Over the course of the last year I have lost over 40 pounds. I have dropped from “whoa, my size 12 pants really don’t fit but I refuse to buy 14’s” to being comfortable in a size 8.
I am not a weight loss expert, personal trainer, diet planner, or fitness guru. I am simply a woman who has done it with some success. Everyone who runs into me keeps asking how I did it, hoping there is a magic pill. There isn’t.
If you are the kind of person who looks in the mirror and thinks “it’s time to change”, it can be done. I’m the proof. So if you need advice, here’s mine…for what it’s worth.
Download My Fitness Pal
This is a free app that helps track calories, sugars, sodium, and more! The best part? Once you enter your statistics (age, REAL weight, height, gender, goal weight) and choose a weight loss speed (I went with 1 ½ lbs per week) the app calculates the targets for you! It’s like having a dietary expert in your pocket, you just have to remember to tell her what you ate!
Count Calories (and other macros)
I took my daily calorie allotment (from the app) and mentally divided it by 4. This became the amount of calories I tried to eat at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a combined total of my snacks for the day. Then, when I went shopping, I made it a point to check ingredients before I purchased. It was eye popping to see how many calories were in some of my favorite foods! Once I knew, it was easy to make a smarter choice. Flour tortillas, for example, are over 200 calories each, but corn tortillas are a meager 50! Easy switch. Soda is a huge waste of 150-200 calories (not to mention sugar and sodium) that I could be reserving for an afternoon snack. No brainer! Once you have the goal and you pay attention the decisions are easier!
Sometimes the calories for a serving seem completely acceptable…until you look closer and realize how small a serving really is. I think the most eye-opening lesson of this whole experience was how much a serving of something really is. I can eat so much MORE chicken than I would’ve thought, but I had to cut back on a lot of other things. Basically I learned what a serving is…and made sure I logged it for the proper size.
LOTS of water. Water is “free” (zero calories). At first I added a zero calorie flavoring to it because I wasn’t use to the bland flavor. Now? I’m easily throwing back 8-10 cups a day plain. You aren’t as hungry when you drink water. You aren’t as tired when you drink water. Need another reason? You’re skin will look nicer. Plus, you can sweat it all out on my next tip! Water is the best!
Eating better alone will not get you results. Without exercise the discouraged, frustarted you will declare this is NOT worth the effort. Instead, find something (or several things) that you don’t mind doing. Run, walk, play a sport, join a gym, weight lift, whatever! Try something with a friend (we all know anything is better with good company). I personally am active 3-4 times a week but not all on the same activity. I like variety! I play hockey, I do cardio/fat burning (with a trainer), I do strength training/weight lifting, I do yogalates (a cross between yoga and pilates). Sometimes I even jog. The point is simply to get out there and be active!
Stick with it
I get it. This all seems overwhelming and in the beginning it’s hard. But you know what? It gets easier. You develop a routine with the right foods. They become part of what you regularly buy and recipes you are comfortable with. You start lifting more or running faster. People notice. It feels good. You are sick less, probably a result of putting better foods into your body. Even around an elementary school (AKA germ petri dish) I am sick less frequently. This healthier lifestyle makes you all-around feel better, and that’s pretty cool.
Get off the Scale
Weird advice, but so important. Choose a time, maybe twice a month, and ONLY step on it then. Same time of day each time, same scale, same place. Do not stress about the number. It is what it is. I stepped on the scale every time I changed contact lenses (15th and 1st of each month) first thing in the morning. Some days I was down, some days I was WAY down, some days I stayed the same. Once I was 4 lbs up (thatś a lot for two weeks). I never gave it. I just forgot about it and got back to the routine.
If you never indulge a little in the things you love, this process will never work. You will be resentful and unhappy (two things I never like to be). Instead, allow yourself small cheat meals once a week. It really is okay. I tended to use mine for holiday meals, gatherings, or after really stressful days at work. Oh, that reminds me…white wine is less calories than (most) beer. Cheats can be anything; from “just order the pizza” to “cut me a slice of cake”. Just remember that any cheating you do will slow your goal. Keep it to one meal a week and you should be fine.
The cool thing here is, despite all this work, a year later I’m a whole new person. A healthy, happy-with-herself, energetic, confident, active person. I kinda like her.
I do not miss the empty calories or the sugar. I am maintaining at my target weight now (which means higher calorie goals) and my healthier habits have stuck so it is easy.
No magic pill (sorry) and it may not work for everyone. But if it helps even one person, I am happy!
Thanks for reading!