Your repairman has his truck full of tools, a teacher has supplies, and even Batman has his utility belt. Everyone has some sort of toolkit so they can do their job to the best of their ability. Losing weight is no different. In order to successfully lose weight, it really helps to have a toolkit (or a utility belt, if you want to go the superhero route) to help you get the most out of your weight loss efforts. While everyone’s toolkit will look a little bit different based on personal preferences, I thought I’d share my tools with you to give you a basic guideline to help you create a toolkit of your very own. Some of my tools are actual physical items while others are more mental or non-tangible, but I find both categories to be equally important as I go along my journey to the healthiest me I can be.
I am never without a water bottle, and if for some reason I am, I promise I’m not happy about it. At any given time I have 2 “active” water bottles; one with a straw for while I’m at home, as I find I drink more water when it’s through a straw and one that is more secure for when I’m on the go. Hydration is so important, both for health and for weight loss, so I always have a water bottle nearby to encourage me to get my daily requirement of H2O.
A Food Scale
No matter which plan you use to lose weight, odds are it involves portioning your food in some way. I find this easiest when I’m using an electronic food scale. When meal time comes around, I just put the plate on the scale and can measure each meal component separately (hit the “zero” button to start fresh) and easily so I know exactly how many Smart Points (or calories) I put on my plate. I find there is a lot less room for error measuring the weight og your food rather than cups or tablespoons.
Whether you join Weight Watchers, Beach Body, you use My Fitness Pal, or you decide to just count calories on your own, you need to have some sort of plan when it comes to losing weight. You can’t just say “I’m going to lose weight” and have it magically happen (I wish!). You know there are going to be lifestyle changes and maybe even a sacrifice or two in order to see changes in your body, and to achieve that successfully, odds are you have some desired method to get there. That’s also known as a plan. Get one.
Sleep is another one of those life essentials, but it’s something that many of us take for granted or forget to place importance on. Have you ever noticed what happens to your food intake on a day that you don’t get enough sleep? It’s very likely that your day is played out in one of two scenarios. 1: You stick to your diet plan all day (good for you!), but you spend the day drowsy, grumpy, and likely overcaffeinated but still unable to perform to the best of your ability. Scenario 2: You are likely making poor food choices because you’re using food to not only satiate hunger but to gain extra energy to make up for the lack of sleep. Guess what type of foods we usually reach for.. sugary and fatty quick jolts of energy that last until the next time we can put something in our mouths to refuel. This is not helping your diet at all. Getting a quality night’s sleep as often as possible will help you stay away from impulse eating due to hunger. Get those Zzzzs to lose the lbs.
A Food Journal
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat will consume 30% fewer calories than people who don’t. Whether you use an app like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal or you decide to use the tried and true notebook and pen, use something to keep track of your food intake. This helps me to see what I’ve eaten, or more importantly, what I can still eat and remain on track.
A Goal (or several small goals)
Goals help keep me motivated. I typically set large goals (to get back to my goal weight) supported and broken up by smaller goals (to drink 100oz of water daily or to reach 12,500 steps) to help me stay on track. When we reach a goal we get to enjoy the positive feeling of accomplishing something, so smaller goals are great for giving us little things to accomplish while we work toward the bigger goal.
What is your “why?” In other words, why do you want to lose weight? Is it so you can run around and play with your children, so you look better and feel more confident naked? Maybe you just want to fit back into your favorite pair of jeans. Having a “why” is not the same as having a goal. Your “why” is the motivation behind your goals. It’s the big picture and the reason you got inspired to set your goal to lose weight in the first place. Once you’ve established your “why” take the time to embrace it. Leave yourself little motivational reminders that constantly inspire you to make the better food choice or to go for an extra walk. The “why” is the root of everything. If you haven’t figured out what it is yet, take the time to do that now.
A stash of go-to snacks
Once you’ve figured out your plan of action, it’s incredibly important to find your favorite foods in that plan. I have a stash of go to Weight Watchers friendly foods and snacks that are easily available should hunger strike in between meals. Having diet friendly snack options around is an easy way to save you from yourself at a time when willpower won’t necessarily be at its strongest.
An Activity Tracker
I love my Fitbit. It turns every single day into a goal and a game. Every day I compete with myself to make it to my daily step goal, but if I want to take the game to the next level, FitBit allows me to compete with friends. There have definitely been days where I’ve been pushed harder simply because I was in a race to get more steps than a friend of mine. All competitive games aside, an activity tracker is a great way for you to get more accurate insight on how much activity you’re actually getting on a daily basis. I’m willing to bet a pretty high percentage of people greatly overestimate how much activity they’re getting on a daily basis. Whether FitBit is your tracker of choice or you prefer another brand, I highly suggest investing in an activity tracker to help you take your weight loss efforts to the next level.
A selection of easy to make recipes
Just like being prepared for a snack attack is important, it’s also important to have a few easy, diet-friendly recipes that you enjoy enough to make regularly. When you have simple recipes to pick from it’s less of a hassle to make dinner at the end of a long day when your desire might be to run to the nearest fast food restaurant to grab dinner because the thought of making it is exhausting. In my house, we often eat basic chicken with quinoa and veggies on the weekend and I will often spend a few hours in the kitchen chopping all sorts of veggies and meat to meal prep for the entire week. Then, when dinner time for one comes around, all I have to do is turn on the oven and pull out one of my pre-made meals out of the fridge. Easy and healthy.
I am a very reward driven person. If I’m told I can earn something awesome for finishing a task, I’m much more likely to do it. I love applying this principle to losing weight. If I’ve had a good week where I stay on track and hit the gym regularly, I might treat myself to an at-home spa night. If I’ve lost 5 lbs, it’s probably time for a pedicure. 10 lbs = a new pair of cute pants. See what I’m getting at? It’s a little bit easier for me to think twice about the late night snack attack or skipping the gym when I know that new lipstick I’ve been dying to try is on the line. While the rewards themselves can look different for everyone, a rewards system is a nice way to treat yourself for a job well done.
Those are some of my favorite items in my weight loss tool kit. Becuase everyone’s journey is unique, everyone will have a slightly different tool kit. What is important is you find the set of tools that work best for you. A good tool kit is like an awesome sidekick. You might succeed without it, but it will be a heck of a lot easier to get the job done with the extra help.
What kind of items are in your weight loss tool kit?