Whether you have 10 pounds or 100 pounds to lose, all of us who struggle with food and eating issues face many of the same challenges. Changing your eating habits is tough. Still, there are some unique struggles for those of us who have a lot of weight to lose. In this post I will share specifically considerations for when you have a lot of weight to lose.
What is A Lot of Weight to Lose?
What does “a lot of weight” mean actually? While it varies by person what defines an overwhelming amount of weight to face, I’m addressing people who have 50, 100, or 200 or more pounds to lose.
When you are this heavy, life changes in significant ways such as:
- Moving through everyday life is harder – often painful and exhausting.
- Clothes shopping becomes difficult and you may not be able to find clothes in regular stores.
- You don’t fit comfortably into an airplane or theater seat.
- You go to a party or other event and wonder if you are the heaviest person in the room.
- Exercise becomes more difficult.
- You think about your weight constantly. Food and your weight are tremendous aspects of your life.
- You’ve tried diets, lost some weight, but then always gain it back.
- Your private issues are public because people can see your weight when they look at you.
I can relate to all of these struggles and many more, because I spent much of my adult life 100+ pounds overweight.
Now that I’ve lost the weight and been maintaining for the last 10 years, I empathize with the struggles of living as a heavy person, but I’m also here to tell you it IS possible to lose the weight and become a “typical” person when it comes to your size.
I know you might not think that is true, but it is true that you can overcome your food and eating issues.
100 Pound Weight Loss Success
For me, long-term weight loss came from therapy. Once I had been doing therapy for awhile, I added the Weight Watchers online program. I also added exercise after I had been losing weight for awhile.
Read more about my weight loss story here:
These are some of the resources that were helpful to me during my weight loss journey:
When Food Is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and IntimacyBreaking Free (Bible Study Book): The Journey, The StoriesOvercoming Overeating: How to Break the Diet/Binge Cycle and Live a Healthier, More Satisfying LifeWhen Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself from Food and Weight ObsessionIt’s Not about Food: End Your Obsession with Food and Weight
Weight Loss Is Overwhelming
I understand that just the idea of losing all this weight is totally overwhelming. Losing a lot seems like such a big task – and quite frankly, it is.
I’m not going to kid you. This post is not filled with happy-happy-joy-joy talk about how you can lose weight effortlessly. Your weight loss journey is going to be a lot of hard work and there are going to be painful times.
But, you are used to hard work and painful times. All of life is hard when you are overweight. Regular activities that are no big deal to someone who is an average size, like climbing stairs or fitting into a theater seat, are a big deal to you. So – we know you can do this thing. You might not feel like you can, but you can.
See more here:
I’ve met people who are 100+ pounds overweight who have told me, “I don’t eat emotionally. I just really like the taste of food.”
I challenge this notion.
If you are 50, 100, or more pounds heavier than you should be, you have emotional issues with food. I love food too, but there’s a reason why I become so obsessed with it. Just like gambling, drugs, sex, or any other addiction, the pleasure sensation is serving a purpose of some type. The sooner you start to deal with this fact, the closer you are to long-term progress with your weight.
I realize the number of pounds you need to lose makes the task seem overwhelming. I’m sure you’ve often heard the advice to break it down into smaller steps, but we all still look at that big number. Or, you calculate in your head, “If I lose 2 pounds a week, by xxx date I’ll be down to xxx pounds.” I did this constantly.
Here’s the thing – the time is going to pass anyway. You are either going to up or down the scale. Might as well be going down.
Don’t compare your journey to others, as tempting as it is. Your life experience, history, and body are unique to you. Are you making improvements? Are you steps ahead of where you were 6 months ago? You know if you are making progress or just kidding yourself. If you are making progress, put on blinders and walk your own weight loss journey path.
For most (and perhaps all) of us with a lot of weight to lose, you face a heavy load of guilt. You feel guilty for not achieving success with diets. You assume other people look at you as a lazy slob.
Moving through life is hard when you’re continually carrying guilt on your shoulders.
For years, I assumed that I deserved this guilt, and the only way to get rid of it was to lose the weight once and for all.
Let me challenge you to shift your thinking here. The only way I was able to overcome my eating issues was to let go of the guilt first. Then, I was able to lose weight and make it stick.
See more here:
What Is Your Fat Doing for You?
Ask yourself this honest question: What is your fat doing for you?
You might quickly say, “Nothing. It’s horrible! I hate being fat!” But not so fast. Being overweight IS doing something for you or you would not continue it.
All human behavior serves a purpose.
Once you recognize the purpose, you can figure out how to serve that purpose in a healthier way.
See more here:
If you are serious about weight loss, you need accountability. There are a rare few people who lose weight without it, but they are the rare exception. Most of us need some type of accountability. (By accountability I mean other people who know what you are doing and will talk truth to you when you stray).
I’m a fan of structure. Again, some people lose weight by simply making gradual changes, but most of us need structure or we really head off the path.
For me it was therapy and Weight Watchers. There are tons of great apps and programs out there, but research will show you that writing down what you eat is one of the number one ways to long-term weight loss success.
At our Christian women’s fitness program called Faithful Finish Lines, we have a 7-week program that is the cornerstone of our program. I highly encourage you to check it out for additional accountability.
See more here:
Christian Women’s Weight Loss with Faithful Finish Lines – free Facebook group
When you are a heavy person, exercise is hell. I don’t for a minute think the 100 lb skinny-minis who jump around in exercise classes understand this, but for your exercise struggles – I get you. Just getting from the car into a building is a chore (especially if there are steps!) let alone activities that make you sweat on purpose.
Diet is WAY more important that exercise when it comes to weight loss. Way more important. So always start with making diet changes and you can add fitness later. Fitness is absolutely important to being a healthy individual, but diet matters more.
I started with zero exercise and I lost the first 40 or so pounds without doing much. You might think simply walking is not worth the time it takes, but the heavier you are, the more calories you burn doing simple activity so take that small benefit and run (ahem walk) with it.
But – keep in mind that I’m giving you an easy pass to start small, but once you’ve been doing it awhile you’ll need to increase the challenge because your body adapts. This is okay though because you will be lighter and ready to do more.
When you are a heavier person who begins fitness activities, it’s important you take care of yourself. High quality shoes are an absolute must. You also need moisture-wicking exercise clothing in order to prevent chaffing, not just cotton t-shirts and sweat pants.
See more here:
For most of my life, I was a compulsive overeater and a binge eater. I would easily eat thousands of calories in one sitting. Ice cream was one of my biggies, but I would often rotate between salty to sweet to savory and back to sweet again.
If you struggle with binge eating, I encourage you to consider getting professional help because this can be a tough issue to deal with, and the longer you’ve been doing it the harder it is to overcome. You CAN overcome it, though, I promise. I haven’t engaged in binge eating in a number of years.
Binging is super unhealthy for you. I know you know this, but I want to encourage you that if you binge, please consider getting some specific help for this issue because even if you attempt to lose weight, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to find success.
No diet will fix binge eating and in fact can make it worse.
When you start doing the math involved in binge eating, the reality is that a binge can lead to a pattern that looks something like this. You eat a really tiny amount of calories each day all week long, and it still doesn’t make up for the binge. Then, you get frustrated because you’ve been “good” all week and the scale hasn’t moved. So you say, “Screw this, if I’m not going to lose any weight anyway, I’m eating doughnuts.” And so the cycle continues.
I was stuck in these unhealthy thinking patterns for years of my life – and dieting can make it worse. That’s why it’s especially important to get professional help if at all possible.
There’s this great irony of being heavy that sometimes people (consciously or not) gain weight in order to be invisible. Yet you are larger than ever before. You take up more space and there’s more to you. So how does that work?
The truth is that extra weight serves as a barrier or shield from the world. People might glance right by you because of your size. It might seem crazy that you are physically bigger than anyone else yet you are trying to hide the most, but can you relate to this line of thinking? I sure can.
When you think about being thinner, of course you want it more than anything, but you might also find yourself feeling anxious. This is honest fear and it needs to be dealt with or you will continually self-sabatoge your weight loss efforts.
You might also put unrealistic expectations on yourself without realizing it. I did a lot of this. “When I’m thin, I’m going to…” I built up a lot of these hopes and dreams over the years, but it had gotten to the point where I had built up this totally unrealistic expectation that when I was thin, I had to be this super woman. I had to learn to think different ways about the thinner version of me, and gradually self-sabotage ended.
Don’t feel like you have to tackle these fears immediately because the process comes in stages, but recognize these issues are there and plan to deal with them.
If you find yourself starting diets, losing 20 or 30 pounds, and then stalling and starting to regain the weight, this might be a big issue for you to face head-on with the help of a professional.
Don’t Give Up
Above all, I want to encourage you not to give up! I understand that yo-yo dieting is bad for your health, so you might be tempted to throw in the towel and say, “Forget it, I’ll just die fat.”
Don’t give in to this kind of negative self-talk.
You don’t have to stay stuck in unhealthy ways of life. Each time you try, you learn just a bit more about what works for you and what doesn’t work, which increases your chances for success the next time.
You can do it, my friend. I believe in you.
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