Holla bloggies! It was mentioned to me (in person, not by comment) that it would be a good idea for me to share my Top 5 weight loss tips. I wish there was a way to phrase that that didn’t make me feel like Anna Nicole Smith (too soon? nah) selling Hydroxycut or whatever it was she sold (was it Hydroxycut?), but I guess I’m just telling it like it is.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the last couple days to what this list should include, and I’m sure I’m leaving some important tips out, but here goes nothing! Oh, and there’s a bonus tip at the end 😀
1) Enlist the help of a friend
Or your mom, your aunt, your sister, your significant other, a friend’s friend, a random (you can actually meet workout and diet buddies online through sites like Meetup.com!)…I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Basically, get help. This isn’t to say you can’t lose weight on your own – after all, I lost 70lbs on my own in my first year of university and, in a lot of ways, I lost most of my current weight “on my own”. Here’s the thing, though: I gained all of the weight I lost in my first year of university back within 5 months.
When I joined Weight Watchers in April of 2008, I had a friend doing the program, so we arranged to go to meetings together every Saturday morning. It’s weird to say, but I loved going to the meeting every Saturday morning, because I had a friend there with whom I could share my excitement (or disappointment) with after I’d weighed in. When she stopped going to Weight Watchers, I found I looked forward to the meetings a lot less, and eventually stopped going in lieu of doing a spinning class that takes place at the same time. But, that doesn’t mean that I am doing this alone – every day, I still talk to a handful of people about how I feel about my body, what I have for breakfast/lunch/dinner, what I did for exercise that morning or the day before – anything that’s on my mind. Having someone in your life who understands the ups and downs of weight loss and body image struggles and who can listen to you vent makes a world of difference, I promise you.
Find your staple foods
My food tastes have varied a lot over the course of my 2+ year weight loss journey. When I first joined Weight Watchers, I was all about fitting it as many 100 calorie packs of Chips Ahoy and Doritos as I could without going over my points. As I lost weight, however (and consequently, had less points to use), I had to become more strategic with my points and how I used them. I discovered that it wasn’t enough for a food to taste good – it also had to keep me full until my next meal/snack, because I couldn’t “afford” to be ravenous. Eventually, I found certain foods that struck the perfect balance between keeping me full and tasting good (for example, vitatops, praeventia granola bars, grapefruit, laughing cow light cheese wedges, Silver Hills 1 pt sprouted bread, black beans, natural peanut butter).
I think it’s important for anyone who is trying to lose weight to find their “staple” foods early on in the game. The sooner the better, really. Start reading blogs online and see what people who have successfully lost weight eat, and then go find those products. Everyone is different in terms of what will keep them full, so you will need to play around with this. Nevertheless, I can promise you that it is easier to start off eating healthy foods that you actually enjoy and that keep you full, than to snack on 100 calorie packs only to find yourself at a loss when you only get say, 1400 calories a day and need something that actually keeps you full. On top of that, it’s no secret that everyone should be snacking on whole (minimally processed) foods, and 100 calorie packs are anything but, given that they comprise mainly ugar and refined white flour. Snack smart, people, or you will be raiding the office candy bowl/your cupboards an hour after you eat those 100 calorie oreos.
If you guys want to know what my “staple” foods are nowadays, just let me know.
I know, it seems elementary – you have to exercise to lose weight. And actually, that statement isn’t even true, because you don’t need to exercise to lose weight, but you darn well should. If you don’t have access to a gym, try walking. If you live in a cold climate (read: Ottawa) and don’t want to walk outdoors for long periods, invest in some workout DVDs (Jillian Michaels’ and the Biggest Loser DVDs and great, and I highly recommend them). Injured? Swim, if you can. Figure something out that you can do at least 3 days a week, and DO IT. Pretend you aren’t even trying to lose weight and do it because your heart needs it, and because if you want to be able to play with your grandchildren when you’re 60 without breaking a bone, you need.to.move. Women, listen up – you should be doing some sort of muscle strengthening activity at least twice a week – I’m talking weights, or even strengthening exercises using your body weight (e.g. squats, push ups, lunges).
4) Write it down
Buy a lined notebook. Get fancy, if you think it will motivate you to use said notebook. Write down everything you eat/drink, and how many calories are in each item. Check http://www.thedailyplate.com or http://www.sparkpeople.com for nutrition information on a bazillion products (both of these sites have calorie-need calculators, as well, to give you an idea of how many calories you should be eating to lose weight). Even if an item has no calories (water, black coffee, etc.), write it down. Keeping an accurate food journal provides a great resource to consult if your weight loss slows (are you adding a little extra sugar/milk to your coffee? taking a few bites of dinner while it’s cooking?) or if you find that you are feeling especially bloated or are having stomach pain after eating certain meals.
5) Ask yourself “who does this matter to?”
Nobody cares if you lose weight. Ok, well maybe your family and friends care if you are morbidly obese and your health is in danger, but otherwise, nobody cares if you eat a Snickers bar for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a bag of Doritos for snacks in between. Truly, no one does. So when you are “cheating” on your lifestyle change plan and sneaking food that you aren’t writing in your food journal, you are only fooling yourself. Who is going to have to deal with your repercussions of your dietary “indiscretions” ? Not your boss, not your mom, not your boyfriend, and not your dog. Nope, when you are looking at your scale and seeing a weight loss that is lower than you expected or – gasp!- a gain, ask yourself who is in control of that number. The answer, of course, is YOU – 100%.
6) Plan ahead
Plan your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in your food journal ahead of time, and prepare the food the night before. Write in pencil, so you have some wiggle room if something comes up, but plan nonetheless. Having a plan, and having all of your food prepared beforehand, will help you avoid a scenario where you are ravenously hungry and end up eating something you will later regret just because it is quick and easy. Every Sunday, I make 5 black bean burgers (recipe will follow), and every night before work I pack some fruit (berries, an orange, an apple, whatever), a granola bar, my breakfast, one of my burgers, and 2 slices of sprouted bread for a “bun”. I never have to wonder what I am going to eat for lunch, or what I am going to have for a snack, because I already have it figured out.
Losing weight takes hard work. I am not going to lie and say it’s easy, because it isn’t – it takes persistence, dedication, and time. Making your food the night before, exercising, and food journaling your food take time, but when you follow through and see the results you want, you will not regret having put in the time to work towards a healthier you. You are worth it.
Black Bean Burgers (makes 5)
– 1 can black beans, rinsed
~ 3 cups spinach (really, as much as you can fit)
– spices (I use cayenne, and I add franks red hot sauce)
– 1/2 cup salsa
– 1 cup Fibre 1 original cereal
– 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder.
– salt & pepper
Blend all of the ingredients together, and spoon the resulting goo into 5 blobs on an aluminum lined and oil-sprayed baking sheet. Bake until they are firm patties.
You can add whatever spices you want to these, obviously, and you can really throw in whatever you have around ( whole wheat flour, Worcestershire sauce, cottage cheese, etc.) as long as you include additional ingredients in your calorie count. Each burger, as listed above, clocks in at about 100 calories, 2g of fat, and 9g of fibre (my guess, not exact). That’s 2 Weight Watchers points, FYI.
And, as a bonus, here’s a picture of my dinner!
That’s roasted broccoli and cauliflower, sweet potato fries, and a Garden Burger on sprouted bread. Inside the “bun” is 1 laughing cow cheese wedge, and 15g of reduced fat feta. On the side, ketchup and Franks Red Hot sauce with a tbsp of cottage cheese mixed in.
I’m off to bed! If you guys have any questions on this post, just leave them 😀