I posted on Facebook the other day about a weight loss success I had and I've had several people ask me "HOW?"
Well, I'll tell you, but you probably don't want to hear it.
I ate better and exercised.
When I started this journey, I was very overweight. So overweight, in fact, that my insurance let me see a nutritionist covered by my plan. So, January 1, I went in to see her. She didn't tell me anything I didn't already "know" in my head, but she was able to really help me identify what I could change long term that would help me lose weight. That same week, I found out that they YMCA offered a free training session with a trainer, where he would identify your goals, tell you how to get there, and then show you how to use those sometimes intimidating weight machines. Here are a few things I've learned from them both that might help you on your weight loss journey.
1. Don't make changes to your diet that you can't sustain.
I hear a lot of people say, "Starting tomorrow, no more _____." Fill in the blank with whatever food they think is causing them to be overweight. My nutritionist was very big on this, "I can't make you unlike something you like and I can't make you like something you don't. This is your body and you have to live in it and enjoy living in it." What she meant is that if you don't like spinach, no matter how healthy it might be for you, don't start eating spinach because you will be miserable. You have to find healthy food you DO like that you will continue to eat for years to come. We all have about five go to foods we eat everyday. Mine are usually cottage cheese with pineapple, Wheat Thins, greek yogurt with almonds, tuna, and breakfast bars. I eat these goods almost every single day. My breakfast is the yogurt with almonds and a breakfast bar, so I can get some protein and carbs before I go to the gym. My lunch is hardly ever a large lunch. It's usually tuna (which you can eat tons of for low cals, by the way, as long as you don't load it with mayo and other high cal items!) and crackers, or maybe a scoop of peanut butter and an English muffin, then maybe an apple. I always have cottage cheese with pineapple as a snack because I love it. I eat lots during the day but not usually huge amounts each time. As long as you find the staples in your diet that you love that aren't terrible for you, you can fit it into your calorie goals.
2. Those who count, lose.
You have to know how much you are consuming. If you don't, you will never lose weight. I use MyFitnessPal app which is the best out there for keeping up with calories. You can scan any barcode and it will automatically input the serving size, calories, fat, sugar, etc. Part of my problem with weight gain is not that ate bad, it's that I ate too much. I have talked about my revelation with my coffee creamer - I was easily drinking 300+ calories a day in coffee creamer that also had tons of fat (I still love you, International Delights Cold Stone Creamery Creamer). I couldn't get rid of creamer completely, I love my coffee, but I just started using a sugar free alternative with 15 calories per serving instead of 50, and I only drink 1 TBSP in each cup instead of 2-3. I started making my coffee less dark so I didn't need as much. See - you accommodate and make small compromises you can continue and won't quit doing!
The other benefit of counting calories is that you don't have to put in "cheat days" to your weeks. I don't do well with cheat days because it makes me feel bad the other six days if I don't eat really clean. My life is such that we might get invited to go out to dinner that day with friends, or we might have a movie popcorn night at home. I am not going to not participate and enjoy myself in life because it's not my "cheat day." I am just going to plan my day accordingly so that maybe I eat lighter the rest of the day so I can indulge a little at night. Ever since I started working out, I don't like gorging myself, but I am not going to say no to some chips and salsa and Mexican food because of my diet. That starts a whole shame spiral and guilt that makes it so much harder to keep on track.
3. You have to set goals and be able to change them.
The first month, I dropped off all sugary drinks and was put on a 1500 calorie a day diet. When I went back in and she saw it was working and I was making better habits, it went up to 1800. If I worked out that day, I earned calories as well. I never felt hungry, I never felt deprived. You don't have to restrict your calories forever. Once your metabolism increases, you can eat more. You just have to get your body ready. (You ever wonder why actresses say they can eat whatever they want to still be skinny? They probably are dedicated to working out every single day). Along with counting calories, you have to know how many calories you need to be consuming.
4. Make your workouts count.
Ever feel like you are going to the gym but nothing is happening? I wasn't about to spend an hour of my day working out if it wasn't going to mean anything. That's why I asked a trainer and he informed me that heartrate is everything - getting it up and keeping it up for 30 minutes. And I had to also learn to use weights to build muscle mass. When I started, I would get on the elliptical at a 15 resistance and a 4 incline. That was enough to keep my heart rate up for 30 minutes. I could barely get to 30 minutes. Now, I am at a 35 resistance and a 10 incline. Every day, actually, I have to increase it to keep my heart rate up. That's good - it means my heart is getting into good shape, which has sped up my metabolism. Walking is fantastic, moving is fantastic. But if you really want to lose weight and get in shape, you have to challenge your body and keep on challenging it every time.
5. When in doubt, consult a professional.
I visited with my family doctor and he suggested Weight Watchers. I know it works for some people, it just never worked for me. And I didn't like having to pay. So, I start exploring my options. My nutritionist is paid for by my health insurance (I pay for it every month, might as well use my services!) and my training session was included in my Y membership. Both of these help point me in the right direction of what works for ME. Getting one on one personal attention and instructions helped me more than anything else could.
6. Once you get into a habit, do everything you can to keep it up.
I started out going to the gym three times a week. Now, we are at 4-5. My nutritionist told me the other day that if I can go every day, or at least 6 times a week, even if my workouts are really light, it helps keep me in the habit of spending that time every day. I feel really blah when I miss a workout now. So, even if I just walk outside for 20 minutes, I am much more active. It's become such a habit, it's hard for me to give it up.
I hope this helps you! Stay encouraged!