The Goal I Made That Helped Me Lose 40 Pounds (Hint: It Wasn't To Lose Weight)

I hear people say all the time that they want to get healthy as a way to lose weight. One problem with this goal, is that if you’ve struggled with your weight, eating healthy won’t necessarily help you lose weight, especially for the long haul.

I’ve learned that the real reasons most people struggle to lose weight aren’t that they don’t know what’s healthy or don’t know how much to eat. People usually know exactly what they should and need to do to lose weight, but struggle to actually do it.

You might be wondering what my goal was, if it wasn’t to eat healthy or to lose weight. I wanted to have a healthier relationship with food.

I thought about how I felt like I needed my favorite foods to enjoy life, how full and sluggish I felt after eating and how out of control I often felt around food. I wanted all that to change. I wanted to be more in control and feel relaxed and happy, both while I was eating and afterwards.

The most common reasons for not being able to lose weight and gaining weight back are extra snacking, motivation, portion control and lack of consistency.

I used to focus on restriction, low calorie foods and more exercise, and struggled with staying on track. I would calculate the ‘end date,’ if I lost a certain number of pounds per week. The focus was always on the scale, what I was and wasn’t eating, not giving into cravings and trying not to eat even if I was still hungry or feeling unsatisfied.  

It wasn’t until I focused on me and how I felt, making myself more important than any food, that things started to change.

A surprising thing happened when I started putting myself first, I felt happier. Though, I didn’t necessarily think I was unhappy before. I loved eating and enjoyed life, but I often made bad food choices and ate too much, so I felt some level of disappointment in myself, and was reminded of it at times when my clothes felt tight or when I felt uncomfortable in a bathing suit.

Following my gut, choosing nourishing foods that I was in the mood for and making choices that made me feel great in the present moment and afterwards, was empowering. I enjoyed food more than ever because it was helping me feel stronger, leaner, energized and clear minded.

This is a change you can make today and feel the positive effects of, regardless of weight loss. If you’re used to feeling overly full and/or guilty after eating or struggle to consistently make healthy eating choices, start listening to what your body really wants. Value yourself enough to know you’re more important than any food.

It’s one thing to recognize what your body needs and wants and another to actually listen to it and do it.  It’s like a muscle and took some practice to master. I still indulge and enjoy fried foods and sweets here and there, but it’s more intentional (a conscious decision) and instead of feeling guilty, I just consider it part of life. There’s no perfection in life and expecting that is a setup for failure, especially when temptation is all around us.

This is one of the changes that made eating healthy easier and losing weight and maintaining it feel almost effortless.

Kate Martino