Let me preface this post by saying this: I am not opposed to using a weight loss program. In fact, I’ve seen some programs along the way that look great!
That being said, I didn’t use one and I was able to lose 50 lbs and have maintained that weight going on a year.
Why didn’t I use a program? I’m not sure. I suppose it’s because I didn’t know the available programs out there in the beginning and also because I was focusing on making adjustments to my own personal habits rather than adapting new ones based on a program.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t try one out in the future especially now that I know what’s out there, but the reality is I lost the weight without one!
Now, I’m no doctor or weight loss professional, but I do know what I did, what worked for me and what didn’t. So, here are some of the adjustments I made to my lifestyle that helped me lose those lbs!
Keep in mind, diet is 80% and workout is 20% so most of my tips are food and drink related!
1. Veggies and protein, cut down (not out) the carbs!
I saw a great photo one time showing what your plate should look like. It was one half veggies, one quarter protein, and one quarter some sort of healthy carb (start eating that quinoa!).
If you make this your goal for at least your lunch and dinner, then you will be on a good track! Just be mindful of how you are cooking that you aren’t lathering your veggies and protein in butter. Instead, try using extra virgin olive oil (EVOO!) and find some yummy spices you like. Personally, I love to squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle lemon pepper over my protein and veggies.
Steam it, bake it, grill it… just try to avoid frying! I know it’s quick and easy, but it should be your last option for cooking. For veggies I usually steam or bake them. You can also save a lot of time by just buying the frozen veggies and heating or steaming them in the microwave! Because of when they are frozen, they can actually maintain more nutrients than fresh veggies so not too bad!
2. Water, water, and more water!
Hydration is key. Get a nice big water bottle and keep it with you throughout your day. My goal is to drink 3-4 full bottles a day with each bottle holding about 22 ounces. I bring 2 to work with me!
If you aren’t a huge water fan, then consider adding some fresh fruit to your water to flavor it or even tea bags. I add lemon slices or cucumber to flavor my water occasionally. Watermelon is also pretty yummy! I also usually add green tea bags to my water that I sip throughout the day.
Tip: use a straw. You drink more and faster!
3. Frequent (healthy!) snacking, smaller meals
Throughout my research, I have learned that instead of eating 3 large meals a day, you should actually eat 5-6 small meals (this includes snacks). It helps to keep your metabolism moving as well as keeping your energy level up throughout the day (no crashing after a huge meal!).
If you are going to eat this frequently, be sure to plan out when you will be eating those snacks. I know it sounds a little OCD, but you will need to figure out how much time between meals so that you aren’t getting too hungry and then over eating.
DO NOT starve yourself. That is just asking to slow down your metabolism so that as soon as you do eat you will gain weight. Keep up the healthy eating, keep the metabolism moving, get that digestion on track, and your stomach will get used to this way of eating.
4. Meal Prep and Portion Control
For those who are unfamiliar with meal prep, it means that you prepare a bunch of meals at a time, portion them, and put them in your refrigerator (or freezer) until you are ready to eat them. It helps with being sure to make healthy choices during a busy workweek, or even if you don’t work it can just be a great time saver!
Say “hello” to your new best friend: Tupperware.
OMG, I have so much Tupperware. We have an entire bin in our kitchen dedicated to Tupperware. I’ve picked up bits and pieces along the way, but found the best to be the square Rubbermaid with the red or blue tops.
Sunday is grocery shopping and meal prep day. We prep all of our lunches for the week (half veggie, one quarter protein, one quarter quinoa/carb, if even that much) along with prepping some protein/meat to add to dinners during the week.
If there’s enough time, then we try to prep some dinners as well. There’s nothing easier than opening your refrigerator and finding your food all prepped, portioned, and ready to go!
Be sure to prep those snacks ahead of time as well! We have a bin of prepped snacks at home so that we can just grab and go.
5. High Intensity Interval Cardio
Cardio can really suck up a lot of valuable workout time and if you are living a busy lifestyle then you need to plan how to get the most bang for your buck!
When I began doing cardio I would typically do about an hour all on the same level and fairly low, meaning my legs were moving super fast!
I read a post by a fitness person I follow on Instagram one day where she basically let me know I was doing it wrong. I needed to change up my workout by incorporating more high intensity interval workouts. If you go to the gym, that means a hill, random, or other type of workout that fluctuates the intensity throughout on a personally challenging level. If you are a runner, that means hills, periods of sprinting, anything to keep that heart rate up.
It’s easy to get into a flow and forget that you are working out with cardio, especially if you are a gym TV watcher like myself. If you feel relaxed during your workout, no sweat, can carry a conversation easily, then you need to step it up a little if your goal is weight loss.
As a non-medical professional, just a person with experience in weight loss, I recommend doing 45 to 50 minutes of cardio about 5 times per week (for weight loss!).
To be fair to anyone reading, I did more in the beginning, taking a break every 8-9 days depending on schedule. Now I stick to about 5 times per week and set a goal of 600-700 calories per cardio workout.
This of course depends on how I am feeling, if I am in good health, etc… I always say that if you can then do because you never know what will happen tomorrow!
I will also throw in, know the difference between being sore from working and pain from an injury. Soreness is ok and will actually go away after more working out. However, if you are having sharp pain or feeling strain that’s different and if you continue working out you could actually do further damage and be out of the gym for even longer. Just pay attention to your body!
6. Lifting Heavy
I hear women and girls say all the time that they are afraid they will get too big if they lift heavy. In fact, I myself worried about that in the beginning, but in order to really tone your body as you lose, you need to be lifting a weight that you actually feel. Lifting weights shouldn’t be easy. It’s called lifting! You should feel the burn, feel the stretch, and sweat while weight lifting.
Listen to your body and make your own decisions, but if you really want to lose weight and tone, then keep pushing with those increasingly heavier weights. As certain weights get too light, then increase the weight. Don’t worry about getting too big. In fact, as you tone and tighten those muscles, you might find that you actually get smaller! Just check out those female body builders. So tiny and compact and they are solid muscle!
Personally, I work my arms, shoulders, and back by lifting/pulling 10-35 lbs per arm. For legs and glutes it can be 50 lbs plus. Each body part gets 2-3 days of love and attention in my workouts. If you are afraid of getting too big by lifting, then take a look at the pictures here and decide for yourself. On the left I wasn’t lifting at all. In the middle and on the right are current pictures. Where am I smaller? A picture can say a thousand words so you make the decision for yourself.
7. Be patient, be persistent, and figure out what works for you!
Be patient. Losing weight does not happen overnight. Depending on how much you have to lose, it can take years. In the pictures to the left, the first picture is from June 2015 and the second from October or November 2016. That’s almost a year and a half between the photos so it can take awhile.
What’s most important is to do it in a healthy way because that’s the only way to maintain it. If you are looking to lose and keep it off, then you have to make the changes to your lifestyle. Crash dieting might work for an event if you only have a little to lose, but it most likely won’t stick for long term and you could even end up putting back on more than you started with!
Be persistent. Some things will work for you, and some won’t. You will get hurt, you will get sick, and life happens along the way, but what’s most important is that you stick to it. Personally, I’ve strained hamstrings, pulled tendons, broken bones in both feet, sprained both ankles a few times, had multiple asthma flare ups, bronchitis, family emergencies… you name it, but you just have to jump back on the wagon and keep going!
No excuses. This is your life we are talking about here and building the best quality of life you can. So don’t give up.
Find what works for you. There is an overwhelming amount of advice out there. Some will work for you and some won’t. It has to do with your body type, life style, metabolism, likes, dislikes, and the list goes on.
Don’t be discouraged if you try something out and it doesn’t go as you expected. There are plenty more options out there!
All in all, when it comes to weight loss, do it healthy by making those lifestyle changes. It will help to let family and friends know your goals so that they can get on board and support you along the way as well. You never know, maybe they’ll jump on board and join in as well!
I hope these tips help and I look forward to sharing more along the way!
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Thanks for reading!