My Personal Weight Loss Tips
I’ve been dieting nearly my entire life. I never had an out-of-control weight problem or an eating disorder, but I learned from an early age to back off whenever I found myself over-eating and began to exercise more. My weight has fluctuated throughout my life, and I always managed to stay at a normal weight because of the techniques that I use. I’m never quite happy with my weight, but I am satisfied whenever I do lose a few pounds after gaining a few, and there is no bigger weight loss success than seeing the numbers drop on the scale from one week to the next. Below are some tips that I use to maintain and shed extra weight in a safe and manageable way.
Count calories, but don’t write them down.
I’ve never watched my carbs or trans fats, but I often count calories. However, these numbers are general estimates, not exact measurements. I don’t use a calorie counting calculator or write down everything that I eat. It's too involved and will make you quit a diet faster than usual. I only look up a calorie count whenever I’ve eaten something new or need an estimate of what I’ve been consuming. I try to keep it around 200 calories for breakfast, 400 calories for lunch and 600 calories for dinner. Those numbers include mid-day snacks and cheats. If I’ve done well throughout the day, I’ll eat a little more at dinner, or if I’ve had a larger breakfast, I’ll cut back at lunch. If I’m hungry, though, I will eat something. It just needs to be something healthy but filling.
Keep a motivator within eyesight.
Some people like to clip pictures of magazine models to their refrigerator, but to me, this creates a nearly impossible goal weight. Instead, I usually select a piece of clothing (usually pants) that I can’t fit into and hang it in my bedroom so that I see it a few times a day. This helps motivate me to get to my goal weight. After losing a few pounds, I’ll try it on to see if it’s looser on me. You’re not going to show everyone the numbers on the scale, but you and others will be able to tell that weight has been lost if your clothes fit better.
Another thing I do is write my weight on a marker board on my fridge after a weigh in next to the date. Eventually, I have a list of numbers and dates so that I can see my progress and downfalls throughout the year. Even if I don't lose any weight during a certain week, I can see how far I've come since starting the diet. If I have slacked off for a few weeks (or months), it can be a motivator for me to get back on the horse.
Recipes and Weight Loss Foods
Celery and grapefruit are notorious diet foods, but they aren't filling, and they get old fast. Scan Pinterest for interesting foods that you can eat. Not everything should be bland. Select foods that you don’t usually eat to give yourself something to look forward to at meal times. Add low fat Cool Whip to your Sugar Free Jello. Buy fruits that are in season. Look through the cracker aisle for new snacks to try (look into the Special K bars and other 90-100 calorie snacks).
Lemon water is also a good motivator. Adding the lemon to your water gives it flavor and provides numerous health benefits. I like to buy the juice in the plastic lemons and squirt them into a large pitcher of water. I drink from that throughout the day and try to finish one two-liter pitcher at least once every five days.
When it’s winter (especially after the holidays and my diet is going strong), and you don’t want to go to the gym or outside for a walk, I suggest picking up some exercise videos. I have a kickboxing video that helps me get in 30 minutes of cardio each day. It builds muscle and tones me. Though the results on the scale are slow, I see a large difference in the way that I look.
Brush your teeth after dinner.
There is a general rule not to eat after 7pm. While I’m in diet mode, I brush my teeth right after dinner. The idea is to put that minty taste in your mouth so that anything that you eat afterward will taste nasty anyway. Also, if you contaminate your mouth with more food after brushing your teeth, you’re going to have to brush again. In this way, laziness works in your favor. Plus, you’ll make your dentist proud. Don’t forget to floss too!
Use exercise equipment.
If you have access to exercise equipment, use it. Nothing motivates me more than seeing the numbers of the calories that I’m burning on the screen. Progress is a big motivator in anything that you do, and adding an exercise machine, such as a treadmill or bike, to your daily routine will keep you on track. It’s also easier to do other activities while you bike or walk, like read, listen to music, or watch TV. This is a big plus for me as I’m a notorious multitasker.
Take a walk in the middle of the day.
If you have enough time during your lunch break or any other free time in the middle of your day, take a walk. I like to walk a mile on my lunch break to help boost my metabolism and get in some exercise time that doesn’t have anything to do with hitting a calorie number or working up a sweat. It also gets you away from work, class, or whatever fills your days and gives you time to think and calm your mind from the stress of the day.
Load up on the chicken and salad.
There are about a million ways to cook chicken. Go for the healthy ways. I like to grill up several pieces (without any sauce or breading) over the weekend and incorporate them into my meals throughout the week. Stuff them in tortilla shells, eat them plain, or throw them on top of salad. Speaking of salad, I like to buy the pre-washed bags and add more vegetables to them. A plate of chicken salad is surprisingly filling. Take it easy on the dressing too, and buy the version you like with the fewest calories.
Weigh yourself only once a week.
Saturday mornings are my usual weigh-in time. I weigh myself on an empty bladder before I’ve eaten or dressed for the day. This works for me, and while I’m sometimes anxious to step on the scale early, I try to be patient and wait for my scheduled time to check out the damage. When I’m desperate, I check the scale on Wednesday to see how things are going, and I usually end up disappointing myself. So, just pick one day, and stick with it.
Boost a new diet with the Special K Challenge.
This diet is hard but not impossible. I like to do it my first week of dieting to boost my weight loss and get a head start on things, especially when it’s the first of the year and none of my pants fit. I load up on the Special K cereals and snack bars and go to town. I eat a bowl in the morning, bring a bowl to work with me, and snack on fruit, yogurt and Special K bars throughout the day. After dinner, I’m done for the day. By the end of the week, my stomach is churning, and I just want bacon and eggs for breakfast, but then I step on the scale, and I’ve lost 1-2 pounds. After that, I cut back to one bowl a day and eat more at lunch, but I don’t feel as hungry, and my diet is off and running.
If you’re going to splurge, cut out something else.
If you’ve had homemade cookies with your lunch, don’t eat dessert after dinner. If you’ve prepared an extra side for dinner, don’t set out bread. If you’re full after one bowl of cereal, don’t eat your usual two. At dinner, I do things backwards. I eat my main course and sides, and if I still feel like something, I’ll eat some salad. This allows me to fill up if I’m not full already, and the calorie intake is so small that I don’t feel like I am cheating.
Make your own 100 calorie bags.
To make sure that I’m not packing too many calories into my snacks, I check the serving sizes on each package. If I buy Special K Cracker Chips, I’ll count out the number of chips into a plastic bag as part of my lunch. It’s a lot cheaper and just as easy as buying the pre-packaged, diet-sized snacks.
I rarely lose weight without trying, unless I’m sick, and when I am dieting heavily, it occupies a lot of my thoughts. I’m always looking forward to the next meal and wondering when I can fit in my workouts. However, staying busy keeps your mind away from these thoughts and keeps you active. It’s easy to plop down on the couch at the end of the day, but if there’s something else you could be doing, go do it. Otherwise, you’re likely to reach for the ice cream.
Don’t tell anyone that you’re dieting.
Telling people that you are dieting rarely helps. In fact, people are more likely to say that you don’t need to diet. They’ll say your weight is fine or prompt you to have a chocolate cupcake because they made them especially for you. Hopefully, you’re not dieting for them as much as for yourself. Either way, they’re not helping. If you can’t refuse junk food for any good reason (such as your work Christmas party) then indulge, but remember to cut out something else to make up for it. However, try to demonstrate some will power if you have the ability to refuse or not reach into the communal candy bowl sitting on the table in your break room.
Sugar-free candy is your friend.
When I get nervous or bored, I want to eat, and my job offers up both of those emotions throughout the day. So, I keep a bag of sugar free or low calorie candy around. It holds me over until the next meal, even if I do have to eat several pieces before that next meal.
Not gaining is as good as losing.
I never used to believe this, but it’s true. I don’t just go on a diet to lose weight. I go on a diet to make sure that I don’t gain anymore. If I diet for two or three months and don’t reach my goal weight, at least that was two to three months that I wasn’t gaining weight. People whose weight spirals out of control gain a little each month, year after year. The longer you wait to try to shed the pounds, the more you’ll have to lose when the time comes.
Take pictures of yourself.
Please be fully clothed, when you do it, though. Wear sweats or tight clothes that show off your problem areas. Take a picture each week (a selfie in the mirror works), and review them every so often to see if you notice any difference between the first and last. This has been a very big motivator for me. I like to wear the same outfit in each picture to really point out to myself the areas where the weight is coming off.
I’ve heard over and over again that this is important. This is how you quickly burn calories and lose fat. I also like cardio exercises. It is the most exciting and feels the most helpful in terms of losing calories.
Like I said before, building muscle may not show on the scale (in fact, it may show the opposite results), but it makes you look good and gives you the ability to do more (like run up and down the stairs without losing your breath). This is an important benefit to exercising. Again, kick boxing builds muscle without having to buy or go to the gym to use their weight-lifting equipment. Doing projects around your house helps too. Just don't over-do it.
Let go on the holidays.
Don’t deprive yourself at these crucial moments. Live a little. Continue to exercise and hold back a little, but don’t refuse yourself any of the holiday foods that you like, whether it’s Christmas pie or Fourth of July deviled eggs.
Do you diet frequently? If so, share your tips below!