Updated: Apr 15, 2018
Enrolling in a Ph.D. program full-time was a daunting feat. I had to completely restructure the way I viewed school and adopt real time-management skills. Somewhere in between studying, working, and writing papers, I still desired to have a social life. However, my weight got in the way of that. My weight had been pretty healthy as a child and in high school, but I gained almost 100 pounds in college and during my first few years of employment. After getting rejected for two outdoor activities (skydiving and roller coaster riding), I decided that it was time to make a lifestyle change.
Here’s how I lost the weight:
1. I Changed My Thoughts
Unfortunately, as we leave those magical years of childhood, our whimsical thinking styles become a bit cynical. I was no different from most people, in that, my default thoughts about myself were negative. I did not think that I deserved weight loss and I did not think major weight loss could happen for me. I definitely did not believe that I could balance doctoral level coursework, working, and putting efforts into weight loss. Once I worked on thinking positively about myself, my health became a priority. I began to see that, just as my future degree and work experience were going to be helpful for my future, so were my physical and mental health. My background as a counselor was very helpful to the process because I was able to reach into my therapy toolbox and use the coping skills that I had learned about in school and used in the profession.
2. I Got Professional Help
I got connected with a weight loss coach and a group exercise trainer. I had been trying to change my diet on and off for years and had no clue of what I was doing. I would starve myself, do minimal exercise, and then become frustrated and quit. My weight loss coach taught me things about food that I never knew, told me about foods that were awesome for losing weight, and warned me about those that were not so helpful. My group exercise trainer pushed me to work out at a level that was far past my comfort zone. Honestly, I would have never taken the initiative to learn as much as I learned from my weight loss coach and trainer if I had tried to do it alone.
3. I Became Accountable
I told a few close family members and friends about my goals. At first, I was reluctant because I did not want to disappoint them if I did not stick to my goals nor did I want to feel pressured into pursuing them. It was one of the best things that I could have done because I had round-the-clock support from people who cared about me.
4. I Started Working Out Alone
I love gym energy. There’s nothing like having other people around sweating all the way to their summer bodies, but I had to find a way to become motivated on days that I just could not get to a gym or on days that “commitment partners” did not feel committed. It became freeing because I learned creative exercises and I did not have to miss a workout because someone else missed one.
5. I Prioritized My Time
Although my doctoral program and work were important, so was my commitment to improving my health. I found that creating a schedule was essential if I was going to stick to my weight loss goals. I ended up using a planner to schedule my workouts for times before or after my classes and work. I also planned restaurant visits and cheat meals so that I would not choose to cheat on the days that I was the most stressed out about work and school stuff.
6. I Declined Invitations
This was probably the hardest one. I love hanging out with friends, the problem was that our favorite activity was going to eat unhealthy foods at restaurants. Until I became certain that I was fully committed to eating well, I had to decline invitations to restaurants and events. I did not completely hide from people, but I learned to say no when I did not feel ready.