Losing weight is about more than cutting back on carbs and getting more exercise. It's about changing your way of life, not just for the duration of your current diet plan, but forever.
That being said, weight loss is a journey, and while it may be easy to make those initial changes, keeping them up for the long haul is a whole different story. It's totally normal to make mistakes along the way, but why not learn a few lessons from women who've been there, done that, so you don't have to suffer the same setbacks?
These eight women experienced ups and downs while changing their lifestyles and losing weight, and all of them made discoveries about themselves they wish they had known on day one.
There's a lot we can learn from their stories:
'HOW MUCH I WOULD FALL IN LOVE WITH FITNESS'
"I’ve gained a level of self-confidence and a love for fitness that will remain with me far past achieving my goal weight. I wish I knew from day one how much I would fall in love with fitness. How much I would fall in love with my overall progress, and that I would learn to love myself more.
"Every chance I get, I’m trying something I’ve never thought I would ever do. Lately, I’ve chosen group exercise. I've found myself taking cycling classes, and because I love to dance, I have challenged myself to do Zumba. Now, I’m also a member of a cardio-themed fitness studio.
"When I think about my adolescence until now, I’m proud because I can think 'I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life in this moment' and I push myself harder." —Estriana Bennett, lost 40 Kilograms
'TO LISTEN TO AND RESPECT MY BODY, BECAUSE IT'S AN AMAZING VESSEL'
"The one thing I wish I had known the day I decided to get healthier was that I couldn't lose weight out of self-loathing. I had to do it out of self-love. I made this discovery on a yoga mat about 70 pounds into my weight-loss journey. After months of my instructors telling me to listen to and respect my body, because it's an amazing vessel, I started to believe them.
"That's where my self-love approach was born. I'm happy to say that it not only helped me lose the rest of the weight I wanted to—it has helped me maintain my mind, body, and spiritual health ever since." —Jacquelyn Fletcher, author of Dear Body, Love Me, lost 50 Kilos
'YOUR WEIGHT WILL FLUCTUATE'
“When you first start a weight-loss journey, you get caught up in every small thing about what you should and shouldn't be doing and eating. I lived in fear of gaining even half a pound if I went out to eat. Now I know that your weight will fluctuate and that is normal.
"I wish I could have enjoyed life a little bit more and loved myself a little bit more through the process instead of being so hard on myself." —Britney Vest of @fittybritttty, lost 45 Kilos
'IT'S OKAY TO FAIL'
"I wish I knew that I was going to fail at some point and that it is completely normal. I wish I knew that everyone slips up and everyone deals with weight regain at some point. It's okay to fail.
"What sets apart those that succeed is how they handle falling off of the wagon. Be prepared for it. Know that you are not a failure and that it is part of the journey. Logically and not emotionally, look at what has happened and what changes you need to make to get back on track. Immediately get back on track.” —Amy Downs, lost 100 kilos and is now an IRONMAN athlete
'THIS TAKES TIME'
“I have gone through a weight-loss journey twice, recently after having my son and earlier during my senior year of college. For each journey, I wish I knew something different from day one. The first time around, I wish I knew I could do it the healthy way. I tried many fad diets before successfully achieving my weight-loss goals with good 'ole fashioned diet and exercise. Once I decided to train my mind and body I was a healthier person inside and out. For the second time around, I wish I knew it would take time!
"Since I was so healthy and in shape before getting pregnant, and had a healthy pregnancy, I thought I would bounce right back into shape like Princess Kate. Umm, not so! Coupled with taking care of a newborn, I had to remind myself that this takes time and that having a baby is not the same recovery process for everyone!” —Nadia Murdock of Nadia Murdock Fit, lost 15 Kilos
'TO CREATE HABITS THAT I KNOW I CAN MAINTAIN FOR A LIFETIME'
“I wish I had known that the way I lose weight would also be the way I eventually maintain it. It was way too easy to slip back into old appetizer sampler-platter habits and gain the weight back.
"Now I know that what I'm eating now to lose weight is also going to be what I eat in maintenance. I still want to lose maybe five to 10 pounds or so. Now I'm eating a clean diet and enjoying a few more splurges because I want to create habits that I know I can maintain for a lifetime instead of eating 1,200 calories per day in frozen meals and then gaining it back when I don't want to eat that way anymore. That would definitely be the number-one thing I wish I knew!" —Amy Gillespie, lost 50 Kilograms
'TO LOVE MYSELF AT ANY WEIGHT'
“On day one, I wish I would’ve known to love myself at any weight. I didn't realize in the past I had that issue, and since the weight loss, those closest to me all say I carry myself so differently now. It's like I learned to like myself. It’s an intangible difference I was unaware of and to know that others felt as though I 'disliked' myself beforehand, so much so that they could literally tell, was astounding.” —Kayla Codina, lost 13 Kilograms
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US