I have tried to lose weight many times in the past. Some attempts were successful in the short term, but I could never maintain the diet, workouts, and restriction that led me to losing a few pounds. I would always revert back to my old habits of fast food, take out, and junk food. It wasn’t until I switched to a plant-based diet, more specifically a whole food plant-based diet, that I was able to lose weight in a much more natural and sustainable way. Since switching to a plant-based diet and healthy lifestyle, I have lost 80 pounds and regained my health!
I often wish I had gone plant-based sooner and there are many things that I know now that would have been helpful at the beginning of my journey. In looking back at my experience, there are so many things that I wish I knew at the beginning of my weight loss journey. If I had known these things earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of aggravation. So, if I could go back in time, these are the top 5 things I would tell my younger self about healthy plant-based weight loss. I’m hoping that sharing what I wish I knew at the start of my weight loss journey will help you if you’re on a weight loss journey yourself, are getting started on a plant-based diet, or are trying to get back on track.
1. The Scale is Only ONE Tool for Measuring Progress
In the past, I focused on measuring weight loss progress exclusively with the number on the scale. I would go on a diet and if the number on the scale was decreasing, I saw that as a win regardless of what else was going on – feeling hungry, overdoing it at the gym, and being irritable. I now look at weight loss from a broader perspective. The scale can be a valuable tool, but it only gives you one data point. It’s helpful to also consider how you feel, take measurements, take progress photos, and pay attention to how your clothing fits. Paying attention to other factors can give you greater insight into your overall weight loss progress.
2. “Healthy” Labels are Just Marketing
I used to think that if something was labelled “healthy” or “organic” or “natural” that it was a healthy option. I was fooled by the buzz words on the front of the packaging without taking the time or knowing to take a look at the back of the packaging. I’m a lot more discerning these days, and take care to read the ingredients list and the nutrition facts, so I can make an informed decision about whether or not I want to purchase and consume a product. Processed foods with healthy claims can be slightly better options than items without it, and can be helpful for transitioning into gradually eating more whole plant foods. Packaged items can also be a distraction and take focus away from the real health foods – whole plant foods.
3. I Can Feel Full, Satisfied, & Lose Weight
When I had gone on diets in the past, I was always restricting my portion sizes and white knuckling it in order to get through the day or week. I often felt hungry, and thought I had to feel that way in order to make progress. I was so misguided, and completely wrong! I was able to eat a greater volume of higher nutrient, naturally lower calorie foods to lose weight in a way that always left me feeling full and satisfied! Sticking to the basic food groups of a whole food plant-based diet was the key: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes.
4. Consistency is NOT Perfection
I used to think that in order to be consistent, I had to be perfect. I thought I had to “get it right” with my eating and exercising 100% of the time to be consistent and make progress. So, when I would go off track, I would throw my hands up in the air, label myself a failure, and go back to my old eating habits – fast food, take out, and junk foods. I eventually came to realize that by building new healthy habits and routines over time, I could build consistency and make progress without being perfect. If I ate something that wasn’t part of my plan or missed a workout, it wasn’t the end of the world. I had to look at the bigger picture and see where I was making decisions that would lead me in the direction of my goals rather than hyper-focusing on the one misstep. This made it much easier to make mistakes, and move forward with my healthy whole food plant-based lifestyle.
5. Getting Healthy and Losing Weight Can Be Fun
I never thought that losing weight could be fun. I always saw it as a massive struggle, and an uphill battle. When I decided to go plant-based for my health and focused on my health as the number one priority with weight loss as secondary, it made losing weight so much more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always easy, and I’ve had major missteps along the way, but in seeking health, being curious and exploring what I could do to improve my health and lose weight, I started to have fun. My mindset and my perspective was changing. I was having fun experimenting with new foods, new recipes, and celebrating the wins along the way.
6. BONUS – Gratitude
Having gratitude through my health and weight loss journey has been really helpful to me. Being grateful for finding a plant-based diet, having access to healthy foods, making progress, and feeling better made the journey that much sweeter. I never knew that I could get off of all my medications, regain my health, lose the weight, and feel as incredible as I feel now. I can do all of the things I want to do and am thrilled to be able to share my journey to show others that change is possible. I’m grateful to you for reading this, watching my Youtube videos, and following along on my journey to health and successful weight loss maintenance.