I'm often asked how I got started on my weight loss journey. I wish I had a simple, perky answer, but the truth is, I had a lot of internal housecleaning to do first.
Lynn Bering eats a mostly vegetarian diet and exercises five days a week to maintain her 168-pound weight loss.
I had so many feelings floating around in my head when I weighed 300 pounds -- inadequacy, anger, and overall helplessness. I vacillated for months between accepting my body as it was and choosing to lose weight. I journaled tough questions: How did I feel about my body? How much did I love myself? Was I worth changing for? It was difficult and often uncomfortable work, I won't lie, but once I was honest with myself and became better acquainted with the emotions that bothered me most, I was ready to lose weight.
Working through those issues, or at least confronting them, left me better prepared for the "tough love" it took to discipline that weak voice inside that said, "This is hard. I want chocolate (or fries or animal crackers or any other simple carb you can imagine). Feed me." I learned to say no to myself and I committed to learning new behaviors that helped me change "I can't" to "I will."
I still write down everything I eat. I still ask myself, "How will I feel five minutes after I eat this?" If the answer is anything other than, "I will feel good having made this food choice," then I don't eat it. Or at least most of the time I don't. Sometimes that whiny voice wins. But the point is, I think about it. Am I eating because I want to or because I need to? Am I feeding some emotion I'm afraid to examine?
I can't sugar-coat the truth. I can't even use Splenda to make it easier. Losing weight means changing everything -- how you think about food and how you think about yourself. But if you don't take shortcuts and you find your inner strength (and we all have that within ourselves), you'll be rewarded with not only more energy and better health, you'll be your own best friend.
Bering tracks her progress, fitness regimens and the pitfalls of losing weight on her blog, Lynn's Weight Loss Journey.
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CNN.com I-Reporter Lynn Bering is a freelance writer who lives in Pennsylvania.