Now that I've lost right at 64 pounds, people are always asking me how I'm losing weight (which I take as a high compliment, by the way). I answered the question in detail a while back, but today I thought it would be fun to share my "top ten" tips, some of which will, of course, be repeats, but maybe good tips bear repeating.
1. Keep track of calories consumed. The bottom-line "secret" to losing weight is the simple science of calories in/calories out. Step one of that is properly tracking calories consumed. It doesn't matter if you count calories or Points, but know what you're consuming. For the first several weeks, or even months, weight, measure, and track everything. As a society, Americans grossly underestimate portion sizes. Until you have an accurate picture of how many calories you're actually consuming, no weight-loss journey is going to be successful.
Some suggestions for how or where to track calories:
Weight Watchers (subscription service)
Apex Fitness (subscription service)
Spark People (free)
The Daily Plate (free)
2. Keep track of calories burned. The second step in the science of weight loss is knowing how many calories you've burned. I do this easily with my bodybugg, but there are many sites that will help you estimate how many calories various activities burn. To give you a point of reference, I burn about 1 calorie per minute, just breathing, which works out to about 1440 calories per day. To meet my weight loss goals of 2 pounds per week, consuming 1500 calories per day, that means I need to burn approximately 1000 additional calories through activity each day.
I believe that all four sites listed above also offer a means of estimating calories burned each day, though Apex may only offer it through the bodybugg.
3. Find the right incentive. It doesn't matter if it's an upcoming vacation or class reunion, or just a movie premier (it was a great move, by the way). Find the incentive that's going to keep you motivated to lose weight and put visual reminders to yourself in prominent places.
4. Set a goal. You need to know what you're working for and when you want to achieve it in order to stay motivated. For me, it was 55 pounds by Eclipse and the other 40 by Thanksgiving 2010. I made my first goal. The second is proving more challenging than I anticipated, but I have the finish line in sight and I'm not giving up. Be sure to keep your goals reasonable, yet challenging. One to two pounds a week is both reasonable and challenging for most people. Anything more than that can be unhealthy.
5. Find a workout you can at least tolerate, if not love. I've yet to find a workout that I just absolutely love. I do really enjoy biking, but have found it difficult to do on a regular basis. I can tolerate walking on the treadmill, using the elliptical or taking a spin bike class. I may not wake up each morning excited to hop on the treadmill, but I do, at least, look forward to watching my Friends DVDs while I walk. Whether it's a favorite TV show, good music, or an audio book, use what is available to you to spice up your workout routine.
6. Develop the right mindset. A few days after I began my weight-loss journey, I developed a mind-set of "Do or do not. There is no try." That has become my motto. I have realized that all the times I've tried and failed to lose weight before, I've never failed because I kept trying and the weight stopped coming off. I failed because I quit. I'm not quitting this time. I can and will reach my goal weight. I'm not trying to lose weight; this time, I am losing weight.
7. Find someone to hold you accountable. It doesn't matter if it's your spouse, your mother, a trusted friend, or the entire Internet, find someone to hold you accountable. I don't like anybody to appoint themselves my diet police. That's just annoying. I'm a grown woman and I can make my own decisions. However, it is nice to have someone who'll remind me of why I'm doing this, what I'm working for, and how far I've come. My husband has been great, though I am a little bummed that we finally have a Dunkin' Donuts in town and I've yet to get a doughnut hole. Reaching my goal is more important than a few minutes of doughnut hole pleasure, though, and I appreciate him helping me stand strong.
8. Discover healthy meals that you can enjoy. I'm not sure if I'd have made it as far as I have if it weren't for my bodybugg and Gina's Skinny Taste blog. Gina offers great-tasting, healthy recipes made with foods that real people eat. I've yet to try a recipe from her site that I haven't enjoyed. Just about every low-fat, healthy meal we eat has come from Gina's blog.
9. Drink lots of water. This is a big one for me because a gallon or so of water a day has replaced the gallon or so of sweet tea that I used to drink. I still allow myself two glasses of tea a day, but water is my mainstay. You don't realize how many calories you're wasting with sugary drinks and sodas. Not only does water help flush out your system, but it also keeps you hydrated and gives you a feeling of fullness between meals.
10. Invest in yourself. One of the biggest reasons people give for not exercising or planning and cooking healthy meals is that they don't have time. If a doctor told you that you could reach your goals by watching thirty minutes to an hour of TV a day, or surfing the Internet that long, I bet you wouldn't have any trouble finding the time. Good health can add years to your life and quality to those years. It's worth the time investment. You're worth the time investment. The return in energy and self-esteem is well worth the time invested in exercising and eating right.
What would you include in your top ten weight loss tips?