I adore juicing. It gives me clear, glowing skin, my hair looks shinier, and it makes me feel like I took a mild tranquilizer (in a good way). But the reason I started juicing was for none of those reasons. I started juicing so I could lose weight.
I bought a book by Jason Vale (he is awesome, by the way) called Five Pounds in Five Days to jump-start my weight loss. Although I quickly realized the many benefits of juicing other than weight loss, I didn’t actually lose weight on his program. Here’s why.
The program consists of three to four different juices a day, all with different ingredients. There were the fruits and vegetables you would expect — apples, oranges, cucumbers, spinach — but there were also a ton of others, like radishes, carrots, fennel, and beets. The grocery list was extensive.
Juicing is super easy, but having to buy all that stuff (plus everything else for the rest of my family) then washing it and cleaning the juicer four times a day was overwhelming to me. So, after two days of juicing, I quit. And of course called myself a loser.
I realized later that I didn’t have to get every recipe perfect — I could just buy whatever looked good to me at the store and throw it in my juicer. My juice didn’t have to have a specific combination of fruits and vegetables to be beneficial. And I also didn’t have to juice all day long — just once a day was better than nothing.
Because I changed my approach, juicing is now something I love doing, and I do it every single day. That’s because I ditched the all-or-nothing mentality for a more relaxed and moderate approach. In order to be successful, I had to find my balance.
It seems like everywhere you turn, there are contradictory messages being sent when it comes to weight loss: eat paleo or eat vegetarian, do cardio or lift weights, do intermittent fasting or never skip meals. It’s confusing and nearly impossible to figure out which one is “right.” Even when I write about this stuff, it sometimes seems like I’m contradicting myself.
But the truth is that every one of us is different, and every day is different. The key to losing weight — and to being successful at anything in life — is choosing a mindset that motivates you to get a little bit better, every single day. And since life circumstances change, your mindset has to change with them. Some days you need to push yourself harder, and others you need to give yourself a break. The key is balance.
This is why diets never work. They’re a one-size-fits-all approach that’s supposed to work for everyone . . . except we all have different bodies and we live different lives. They’re also all-or-nothing, and you know by now that this never works. It only creates resistance that you, if you’re an emotional eater, will neutralize with food.
But for some reason when it comes to losing weight, we tend to go all-or-nothing. You don’t feel like working out, so you lay around all day. Or else you go balls-to-the-wall with your workouts, lose steam, and quit. You go on a juice fast (like I did), give up mid-fast, and go on a fast-food binge.
There are two problems with this out-of-balance mentality. When you push yourself to do hour-long workouts or juice for a week, you eventually give up and quit because it’s too extreme. And when you go in the opposite direction and do no workouts at all or get on a junk food roll, you end up calling yourself names and wrecking your self-esteem.
So the key is to find balance and set yourself up for success. If you really don’t feel like running five miles like you said you were going to, walking around the block is better than nothing. And if you’re taking your kids to dinner and they really want to go to Pizza Hut, it’s not the end of the world if you deviate from eating healthy and have pizza one night.
Here are three strategies to help you find your balance:
Upgrade your self-talk. As I just mentioned, we have a tendency to shame ourselves when we don’t follow through. And most of our name-calling happens after we’ve tried to go 90-to-nothing and given up and quit.
But abusing yourself mentally does nothing but lead back to more of the same desperate measures, and then you repeat the cycle. Beating yourself up does the opposite of create balance in your life.
You’re not a loser if you choose to take a much-needed break from working out, and you’re not a pig if you give in to a craving for French fries. You have to be your biggest supporter instead of your worst critic if you want to find your zone — which you achieve by being balanced — and stay in it for the long haul.
Make the right plan. What most of us usually do when we want to lose weight is make an extreme plan that requires enormous willpower — or else we have no plan at all. But making the right kind of plan for yourself can mean the difference between failure and success.
You don’t want your plan to be so ambitious that you only last a few days and then quit. But you do want it to be ambitious enough to give you that spark that gets you motivated. So if you hardly ever run, planning to run five miles a day every day this week is a recipe for failure. However, so is planning to “go for a run tomorrow.”
If you’re used to running two miles a day, then do three miles on Tuesday and Thursday. And sign up for a 5K to give yourself a larger goal to work toward. If you don’t exercise much at all, commit to a challenging walk with a friend two days a week, and have lunch afterward. (Rewarding yourself is a critical part of any successful plan.)
Practice balance in every area. Don’t do all-or-nothing with anything in your life. Practicing moderation and balance in all areas of your life conditions you to do it with weight loss — an area we typically approach with desperation and extreme tactics.
If you’re a workaholic, take a break. Stop an hour earlier than usual and read something inspiring. If you’re type A (like me), don’t square off everything on your counter. Let it go and call a friend.
Relaxing on yourself once in a while makes you feel at peace with yourself, which helps you feel the same way about your body. And it also helps turn the volume down on your inner critic.
Two of the least-balanced behaviors we most engage in when it comes to food and weight loss are bingeing and restricting — but they’re also the two you most want to stay away from. The truth is that if you eat slowly (the opposite of bingeing), you can eat anything you want (the opposite of restricting).
You don’t have to starve yourself, but you don’t have to eat everything in sight either. If you want a cookie, then have one — just don’t eat the whole package. If you need a break from working out, then take one — just don’t quit altogether. And you don’t have to do it perfectly, all the time — one small thing is better than nothing at all.
Remember that it’s not about losing five pounds this week. It’s about improving your body over a lifetime. Balance it out, and you’ll do just that.