My Personal Weight Loss Tips
Maintaining a healthy weight
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’m never quite happy with my weight. But I am satisfied whenever I do lose a few pounds after gaining a few. Contrary to the advice not to concentrate on numbers, 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.
I’ve never watched my carbs or trans fats, but I often count calories when I diet. I used to estimate my calories, but now I rely on a calorie counter app after realizing that I was overestimating much of the time.
I also measure and count out my portions whenever possible. I then transfer those portions to a plate or container rather than bring the entire package with me. You'll eat at least twice as many chips if you're holding the bag while you do, and you'll pour way too much dressing on your salad if you don't measure it out with a tablespoon.
I'll also only eat when I'm hungry. So, if I can put off breakfast for an hour or two after I wake up, I will. At the same time, I won't starve myself or allow my stomach to growl for more than an hour. This is just a recipe for an out-of-control binge fest which will destroy your calorie count for the day and either have you on the exercise bike for another hour or cause you to just give in and overindulge.
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. I can't ever get that thin without a major illness to back me up, nor do I want to.
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 down my weigh-ins. 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 you eat should be bland, and you shouldn't feel like you have to eat the same thing everyday just because it led to a drop in the scale the week before.
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 snack aisle for new snacks to try (I recommend Special K bars and other 90-100 calorie snacks).
Walking is always an effective way to lose weight
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.
You can also make playlists on YouTube and cast them to your TV so that you always have a different workout to try. I like to find 15 minute cardio workouts and go through two or three of them, resting between videos so that I don't get worn out.
Most often, though, I ride the exercise bike. This bike will count the number of calories I'm burning, and I find that a 45-minute ride will burn 500 calories. I can also read or watch TV while I ride. So, it's perfect for my multitasking lifestyle.
In addition to a regular exercise routine, be sure to get up and walk as much as possible throughout the day. Add a step counter app to your phone, and try to hit at least a few miles a day. This is hard for me since I do office work for a living and spend a lot of time writing in front of my computer in my free time, but I make a point to get up often and move around. Not only does this help burn calories, but it keeps me loose and focused without that antsy feeling that you get from sitting for a long time.
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. Plus, you’ll make your dentist proud. Don’t forget to floss too! Sometimes I'll floss so that I won't eat but can still drink tea or other flavored drinks before bed without contaminating it with the minty after-brushing taste.
A funny but true weight loss meme.
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.
I used to weigh myself every Saturday morning before I've dressed or eaten. It seemed unhelpful to weigh yourself any more often than that.
However, on the most current program that I'm on, one of the rules is to weigh yourself daily. I've found this to be incredibly helpful in keeping track of my progress, even on the days when I gain or don't lose any weight.
I've been dieting long enough to know that it's not a bad weigh-in day that can ruin a diet but instead several weigh-in weeks of not losing or even gaining weight because I'm overeating. Daily weigh-ins take the guess work out of how I'm doing, lowers expectations from a few pounds to a few ounces, and gets me out of bed quicker in the morning out of curiosity as to how I'm doing and what I should keep doing or stop doing in the hours ahead.
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 then follow this diet for five days. 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 eating 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 it gets me through the initial hurdle of feeling hungry all the time and makes me fill up faster in the weeks ahead.
Special K cereal
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 that will take your mind off of eating, go do it. Even if it's not physical activity, it will distract you from snacking. 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're backed into a corner, then come clean, and if you think you can eat a slice of birthday cake or go out to eat without overdoing it, then do it.
However, try to demonstrate some will power, especially if it's as simple as avoiding the communal candy bowl in your break room or refusing a mediocre-tasting dessert. Save your indulgences for your most loved treats.
Sugar-free candy is your friend.
When I get nervous or bored, I want to eat. 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 weight. 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.
On the first day of your diet, take a front and side view photo. Then, after every few pounds (5-10), take another front and side photo. Wear your workout clothes or something tight fitting that will show off your problem areas, and watch them shrink in the photos. Save them, and then compare them every so often to see if you can see any differences.
Despite the fact that I hate having my picture taken, 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. It's usually in photos that I can really see the full effect of a weight gain, and the same goes for weight loss.
This is the body scale that I use to weigh myself and keep track of my progress.
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!