I used to love summer.
Every Memorial Day weekend, the pool we belonged to would open up and I’d put on my one-piece Speedo and happily go play. Summer afternoons passed slowly. I ate popsicles and went off the diving board. Life was good.
Then, I turned eleven. And I slowly started to hate summer.
Why? Two words: bathing suits.
That was the summer I came to the sad realization that chunky was not the new cute.
From then on out, from high school to college to my 20s and 30s, I’d swear to myself that this would be the year I was going to get thin, healthy, and look great in a bathing suit. I had a whole process I would do in preparation for finally being thin. I’d go buy the latest diet book on the New York Times Bestseller List, start the diet, get rid of all the junk food in my house, buy a gym membership, and begin to work out.
How’d that work out for me?
Well, I’d do great for at least a week or so, sometimes I’d even make it three weeks. But then, there would be a party or an event and, inevitably, my downward spiral of cheating and eating would begin. Before I knew it, I’d put back on any weight I had lost and gain more weight on top of that. Naturally, I would then feel guilty, beat myself up about it and, at some point, give up and accept that I was never going to be thin. I’d do this at least twice or three times a year. And, every Memorial Day, I’d mourn my dream of looking good in a bathing suit with a margarita (only 455 -700 calories per drink).
When I was 38 years old, everything changed.
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I was going through a divorce and doing my normal pattern of losing weight and putting it back on when a friend introduced me to life coach Lauren Zander. On our first call, Lauren had me get that my weight problem wasn’t about what I was eating, but instead, it was about what was eating me. I had used food as an emotional escape my whole life and didn’t even know it.
The first thing my coach did was get me on the scale. I didn’t want to know how much I weighed, but she made me deal with the number. I was 5.5 feet tall and weighed 207 pounds. Then, she had me make specific promises about what I would eat and not eat, which changed everything for me. She had me actually write out my dream for my body, health, and appearance. Yes, in it, of course, was a bikini top, cut off shorts, and a pool! Then, my coach had me look at my life and tackle why I was overeating (uh, unhappy marriage, bitter divorce, rollercoaster career, turning 40). I started to face my emotional associations with food and my addiction to sugar. Next, she got me to start managing my mind around food and diet, so I could finally recognize and hear my thoughts that were sabotaging my dreams (uh, divorce sucks, don’t want to deal, pass me glass of red wine with large pizza and birthday cake…NOW).
Within days of dealing with my mind and body, I started losing weight and did not stop losing weight for the next 8 months until I reached my seemingly unattainable and sustainable goal of a size 4.
Below are some tips on how I lost weight and how you can jump start your own weight loss this summer. Come on, you can do it! You still have time to rock your body and feel healthy and proud by Labor Day!
1) Write a Body Dream
Visualize and describe in 4-6 sentences what you want your body to look and feel like.
a) Make your dream juicy.
b) Make it a stretch but doable.
c) Write it in the first person like it’s happening now.
d) Keep it positive! No negative digs at yourself!
Here is my body dream:
My body is sexy, beautiful, lean, and athletic. I am a size 4/6 and jeans look really hot on me. My stomach has a girly 6-pack and I now happily wear bikinis and mid-riff tops. My legs are sculpted like a dancer and I love wearing cut-off jean shorts. My arms are toned, and strapless tops look great. My clothes fit so well they look like they’ve been tailored for me. I am delighted by my new relationship with food and how well I take care of myself. My natural glow inspires others. I am confident and proud in my dream body––loving the way I look and feel.
2) Read your dream every morning so you stay connected to what you are creating.
3) Make Promises
Make specific food and exercise promises, which will help you achieve your body dream. For example, no eating bread, pasta, or rice. No eating after 8pm. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Exercise 4 times a week for 40 minutes (bike, running, or elliptical).
4) Implement Consequences
How do you keep your promises? Create self-imposed consequences for each promise you make. It’s not a punishment, but an incentive to not break your promise. For example, whenever I cheated on my diet, I had to wake up the next morning at 6am and walk the dog for an hour.
5) Find an Accountability Buddy
Get a buddy or a coach who will help keep you accountable to your dream and won’t let you get away with cheating on your diet or giving up. I had to email my food log to Lauren every night before bed and if I missed a log, I had to do an extra workout. It’s amazing what a little accountability will do to help you reach your goals.
Yes, I was able to lose weight––a lot of it. But even more than that, learning how to make (and keep!) promises to myself made me happy. Happy! You can read more about my journey and the steps I took to lose the weight in the new book from Lauren Zander, Maybe It’s You.