What I’ve learned since I gave up dieting 25 years ago

Celebrate the wins – big or small!

This month marks 25 years in my healthy weight range. I can’t imagine what my life would be like today if I had continued down that path of yo-yo dieting, eating huge amounts of unhealthy food and being a couch potato.

I was hitting the scales at 100 kilos, but it wasn’t from lack of trying to lose weight – I tried every new fad diet that ever graced a magazine cover. But, when I saw that photo of me in a swimsuit weighing 100 kilos I had a huge wake-up call, “Annette the diets aren’t working!” So, I thought about what would work and I realised the answer was to become a healthy person.

I had been dieting since the age of 12 and was prescribed diet pills at the age of 13, I had no idea what it meant to be a healthy person, but I was determined to find out. The good news is I lost 35 kilos in 20 months and have been in my healthy weight range ever since. I learned a lot along the way.

Here’s 25 things I’ve learned since I gave up dieting:

  1. I am worth it – And so are you! I had low self-esteem when I started my journey to good health and I have never forgotten feeling like a failure. You’re not a failure, the diets are failing, I got off the roller coaster ride and so can you.
  2. I am a healthy person – Being healthy is who I am; every moment of every day.
  3. Everything in moderation – I found a healthy balance, I can indulge occasionally and that’s the key here ‘occasionally.’
  4. Portion sizes matter – The unhealthy Annette was putting far too much food on her plate.
  5. Fresh food is best – I love fresh salads, veggies and fruit and prefer a vegetarian diet.
  6. Breakfast is important – At 100 kilos I thought skipping breakfast was saving me the extra calories, but I didn’t realise it was setting me up to fail. How you start is how you’ll finish, so start the day well.
  7. Water is the best drink – It was a shock when I started to drink water (without scotch), now I can’t go anywhere without a water bottle by my side.
  8. Junk food is exactly that – junk! It rarely has any real nutritional value, so why eat it?
  9. Excuses are lies – No one likes to be lied to, yet I had been lying to myself. I told myself all sorts of stories to justify why I was overweight. But then I realised food was dominating me, and I decided to take charge. Don’t believe the lies you are telling yourself – stop making excuses.
  10. A positive mindset is essential – I put positive quotes around the house and had a poster on my fridge saying YOU CAN DO IT ANNETTE!!!!!!!! I learned to say positive things to myself and be my own cheer squad. Don’t rely on others to lift you up, do it for yourself and be your own best friend.
  11. I had to be open to learn – I learned a new way of cooking – (hello 7 cookbooks 😊) I needed recipes the whole family could eat. I asked questions, I read books and I treated my weight loss as important as a job – because it was.
  12. Certain foods are not part of a healthy lifestyle – When I became a healthy person, I gave up alcohol, juice, coffee, tea (I drink herbal tea), soft drink, salt, fried food and I haven’t had McDonald’s in 25 years. There are no sacrifices with this, it was a decision that came naturally to me as a healthy person. I don’t feel deprived at all.
  13. Alcohol was holding me back – I realised that every time I had a night out drinking with friends I gained weight that week, so I decided to give up alcohol. I’m not saying you must give up alcohol but be sure to have more days in the week that don’t include alcohol than those that do.
  14. You can have too much of a good thing – I make it a point, never consume too much of any one food group, even too much fruit is not good for us.
  15. Getting started is the hardest step – I was about 10 weeks into my ‘healthy Annette’, when I took my dog for his first walk; we just went to the end of the street and back. We quite liked it and so the next day we did it again, then we went around the block and before long we were power-walking 45 minutes six times a week. I noticed when I exercised at this level I lost more weight, so that motivated me especially when I had only a few kilos to go.
  16. I had to be accountable for my own actions – I couldn’t let well-meaning friends sway me away from my healthy eating plan. I had to be willing to stand up for what was most important for me – my weight loss!
  17. I had to be patient – It took me 20 months to get to my goal weight – It didn’t happen overnight, but I stayed focused on what I wanted to achieve and committed to see it through and to never find those extra kilos again.
  18. Giving up wasn’t an option – I remember there were two voices in my head. One was saying “it’s too hard, who cares what other people think”. But the other voice was saying “But you care Annette, don’t give up on yourself.” So, make sure you listen to the voice that supports you and keeps you on track.
  19. Support helps – I found a great support group where I could weigh in each week. It kept me accountable and it was nice being with like-minded people. You don’t have to do this on your own.
  20. Self-discipline is empowering – Just because there’s a cake shop along the way doesn’t mean you have to stop and buy something! I decided early on that if I was to succeed I had to have a plan, so whenever I saw a cake display I would say “that’s not for me” and quickly move on. It felt so empowering to walk away and not let it derail me.
  21. There is power in choices – Whether I had healthy or unhealthy food in the house, the choice was mine. I decided to never bring food into the house that I couldn’t resist. Saying “no” once in the supermarket meant I didn’t have to say “no” 100 times at home.
  22. Anything is possible – I gave it my all and never gave up on me. (see point number 1).
  23. I focus on what I want, not what I fear – I stopped focusing on what I thought I was missing out on. I decided to focus on all the good things that would come my way when I lost my weight. I visualised wearing trendy clothes with loads of energy and feeling proud of what I had achieved.
  24. Self-love is important – The Annette at 100 kilos didn’t like herself at all. Over time I learned to love who I was and put myself at number one! This meant that I was a happier wife and a better mum and friend. And guess what… the world didn’t end because I prioritised me!
  25. Have no regrets – I’m so grateful for the day I opened that letter and stood face-to-face with that photo of me in a swimsuit at 100 kilos. I was faced with the most important decision of my life that day. Imagine what my life would be like now, in my early 60’s, if I hadn’t made that decision to change my life for the better.

What could your life be like 5, 10 or 25 years from now if you dared to dream… if you made the decision to take that first step into my world of healthy living? Come join me, it’s an awesome place to be.

Read here about Weight loss traps to avoid