Since losing over 80 pounds I often get asked for advice on either how to lose weight or how to start a diet. I usually take the time to write out my responses, but that gets tedious after awhile. So, here is my LONG overdue 11 simple tips on starting a healthy diet / lifestyle. These things work regardless of the diet, and I have done all of them myself.
*obligatory legal notice*
Before this list I need to remind you that I am NOT a licensed medical professional, I’m just a regular person who has lived the fat person life and has done these tips to change their lifestyle. Please consult a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing your diet OR starting/stopping an exercise program. Thank you!
1. Lifestyle NOT diet
Even though I will refer to “diet” in the video and post, you shouldn’t go searching for a diet. Instead try to find a way of living you can sustain for most of your life with only few modifications. For some this could be paleo or vegan or just flexible dieting. You need to break the habits that got you to where you are today, and I assume, overweight. If you just think of it like a “diet” you’re more likely to gain the weight back later. Which leads me to my second tips..
2. Do it for YOURSELF!
Seem silly this is my #2? Well not really. I explain it to people like this. I used to smoke, and I tried to quit a lot, but it wasn’t until I wanted to do it for myself that I actually did it. Not when my husband quit, or when he asked me to or when my family bothered me about it. Heck, I didn’t even quit knowing it was the right thing (I wasn’t ignorant of what I was choosing to do to myself). Eventually I WANTED to quit smoking, and I did it cold turkey. A diet is the same way. Don’t quit just because a family member wants you to. To break those nasty habits takes self motivation, without it, you’ll probably end up just as fat or worse off.
3. Baby steps or not : whatever works for you!
You’ll often hear people tell you to take baby steps, or maybe to JUST DO IT! (Shia reference? yeah horrible I know!) Well you need to figure out what works for you. For example: if I have junk food in the house, I will eat it because it’s there. It’s best for me to just not buy junk food. I am the type of person to just go all in on whatever I do. For some people though that scares them and if you need baby steps, you do that instead. Set goals and work towards them, but limit yourself on time. If you take “baby steps” for 3 years, you aren’t really accomplishing anything, sorry to say!
4. Make realistic goals
Again, it’s so simple but important. A lot of people get frustrated they don’t lose 20 pounds like the girls in the magazines or can’t lose weight as quickly as their favorite celebrity. The fact of the matter is this, everyone is different. I also tell everyone this simple thing. Chances are you didn’t gain all your weight that quickly, so why should you expect to lose it super quickly? My goal for 2015 is to lose 20 pounds. If I go past that then fantastic, but I’m being realistic. Just because your fitness website says you CAN lose 2 pounds a week eating 1200 calories doesn’t mean you should A. eat 1200 or b. lose weight that quickly. Weight loss is NOT linear, you can look at my weekly weight loss videos and you’ll see what I mean.
5. Set mini goals & reward yourself!
The grind of losing weight can be very stressful, so instead of worrying about it set small goals. Maybe in 3 months you’d like to work up to exercising 3-4 times a week or maybe you want to learn to enjoy new vegetables / foods. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself. Maybe you lose 10-20 pounds and you go buy yourself a nice shirt, or a new pair of jeans. I did this and now my jeans don’t fit anymore and I have to wear a belt to keep them on my butt. HOWEVER I look at these jeans and I feel proud about what I’ve done and that reward is very powerful for me. Try not to reward yourself with food, that can be a bad habit to form.
6. Track your calories
A lot of new fad diets tell you not to count calories and for a lot of folks, this doesn’t work well in the end. You don’t have to be a calorie nazi, but having an idea of what you’re putting in your body is a good thing. Look into websites like myfitnesspal.com , sparkpeople, or cronometer.com. I’m not sponsered by them and have used them before. I personally am on myfitnesspal or mfp. It’s probably the easiest to use, plus there is a social aspect to it. Also, I suggest using a food scale and using GRAMS (yes sorry my American friends) to weigh out food. You’ll find over time, it’s much easier to judge the calories in food. These days I can almost do it just by eye.
7. Pre-plan meals or pre-cook foods for the week
If you find you’re often crunched for time, consider either meal planning your meals for the week OR doing large batch cooking on your days off. For example: if you want to eat quinoa, but that is something you don’t normally have time for. Cook a large batch and store in the fridge, it’ll stay good for 5-7 days depending on conditions. Also consider freezing meals for later like homemade tv dinners. You’ll also probably save money and not waste a lot of food! Extra bonuses.
8. Motivation from family and friends
Going it alone is difficult, so when possible recruit a family member or friend to do this with you. Maybe you and your spouse can go to the gym together or go for walks after dinner. Maybe you and you kids can go play outside or go swimming. You could also make friends online and get together to exercise or keep each other on track. This is a great thing and don’t be embarrassed. My husband and I inspire each other and he makes me want to work harder in the gym. We also check each other meaning if he’s gonna eat something really bad I will say “maybe you shouldn’t” and he will do the same thing to me. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us.
9. Eat veggies first
This is a great tip for everyone, especially those working on trying new veggies. When I was a foster mom I would have all the children (step son included) eat the vegetables first. Over time you learn to enjoy them more, you are also ensuring you get good nutrition and the fiber helps you feel full and gives signals to your brain. This is a habit we all still have today.
10. NO NIGHT EATING!
No matter what diet you follow, unless you work overnight and have your hours flipped around, stop eating towards bedtime. I hear so many people say “It’s just a habit I have”. Well break that habit and make it important. Eating before bed effects your sleep as you then have to put effort into digesting, it can also give you acid reflux, and overall bad sleep. On top of that it can mess with insulin levels and those sleepy time hormones. It’s best to give at least 3-5 hours before bed. If you honestly can’t go that long, then try your bed. No bowl of cereal before bed, no doughnut 30 minutes before bed, and holy crap don’t wake up in the middle of the night to eat. Take a drink of cold water and go back to bed.
11. Exercise isn’t the most important?
Finally we are at the end folks with the most controversial tip on my list. Exercise doesn’t have to be the most important! Put your pitch forks down and let me explain please. At my highest I was 298 lbs, I was in pain and even walking a few blocks was a chore for me. I decided I needed to lose some weight and that was more important than “toning”, but really how much toning do you do at 298 pounds?, anyways I focused on food. I walked when my back would allow me and over time I found I naturally got better at it and my stamina allowed me to do more. Now, I’m not telling you to eat a salad and sit on your butt all day, but if that is what you need for the first few months, then so be it. People often overwhelm themselves by getting healthy. They think they need to go to the gym 3-4 times a week, quit all their bad habits, and eat “clean” (which is a whole different rant!). This isn’t the case. Focus on the food first and get used to your chosen “diet”, then let the rest fall into place.
Do you agree with me ? Do you have tips of your own? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks guys and I hope you enjoyed. bye-bye!