Two Skills for Consistent, Maintainable, Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting and daily walks can help you achieve a healthy weight, and are easily maintained habits.

About 5 years ago, I dropped out of university. I was unemployed, overweight, and frustrated. Despite my situation, I had a certain amount of confidence in myself. I didn’t know whether my life would get any better, yet I believed that improving my situation was within my power. I had to figure it out on my own terms — If my efforts were externally motivated, I would lose any good results when my situation changed.

My health was one of the few things I had complete control over. Thanks to my family, I always had a place to live and meals to eat. My choices and predicament were often a source of tension, but my family supported me anyway. I recognize many people don’t have this level of basic support; I don’t know if I could have achieved the same results without it.

To return to school, or find a job, would require more than just my own efforts, that would depend on support and approval of other people. I didn’t expect everyone to be unfair or unreasonable, but I was not confident about my own commitment, which made it hard for me to ask for opportunities from others.

I began to make small changes. Commitment and consistency didn’t come easily at first, but as I learned and practiced, my habits gradually improved. Looking back, daily walks and intermittent fasting were the two key skills I developed that improved my health and overall well-being.

Skills and Habits are Better Than Goals

A goal is something you can fail at. A goal is something you may later decide isn’t important or practical. A goal is a result, but not the attitude that creates results.

We need to be realistic about the way we manage our habits. Habits are repeated choices, but repeated choices will always reflect our attitudes. You can temporarily make choices that go against your attitudes, but in the long run, our habits will always reflect our attitudes, one or the other will change if they are not in agreement.

Doing something uncomfortable, that goes against your natural inclinations, can be a good way to change your attitudes, but it is only the first step. If that attitude is to become a part of you, you have to address it on every level.

One trick people don’t realize, is that you can use laziness, inhibition, and lack of motivation to your advantage. If you are trying to break a bad habit, you need to unmotivate that behavior. Think about all about all the excitement, reward, or relief that leads you to those choices. Now just create little seeds of doubt about that excitement, reward or relief. The more subtle these questions are, the more permanent the change they will create, if they take hold. This requires time, and you may need to plant seeds again if they don’t work the first time.

But in the end, you can’t create lasting commitments for your life around negatives. You need positive things you can dedicate your life to.

Bonus Skill #3

Daily walks and intermittent fasting will get you good results, if you do them with recurring consistency. When I say recurring consistency, you don’t need to do them in the same place or at the same time. You can mess up or fail one time or lots of times. The key is recurrence. It needs to be something you keep coming back to, when you need to. Overtime this will add up.

If you do these 2 things consistently when you need to, you will find yourself doing a lot more than that. On my journey improving my health I have done a lot of physical activities and made a lot of dietary changes. Just by having two skills and habits I always come back to, there are a lot of other challenging and rewarding things I can practice when I have the opportunity. Walks and fasting are the foundation, not the whole house.

For many people, it is a real challenge to even do two things consistently. I was one of those people. For that, I have a third skill to offer, as a bridge to reach that level of commitment.

Exercises With Breathing

Breathing is something you can, and should, do anywhere and everywhere(except underwater without proper equipment). When you lose fat, you literally exhale half of the metabolic waste, in the form of CO2, from your body.

You may not want to get up, go for a walk, or do any kind of exercise, or even get out of bed. In that case, breathing is great, because you can do it right where you are right now.

Take a slow, deep breath in, focus your mind, and hold your breath. Feel the emotions that you were holding under the surface, and after a few seconds exhale, releasing those emotions.

In these exercises, breath in through your nose, as much as you can. If you are trying to relax, exhale through your mouth. If you are trying to build up energy or preparing to exercise, exhale through your nose, quickly, but not too forcefully. If you do it right, you can relieve a little bit of sinus congestion with the right combination of gentleness and energetic-ness(I am not a doctor, you may need to consult one if you have serious sinus issues).

Finally, you can begin to tense and relax groups of muscles in sync with your breathing. Start at one extremity of your body. Breathe in, tensing those muscles, hold, then release. Move to neighboring muscle groups, and repeat till you’ve done it all over your body. This can release your body’s tension or prepare you for physical activity. Breathing goes well with meditation and addressing your attitudes through internal and external reflection.

You can expand your breathing repertoire with techniques like the Wim Hof method, which helps adapt your body to cold weather and other conditions, or with breathing techniques musicians use, which engage your mind, confidence, creativity, and expressiveness.

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