Let me start by saying that different things work for different people. I am by NO means a medical professional. This “advice” is simply me saying what worked for me.Okay, let’s clear one thing up: This. Is. Not. A. Diet. … Say it with me…. This. Is. Not. A. Diet. Because this is not a diet, it is not going to be a quick fix. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is this. THIS is a lifestyle, and that is why it works.
Let me re-emphasize that… This is not a quick fix. Studies have shown that losing more than 1-2 pounds in a week is not healthy, and you are more likely to gain that weight back. Quick fixes also tend to be deprivation diets – whether you are restricting calories, fat, carbs, etc. What’s the first thing you want when you aren’t “allowed” something? You want it. Now, this doesn’t mean you eat whatever you want, as much as you want. It means you learn moderation and balance.
Don’t focus on weight loss. I know, it sounds crazy, but trust me on this one. FOCUS ON THE JOURNEY. It’s the little changes you make every day that adds up to the big results. Remember that old saying, “Count your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”… same principle. Focus on being HEALTHY. The rest will come.
SO… keeping those things in mind, here’s my Top 10 Things That Worked For Me:
- Start slow. We’re in this for the long haul, and it takes time to change habits. If you try to overhaul your entire lifestyle at once, chances are you’ll get overwhelmed, frustrated, and quit. Make small, manageable changes, and pick the easiest ones first. Once you have those under your belt, move on to the next thing. For example, if it is easiest for you to control what you’re eating at lunch, first focus on packing healthy lunches. Once you have that down, move on to breakfast. If you can make several changes at once, great! Do it! Just keep in mind that the people who have the weekly shopping, food-prepping, and fitness plan in place, didn’t learn how to put it all together at once, and even then, they mess up. Trust me.
- Don’t deprive yourself. If you feel deprived, you’re probably going to fall off the wagon, and when you do it’s going to drag you for a few miles. Allow yourself something. For me it was my morning coffee without sacrificing anything. A grande (sometimes venti) iced coffee from Starbucks, with hazelnut syrup and cream, and absolutely NO GUILT.
- No soda. Not even diet soda (which is actually worse for you.) If you want a can as a weekly treat, that’s fine, but as a daily beverage, no. Drink water. I used Mio (I know, those aren’t good for you either) to wean off of soda.
- Track stuff. I know this sounds time-consuming and a pain in the ass (and sometimes it was), but for me, it was a tangible thing that held me accountable. I used MyFitnessPal to track what I ate during the day. To keep track of how much water I drank, I used a 30 oz. bottle. My goal was to drink at least 4 of those a day. I put 4 rubber bands on the bottle, and each time I filled it, I took one off.
- My journal. This ties in with #3. I used this 6-month journal religiously. I recorded my weight daily, how many calories I consumed, and what my macro-nutrients were (percentage of your calories from carbs, fat, and protein – MyFitnessPal tracks that too). I also recorded all of my workouts in it. If I had a crappy day, was sick, had my period… You name it, I wrote it down. This took me five minutes, tops.
- Set goals. The journal (again)… This journal has a nifty section at the beginning and end to record goals. At the beginning of each week there is also a place for goals. These are up to you. Make them attainable, yet stretching, and make them actionable – in other words, focus on your behavior, not “I want to lose 2 pounds.” For example, my first week’s goals were: 1- record in this journal every day. 2- no soda this week. That’s it. Remember… little changes. The goal is to start healthy habits that you’ll stick with. You don’t need a fancy journal either. This is what worked for me. You might be fine with a plain ol’ notebook. I liked the guided layout though. *shrug*
- Measure. This is especially true if you are exercising (particularly resistance training), because muscle weighs more than fat. I found myself not losing weight (or sometimes gaining!) but I was still getting smaller. I took my measurements every month. And yes, I recorded that in my journal too. Take pics! You’ll want to compare, trust me. When you hit a plateau (and you will!), it helps to look back on how far you’ve come.
- FOOD!! I know, you thought I was going to talk about this first, huh? Remember those macro-nutrients? This is what most healthy adults need: 45-55% carbs, 20-25% fat (yes, really), and 10-15% protein. I ate about double the protein and lower carbs and fat, but after going through my nutrition class, I’ve learned that really isn’t necessary (in fact, my protein intake was too high, which wasn’t healthy either). MY FOOD RULES:
- No processed foods. Period. I use VERY few groceries that come in a box or can. Things I buy in cans or boxes: canned beans, canned/boxed stock or broth, coconut milk, tomato sauce, and occasionally whole grain pasta. I make sure canned foods don’t have added sodium, too.
- Read nutrition labels. If you can’t pronounce it (or know exactly what it is), don’t eat it. If you follow rule #1, this isn’t a problem. Also, try to stick to less than 5 ingredients on the ingredients list.
- Eat lots of veggies and fruit. Frozen is fine –they’re just as healthy, and its a time saver. Fiber is your best friend. It helps you feel full, helps you lose fat, lowers cholesterol, makes you poop. All good things.
- Stick with lean meats. I eat red meat once a month. I eat several pounds of chicken breasts weekly. Extra lean (99%) ground chicken and turkey are huge time savers.
- Only use healthy fats. Olive oil, coconut oil, and yes, even butter. You’re only using a little. Use it wisely. (Margarine = chemical shitstorm. Just say no.)
- Whole grain bread needs to actually have whole grains. You should be able to see the grains, seeds, etc. Also, chances are, if it is really whole grain bread, it is going to cost more than a dollar or two for the loaf.
- EXERCISE. Do it. Start small. Walk around the block, tomorrow walk around two. Make time for exercise. There are thousands of reasons why you should exercise and you know them, but here’s the deal… This makes the whole process come together. Exercising helped me keep my diet in check. And at first it is hard, and you’ll be sore (and yeah that kinda sucks), but it is all worth it.
- This is a big one… CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. This. is. hard. I tell people all the time… this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s okay to mess up, but get back on the horse after you dust yourself off. Don’t blow an entire day, or week, or month simply because you messed up something small. This is NOT the place to have the “go big or go home” attitude.
- (Okay, so I had to add another one…) Remember that not everyone will be your cheerleader. Some people will want to see you fail. Your success will remind them of their insecurities. Haters gonna hate. Don’t play into their negativity. Move on. Find people who will support you.