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What I Learned After Failing 3000 Times to Lose Weight

I’ve been trying to reach the same goal of becoming lean for the past 11 years. I’ve lost weight and gained weight over the years, but I’ve never reached my ultimate goal. 

I know, I know, losing weight is not nearly as important as losing fat. But I know what I look like 4 kg, 7 kg, 9 kg, and 11 kg over my goal weight, and I don’t like my body fat percentage at these weights. I also haven’t gained enough muscle so I can blame the excess weight on muscle and not fat.

These 11 f#/ck:)g kilogrammes I want to lose are my Mount Everest. My excess belly fat is the bane of my existence. It has tortured me for the past 16 years. 

I’ve been on a diet since ten years old. Let me rephrase that: I’ve been consistently failing at dieting to lose my stubborn belly fat for the past sixteen years.

To be fair, until my early 20s, I was following a lot of incorrect health advice like eat a low-fat diet, I binged and overate a lot (blame the OCD), and I did not know that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which disrupts hormones like insulin that can make it hard to lose weight.

I worked out that I’ve tried to go on a diet to lose my stubborn belly fat around 3000 times over the last 16 years.

While trying to lose weight as a kid, I fell in love with health and wellness in the process. I’ve been obsessed with becoming as healthy as I can for sixteen years. I stopped eating processed sugar and gave up gluten, soy, grains, and pretty much any processed foods. Recently, I’ve even cut out a lot of sources of oxalates like spinach, beetroot, and almonds. 

I’m also trying to stay away from inflammatory polyunsaturated fats (PUFAS), and my current diet can be described as carnivore-ish. I eat an animal-based diet with the inclusion of some fruits and vegetables on occasion and dark chocolate on most days. No nuts, no seeds. 

I still binged often until a few months ago, roughly five or six. The only thing I can think of that changed was that I went carnivore-ish (mostly animal-based). This doesn’t mean that I never overeat or eat something impulsively, but it hasn’t turned into a binge. That’s a big win. 

However, I haven’t lost weight. In fact, I’ve gained weight over the last few months. 

The Bright Side of Gaining Weight

So, my weight has gone up. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m super happy about it, but until six months ago, I didn’t get my period for a year and a half. And just before that, my period didn’t stop for a year and a half. I’ve watched a lot of videos and listened to women talk about how they got their periods back when they started eating more and gained weight. 

So that’s what I did. I took a break from trying to lose weight to get my period back, so that one day, I can give my husband beautiful babies. And I achieved my goal of getting my period back. Now, I’m ready to go after the goal I’ve wanted to reach for all this time.

Even though I’ve achieved a lot in life, I’ll still feel like a failure unless I achieve this goal. I have no idea what it feels like, but I’m still determined to find out.

Here are a few things that I’ve learned after 3000 failed attempts at losing weight:

Stress Can Make It Hard to Lose Weight

Apart from stress eating, the effect of stress on your body alone can interfere with weight loss. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, can increase fat gain, especially belly fat. High cortisol levels will also trigger your liver to start producing glucose to give you fuel to fight or run from what is causing your stress.

Until I learn to control my anxiety and stress levels, I’ll never be free of this belly fat burden. I’ve found that exercising regularly, sleeping more, not fasting for too long, making lists, being with my husband, getting a massage, cleaning, and cooking help me relax. 

I also just started taking Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a neurotransmitter that can reduce anxiety and improve your mood. But we’ll see how that goes. 

Do Not Listen to Ed (Your Inner Bitch)

Ed is the voice in your head telling you to eat the cookie, pick that scab you know you really shouldn’t, and buy the thing you know you can’t actually afford. He can also be referred to as your monkey mind, your inner bitch, your lesser self, etc. 

I call my inner bitch Ed, because it stands for eating disorder, and that is exactly what we have: a disordered relationship. I definitely have a disordered relationship with food. I’m fully aware of that.

Each time I gave in and overate in the past, I was listening to Ed. What I’m doing now, in conjunction with trying to reduce stress, is to try and study and understand Ed, so I can learn how to defeat him more and more. We battle daily, but I’ve been winning a lot more battles than I used to.

Start Over Immediately

There are few things as exciting as the start of a new diet. You’re filled with hope and you believe that this is finally it. You’re starting your last diet. Your diet has been carefully planned, and you bought new workout outfits to inspire you. You know you can do this. 

You have enough motivation to last a year. Or, as you soon realise, three days.

I’m a firm believer that if you can last through the first three days of a diet, you should be fine.

As much as you want to believe that you’ll make all the right decisions for your health at every point along the journey, if you’re honest with yourself, what are the chances of you actually being able to stick to your diet 100% for months at a time? Chances are, you’re going to mess up at some point.

The key is to start over and not to give up. And no, that doesn’t mean starting over on Monday or even tomorrow. Start over immediately. As soon as you can say with certainty that your moment of relapse is officially a past event, you can give yourself permission to move on.

The only place that the past exists is in our minds. Instead of hating yourself for hours after eating a slice of cake, you can choose not to torture yourself.

You should still learn from the experience, but often, the stress you can develop around food could arguably be even worse than the act of eating something unhealthy. 

This doesn’t mean that you should carry on with your bad eating habits and simply not stress about it, but that you should be kind to yourself and not stress if you do give in to temptation now and then.

Just start over immediately and try again.

Why Will Number 3001 Be Different?

I’ve come a long way in terms of my relationship with food. I cannot remember the last time I binged and I’m not driven by food as much as I used to.  

I know exactly what I need to do to reach my goal. There is a chance that I’ll fall off the wagon and go off the rails for a brief moment in the future, but I do feel positive that I’ll at least get much closer to my goals.

I’m excited, and I’m taking it slowly. They say that most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in three. Let’s see where I’ll be three years from now.