In this inspiring contribution, Louise from Copenhagen explains how she set a weight loss goal – and how she reached it
For a long time, the issue of weigh loss has been prominent in the public debate. Eating plans, pep talks and recipes are everywhere in books, magazines and online. Running clubs and slimming groups continue to spring up, whilst new fancy exercise regimes are introduced. And words like ‘Skyr’, ‘kale’ and ‘5-2 diet’ have become part of everyday vocabulary.
Nowadays, nobody disputes that diet and exercise are important if we want to be slimmer but sticking to a healthy diet and getting started on a regular exercise regime require motivation. And the struggle for many of us is where to find this motivation and how to make sure it’s powerful enough to be a force for real change.
I have wanted to lose weight for years. But I’ve failed over and over. And whilst I knew I would need motivation, I struggled to find it. Explanations and excuses were plentiful. Childbirth, a busy life with toddlers and work, not enough time and so on.
For me it was the prospect of turning 40 that provided the motivation. My birthday is this April and last August, at the peak of my weight, the motivation came to me. I set a goal. I promised myself that I would lose 15 kilos before my 40th. I then created a motivational sentence and stapled it to my mind where it still sits like a screaming, internal neon sign. It goes: ‘NO THANKS TO FORTY, FAT AND FINISHED’. (Forty, Fat and Finished, believe it or not, is a slogan, which used to be part of regular Danish vocabulary, used primarily about women, sometimes even by themselves. Terrible, right?).
But for me it became useful. I told myself that now was the time and that if I didn’t lose the weight now, I never would. And whilst part of my motivation was aesthetics, the primary driver was – and is – my desire to be strong and fit. I am newly single, the mother of two boys, and I desire balance, physically as well as mentally, for my own sake.
I think it’s safe to say that I found my internal motivation and that it was true motivation coming from the right place. From me.
People may have a variety of objectives and very good reasons to pursue weight loss. Perhaps friends or family have dropped hints along the way about the health risk connected with being overweight. I don’t think that’s particularly motivational though. Neither is the sadness that often takes over when one is feeling fat. Even that sadness doesn’t provide real motivation, just more sadness.
Real motivation is internal, not external, and this motivation is crucial to successful weight loss. It’s not always predictable when and why the motivation appears, but if a person truly wants to lose weight then the motivation will come. I know that now.
Having set my goal, I did two things. I changed my diet and I started running. Short distances at first, but still hard and particularly tough on my legs and joints. However, I persevered and slowly increased distances. These days I run five kilometres without problems and whilst I won’t say I glide through the air like a ballerina, my joints no longer hurt.
The diet changes have been significant without being fanatic. I still eat well and enjoy the odd glass of wine, but I’ve dramatically reduced my intake of sweets, cake, pasta, bread and rice. And yes, I’ve eaten my fair share of kale, Skyr and protein.
In nine months, I lost the 15 kilos I set out to lose, and I did so before my 40th birthday, as planned. I’m now going to lose another five.
And I feel fabulous!