Seems like everyone, at one time or another, has been on a weight loss or wellness journey. I’m telling you, it can be done. You can lose the weight you want, but you have to figure out what you want to achieve and stick to it.
I gained 60 lbs with my second son (thank you iron deficiency and near bed rest). It took me 18 months to lose the first 30 lbs because I didn’t use the strategies that I’m going to tell you. Then, one day after trying on my fabulous professional clothes (and they still didn’t fit), I realized I needed to make some changes–because I wasn’t buying a new full wardrobe sheerly out of principle. My current clothes were great, I just needed to be able to fit into them.
Once I made some important changes, I was able to lose the last 30 lbs in 6 months. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
Run. I read an article from Jillian Michaels a few years ago that said,
“If you want to be skinny, you need to run. I hate to run, but I run 3 miles every day because I know it’s the best way to lose weight.”
I started running in June and could barely make it 1/2 a block without passing out (and I was in great shape before the babies!). I realized this was going to take dedication, but I believed Jillian, so I stuck with it. By December, I could run 3 miles in each workout and had completed 486 miles! Yes, there were days I didn’t want to run because I was tired. Yes, there were days I didn’t want to run because the weather wasn’t optimal (give me cold any day of the week–it’s the heat that gets me). But I stuck with it. Every day I’d planned to run, I ran–no matter what. You can do this too.
Set realistic goals. Sure I wanted the weight to leave immediately, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I set a goal of losing one pound per week. I wanted to be cautiously reasonable and make sure that I could exceed my goal, instead of never meeting a goal that was too aggressive. It’s not healthy to lose much more than this, and often it’s just water weight. Set your goal realistically, it makes it much easier to accomplish.
Honestly track what you eat. I suggest getting an app or an online device that will do this for you. When I was losing weight, I used MyNetDiary (free version–Loved it!), which was nice because you can set your weight loss goals, log your food and exercise and it saves frequently used items so you don’t have to search every time. It tracks your progress for you–very rewarding. I logged EVERYTHING I ate in this app. Everything. My goal with eating for weight loss is “How can I eat as much as humanly possible and still lose weight?” And the answer is make healthier switches. There were a few days that I went to bed starving, and the first month was the most difficult. But, once my body adjusted to a normal amount of food, I was able to keep this up for the full 6 months. I ate a lot of pickles (0 calories).
Wear a pedometer. Every extra step seems worth it when you wear a pedometer. I started with the $5 ones from Walmart, but now use a FitBit Zip. I love it because it has an online component where I can log my workouts, my meals, track my steps and see my progress. Aim for 10,000 steps a day, the more you do, the better chance you have to lose extra weight. There were nights before I went to bed that I’d jog in place just to get to 10,000 steps–yes, my family thought I was crazy. And they were right, crazy dedicated.
Cut sugar, dairy and white bread. Even though I’m a healthy eater, eating to maintain is different from eating to lose weight. I’m addicted to sugar and I knew that eliminating it would be easier than reducing it. Goodbye desserts! With dairy, I’d found that my stomach didn’t handle it as well as it used to, so I reduced my intake. No yogurt, ice cream or Andy’s (too much sugar), no milk (too much tummy trouble) and reduced cheese (who can give this up?). And I’ve never eaten much bread because I have trouble with yeast. So I switched to items that had no yeast and limited my carbs intake to only things I really wanted to have, like special-occasion potatoes, rice or tortillas.
Eat foods that are healthy. After cutting these items, I realized that I had to fill myself up somehow. Every morning for breakfast around 7am I ate oatmeal with 1 TBSP brown sugar (only sugar in my diet, it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever had). Then I’d eat a snack around 10am of an apple or cheese and 1/2 serving of crackers. For lunch, I’d eat something like 1 serving of pasta with sauce and 2 cups of peas (I needed to get full people) and for dinner it was 2 cups of vegetables, lean chicken and 1/2 cup of rice, potatoes. We mastered variety with these options because they were the lowest calorie options for my menu. I traditionally ate 1600-1700 calories per day, and most days I ate every calorie available (think Clair Huxtable with those precious croutons)
Schedule one day of rest. I was dedicated to this plan, but realized I needed rest also. I scheduled in one day a week, usually on Saturdays when I knew my workouts were completed to rest. I still maintained my meal tracking, but I took it easy with my physical activity. You need to schedule in times to rest or you’ll get burned out and that won’t help you reach your goal. If you need to, schedule it into your calendar like an appointment.
Celebrate your success. After each run, I’d take a long, hot bath. After each week of success, I’d purchase a new iTunes song for my 7 workout playlists (I made one for each day of the week to keep my running more interesting). And after I finished my program in December, I bought all new clothes. Yes, I did. Because all of the old ones that I tried so desperately to fit into in June didn’t fit–they were too big! I got all of them altered, so it worked out double well for me.
Once I lost the weight, I spoke to a friend about maintaining the weight. Once you lose it, you can’t go back to your old lifestyle–you’ll go back to the way things were before and regain the weight. When you’re smaller, you need less food. So eat less food. When you develop a workout routine, stick with it. I now run 5 miles, four times a week. I attend 3 Core & Abs workout classes (best tip ever for a flat stomach) and I still track my food. It is work, but I love being able to wear the clothes I want and feel great all of the time.
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