November 13, 2014

Weight Loss Strategies that Worked for Me

I am not an expert in fitness or a nutrition but I do have real life experience losing weight and being successful. It’s really is just eating right and exercise. However, there are other small things I found worked for me that I recommend to anyone who asks.

THE WORKOUT

1) Push yourself to the limits (safely), and be kind to yourself at the same time. Go into a workout and do what you can do with where ever your body is at. Give 100% during workouts, and don’t sell yourself short. You want to end a workout and feel like you really did your best and gave it all you had.

2) Don’t compare yourself to others. You might not be able to do what someone else is doing, and that is okay. We are all on different journeys, and have different strengths, weaknesses, and goals. All that really matters is that you are being the best you and challenging yourself.

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3) Imagine yourself fit. Okay this one might sound a little weird. But I do a lot of visualization in my workouts. I think “how would I look doing this as my fitter self?” “How would I do this movement as my fitter self?” I get a picture in my head. Then I keep that picture in my head during my workout. This really has allowed me to “dig deeper” in my workouts.

4) Keep promises to yourself. Keeping promises and completing workouts fully will make you feel more successful. If you promise yourself 30 minutes on the treadmill, don’t stop at 29 minutes! If you have 10 push-ups don’t stop at 9. That would be the equivalent of running a race and quitting 5 feet before the finish line. Give yourself the finality of making it to the end and being able to check it off your workout list.

5) Have positive self-talk during your workout. Making sure that your self-talk is positive will make a big difference in completing a workout with 100% effort. I think, “I can do this” to myself all the time. Most of the time in my head…hey I don’t want my gym neighbors thinking I’m crazy. Sometimes if it’s a really hard workout I will say it out loud. I feel like the verbalization whether it is out loud or in my head helps get me through the “burn”. As soon as I start thinking things like “this is hard,” “I’m so tired”, “just stop now,” I might as well just give up. It’s over.   Positive self-talk is crucial!

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6) Lift HEAVY! Lifting weights will do awesome things for your body. Lifting the 5lbs weights is NOT going to do it. Try to lift as heavy as you can go with keeping the correct form. LIFT heavy, lift smart, and challenge yourself. Strength training also helps increase your metabolism, which in turn helps with your weight loss. You should try to do strength training at least a few times a week. Bodybuilding.com has awesome free workouts.

7) Pick activities that are fun.  It really doesn’t matter what activities you pick as long as you are sweating and you enjoy it. If it’s something you like it will be easier to stick with it. When I pick activities I like, I find that I am surrounded by like-minded people and those people become really good friends. There is something unifying about getting through a hard workout with your peers. If you are a social person this can also be motivation to make it to the gym. I mean who doesn’t love a little friend time, right?!

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8) Ask for HELP!!! Don’t be scared to ask for help, or advice. We are all on different journey’s but we can learn so much from one another. When you ask for help or advice, you might be learning something that could be really helpful on your weight loss journey. I have learned so much valuable information this way.

9) Change it up. I am a creature of habit for sure. I LOVE routine so much, probably too much. I am the person that goes to a restaurant and orders the same thing every time.   I eat the same thing for breakfast EVERY single morning. I know it’s crazy! I am a creature of habit. I tend to be like this in my activities too. But it is so important to change things up every once in a while. Try new classes and new activities. Even if it’s just a temporary change before you go back to your old routine. Keep it fresh, so you are always learning, doing new things, and challenging your body.

10) Set small attainable goals. I have a deep love for lists: to-do lists, check lists, charts, and all things organized.  I am at heart a goal setter. I like to make a goal, do a mental checklist of how to get there, and cross things off as I go. It helps me feel successful, keeps track of my fitness improvements, and allows me to continually move forward towards my next goal.

FOOD 

1) Track Food & Calories. Tracking food and calories is important because it keeps you accountable. It is really easy to forget that all the little things add up in a day. One bite here, one bite there adds up pretty quickly. There are a lot of apps for your phone that make it easy and convenient to track. “My fitness Pal” is a great free app to count calories. Tracking macronutrients is also very beneficial along with calorie counting. I use the “My Macros” app on my phone.

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2) Try limiting dairy, processed foods, and sugar. Yes we have all heard this before and it’s true, try not to eat processed foods. I know it’s hard especially if you have kids in the house, but try to stay away. Processed foods have things your body does not need while you are trying to lose weight.

Dairy has important calcium for your body. However, I held on to my weight longer when I ate more dairy products. I tried a vegan diet for a few weeks and I cut out dairy completely and I learned something. Dairy is NOT my friend. I dropped pounds so fast just by cutting dairy out temporarily. Now I eat dairy products, but very sparingly. Cheese is yummy, but is also very high in fat and calories. If you want to eat cheese, try feta it’s lower in fat and calories. You don’t have to cut cheese out of your life completely you just will need to limit it. If you like yogurt, eat it. Read your labels, and don’t eat it all the time. Yogurt is high in sugar, carbs, and fat. Some brands are worst than others. When you do eat yogurt try to eat a yogurt high in protein like greek yogurt, but again read your label.

Sugar…oh sugar…my crutch. It is so addicting. Truthfully I love about everything that has sugar in it. This one was probably the hardest habit to kick for me. But having a sugar free or low sugar diet feels so much better. Stevia and Agave are good things to use in place of white sugar.

3) Carb cycling will maximize your weight loss. Carb cycling is fluctuating low carb and high carb days. This helps tricks your metabolism into burning more fat. There are various types of carb cycling depending on your needs. I used the book “Choose More, Lose More” by Chris Powell, and really like the charts he includes. The visuals really made sense to me.

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4) Have splurges meals once a week, but PLAN them. Splurges are important, because it’s a time to get rid and satisfy our cravings. I mean we are all human.   My weakness is sweets. I can go all week and make consistent healthy choices if I know I’m “saving” up for something special at the end of my week. If I don’t plan my splurges, I end up using my “splurge calories” on things that don’t really satisfy my cravings. Then it makes my week way harder. I also try to eat my splurges out at restaurants so that way I don’t have a giant ½ gallon of ice cream in my fridge staring at me saying “eat me” all week.

5) Find healthy versions of your favorite food. There are so many resources out there for healthy cooking. A lot of times you can make your favorite items at home, and make them a lot healthier just by substituting a few ingredients. This is a great way to get rid of some of your cravings throughout the week, without “splurging”.

6) Veggies are your friends. Eat LOTS of veggies! You really can’t go wrong with veggies.   Veggies and fruit are both healthy choices. However at one point in my weight loss journey I was thinking of fruit as “freebies”. Unfortunately this is not true. Fruit is a very healthy choice with lots of vitamins, however it still contains calories and lots of carbohydrates. These things could hinder your weight loss if they are not monitored and tracked. Veggies have a lot less sugar and carbohydrates in them, so hands down it’s the better choice if you are trying to restrict the carbs in your diet.  Well except for corn…corn is the worst in the veggie in the group.

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7) Be careful with low fat or reduced fat items. Okay, so you go to the store and think you are doing good by buying all the low-fat, reduced-fat, and fat-free items. However, typical low-fat products tend to be high in carbs, might contain trans-fats and at the end of the day had a very similar calorie count to the original product. When you are trying to lose weight adding carbs is NOT a good thing, at least this was my experience. Your body needs carbs but at a certain amount. These fat free items would add too many carbs to my diet. And fat is not a bad thing. Your body needs fat.   Fat is not the big bad wolf of weight loss. So have the full fat item, and count the calories!

8) DON’T buy it!  If it isn’t in your house, you can’t eat it. Don’t buy food you can’t have because truthfully its just torture. Set yourself up for success. Just don’t buy it, period.

YOUR WEIGHT

1) Hitting a weight loss plateau is possibly the MOST frustrating thing. You eat right, you workout…why isn’t the weight coming off? UGH! I seemed to hit a plateau about every 10lbs as I was loosing. There were times when I wouldn’t loose anything at all for weeks. The closer I got to my goal weight the harder the plateaus got. Change it up! Take a close look at what you are eating and how you are working out. Making little tweaks can make all the difference. I had a friend suggest going vegan for a few weeks and seeing if that helped. And not the processed food vegan…the real deal!! It really made all the difference for me. Taking out sugar completely, only veggies, no dairy, no meat, no salt, for a week helped me kick the plateau and kept me moving towards my goal. Even now I try to limit dairy and sugar. I can’t go vegan 100% of the time but it’s a good temporary reset for your body.

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2) Weigh in’s. Only weigh yourself once a week at the same time each week. You weight will always fluctuate day to day. Pick a day and time and weight on that day and time every week.

THE MOST IMPORTANT!

***Be consistent…consistent in workouts, consistent in eating, consistent in tracking.

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Again, I am not a dietician or a nutritionist. These are things that I have found work for me. Use what you’d like and do what works best for you. We are all on a different journeys, and we all take different paths to get to our destination.

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