I am a person who can proudly declare that I lost nearly 60 lbs and made it to my goal weight. It was not an easy task, and it was quite a learning experience, but I did it. I am also a person who will willingly admit that every single day is a struggle. When I am spot on with my habits, my weight stays where it should be. Not only that, but I FEEL great. On the other hand, when I’m not on track, I end up really not on track.. I still haven’t quite figured out how to mend that imbalance, but here is what I have figured out:
The easiest way for me to stay on track is by following a few simple habits. On their own they’re all healthy habits to have, but combined they are the power source behind by weight loss success.
We all know that hydration is super important for so many functions of our body. It keeps everything running smoothly. Not only that, but drinking a decent amount of water helps you feel full, so you’ll eat less. Did you know that if your body is craving water, you might feel hungry? Drink water first to make sure you aren’t just dehydrated. I strive to get at least 80oz of water a day, not including any coffee or tea that I consume. I also try to start my day by downing a big glass of water to get the body going in the morning. My reward is my morning cup of coffee.
TIP: Buy a water bottle and keep it with you at all times. This will help you easily keep track of how much water you’ve had and keep water accessible.
I’m sure by now everyone is thinking “Yeah yeah, write it down..I KNOW.” I’m only stating this known fact for one reason: it really does work! Studies have actually shown that people who write down what they eat end up consuming 30% less calories than when they don’t. 30% less can result in some big deal weight loss or maintenance. There are plenty of apps out there. Personally, I am a Weight Watchers girl, but you can also use apps like My Fitness Pal and Lose it! If apps aren’t your thing, then pick up a fun notebook that you can write things in. Some people even use sections of their Filofax or Life Planner to track their food. The most important thing is figuring out what works for you.
TIP: You can reap the benefits of tracking by simply writing the food down. If the thought of tracking every calorie right from the start is overwhelming, then start slow. Just write down the foods without calories for a week, then next week start tracking the calories of one meal a day, etc Again, it’s all about what works for you. If you want to dive in head first, more power to you.
3. Weigh it!
No, I don’t mean weigh yourself, I mean weigh your food! My food scale has been my companion and best advocate through my entire weight loss journey. If my food isn’t already pre-portioned for me, it goes on my food scale. I’m talking about everything. I weigh cereal straight into the bowl in the morning, chips, popcorn, deli meat and cheese for sandwiches. Everything. This ensures that I am eating a proper serving size. Food scales can range from very reasonable, to quite pricy. I have found plenty of good ones right here on Amazon. This is one of my top tools for both weight loss, and eating in general.
TIP: Have your food scale sitting out on your counter just like you would a coffee maker. You are much more likely to use it if it’s easily accessible. Also, use the “zero/tare” button. That way you can measure everything as you load it onto your plate, rather than transferring each item from a plate on the scale to the plate you’re using. This saves time, energy, and dishes. 🙂
4. Have a Fruit or Vegetable with Every Meal or Snack
I learned this one straight from Weight Watchers and it is brilliant. On Weight Watchers, fruits and veggies are 0 Points Plus, meaning that we can eat them and not have them take away from our daily Points allotment. When we add produce to every meal or snack, we can double or even triple the amount of food we are eating for no extra Points Plus Values. I highly recommend giving this one a try. It also guarantees you’ll get your 5 servings a day. Try putting strawberries on your ice cream or with a brownie. Cut up a banana and put it on top of your cereal. Have carrot sticks instead of potato chips with lunch. I always put pickle slices and tomatoes on my sandwiches.
TIP: Start using veggies to bulk up (or replace) pasta. My Paderno veggie spiralizer was one of the greatest tools to ever come into my kitchen (aside from the food scale, of course). I make noodles out of zucchini and treat them as the pasta in my dish. I’ve also taken leftovers of the zoodles and mixed them in with a microwave mac n cheese for double the cheesy goodness for no extra Points Plus. The possibilities with spiralizers are endless!
5. Use an Activity Monitor
I feel naked if I don’t have my Active Link, the Weight Watchers activity monitor, hooked to my bra every day. Activity monitors are a great way to keep track of exactly how much movement you’re getting in on any given day. Whether you are someone who runs 5 miles every day, or working out is something that hasn’t even been put on your radar yet, having an activity monitor will constantly tell you how you’re doing. There are plenty of options out there. Some of the more popular brands are Fitbit, Jawbone, and Garmin. Most monitors now have bluetooth and can connect to your smartphone. Using their apps, you can check in on your progress without even looking at the monitor. If you can afford the little splurge, owning an activity monitor is very helpful and motivating.
TIP: You often set goals (steps, calories burned, distance, etc) with activity monitors. Turn it into a game by trying to hit your goal as often as possible. It is an amazing feeling when my Active Link blinks 100%. I have been known to walk in place at 10pm to make sure I get there.. just ask my husband. Play against yourself, or friends online.
6. Find Your Fitness
All bodies and minds were not created equal. While I will always say that exercise is an integral part to any healthy lifestyle, be it weight loss or maintenance, not all types of exercise are for everyone. My favorite way to workout is to crank out cardio on an elliptical and use the weight machines. I like to be in my head and alone. It’s “me time.” For others, hopping on the cardio equipment every day would get boring fast. They need a group atmosphere so maybe they hop between Zumba classes and Cross Fit. There are others that need to take it slow and yoga is more their style, helping keep peace in the mind and body. There is something out there for everyone. Don’t get discouraged if a certain type of workout isn’t for you. Just because Joe Shmo loves killing himself at crossfit doesn’t mean you should love it just as much.
TIP: Change it up. Even for me, doing the same thing can get boring every so often. Try adding a few different things to your favorite types of workouts. Go for a walk, take a new class, buy a new dvd ( I love Jillian Michael’s dvds) and mix those all in with your usual routine. I’m told that variety is the spice of life.
7. Have Dessert Daily
I’m serious. I do this every single day. I have a massive sweet tooth, so I need my “fix” daily. If you aren’t a sweets person, then this tip might not be for you. When you start to consider something to be “off limits” the mind automatically starts to go into “I’m being deprived” mode, which can lead to things like binges. Been there… Instead of considering my sweets to be off limits, I allot myself a treat or two daily and work it right into my Points Plus values for the day. Maybe a Fiber One brownie (love them all) after lunch and some Edy’s slow churned ice cream at night. Sometimes, the answer is a cupcake, and that’s okay. I let myself have my treat, and then I feel much more in control and able to stay on track.
TIP: This applies to more than just dessert. Is beer your thing? A glass of red wine? A decadent cheese? My husband likes to have a nice quality beer at night while I’m having my treat. No matter what your guilty pleasure is, you can work it into your day (or week, if it happens to be something like a slice of goodness from Cheesecake Factory) and still stay on track.
8. Reward Yourself Regularly
We all like earning rewards. However, when the reward is a new wardrobe after losing 50lbs, it can seem so far away that it isn’t motivating, but discouraging instead. I find that if I reward myself for the smaller victories, I’m much more likely to stay on track. Whether you’re celebrating your next 5lbs, going down a size, or getting simply through the week on plan, you should celebrate the small victories. Your rewards don’t have to be budget breakers every time, but just a little something to remind yourself that you earned something special. Here are some of my favorite ways I reward myself:
TIP: Make sure the reward is NOT food. The goal is to reward yourself because of how on plan you’ve been, so stick to non-food rewards.
9. Find Your Motivation
Take a second and think about what really motivates you to want to lose weight. Do you want to look good in a bikini, or even naked? Fit into that smaller size? Have the doctor come back with “normal” blood work instead of another lecture? Getting married? Have a high school reunion on the horizon? Whatever your reason is, take that motivation and harness it so it can keep you motivated. If the goal is fitting into “that dress” or “those jeans,” hang them in a place you can see them constantly. Put a motivating quote or photo right on the refrigerator door. Create a dream board (I love Pinterest for this) or keep a journal full of entries as to why you’re doing this. Use your goal to help fuel the journey.
TIP: This is a very personal thing, so take some time to really think about what your motivation is and what reminders and encouragement will work for you.
10. Forgive Yourself
We all have bad days. Days where we are lazy and choose the couch and takeout over the gym and our healthy dinner. Days where the extra cookies just somehow jump into your hands or more than one cupcake into your mouth. We’ve all been there in some way, shape, or form. My most important tip, and I’m writing this as information for you as well as a reminder for myself: forgive yourself! Every day…even every meal, is a chance to start over. Rather than dwell on how awful your binge was, which will make you feel even worse (and that’s a downward spiral that is fast and furious), tell yourself it’s ok, it happens, and stand back up. In life you are the one that has the power to be the most awesome to yourself. Take care of yourself, feed yourself with food for the body, and fill your life with food for the soul.
TIP: No matter where you are on your journey, whether you’re just starting to lose or you’ve been maintaining your size for the las 6 years, remember, we all will need to forgive ourselves at some point. This is the only body you’ve got. Treat it with patience, kindness, and most importantly, love.
Now that you’ve heard my favorite habits, I want to know: What are YOUR favorite tips, tricks, and habits that help you find success in your health and wellness journey? Let me know in the comments below!