It all started when Adam Nugent was 9 years old.
“My parents noticed that I had been gaining weight, so the pediatrician recommended that they give me a jogger trampoline to encourage me to exercise more,” he recalls.
Unfortunately, that gesture only led Nugent to feel self-conscious about his body for the first time in his young life. He developed an increasingly unhealthy relationship with food and continued gaining weight throughout junior high and high school.
A Vicious Cycle
After high school, Nugent was able to lose a significant amount of weight.
“I worked out like crazy until I was 21,” he says. But then life became more complicated and more stressful. “All of the sudden, I was dealing with the stresses of college and dating. Then I got sick with mono, and I turned back to food to cope. I got even heavier than I was before.”
Like countless others who struggle with their weight, Nugent resorted to crash diets.
“I’d starve myself or go on the HCG diet to get my weight down. But then I’d put it right back on,” he says. “I felt bad about myself, and I would use food to cope and to numb the pain. Then afterward, I would feel even worse. The truth is that I felt like a zombie. Looking back, I didn’t even realize that I was in that cycle.”
Nugent compares his past relationship with food to that of other addictions.
“Food controlled me, just like alcohol controls an alcoholic,” he says. “The difference is that you can give up alcohol, but you can’t give up food. You have to have some interaction with it.”
He continues, “I’d look at other people and wonder, ‘How can they stop eating?’ I was even jealous of my kids. They’re like, ‘I’m full.’ But I would constantly eat—even when I wasn’t hungry. And often, I didn’t even realize I was eating.”
Facing the Mirror
Three years ago, Nugent’s weight peaked at 342 pounds.
“It was hard to look at that person in the mirror. I hated myself,” he says. “I had just gone through a divorce. I was alone, and I didn’t believe anyone could want me.”
Nugent’s “lightbulb moment” came after a triggering phone call from his ex-wife.
“She hung up the phone, and I just started to eat,” he remembers. “When I ran out of food, I called DoorDash and ordered even more food. When it was all said and done, I just started crying. I realized how much I was using food as a crutch. I finally reached that breaking point where it hurt so much that I decided I was going to change—no matter how hard it was.”
Healing from the Inside Out
Nugent recognized that before he could succeed at losing weight, he needed to heal himself from the inside. So, he started seeing a therapist and a life coach.
“My therapist asked multiple times, ‘Do you even feel worthy of love?’ and I couldn’t answer the question,” he says. “I had a serious lack of self-love, and I didn’t believe that I was enough.”
Nugent’s life coach assigned him mirror work—the practice of looking at your reflection in the mirror and telling yourself positive affirmations.
“I was supposed to say things like, ‘I am beautiful,’ but it didn’t resonate for me. I couldn’t say it at first, so I’d write it, but I didn’t really believe it,” Nugent shares. “Then I’d look in the mirror and say it. It was so hard that sometimes I had tears streaming down my face.”
But Nugent was diligent.
“As I started this journey of self-discovery, I slowly healed on the inside and really got in tune with my emotions,” he says. “It exponentially enhanced what I was able to do physically. It exponentially enhanced my ability to form a new relationship with food.”
A Complete Transformation
Over the past three years, Nugent has lost 120 pounds by gradually and consistently changing his habits and his mindset.
“I needed to heal my inside and my outside—they are both connected. It’s the inner work that matters more than anything,” he says. “A lot of us hold on to trauma from our past, and until we release it, it’s going to continue to show up.”
So, what is Nugent’s advice for succeeding on your own weight-loss journey? Here are five habits that have made all the difference for him.
1. Ask yourself questions and hold yourself accountable.
According to Nugent, success starts with becoming more self-aware.
“I ask myself questions like, ‘Am I hungry, or do I just want to eat? Is this going to help me? Is this worth it?’ What else can I do besides eat?’ If I am hungry, then I get to choose with intention what types of foods that I put into my body. We are always in choice,” he explains.
Nugent also believes that honoring his word to himself is just as important as honoring his word to other people.
“If I say I’m going to do something for someone else, I do my best to show up for them,” he says. “Why wouldn’t I show up the same way for me?”
Nugent recommends creating a support system and telling others about your goals so they can help hold you accountable. He adds, “Morning rituals are also key. Create one that will set you up for success and then stick with it.”
2. Meditate and breathe.
“Guided meditations are great, and it’s easy to find specific ones about weight loss,” he says. “Meditation helps me release the energy tied to other people so I can get in alignment with myself. It clears the noise in my mind and helps me to focus.”
Nugent also does a lot of breathwork—intentional breathing exercises to reduce stress, release emotions, and balance mind and body.
“When I get in tune with my breath, I release things that aren’t serving me,” he says.
(Conscious Breathing Workbook by Holly Semanoff is a great place to start.)
3. Keep a daily gratitude journal.
“I have a gratitude journal, and I write it every day. It’s one of the quickest and most effective ways to improve my mood,” says Nugent. “I specifically express gratitude for what’s bothering me. It shifts the energy around it and helps give me perspective.”
(FOCUS: A Guided Journal to Create Lasting Change in Your Life by Craig T. Smith is a favorite of Adam’s.)
4. Stop the negative self-talk and use “I am” statements.
“Thoughts are powerful. You are what you think you are,” Nugent says. “I used to beat myself up: ‘You’re so weak. You can’t do it. You’re an idiot.’ But if I wouldn’t say it to somebody else, why on earth would I say it to myself?”
Nugent has replaced the negative self-talk with “I am” statements that include qualities that are important to him.
“I write down ‘I am’ statements every day, so when I have negative thoughts, they might be there for a minute, but I don’t let them stay,” he says. “Now, I can look in the mirror and say: ‘I am beautiful. I am enough. I am worthy of love.’ Because I know that I am.”
5. Be patient and give yourself grace.
“My weight still fluctuates from time to time, but it’s not a sprint—it’s a marathon,” says Nugent. “Give yourself time. I had to keep telling myself, ‘You spent years getting to this point. It’s not going to be an instant fix.’ It’s a continual effort that comes down to being consistent and being intentional.”
Nugent also encourages others not to dwell on past mistakes.
“I’ve learned that I’m not going to be perfect all the time, and that’s okay,” he says. “Like everyone, there will be times when I have a bad day, a bad week, maybe even a bad month. But I don’t hold myself in the past. That was yesterday. Focus on today.”
Continuing the Journey
Nugent’s journey is far from over, and he is confident that his best days are ahead of him.
“I’ve completely transformed my body. I’ve done a ton of work. And the amount of love that I have for myself, I know with certainty that I will never go back,” he says. “I’m excited to take it to the next level and see what else my body can do.”
He adds, “All my successes have come when I pushed myself. Magic happens when we’re outside of our comfort zone.”
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