose weight, change the way you eat and add movement into your life.
My own journey began when I decided that staying overweight, miserable and feeling like a slave to the food around me was no longer an option that I was willing to accept. Now, looking back and realizing that I had spent over 10 years of my life struggling with my body, I wish I had done certain things differently.
Here are the seven key changes I would make if I could go back in time and hit the 'reset' button:
1. I would have worked on replacing my bad habits with good ones, earlier
If there's one HUGE lesson I've learnt about being a better owner of a human body, it's this: That how it looks, feels, functions, and what it allows you to accomplish in life is all about your habits.
The tiny decisions you make every second of the day about what to eat, how to eat, what to drink, how to move and how you care for your flesh-and-bone vessel matter and add up over time.
The longer I allowed my bad habits to fester, the stronger a hold they had on me, and the more difficult it was to displace them with healthier ones.
2. I wouldn't have wasted time looking for external validation
For a long time, what motivated me to get healthier was what other people thought of me. I was driven to lose weight and look 'normal' so that I would fit in and the people around me would like me better.
Except that by doing this, I didn't like ME any better. Focusing on everything and everyone else left me with very little time and energy to think about what I wanted.
If I could start over, I'd go inward and seek approval and strength from myself, not everyone else.
3. I would have focused on eating more, not less
The key to healthy weight loss that doesn't drive you crazy and lasts for life isn't starvation or prolonged food restriction; it's giving your body enough of what nourishes you, and less of what doesn't.
Great, Michele. If only you knew this earlier.
I could have saved myself the guilt that came with eating from knowing that I can (and should) feed my body with what it needs AND still lose weight.
4. I would have fit exercise into my life, rather than avoid it
I was a superstar in PE class at school--a superstar when it came to leaving my shorts at home so I didn't have to join in and get all, ya know, sweaty and out of breath.
It was only years later at university, where I tried a kickboxing class and fell in love with it that I realized: "Hey, this exercise thing isn't so bad. I actually like it and sweating doesn't feel as tragic as I thought it did."
Plus, it helped that sticking to it helped me lose all the extra weight I'd been carrying around throughout my teens.
5. I would have learned how the food I ate affected my body, weight loss and well-being
A donut has 250 calories, and so does an avocado, so what difference does it make which one I pick?
As it turns out, plenty. My body uses the energy from a donut very differently than that of an avocado. It also makes me feel differently after my meal. Same number of calories, very different effects.
What I would do if I could really hit that 'reset' button is educate myself on how different foods affect my energy, mood, performance during my workouts and how I feel, and use that information to make my weight-loss journey a happier, easier and less overwhelming one.
6. I would have looked to real life, not magazines, for role models
The first resource I turned to when I realized that I needed help was a magazine. Nothing wrong with that, but there was a problem: None of the models in the magazine looked like me, and there was no way in this lifetime that I could look like them, even if I tried.
The outcome: Massively misguided goals, crappy self esteem and a deepening fear that no one could really help me eat, move and feel better. What I should have done was to look to REAL people around me to for inspiration and guidance.
7. I would have learned to master my self talk instead of letting it control me
At the heart of every emotional eating episode, self-sabotage and wall I had run into were my thoughts--thoughts that I wasn't good enough, capable enough or worthy enough of getting what I wanted, and it wasn't until recently that I realized how much they'd been holding me back and truly began to dig deep and work on reversing all this negative energy that had been floating around in my sub-conscious.
If you've ever said to yourself: "I'm so fat and disgusting", "I need this bar of chocolate to get through the day", "I'm not worth anything unless I lose these 50 pounds", and then found yourself struggling to get out of bed, stay motivated and do what's good for your body consistently, you'll know what I mean, and you're not alone.
Tired of yo-yo dieting and regaining all the weight you lose? Sign up for Michele's FREE Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet course to start dropping those extra pounds and keep them off... for good.
This article originally appeared on michelelian.com
Photo credit: Ana Gabriel
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.