Having lost 150lbs in just over two years, many people ask me to tell them what the secret formula to losing weight is. Unfortunately there is no secret formula, there is no get fit quick scheme, and there are certainly no magic tricks that can melt away excess weight, but there are some not so secret things you can do. Here are some top tips to help get you started on your weight loss journey.
Never use the D word (diet)
If you want to lose weight and keep it off for life, you have to move past dieting. The simple fact is that diets do not work, especially not for long term success. While diets might work for short term goals, they do nothing for long term goals. Why? Simple, if you tell yourself you are going on a diet you will set yourself a goal, (let’s say 20lbs), when you reach your goal you will revert back to your old lifestyle because that goal has been met.
Diets are designed to be pretty extreme and they are not sustainable over long periods of time. A few months after your diet has ended you’ll find that those 20lbs have come back, so you’ll quickly place yourself on another unsustainable diet. As you can see, diets do nothing but create a vicious cycle.
If you want to lose weight for good you have to alter your lifestyle. This is a massive decision and it can be far harder to commit to than a short term diet that lasts a few months, but it is well worth taking the steps to alter your lifestyle. Setting long term goals rather than just short term goals will help you see the bigger picture, after all this is the rest of your life we are talking about.
Start out slowly and be easy go on yourself. By making small changes and by setting small goals like no more soda, or I will drink more water, or I will not eat fast food more than once per week, you will not overwhelm yourself with a crazy diet that restricts you. Once you have met those goals you will feel empowered to set more and then you can incorporate more healthy habits and build from there. Pretty soon you will start to see positive changes.
Keep a diary
You would never think that writing down what food you have consumed during the course of a day, or the exercise you have performed could make such a big difference when it comes to losing weight, but trust me, it can be the difference between success and failure. You can use a journal or an online service to help with this. If you decide to use an online service, check out Sparkpeople.com.
Sparkpeople offers free nutrition trackers that calculate calorie intake, fat intake, protein and carbohydrate intake and beyond. They also have free fitness trackers where you can input your daily workouts. They even calculate how many calories you have burned based off of your age and weight. While the idea of tracking everything you do may seem like a chore at first, you will quickly discover that taking just five minutes per day to plug in the food you have eaten can be life altering.
Sparkpeople also offer thousands of articles and videos for free that teach you about how to live a healthy life, not to mention that most of the free videos are workout videos. The site is setup like Facebook, and it has a massive social element to it, which in itself is incredibly important when it comes to weight loss.
Each of the 13 million members has their own profile page and the community is amazing. Every member is there for the same reason, which is to lose weight, so if you need support from people who are going through the same thing, this is the place to get it. If there is one thing I would say you need to do to help yourself lose weight, it would be join Sparkpeople for free.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day
Water is the best natural appetite suppressant available. By cutting out calorie filled soda and replacing it with calorie free water, you will start to lose weight simply because you will lower your caloric intake.
Your body needs a minimum of eight glasses of water each and every day to function properly. If you give your body the water it needs every day, you will lose weight. The reason for this is simple. If you do not give your body the water it needs it will actually hold on to the water you drink simply because the body does not know when it will get water again. When the body holds on to water, you gain water weight.
Losing water weight is fairly easy, and by drinking water you could lose a quick 10lbs. If you regularly drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water each and every day, you will lose weight because your body knows that it does not have to hold on to the water you give it.
Do not skip breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Research has shown that eating breakfast that is made with whole grains, and is high in protein within one hour of waking up can actually boost your metabolism by 20% for the entire day.
Eating a healthy breakfast is absolutely one of the most important things you can do. By eating a breakfast that is high in protein and full of whole grain you will set yourself up for success every single day. Whole grains and protein actually make you fill fuller and far more satisfied for longer periods of time, so by the time lunch time comes around you will not over eat.
Cut out refined products as much as you can
Refined products like white flour and sugar are everywhere. If you were to go to your pantry right now, you would be hard pressed to find many food items that do not have corn syrup, enriched flour, or sugar in them. The biggest mistake I made when I started changing my diet was that I decided to go cold turkey on flour and sugar. I do not recommend going cold turkey, simply because of the huge sugar withdrawals (yes, there is such a thing), and the horrible side effects that are associated with it.
When making changes to your diet and to your food sources, start out slowly and try to take products out of your diet one at a time. Remember that this is a lifestyle change, and is not something that has be completed overnight.
Replace flour products with whole grain products like whole grain bread, and whole grain pasta, ditch artificial sugars and you can get your sugar fixes from items that produce natural sugar like fruits or raw honey. Ideally you want to stay away from anything that is white and fluffy, and anything that has high fructose corn syrup in it. This can be a huge challenge, and will likely be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome, but work at it, and pretty soon you will be eating like a champ.
Small changes make big differences
It really is true, small changes add up to big things. Making changes like switching 2% milk out for skimmed milk, and buying lean ground beef (93/7) or ground turkey instead of high fat content meats can yield big results.
When it comes to eating meat, shoot for products offer a lot of protein like turkey and chicken, and definitely stay away from high fat meats such as pork and some beef. At first you might be scared to try alternative meat products like turkey bacon, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how great it tastes.
For many people meat is a staple food, and fortunately there are many great options out there for those who want to lose weight. Do not be scared to try new things. You will find that products like ground turkey not only tastes great, but that it has over 50% fewer calories and fat when compared to pork and beef products.
Do not deprive yourself
If you get a craving that will not go away, do not ignore it. Set aside one day per week where you will allow yourself to eat whatever you want (in moderation of course). If you want a burger on Saturday, go ahead and eat a burger. The biggest misconception about weight loss is that you will never be able to eat certain foods again, but the truth is that if you control your portion sizes, and add in exercise, you can still enjoy many different foods.
The great thing about changing your lifestyle is that it’s for life, and not for a set period of time where you have to make your goal within a certain time. What you eat during one day will not define you, nor will it destroy you. Do not feel guilty about eating "forbidden foods" simply because you know that you will go back to eating well for the next 6 days after that. If you try to suppress your cravings you will probably fall off the tracks, and you will end up devouring more than you would have if you just allowed yourself to eat a slice of pizza or two. Just remember, everything in moderation.
No matter how much you change your diet, if you do not exercise on a regular basis you will never lose the weight you want to. While it is possible to lose weight just by changing the foods you eat, it will take significantly longer to make any kind of progress.
The thought of exercising is not always a great one, but exercise is vital in the weight loss equation. One great thing about exercise is that it does not have to make you feel like you are a hamster running around in a wheel. Once again, making small changes to the way you do things can yield big results.
There are opportunities to exercise all around you, even when you are at work. Try taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, park in the furthest spot away from the store, and walking to the store instead of driving will all add up in ways you cannot imagine.
Any kind of activity is better than none, in fact the best exercise equipment in the world is something that everyone owns; your feet. Walking is a great low impact way to get exercise. Go for a walk with your dog, or just walk around the neighborhood, and you will burn calories.
Exercise does not have to be boring either, you can make it as fun as you want it to be. The key is to find something that you will enjoy, something that you can embrace with all of your heart. When you find a sport or activity that you just love participating in you will not see it as a workout, you will instead see it as a chance to have fun.
These are just a few of the not so secret things that you can do to help yourself lose weight. Know that everyone is different, and everyone will need to do different things to help them on their way, but there is a way for everyone to be successful when it comes to weight loss, and these tips should provide a solid foundation to build on.