I was talking to a friend last night about how she wants to lose weight. I held myself in check because naturally I wanted to start spewing advice and plan a program for her, but I don’t want to give it if it’s not wanted so I kept quiet. Instead, I am posting here! 🙂
So my advice to anyone who wants to lose weight is as follows:
WATER, EXERCISE, EAT HEALTHY. So easy right? Actually it is.
It is recommended to drink 8 glasses of water a day. That is four 16 ounce water bottles. To effectively lose weight, I’ve read to divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces. So if you weigh 200 pounds, divide it in half, which would be 100. Then drink 100 ounces, which is 6 water bottles or 12 glasses of water.
Benefits to drinking water: Reduce hunger, zero calories, flush by-products of fat breakdown, relieve fatigue, relieve headaches and back pains, look younger, healthier skin, be more alert, regulate body temperature so you have more energy, fuel muscle, and raise metabolism as water helps with digestion. These are just to name a few.
My tip: Do not drink your calories. Go zero for water instead and stay away from diet drinks because the artificial sweeteners in a diet soda will trigger you to want more sweets. However, if you must drink a coke then go diet. I cannot take anyone seriously who say they want to lose weight but they drink regular sodas. A soda has 140 calories. A large McDonald’s Coke has 310 calories. You can eat a McDouble for that amount. Or a small order of fries. If you drink 5 regular sodas a day, by taking that from your diet you will be saving 750 calories A DAY. Do not be fooled by other drinks such as lemonade, juices, or sweet teas. They have just as many calories and sugars as a Coke and they should not be a substitute for water. Green tea would be a good option, but pick one that has zero calories.
Exercise must consist of cardio and weight lifting. Muscle burns more calories than fat. Through strength training we condition our bodies to burn fat more efficiently. It also tones, which looks better than flab.
When I started working out my aunt warned me not to overdo it at the gym. I think it’s natural to want to go into the gym and do a long work out when you are just starting because we know the more we work out the quicker the weight will come off. The downside to overdoing it is getting burnt out and quitting or simply getting bored. When I started working out, if I didn’t push myself to 40-60 minutes each work out then I felt guilty afterwards. As if the 30 minutes I did do was not enough, but it was. That is discouraging. I also often hear people say they hate going to the gym to do the elliptical or treadmill because they get bored.
My tip: Start cardio by doing 20 minutes only. During that 20 minutes, push yourself as hard as you can. Alter your speeds and inclines to keep your heart guessing. If you don’t want to join a gym, go outside after dinner or before work and do a 20 minute walk around your neighborhood. This does not mean a 20 minute stroll that involves stopping every few minutes to greet neighbors and observe the scenery. The 20 minutes should be a power walk. Keeping your workouts to an intense 20 minutes will give you a great workout without risk of getting bored or overdoing it. It is also an easy commitment as it is only 20 minutes. It is easier to start off small and add to it than to start out huge and having to add to more. Divide your time between 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes for strength training.
First determine how many calories you should be eating. Try this website.
Next, find a way to track your food. If you have a smart phone, try finding a free app. My favorite app is “My Fitness Pal.” If you do not have access to an app, try the My Fitness Pal website where you can track your foods online. Or simply keep track of your food by writing down what you eat and the calories in a notepad. To lose weight, you must monitor what you eat and how much.
- To every meal, add a vegetable. I fill half of my plate with veggies. Not only is it better for you, but it eliminates room on your plate to add the not so healthy foods. It also visually is more appealing because we are eating more. Fill up on veggies first and then go for the other half. I still eat the everyday foods I ate before I started losing weight. Meatloaf, chili, spaghetti, steak, hamburger, chicken, turkey. I just portion a smaller size and fill up on vegetables first.
- Practice portion control. When in doubt, use the portion that equals the size of your fist.
- When you want something sweet or a snack, before reaching for cookies or chips, eat fruit instead.
- Plan ahead with Tupperware. My fridge is full of Tupperware that is filled with cut up fruit (carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.). I also have pre-made meals of chili, meatloaf, or fish. When I get hungry and I don’t want to prepare anything, I already have meals or snacks prepared and waiting for me in the fridge.
- Stay away from fast food. Period. I slip occasionally and when I do I try to make as good a choice as possible, but it is not good for you. Stick with Subway.
- Make good choices. Eating at Subway does not mean you are automatically eating healthy. You still have to make good choices. Smothering your sandwich with ranch or mayo and adding extra meat is NOT a good choice. Use mustard instead of mayo, and never ever use Ranch with anything. It goes the same for salads. A salad alone is healthy, but adding loads of dressing is not. Just 2 tablespoons of regular ranch dressing equals 145 calories. My tip: Keep your salad dressing on the side and dip your salad in it. This will eliminate you going back for additional tablespoons of dressing because you coated the same piece of lettuce with the entire amount of the previous tablespoon.
- Do not think of food as “off limit.” By telling yourself you cannot have certain foods, you are only going to want them more. Think of weight loss as a life change, not something you need to stick to for a few months. By doing so, you will not consider yourself a failure when you give in to temptations. When you do give in to temptation, think smaller portions.
- Exercise. I add this as a healthy eating tip because when I work out I eat better. No way am I spending 30 minutes on a treadmill only to stop at McDonald’s on the way home.
- Take the time to chew your food and enjoy your meals.
- Ask yourself, are you hungry or are you bored? If you just ate, drink a glass of water before going back for seconds.
- Watch less TV. I notice when I watch TV I want to snack. Instead, I keep myself busy or I spend time with my daughter. I also read a lot, and when I read I do not get in those “I need to snack” moods.
- Avoid eating at night.
- If you slip, get right back on it. I have my days where I just want to eat everything I see, and sometimes I give in to that. When I do, I get right back on track with working out and watching what I eat.
I have four additional things to add as my advice to lose weight.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Educate yourself with new food, recipes, new workouts, ways to strength train, tips to losing weight, tips to eating healthy. I have read so much on these subjects and it excites me to try something new. We have to keep bettering ourselves and our education on our bodies. Doing so is setting yourself up for success. Use the internet, books, the library, magazines, weight loss shows on TV. There is so much opportunity to learn. Take advantage of those opportunities!
MOTIVATE YOURSELF. I did a previous entry on ways to stay motivated. Go back and read it here. Losing weight takes time. You will have to find ways to stay motivated.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Make a decision. How bad do you want this? Bad enough to change your habits and stop making excuses? Because you will have to change and excuses get you no where. It doesn’t matter why you’re fat or how you got there. You are fat, that’s it. You ok with that or do you want to change it? Because if you want change, all you have to do is make up your mind that change is what you want. If you want to lose weight, do not talk yourself out of it. Make a plan, set a goal, and stick with it. Realize that losing weight is a long process. A pound equals 3500 calories so know that when you eat right today and exercise 20 minutes, do not expect to lose 20 pounds when you step on a scale tomorrow. It takes time and planning a process in the beginning will better your long term success.
JUST DO IT ALREADY. I get so tired of excuses. I can’t do this because of this… I’m fat because of this… I want to do that, but I can’t because of… w h a t e v e r. None of that matters. If you’re still making excuses, what are you afraid of? And if you’re making excuses then you don’t want it bad enough. If you stop making excuses and just start ACTING on what you need to do to lose weight, you’ll have dropped some of the weight already and you can get in a routine.