Losing a large amount of weight has been a defining moment for me. It was something that I never thought I could ever do. I literally spent decades looking in the mirror wishing I saw something different looking back at me. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about being thin or super fit, I just wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. It took a few years and so many lessons but I eventually achieved a natural weight loss of over 100 pounds. And I took myself from a size 20 to a size 4.
It’s taken me a long time to appreciate the fact that not a lot of people go out and lose such a large amount of weight. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what made my experience of natural weight loss different from the experience of others.
It took a lot of reflection and many conversations with so many different people before I started to see where that difference was. And for the most part, it boiled down to one key factor.
Mindset Before My Weight Loss
Before my weight loss, my life was quite different. I remember often feeling like life was just happening around me. I was a new mom to twins, my husband worked long hours and had an insanely long commute, I had family members with addiction issues, we had just moved and my friends were in a different city, and I had a toxic relationship with a family member.
At the time, I just couldn’t understand why all this was happening to me. And that’s how I truly thought about it. That everything was simply “happening to me”. I took zero responsibility for how miserable I felt. And because I didn’t take any real responsibility for my emotions and my life, I chose to self-soothe with food instead of truly addressing my many issues. In my mind, nothing was really my fault because everything was happening to me.
When I looked at Instagram I chose to believe that there was something magical about these people I followed. That they must have been born with some special will-power, or great genetics, or they that loved working out. These are things I now know to be untrue about most people.
Was there something special about them? No. However, there was something different. And that was their mindset.
Changing Your Mindset
Changing your mindset about your life takes a lot of work. And changing your mindset about your body and weight loss takes a lot of consistent work. But it’s something that absolutely anyone can do.
At this point, I’m sure you’re reading this and going, really Shannon? You’re going to credit losing 100 pounds to mindset?
And yes, I am.
I do talk about the individual habits I adopted that helped me have a large natural weight loss in this post. But without a change in mindset, those habits would never have come together.
And the first big change in my mindset that I needed to have was that nothing was happening to me. This idea that the world was conspiring against me, or that I had bad luck, or bad genetics, or any of that nonsense had to go. I needed to own up to my own life, recognize where I needed to make personal changes, and accept the areas where immediate change could not be made.
First, I started focusing on personal development. I read books like “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life“, “It Didn’t Start With You“, and “Dare To Lead“. Books like these helped me to see my life situations and problems in a new light. I began to practice meditation and daily yoga which was my first introduction to seeing my body with a new perspective. Yoga taught me that my body was strong, and could do challenging things even at my heaviest weight. And meditation taught me to reflect on myself and problems instead of having immediate negative reactions.
Even though I hadn’t physically started my final weight loss journey, I started to have a new appreciation for my body. And this was something I had never experienced before.
Being Thankful For My Size 20 Body
The first huge change in my mindset came on the day when I looked in the mirror, at my heaviest weight, and said, “I am thankful for my body. I appreciate what it can do.”
I made a promise to myself that regardless of what my weight was, I would choose to love and respect my body. I would no longer put myself down or berate myself for how I looked. I was choosing to be thankful, even at my highest weight. This body had pushed out twins so I knew it was capable of hard, challenging and seemingly impossible things. I was making the choice to like myself regardless of what society’s standard of beauty might be. I know it sounds silly but choosing to accept my body as is was the first big step in my weight loss journey.
Shortly after, I made the choice to do something for my body. I decided to try a fitness program that had been recommended to me by a close friend, P90X. For the first time ever, I truly put the focus on health and not on how my body looked. And that 90 days taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined.
Moving Foward With A New Mindset
That 90-day program changed everything about how I thought about myself and my body. It challenged me physically and mentally. And not only did I drop two dress sizes but I had developed a whole new way of thinking.
I got hooked on bettering myself. It wasn’t about losing weight, it became about being the best version of the person I knew I could be. It was a lot of trial and error but I continued to slowly move forward with the mindset of becoming my best self.
I began dealing with my emotions in a real way instead of just drowning my feelings with food. I got rid of toxic relationships and people who didn’t align with my values. I added journaling, meditative coloring, walks, and regular bits of exercise to my routine. I stopped trying to numb myself and instead chose to feel all the feelings.
When I hit size 12, I started to set real goals for myself. I was completely satisfied with my weight loss. And I was in shock that I was finally a size 12. But at this point, I was so into personal development that I just wanted to see what I was capable of. My journey had become about so much more than weight loss.
Mindset and Fitness
One of the first real goals I set myself was to run a 10 km race. I set that goal barely being able to run 2 km. But I knew it was something that would challenge me physically and mentally, which was something I was now craving. For eight months, I put all my focus and energy into teaching my body to run 10 km. During those eight months, I barely thought about weight loss but by the time my 10 km race came around I was a size 6. The mindset of wanting to do more and be more had taken me further than I could have dreamed.
Shortly after my 10 km race, I began training for a half-marathon. The half-marathon training and race completely challenged my mindset. At times it made me question everything about myself and my journey. By far, it is the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done. But because I had developed this mindset of wanting to push myself, I chose to push through the hard. I chose to push through the pain. I pushed past the fear.
Training and running my half-marathon took the personal mindset challenge I had given myself to all-new levels. And at that point, I was officially addicted to challenging my body and mind on a daily basis. It was then that I picked up fitness programs again.
It was my first fitness program in a few years and it had me testing my body and mind in new ways. It was like a daily push that checked to see how committed I was to this new mindset I had developed for myself. And it was fun! By the end of that first program, I was a size 4. Without really focusing on weight loss, I had finally reached my dream weight loss goal.
Over those few years, I had become a totally new person in every way. It was a slow and gradually journey but I was consistent because of my mindset. My mindset taught me to love and appreciate my body at every stage. It was the catalyst for a huge natural weight loss. It was what gave me the power to shed everything that wasn’t valuable to me, not just weight.
I truly believe that without a huge shift in mindset, having a large natural weight loss is almost impossible. And maintaining that weight loss without a change in mindset isn’t doable either. Personal development is at the heart of weight loss. Because large weight loss really is an inside job.