Home All About Your Body Friday 5: 5 Things You Must Learn If You Want To Lose Weight

Friday 5: 5 Things You Must Learn If You Want To Lose Weight

by Erika Nicole Kendall

There are tons of folks around, now, who are new to BGG2WL.

Hi, y’all! (Stop lurking. I see you!)

So often, on the FB page, I get people who ask those long-standing questions, “How do I lose weight? Where do I start?” Here, I’m going to give you five things that, in my mind, you must understand if you want to experience successful weight loss.

1) It is, unequivocally, a lifestyle change. You can’t say to yourself, “Oh, I’m going to only give up sweets and bread until I lose these last 15lbs, then it’s gon’ be all sandwiches everything after that!” You… you can’t do that. You can’t give up your daily muffin for a month only to celebrate your weight loss with your daily muffins again. The things you give up will be, without a doubt, the things you have to stay away from in order to keep the weight off. I’m sorry – I don’t do the yo-yoing weight thing. I want long-lasting weight loss. I’m not trying to wreck havoc on my system. This is why it is best to decide, for yourself, a sensible way to enjoy the things you desire and the frequency at which you should have them… even carbs. (And, if you find that to be excessively difficult, then you might want to read up on emotional eating.)

Also, making healthy eating and exercise a part of your lifestyle is crucial for the sake of consistency. To quote one of my old posts:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s the fact that consistency is vital. The primary reason why people don’t experience success with their efforts isn’t “eating habits” or “they don’t work our enough.” It’s the lack of consistency. Mind you, when I say “efforts,” I’m not referring to simply “losing the weight.” I’m referring to “keeping it off,” too. That’s where “change your lifestyle” comes in.

What a lot of us fail to admit, is that the way we live now not only allows us to maintain the weight we have now, but can also encourage weight gain if we’re not careful. That’s true for a size 6 just like it’s true for a size 36. It’s true for those who want to lose weight just like it’s true for those who want to maintain weight, and even those who want to gain, even if only for a temporary amount of time. The way you live affects the way your body manages your weight.

If the way you live is conducive to weight gain, and you don’t want to gain, then you have to change the way you live. If that means less processed food and more veggies, then go with that. If that means less “protein bars,” then go with that. If that means less soda, then go with that. However, whatever it is you’re giving up, you have to remain consistent with it. You can’t simply change how you live until you lose the weight, then go back to what you were doing before. The lifestyle you lead now is the one conducive to your current weight. Going back and adding in what you’ve cut out results in you taking on your former lifestyle that allowed you to gain the weight from before.

2) You will never be able to out-train a bad diet. Trust me. The amount and speed with which you can screw up and exceptional routine with excess calories is astounding… especially and specifically if they are of the processed food or refined carbohydrate kind. To quote another post of mine:

when you start counting calories and start understanding where your calorie totals for your day are going haywire, you wind up realizing that most of those calories? Come straight from refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs are, more often than not, an unnecessary caloric black hole. That big giant roll of bread on your lunch sandwich? Probably could’ve swapped that out for a salad – don’t most sandwich toppings often wind up sounding like delicious salads, anyway? – or could’ve been rolled in a nice strong leaf. That big giant bowl of cereal? Yeah, one serving size might say “80 calories,” but you didn’t realize that that “one serving size” is for “one half cup of cereal” and that you actually ate four servings this morning. That massive serving of rice in your kung pao chicken you ate? If it was over a cup of it, it was well over 300 calories that you didn’t need… because you could’ve easily tossed some steamed broccoli in there with that, instead, and been much more satiated with less calories and morefood.

And, speaking of processed foods…

3) Processed foods – and poor quality foods in general – need to go. Most processed foods aren’t made to be fibrous, rich in nutrients or even filling. They’re meant to be consumed easily, quickly and “hit on all of our senses” so that you will rush out to the store and buy more of it. That’s the business model; they couldn’t survive and thrive if that wasn’t the plan. Your body needs vitamins, minerals… those trigger signals in our bodies and give us the OK to stop eating. Those components aren’t present in processed food, and the synthetic additions simply will not do.

You know how, if you leave food sitting out, it will attract flies? Why? Because flies and rodents are attracted to the same things that our bodies are attracted to in food – nutrients. Ever notice that with ALL the food in a supermarket, there’s rarely any ants or bugs in the aisles, but you have to swat them away from the tomatoes or kiwi in the produce area? That’s not because every area in the grocery store – except the produce – is sprayed down. I can only offer theory as to why that is. For starters, the processed foods have to be processedto maintain shelf life. They have to be able to handle being transported to the facility. They have to be able to withstand sitting on a shelf until purchased. They have to be able to withstand sitting in your cabinets until you cook them.

Can you do that with your home made cooking? I doubt it.

Here’s another question: What do you think they’re putting in these processed foods to ward off insects and rodents?

Last question: Do you think it’s a good idea to ingest the same chemicals that are put in food… food that flies don’t even want? The same chemicals that prevent flies from desiring our food, are the same chemicals we’re ingesting when we eat this stuff anyway. How healthy can that be? Nothing in the world can debunk what feels like logic to me.

In other words… eat your damn veggies.

4) Any means of successfully achieving and maintaining weight loss cannot endanger your overall health. Your diet pills, with suspect ingredients that even you can’t identify (usually about five different forms of caffeine… you’d be better off drinking some quality coffee) – and I know you can’t identify them because the companies that make them can’t identify their own ingredients – aren’t going to cut it. Your master cleanses? Those aren’t going to cut it, either. Your long term, consistent success will be based on how you take care of yourself and the last time I checked, tricking yourself into not being hungry or starving yourself on lemon juice and cayenne pepper wasn’t any form of a “good idea.” Not to mention, you’ll feel like crap in comparison to how you’d feel if you simply ate some veggies.

You will feel like garbage. You will be more vulnerable to illness because as there are no nutrients pouring into your system like when one eats cleanly, the body cannot heal itself or properly protect itself from disease. A healthy diet consists of a vast array of fruits and vegetables, because those are the things that are most intended to help our bodies heal themselves. If you are intentionally depriving yourself of that for the sake of weight loss? You’re sacrificing your insides for your outsides… when in reality, if you treated your insides properly, your outside would fall in line.

As far as the actual detoxification process? The “cleansing of your colon?” You wouldn’t need to do it if you didn’t skimp on the fiber. And I mean, fiber from food. Not drinks or sea salt flushes or teas. A body that has a regular stream of fibrous foods combined with water flowing through it does not need to detox. It will do it on its own. The body has taken thousands of years to learn how to detoxify itself. It doesn’t need you starving it in order for it to make detoxification happen.

But what if you know your eating habits have been poor? What if you know you have all kinds of goo trapped within your intestines and want to clean it out? Eat more fibrous foods! Drink water! Trust me, you don’t have to torture yourself by gorging out on silly lemonade mixtures to clean yourself out.

And last but not least?

5) Be compassionate: towards yourself, and others. There’s a certain kind of energy that comes with becoming “the former fat person who hates fat people.” There’s also a kind of energy that attaches itself to people who are so “desperate” to lose weight that they make self-deprecating jokes and treat themselves poorly, as if to say they deserve this treatment because they haven’t achieved weight loss yet.

I’m always checking myself for this, because while I have to discuss things in realistic terms – being overweight impacted my ability to run, my weight affects my ability to excel at certain sports – that doesn’t remove my responsibility to be compassionate. Not my responsibility to my readership to be compassionate, but my responsibility to myself, because that comes first to me. When I blog, I’m writing to myself. I write the words that I know I need to hear, and I know that I don’t respond to an attitude that has to put someone else down to make my choice appear to be the better choice. I also don’t respond to the desperation that alot of people write when when it comes to losing weight. I mean, if you’re “desperate,” that’s you, but I won’t contribute to or participate in that.

I do think this is an important issue, though, because lots of people who lose weight actually need to, in fact, demonize “fatness” and “fat people.” They need to see “fat” as the enemy in order to press on away from it. I just can’t do that. For me, “fat” isn’t the enemy. “Weakness” is the enemy. Not being able to run across the city if I forget to secure a ride home is the enemy. Not being able to survive the zombie invasion is the enemy. Not being able to flip upside down on the pole is the enemy. Not looking the way I want is the enemy. Striving toward those things will give me the body I want without hating people – people who, invariably, look the same way I did, were probably as stressed out and emotionally broken as I was, are battling the same demons I faced (and still face), and simply want to live without judgment and “fat-shaming,” which is simply just chastising people and unnecessarily criticizing people for being fat.

You cannot get in the habit of treating yourself (or anyone else) poorly and thinking that will yield the results you desire. It doesn’t. In any walk of life. You have to treat yourself well – put yourself first, even –  and acknowledge your shortcomings so that you can actually address them. Give yourself space to screw up, then give yourself time to address the problem and learn how you can never make the same mistake again. (We take this approach with dating and relationships, no? It works here, too.)

I cannot express enough how important this concept of self-compassion truly is. It’s why I say “I don’t diet.” It’s why my plan for developing a strong sense of body image includes thinking of how I’d treat my four year old daughter if I caught her saying the same things about her body that I used to say about mine. It’s why I don’t believe in “cheat meals.”

When it comes to weight loss, self-compassion – instead of negative talk and chastising oneself for lacking “will power” – is the key because self-compassion allows for us to make mistakes and, thereafter, learn lessons from those mistakes. Even in the days when I was eating 7-layer dip for breakfast, I knew I was wrong but I allowed myself to make the mistake and accept what consequences would come from it… and I never ate it again. Not “I never ate it for breakfast again,” but “I never ate it again. Period.”

Self-discipline might be the way to weight loss, but the missing factor in everyone’s understanding of self-discipline is that people who have never had self-discipline have to learn it somehow. It’s not simply “the frontal part of the brain region that fat people have never tapped into.” It is a learned trait… and that learning has to start somewhere that doesn’t include “going cold turkey.”

I’ll even throw in a bonus note: don’t expect Herculean, Biggest-Loser-Style weight loss results each week… that is, unless you like the idea of teetering on an eating disorder.

Oh…I’ll even add in another one. You want the muscle. Trust me.

Alright, y’all. What did I leave out, here?

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vain319 June 8, 2012 - 8:59 AM

Amen,You speak on all the Facts that people don’t want to believe..yes, if you want it bad enough you will be consistent.I am on the journey now to lose and gain energy and it is tough!Especially with family life..but I am doing it..If you feel bad,I promise you will feel so much better after a workout!

RAINY January 1, 2014 - 12:16 AM


Goldeelocks June 8, 2012 - 9:54 AM

You’re so inspiring! Thank you for the motivation! it is very helpful to know that you’re not the only one that is challenged with these things.

Sherita June 8, 2012 - 11:25 AM

This is soo timely! This morning I was in my “I’m tired of looking/living the way I do” mood as it relates to my weight, and thought “Where should I start?!” Thanks so much for this post, Erika. I know it will be a journey wish I plan to document in a journal. And take one day at a time. Thanks again!

Vee June 8, 2012 - 12:03 PM


Erika this post is amazing. For the past 5-6 months I am learning it is a lifestyle change. I was a former yo-yo dieter and let me tell you the minute I gave up the simple carbs for 2-3 months yes I lost the weight but the minute I began eating simple carbs again I gained the weight back and then more. Last year around this time I was 140lbs. I gained weight around Nov-Dec last year 18lbs to be exact.

Now I am 138lbs. now because of dieting but a lifestyle change. So there you go it is all about lifestyle change. I remember this past Sunday I went to my beau’s mom house on Sunday and I did not want any dinner I preferred my salad I was getting when we left. I politely I must say declined her offer she proceeds to tell me I would “dry up” since I am watching my weight and has lost weight since Jan of this year.

As long as I am happy it is all right with me:)

Erika Nicole Kendall June 8, 2012 - 12:48 PM

You will …”dry up?” Should I even bother to ask what this means, or what this is in reference to?

I mean… I’m just curious. But I’m scared of what can of worms my curiosity is going to open up. ROFL

Vee June 8, 2012 - 3:24 PM

Where my beau is from when a person says to someone you will “dry up” means you are getting too thin/skinny looking.

Erika Nicole Kendall June 9, 2012 - 9:02 AM

OH! Phew.

You don’t wanna know what I THOUGHT it meant. LMAO

Vee June 9, 2012 - 12:14 PM

LMAO!!!@ I think I know;-) 😉

Ke June 9, 2012 - 8:38 AM

I am making more lifestyle changes. I am a vegetarian but I had a love for deep fried foods. Now i am breaking away from deep fried anything. I will eat grilled, sauteed, stir fry or baked items instead. These are one of the changes I decided to make. Another change is increasing my workout or doing different things and cooking more at home. I am 5 pounds overweight for my height of 5.6 but since want to be between 127 to 134. I hope i get there. I need more motivation

Laurie James Mackeson June 8, 2012 - 9:02 PM

It is most interesting to hear people (whom I know are unhappy about their health) give me advice OR (as is more often the case) project a “worried state” to me because of the changes I am making and the results that have followed. I appreciate some people’s (those I care about) concerns and ignore pretty much the rest and remember that good health choices should improve my functioning (physically, socially, emotionally etc). Those results are something the individual has to decide for themselves. Stay strong to your desires an appreciate advice from those you really care about. Godspeed!

larenee10 June 8, 2012 - 6:27 PM

I thought of you and your advice to be compassionate towards myself this week. I have been going hard in the gym, watching calories, and eating cleanly for about three weeks now. I got some toddler cooties from my son and have been down for the count for the last week. I almost starting with the self-guilt about not working out and not eating as much or as well as I need to. I had to exercise some compassion and realize that I needed to treat myself with as much understanding as my sick little ones. Thanks, ma’am.

Tracy June 8, 2012 - 7:24 PM

Soror this is RIGHT ON TIME!!!
Thank you do much for your dedication to keeping us informed about healthy living…
I’ve loss 113 pounds because I changed my mind about dieting and focused on HEALTHY LIVING 😉

Erika Nicole Kendall June 9, 2012 - 9:02 AM


LJ June 8, 2012 - 8:52 PM

A most awesomely refreshing article! Healthy living is a truely personal journey full off choices each of us make. How we use the resources we have, seek out more of the ones we want, reflect the choices we make and life we live. We make far more choices about our health than many people want us to believe. Some people want us to believe that we have little/no control over our life so they can (at a cost to us) provide us with a solution. As you put so well, we need to learn self control in order to make choices that are best for our own goals/journey. That was we can live with less stress/guilt about the choices we make. Again, awesome article!

Erica June 9, 2012 - 6:11 PM

You didn’t leave out a damn thing. Maintaining weight loss is a life long commitment. I’ve been ” eating clean” ie fresh fruits and veggies for 7 yrs now. I have my moments, but generally been consistent with my workouts/eating habits. It is not easy but so worth it. You don’t appreciate it until you face physical challenges. Had a partial hysterectomy 2 weeks ago. Walked out the hospital the next day and feeling good. I love my family for trying to feed me well, but I was so glad to get back in my own home and back to my green smoothies. Yes, I craved spinach smoothies, not cake. I am 100 percent certain that my lifestyle is attributing to my recovery and I am grateful.

marie June 10, 2012 - 1:38 PM

That is a great recap, I think it can be useful to add a link (or maybe did I miss it in the text) about the importance of natural progression and moving forward step by step as you describe in the post “Easing into clean eating” and “Mentally preparing for weight loss”
I think this state of mind is really important, I have noticed that myself: I tend to always want to go too fast and do everything at the same time instead of moving forward slowly but with assurance 🙂

Oh and also “5 reason you won’t lose weight” but maybe it is not a great way to welcome the newbies LOL

CoCo June 11, 2012 - 5:32 PM

“Self-discipline might be the way to weight loss, but the missing factor in everyone’s understanding of self-discipline is that people who have never had self-discipline have to learn it somehow.”

You’re preaching to the choir, Ms. Erika! It’s so, so hard to exercise self-discipline. I swear I spend more time ‘starting over’ than I do actually staying on track. As soon as I make a little progress, I fall back into my old ways, and I don’t know why. I keep asking myself if I need to pray more, meditate more, find more community, etc. and I still haven’t come up with a good answer. Either way, you’re 100% right, if I want to be successful, I have to learn self-discipline (whether I like it, or not).

RV June 15, 2012 - 11:56 AM

I must say, maybe you forgot: “Ignore those who are overweight that try to speak negatively about your efforts”. I try not to become the “use to be fat girl (even though I’m still about 30 pounds from ideal weight) who is now mean to fat people”. But that is extremely difficult when those fat people are telling you everyday what you can not do and how you will fail! One person in particular tried to tell me that I needed to eat steak and burgers if I was going to complete a half marathon. Two weeks ago I ran my first half and that person wont even acknowledge that I did it. I know a lot of really fat and obese people (100 + pounds overweight) who have a lot to say about me trying to be healthy and making better food choices. I dont eat meat, only drink soy/almond milk, etc…

Erika Nicole Kendall June 15, 2012 - 12:19 PM

Negativity doesn’t just come from overweight people, neither does bad advice.

Managing sabotage is a life skill that isn’t exclusive to weight loss. The things I listed here, more so are weight-loss specific.

RV June 15, 2012 - 10:50 PM

Interesting. I didn’t think of it that way. You’re absolutely right.

Karen T June 15, 2012 - 12:23 PM

I needed this soooooooo bad today! I’ve been in Plateauville for the last month and I realized it’s because I’d gotten REAL lazy with my lifestyle because “I know what I’ve eaten today so i don’t need to write it down/calculate calories”; “I walked waaaay more steps than normal today so that makes up for missing a workout”,and “these two FRIED chicken wings aren’t too bad”. I actually said ALL of those things. although, I haven’t gained anything, I haven’t lost anything and to me it’s just as bad as gaining.

Thanks so much. I’ve got it. Getting this yoga mat out today and WALKING to the farmer’s market this afternoon to stock up on my veggies.


Laurie James Mackeson June 15, 2012 - 3:22 PM

You are more living proof that no meal, day, week is bad enough to keep us “off the wagon”. I tip my hat to you! After all, healthy living is about “rate of consumption over time” not just one meal/day. People say healthy living is hard…it damn well is! But it doesn’t take long before the difficult associated with healthy choices (when compared to living with consistently bad choices) goes from being a little more difficult to much less difficult. Iwhen thinking about people who try to change their life, I think of the fact/possibility that unhealthy choices are so hard to change RATHER THAN thinking of healthy choices being difficult to make. Make sense?

Lina June 15, 2012 - 2:18 PM

Finding a support group is essential. Sometimes friends will keep us in that spot because they don’t think any thing is wrong with us. But it is about what we think and how we feel. And I felt sluggish, fatigue, and kept getting migraines. Also I was getting health issues that I thought were only reserved for older folks. Was I wrong! I knew I had to change and losing weight is just part of it. At a time, I felt like I had to justify it to my friends and get them to see it from my perspective. I don’t think I’m fat. I think I’m unhealthy. Some are on my bandwagon and others still don’t think I’m fat. So maybe thats the issue: fat vs unhealthy. I know bigger ladies who can run more than me and eat better than me. Also I know some skinnier ones who eat way worst than I do. So its all about perspective. Mine is about being healthier.

JAMAICA August 3, 2012 - 1:11 PM

Thanks for this article! I was standing in front of the mirror not five minutes ago saying how awful I look but I haven’t done anything about it. I lost forty lbs last year and have put back on fifteen of them already. Sad face! My main goal for losing weight is health and seeing my mother face diabetes, open heart surgery, hypertension and high blood pressure should be enough for me to call it quits with the food I love. I know that this is going to take time and changing my lifestyle as I previously did to lose weight the first time around. It’s hard, but I want to put forth the effort to do it again.Thanks for existing,and being non judgmental, and sensitive to these issues! Keep it coming!

Yvette August 3, 2012 - 3:14 PM

Excellent Article! Thank you for sharing. I plan to put this in action.

Gloya August 17, 2012 - 12:15 PM

Really good ideas!

Sam August 31, 2012 - 1:33 PM

Great post! I think consistency and making long term changes have always been the hardest thing for me. What I have come to realize is that it is just too overwhelming to say I can never have another donut again in my life. I’m not even a huge fan of donuts but when I have that mentality it makes me want a donut more than anything in the world. Now I tell myself, “I will make good choices today.” What do tomorrow and forever matter if I can’t get my head straight today? I am generally not a fan of short sightedness but it does help when trying to overcome bad habits. The best thing is that if you take change a day at a time one day you realize you’ve found a way to live happily without the harmful things you thought you couldn’t live without. It may take a long time and some days may be harder than others, but eventually you will have the real kind of change that happens within. You won’t be relying on will power to keep you from falling back on bad habits because you won’t even want those things anymore.

Chasing Joy September 7, 2012 - 5:41 PM

Greaat post. You have summed it up nicely.

Shemeka November 2, 2012 - 12:50 PM

GREAT POST!! I am that one would do well for the first 3-6mos then I will go right back into my “old habit” eating..Reading this post has allowed me to see my faults correct them and move forward to a healthier lifestyle..thank you, thank you!!

Shala November 2, 2012 - 4:49 PM

Hi,love your blog read it every week!
Keep up the words of encouragement.

Myisha December 4, 2012 - 10:55 PM

Wow, this is really inspiring, the whole “Fat isnt the enemy, weakness is” is so f$%^ing true. This post is truely inspires me to become a better person for myself as far as body image, you seriously give me hope! thank you.

Sara December 21, 2012 - 11:07 AM

My favorite saying is “you can’t out train a bad diet.” so true…

Renee December 21, 2012 - 5:59 PM

I am extreemely pleased that you did this! Everything you’re saying is on point. No, it’s not what everyone wants to hear…but it IS what we NEED to hear. I have struggled with weight loss for about 10 years now and I’m 27. It doesn’t get easier the older you get and my issue has definately been that I am not kind to myself for being the weight that I’m at and have been at for years now up and down. I agree totally with you on all points and the first step for me will definately be learning to be on my side and giving myself room to recover when I fall off sometimes and not beat myself up but encourage trying again and setting reasonable goals according to what I am able to do….meaning rather than trying to lose 25 pounds in a month I can do 10 to 15 pounds a month instead. Thanks for this…it really helps to have someone be completely honest rather than to say things to make you feel good that don’t make you face your real issues.

FabDelka January 11, 2013 - 4:33 PM

#4 was my life for years until i understood #1. now i make better choices and eat the source not a by product of it. it has helped tremendously and i believe that is why it took so long for my fibroids to show their face.

Lissa September 17, 2013 - 12:32 PM

Man I am so on the self-deprecating thing, I never realized it until my friend pointed it out. I think it takes me back to one of your older posts where you mentioned “you have to love yourself even though you are trying to change yourself at the same time”. And I think for me it’s hard to do both, but I am trying. And LMAO at “eating food a fly won’t eat”. You do have a point there.

Margaret October 18, 2013 - 11:25 AM

All of the above is very true, thanks for sharing!

Beach Body October 18, 2013 - 12:02 PM

I love your honest and candid approach to weight loss. So often we think of putting some of our favorite foods on hold until after the weight loss and deprive ourselves, and then when we reach goal, we go back to those same foods in over abundance and not in moderation.

Kamla-Kay October 18, 2013 - 12:11 PM

I just wanna say i Love you…especially with “accusatory fit mom” all over my facebook page and people not seeming to understand why some may find it objectionable…compassion is a hell of a thing! Bless you!

Dudetta April 6, 2014 - 10:19 AM

Erika, where can we buy your book? It’s not available on Amazon which means it is either out of print or you published it yourself only for personal distribution.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 7, 2014 - 11:47 AM

What book? 🙂

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