Hey friends! Today I am sharing with you my top tips for weight loss success. When I first started out trying to get healthy I was at a loss of where to start. I kept thinking WTF did I get myself into?! There are so many things I wish I had known before I started. The world of weight loss can be daunting and a little scary. So I thought I would share a few of the basic things that helped me and hopefully, will help out someone else too. I cannot stress enough that the suggestions listed here are things that worked for ME on MY personal journey. This is by no means a one size fits all look at weight loss. Now that we have that out of the way, here we go.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Everyone and their mom has opinions on the best way to lose weight. I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve done Keto, I’ve tried Weight Watchers, I’ve tried only eating super clean, I’ve done Intermittent Fasting (IF), I’ve tried a Whole30 and I have tracked macros. I wouldn’t claim any of these ways are necessarily better than the others for you (or that these are the only ways to go about weight loss) but what I can say, is that through trial and error, I know what works best for me personally. You need to find out is which of these methods, if any, is best for YOU. If carbs are your favorite thing on this Earth, then going the Keto route may not be your road to success. Even if you see progress initially, you have to determine what you can sustain long term. It’s hard not to listen to everyone else’s opinion and get caught up in what someone else thinks about what you decide to do. Everyone will have opinions and unsolicited advice. Your best bet is to read up on basic nutrition and make some decisions about what sounds like something you can live with. And be flexible! You may start something and find out it doesn’t work well for you or change your own opinions and beliefs as time goes on based on new information and that’s ok too.
EDUCATE YOURSELF ON PORTION SIZES & CALORIES
Essentially, and the very most basic level, weight loss is calories in vs. calories out. I firmly believe that. Now, I’m not saying this simplistic view is optimal for overall health. I mean, I can eat 1500 calories a day of Sour Patch Kids or I can eat 1,500 calories a day of quality nutritious food and my body will react very differently to both scenarios. But for me personally, figuring out a caloric estimate was so helpful to have a guide to follow and a target to stay below. Without that structure, I tended to grossly underestimate how much I was eating and eyeballing a 1/4 cup of peanut butter and counting it as a tablespoon might be teeeeeny bit off (I can dream can’t I?). Because of this, I highly recommend a food scale so you can have an exact visual of how much you are eating. I never really paid attention to serving sizes or portions. It’s crazy to me how I could eat 3-4 portions of something without even thinking about it. Tracking and using a scale really opened my eyes to what a serving size really looks like. I initially tracked what I ate for a few days without having a specific caloric goal in mind just to get in the habit and to see where I was. Turned out, I was eating a good 3,500 calories a day. That combined with hardly any physical activity and it was no wonder I was gaining weight. I use myfitnesspal to track but I am sure there are other online calculators or resources that can be used as well.
It really doesn’t matter what you do. Hate working out in a gym? Well then, don’t do it! You don’t have to force yourself to do something simply because you see everyone else on social media doing it. Find something you enjoy and get out there and make it happen. I love to dance so when I first started working out, I took hip-hop dance classes or kickboxing classes. It made me feel like I was doing choreography versus working out. Or maybe you’re not so great at something but you have goal to get better at it. For me, that goal was running. I used to be a terrible runner. I would run for maaaaaybe 30 seconds and I felt like I was dying, no joke. But with close to 300 pounds of pressure on my knees and years of inactivity, running was very low on my list of activities I enjoyed. I dreamed about one day being able to say “I just went out for a quick 3 mile jog”. So I decided to start small. I used a Couch25K app that began with 30 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking and ended with running 3 miles nonstop over the course of 9 weeks. I remember panicking when I saw it went from 8 minutes of running to a full 20 minutes and the day I did that 20 minutes, I cried happy tears. And then I cried again almost a year later when I ran my first half marathon. Bottom line is, any physical activity is better than nothing, especially in the beginning.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Fail to plan, plan to fail, right? If I knew I was going to be in a tempting situation (parties, family get-togethers, work functions), I planned ahead. I ate before I went to parties or I brought a healthy alternative. I was that girl bringing my bag of lettuce to BBQ’s. Yeah, you might look a little strange but in the long run, those people giving you weird looks will be back later to ask you how you did it. Meal prep is another thing I cannot recommend enough. Yes it requires time and commitment but what used to take me all day, I can now complete in 1-2 hours tops from start to finish. To me, giving up those few hours of my weekend is a small price to pay to ensure my success throughout the week. Meal prep does NOT have to be fancy or complicated. I stick to a general rule of making meals with a protein, a complex carb and some veggies. I just rotate things based on what I like and repeat things I don’t get tired of (burrito bowls, polenta bakes , breakfast casseroles).
BE COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
Unfortunately, it won’t be all rainbows and butterflies. Change is hard. There were days I cried in frustration because I was so sick of it all. Some days it felt like I was never going to get better at the workouts I was doing. Like things were always just going to be tough for me. I turned down so many social outings in the beginning. I just didn’t feel strong enough to be around the temptation but I hated having to miss out on time with friends. I don’t think it’s necessary or healthy to do that forever but when I was first trying to change my habits, keeping myself away from triggers was important for my success. Sometimes I forced myself to go on a run when all I wanted to do was order pizza and sit on the couch. But then, when I was able to run a few minutes longer or fit into a new pair of pants, it made all the struggles worth it. What I remember much more vividly than all the frustrations, are all those little victories that kept me going along the way.
These are some of the basic things that helped me at the start of my own weight loss journey. Everyone is different and you may have some of your own pointers that worked out for you. If so, share them below!