EDITOR'S NOTE: Guest blogger Cynthia Parrott is a busy working woman who manages to find the time for fitness, diet and the writing of great advice for health-conscious women.
Weight loss and diet! Diet and weight loss! When you are in the company of other women, regardless of where you are or what you're doing, these subjects always come up in conversation and you can discuss them for hours.
You are either on a diet, cheating on a diet, discussing how you need to lose weight, or talking about the latest weight-loss craze.
Almost every woman you know agonizes over her weight or what she eats... or can't eat. Magazines are filled with the latest diet news, celebrity fad diets, and articles on who is losing weight and who is gaining it.
Gorgeous, physically fit girls on TV -- girls who have never been fat a day in their lives -- promise you will lose tremendous amounts of weight in a few short weeks if you buy their supplements, DVDs or exercise equipment.
We are obsessed with weight loss and diet yet we are still overweight!
To be obsessed is to be completely preoccupied with something. The more you obsess over something, the more unattainable it becomes.
You talk about it all the time, think about it constantly, you do everything possible to hang on to it, but eventually you lose it.
Obsessing over diet and weight-loss will result in a losing battle... and not in a good way. You will never reach your goal and will end up frustrated, angry, disappointed and, quite possibly, a larger size than you ever imagined!
So how do we lose weight without obsessing over it?
First of all, you must come to terms with the fact there will never be a quick-fix weight loss plan! There is no magic diet pill or supplement, no piece of exercise equipment, or combination of foods you can eat that will make you lose astounding amounts of weight in record time.
If you want to successfully lose weight -- and keep it off -- you must change your attitude about yourself and about food. This takes dedication and determination but it can be done.
A diet is usually a restrictive, less than pleasurable set of rules you can never follow for the rest of your life -- no matter how hard you try. When you are on a trendy or fad diet, you tend to deny yourself the foods you enjoy eating. The conversation is usually the same.
"Oh, I can't eat that... I am on a diet!"
So while everyone else is happily eating chocolate cream pie for dessert and you are munching on an apple or pretending to enjoy your cup of sugar-free pudding, you are secretly hating them and hating yourself for being on a diet.
It's okay to make such sacrifices for specific reasons now and then. But if you constantly deny yourself because of your diet, what happens when you face a major upset or disappointment?
You will bury your face in a chocolate cream pie and eat the whole thing!
Denial never got anyone anywhere. The things you cannot have are the things you want most. You think about them. You dream about them. They call out to you from the fridge at 3 a.m.
Remember the story of Adam and Eve? They had a whole garden full of delicious fruit to eat but the object of their desire was that darn apple! Why? Because it was forbidden fruit!
Once they knew they couldn't have an apple, Adam and Eve wanted an apple. All they could think about was eating that fruit, wondering what it would taste like, and what would really happen if they actually ate it.
If they had changed their way of thinking would they have ever taken that first bite? What if they had adopted the mindset of choosing NOT to eat it rather than telling themselves they COULDN'T eat it?
If your goal is to lose a few pounds, maintain your current weight, or you need to change your habits because health reasons, never think diet. I am a vegetarian but I never say I am on a vegetarian diet. I am not denying myself meat; I choose not to eat meat because I don't like it and I function better without it.
If you want to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off, stop thinking about what you are not allowed to eat and simply tell yourself you are choosing "this" over " that" because you want look and feel your best and be the healthiest you can possibly be!
Do you know a woman who eats what she wants, rarely exercises, and never gains a pound? Maybe she's given birth to five children, wears a bikini to the beach, and doesn't have a stretch mark or an ounce of fat anywhere on her perfect body? Yet, she complains about her belly "bulge" but you can bounce a quarter off her abs!
Do you secretly hate this friend? I am not this woman and, most likely, you are not either or you would not be reading this.
I never really worried too much about weight until recently when I started menopause. Suddenly, I am carrying extra weight in places I never knew could actually store fat and it is so difficult to lose a few pounds.
I am older, my metabolism is slower, and I needed to adjust my eating habits a bit. Shedding these unwanted pounds and keeping them off has been more difficult than prying a teddy bear from the clutches of a screaming child!
I had my size 4 Levi jeans hanging over my bedroom door as incentive to lose some weight. I want to wear them again because I looked so darn good in them!
But each time I saw them hanging there, rather than feel energized, I began to feel discouraged. The jeans are a constant reminder of the weight I gained... that mixed with disappointment because I am not sure I will ever wear those jeans again!
I am not giving up, but I do realize I am older and my whole body is changing inside and out. This is a fact of life. I need to accept that as long I am fit and healthy, I will still look great even if I have to buy a slightly larger size.
So, I simply shifted my focus, stopped beating myself up emotionally for no longer fitting into my favorite teeny-tiny jeans, and now those extra pounds are beginning to drop off!
Obsessing over a specific weight or size will discourage you.
...especially if you keep missing the mark due to circumstances beyond your control. As you age it becomes more and more difficult to weigh what you did before you had your first child or to fit into the jeans you wore in high school.
You might have looked great at 110 pounds when you were 16 but now that you are 50 you might look fragile and tired. Your best friend might be a size 0 but if you are curvy, you can starve and exercise until you drop but you will never be able to wear the size-0 clothes!
It's time to focus on becoming as fit and as healthy as you can possibly be. Once you change your way of thinking about weight or size and concentrate on being healthy, your body will begin to shed whatever excess pounds it doesn't need.
The best weight-loss "secret" is to love yourself as you are, regardless of your dress size or how much weight you think you need to lose.
If you don't love yourself now, you will not miraculously fall in love with yourself when you are thin. In fact, you will most likely gain every single pound back and more because you feel as empty as you did when you were heavier.
Self-love and self-esteem come from accepting yourself, recognizing your strengths and limitations, and celebrating who you are.
Each time you punish yourself, neglect yourself, or fall into the trap of negative self-talk because you are overweight, the more discouraged you will become.
Stop thinking and talking about how you need or want to lose weight. Forgive yourself for putting on the excess weight. If you must, forgive the people in your life who caused the stress and pain that contributed to your weight gain.
Take a good look at yourself and consider all your assets and attributes. Yes, you might be a little heavier than you would like to be, but mamybe you've got amazing legs!
It's been three years, you still haven't lost the 25 pounds you gained during pregnancy, but you are a loving, caring mother to a beautiful child.
You might shop for clothes in the "plus size" section right now, but you are the president of your own company.
Stop the abusive, negative chatter in your head by complimenting yourself regularly. If you cannot think of anything positive, ask your best friend or a relative to point out all your good qualities, then repeat them over and over to yourself.
Rather than obsessing over all the weight you need to lose or what you can or cannot eat, become determined to let who you are inside show on the outside.
Regardless of your shape, size, or weight, be the most attractive you that you can possibly be. Get your hair done, your nails polished, and buy the nicest and best-fitting clothes you can afford.
NEVER resort to hiding in big bulky sweaters and sweatpants, even if you are just hanging around at home. Sophisticated, trendy, and fashionable outfits are available in all sizes.
When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you will want to do good things for yourself.
You will want to get out and exercise because it makes you feel alive. You will want to eat better, healthier food. You will order the grilled chicken salad for lunch more often. Not because you can't have the cheeseburger and fries, but because you choose to feed your beautiful body with something more nourishing.
Eventually, the woman you see in the mirror will be the reflection of who you already are inside: beautiful, wonderful and lovable!
About Cynthia: I am a Certified Holistic Health and Nutritional Counselor. My company is Metamorphosis Consulting and I have been in private practice for over 10 years. I believe we can completely transform our lives by nourishing our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It is my desire to help others achieve their health and nutritional goals, their personal goals, and to live the life they have always dreamed of. Learn more at www.truemetamorphosis.org and www.cyndaily.com.