I’m glad I reached my target weight, shedding 27 pounds since I blew up. My birthday in April ended up being nearly 3 months of slacking, eating too much, and swelling up. I could tell when I tried to put on some pants that didn’t fit correctly. That was a wakeup call, and it helped me to get myself together. Many fitness and nutrition experts will say getting there is the easy part (though it wasn’t easy at all) – and staying there is the greatest challenge. I didn’t wait to make it a New Year’s Resolution, and you shouldn’t either. Do it now.
People who see me every day, like coworkers, don’t immediately notice the change. But I’ll occasionally see a colleague or friend who hasn’t seen me in a while and they can see the difference right away, and they almost always ask me how I did it. You know like I know that on some level, it’s rhetorical when people ask that question. It’s pretty much obvious how to do it. But, it’s inspiring and encouraging when people engage me in dialogue about it, so I’m always delighted to answer them. People think since I follow a plant-based diet, that I should easily keep the weight off. That couldn’t be more false. If you take in more food than your body needs, you’ll gain weight no matter what it is you’re eating. Here are my tips to help make the weight loss process more doable:
- The simplest and most perfunctory of any advice I can give is to get your mind right. Once you set your attitude properly, the more challenging parts will be a lot easier.
- Track everything you eat, drink, as well as all of your fitness activities. Track everything. That’s what I do. That’s what I advocate. I happen to use MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is a free software application you can use either via a mobile device or your desktop computer to track diet and exercise as well as monitor your nutritional intake (i.e., B12, sugars, carbohydrates, etc.). There are many apps out there. Find one you like and start using it for everything. EVERYTHING.
- Next, plan all of your meals. I know, I know. You’re thinking how difficult it must be to do that, right? Well speaking from experience, I agree that it definitely can be easier said than done. But I also know that the reason most things are easier said than done is because we don’t do them often enough. The more we do things, the better we get at doing them — the easier they become. On most days, when I first get up in the morning, I already know what I’ll be eating for the rest of the day, including my between meal snacks. Sometimes I have my meals prepped for several days in advance. If I don’t plan it, I know I’ll grab the wrong things in a mindless, rote sort of way.
- Keep healthy snacks with you. Raisins, nuts, or grapes are good snacks. One of my favorite snacks is blueberries. A snack that I have recently gotten into is sun dried tomatoes. I like to get them sliced or julienne cut. They are tasty, and a cup is filled with fiber, protein, iron, niacin, vitamin K and a rack of antioxidants. How about that: snacks that are delicious and good for you. You can’t beat that.
- Portion out your foods, particularly snacks. I portion out a serving size of various things and keep them in baggies in the fridge or the pantry. And here is another tip: you don’t have to have a full serving of something. One of my favorite crackers list a serving size as 16 crackers. I usually portion out 8, half of a serving, and I’m very satisfied. The full serving is 150 calories. By eating only half a serving, I free up 75 calories. That may not sound like much, but believe me, calories add up. That’s particularly important if you’ve ever been looking at the clock around 2pm and you’ve already gone over your calorie goal for the day.
- This one may seem to contradict the previous point. But, don’t obsess about calories all the time. Instead, focus more on clean eating – making the right food choices – rather than always focusing on a specific number of calories. No, you don’t want to eat and eat all day, raking up calories mindlessly; however, you also don’t need to spend all your energies stressing about the number of calories you’ve had and have the number you have remaining. Maintaining balance is a key strategy.
- If you need to visit a vending machine, be careful what you choose. Nowadays, many vending machines have a section dedicated to healthier items. You might find popcorn, peanuts, or baked chips. Look out for those items, and be sure to portion them out. Eating the whole package might be much more than you need for one sitting.
- Last but not least, don’t let friends and family members to derail your progress. If you hadn’t had your loved ones be discouraging or uninspiring, consider yourself fortunate. Many people trying to embark on a healthy life have to face the challenge of an unsupportive inner circle on a daily basis. If those in your inner circle are not being supportive, shame on them. When they try to impede your progress and say things to hinder you, try to let just let it go like water off of a duck’s back. It’s up to YOU to follow your plan.
- Okay, I know I said that last one was the last one, but I need to point out one more thing. I didn’t say much about physical activity, but that’s a very crucial component. It’s not essential to go hard 7 days a week to see results, though a more rigorous routine can help you get to your goal more quickly. Every other day of light to moderate exercise is all you need. Review a blog posting I wrote about six weeks ago (You never know who is watching), that includes some simple and low-cost exercise tips.
Give these things a try. If these don’t work for you, develop your own. The important thing is to find ways to help you succeed and keep achieving your goals. Don’t give up just because you didn’t make it today. So what if you ate three donuts this morning? That doesn’t mean you should just say “never mind” and eat whatever you see the rest of the day. It is never too late to begin again. It just requires a little effort.