If there’s one “fitness” cliche that I’ve always tried to avoid, it’s the phrase “change your lifestyle.” I mean, it’s not one that elicits full on eye-rolling from me, but, upon hearing, it does make me peer off into the distance and wonder when the conversation will be over. Not because it’s “not true,” and not because it’s “preachy,” but because people often say “change your lifestyle” and pair it with a shoulder shrug, as if to say “I don’t really know how you can do it, but you’ve got to do it anyway!”
Thanks, buddy. How… helpful.
There’s also the people who ask me “how did you do it?” and, when I go to reply and give them a short but specific answer, they usually cut me off and say “you changed your lifestyle, huh?” How are you gonna trade a specific answer for a vague one? The hell?
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.
Making something – like better eating habits – a part of your lifestyle is a foolproof way of guaranteeing your consistency. That’s the only way to ensure your success. If you’re vowing to eat well every day, no slip ups, then you need to make that a part of your every day life. If you’re going to run four times a week, then make that a part of how you live. Don’t just do it for the weight effects and then stop once you’re “there.”
This is why dieting – and most diet books – are so ridiculous to me. Yeah, let me do something radical and unique (and only found in this book!) to “kick-start” my weight loss, then go and do all those lifestyle change-y things everyone talks about. Trust me – if you skip the radical nonsense and went straight to the lifestyle change-y things, you’d lose weight just fine without jeopardizing your health or sanity. (There’s nothing worse than depriving yourself, and then crashing and burning because you couldn’t fight it.)
I don’t think consistency ever becomes easy, because life is constantly ever-changing. It’s not a matter of beating yourself up because you “can’t get it together,” it’s a matter of assessing the days when you fell short and learning from them. Think about how you got so backed up that you couldn’t take time out for yourself, and how you can prevent that from happening again. Don’t use the fact that you fell off one day as an excuse to give up. Changing how you live is hard. It takes time. I struggle with it, myself – not at the same level at which I struggled in the beginning, but my struggles are different now. The goal is not “perfection;” the goal, here, is “excellence.”
The reason people always say “change your lifestyle” without telling you “how” is because, quite frankly, everyone’s answers are (and will be… and should be) different. Everyone’s lives are different, so of course their answers would be. Some people need to cut the pop. Some people need to cook more often. Some people need to stop the incessant snacking (and others need to change what they’re snacking on.) Some people need to be more active. Others are plenty active, but simply need to stop binging on certain stuff after an active period. Everyone who has successfully lost weight has had to change how they live in one form or another, and everyone’s answers won’t be the same.
In the end, it’s really not about “the lifestyle” at all. It’s much more about the consistency that comes with making it a part of how you live. It’s about the fact that every day that you wake up, you carry it with you. Every day that you leave your home, you carry it with you. Every day that you set down at a table before a meal, you carry it with you. Consistently. Once it’s really and truly a part of you, you’ll joyfully experience the results of your… wait for it… “lifestyle change!” Ha!
Thanks for this awesome post. Consistency for a lifetime is the key for lifetime results.
Keep on writing and informing.
BTW, after reading your article on artifical sweetners, I stopped using them that day, and I feel so much better.
Thanks, Thanks, Thanks
Ding!! Ding!! Ding!! WoW!! This really hit home. My Erika given aha moment…Wow!!!
I agree completely with your post. I was reading an article in Essence Magazine in January, and have followed your blog since. You have the best tool to weight management around today. Keep up the good, positive work that you do.
I know the right thing to say is…I have started running in the morning and I love it…..however I gotta be real…I walk in the AM and..well…I HATE IT.. Mannn I literally get on my knees and pray in the morning for courage and strength to do it. Ericka is it true that “It makes no sense I do ab work
because, I will only be building muscle under all my fat?” Thats what my brother said.. ” you shouldn’t do crunches because you are really fat and the muscles will just build under your fat and make you look bigger?”
I’m not Erika lol but your brother is right. I wouldn’t say it will make you “look bigger” but you won’t see your results of ab definition if you still have all the fat around it. DON’T STOP working on your abs, just make sure you include cardio into your work out (like walking/running in the am) to loose the fat
That’s not entirely true. Of course if you gain muscle and then go out and eat the same way and maintain or gain weight, the added muscles will do little for your figure. But adding muscles does make your body burn fat more efficiently, which is why I think doing a weight training session a few times a week should be a vital part of your routine.
Great post Erika! Being consistent with a lifestyle change is the hardest part. When you said “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.”- that is the key. I know for me I am the happiest (and slimmest) when I can dance on a regular basis. Though I haven’t taken classes in a number of year I have recently committed to it, I took my first class last nite and am going to buy a series so I don’t back out of dancing regularly.
Part of it being a lifestyle change is changing the mindset that everyone else takes priority over you. Once you can wrap your head around the fact that you’re more than worth it – you deserve it, making the small changes can be a bit easier.
So so true! Consistency is definitely the key. I think one of the biggest problems with diet and/or fitness books is that they don’t talk about what maintenance really means. You get this diet and exercise plan that nine times out of ten is not realisticfor someone beyond the time frame the book is written to address. So the 12 week plan is great for 12 weeks, then what happens? If no one talks about figuring out what’s right for the individual and then how to maintain it things just get more confusing down the road…Then again, if the “fitness industry” told everyone how to maintain it forever, there wouldn’t be a fitness industry.
“You can’t simply change how you live until you lose the weight, then go back to what you were doing before.”
Such a simple concept, but the most important thing to recognize about this journey. Thank you Erika! I needed to hear that again!
I never heard anyone explain it this way before…and it makes sense!
Now I have to make the lifestyle change to make it consistent…lol
I love this! Thank you so much for shedding light on that sometime vague term…”lifestyle change”!
Consistency is the most important thing but also the hardest because the only think that is ever constant is change. This is something I struggle with so thanks you for addressing this topic. You are a godsend.
I love the way that you put this, as i stuggle everyday with consistency. I lose weight only to put it back on and have to start all over. I’ve yet to master consistency. I am a work in progress. Thanks
I am currently trying to lose weight again. Somewhere along to way I was convinced that I needed something like WW to lose weight because for the first time I successfully lost weight with WW but shortly went back to my “old way” of eating and soon gained it all back. Consistency is something that I’ve struggled with and you wrote it perfectly in your post. I need to focus on consistency, consistency is going to be my new word until I get it. Thank you for keeping us informed.
my goal is to be consistent with following my portions.My goal is to be more active, I started doing bikram yoga 4x a week and 1 day of swimming. This is to build up my upper body strength without hurting myself. The most important is to get my nutrition together and stay on track.
This was a wonderful read and spoke so eloquently to my problem: CONSISTENCY! I’ll work out two weeks straight, eat right and if the results of doing so are disappointing, I slip right back into the very habits I know are self-defeating. It’s a horrible cycle to be in. But, I justify my lack of consistency with phrases like, “the scale isn’t moving, I might as well have _________ (fill in the blank with junk food/fast food of choice.) So with all of that being said, can your next article speak to “How to be consistent?” lol! I’ll stay tuned. 🙂
GIRL YOU HIT THE DANG NAIL ON THE HEAD. God is so good! Consistency has been constantly popping up for me – in prayer, watching TV, Joyce Meyer……and now this. I hear you Lord! Blessings to you Erika!
THGANJK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! Thank you so much for writing this, because i keep hearing the “change your lifestyle” mantra but its like.. “how?” its so easy to slip back into unhealthy habits, which leads to yo-yo weight gain/loss.please dont stop writing! some of our lives depend on it
I get frustrated with the whole lifestyle change phrase, too. I was able to change my lifestyle and be consistent with it, but never would have accepted someone else telling me that (and implying it was so “easy”)
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