If you are stumbling on my blog from the A-Z Challenge, Welcome! Today I am sharing some weight loss "How To's". I have lost 53 lbs since July and still have a ways to go. I have learned a lot along the way and hope to help someone who is struggling or stuck.
|Left: May 2013. Right: April 2014|
How To: Get Started
When I talk about my weight loss journey. A lot of people say to me "I really need to get going, but I don't know where to start". Here is what I suggest:
- I strongly suggest meeting with a personal trainer, even for just one session. I know cost is an issue for most of us, but I think just one session is worth it. You will tell the trainer what you are looking to do and they will show you some exercises to do.
- Get on My Fitness Pal or Lose It or another app where you can track your calories and your workouts. This will help you to stay on track and also help you figure out how many calories you should be consuming each day.
- Begin to meal plan. Think about your week, and write down all the meals you will be eating, including snacks. Use that list and take it to the grocery store. Don't buy anything else except the things on your list.
- Know and understand that "getting started" is one of the biggest steps you can take, and also should be one of the proudest moments of your life. Getting started to making a healthy lifestyle will be the best decision you've made!
How To: Learn to eat healthy
In all honesty, most of us know what's healthy and what's not. We know we probably shouldn't grab McDonald's breakfast or eat chips instead of fruits and veggies. But it's HARD to stay healthy when there's so much yummy food out there! The thing is, though, once you start and commit to healthy eating, it gets easier. Eventually you won't really crave the "bad things" anymore, and if you do it's rare.
However, there are things hidden in foods that we don't really think about. Like sodium. Sodium is a nasty little booger. You don't want to overdo it on sodium, it's not good for your heart and causes bloating. So watch your sodium intake as much as possible. Example? Most people think a healthy option at Subway is the oven roasted chicken sub. And yes, it's delicious, and somewhat low in calories, but has over 1,000 mg in sodium!
Try, as much as possible, to avoid processed foods in general. Always go for fresh. Try to cook your dinners as much as possible and eat the leftovers for lunch. If that's not easy, pack a healthy lunch. Tuna, grilled chicken and veggies, quinoia are all good options. I used to just buy lunch on the days I didn't have leftovers, but recently have forced myself to try to pack a lunch as much as possible. Today? I've got tuna with just a tiny mayo, with chopped cucumbers, onions, and spinach leaves. I'll probably throw in some skinny pop popcorn and an apple.
When that 2-3 pm snack time craving hits, be prepared. This has been one of my biggest downfalls. I always forget about snacks! Some good options are celery with peanut butter, carrots, low salt pretzels, a protein bar, or a banana.
My biggest piece of advice? Don't buy it. If you know you will eat an entire package of Oreos if they are in your house, DON'T BUY THEM. If you will regret that burrito later, don't eat it. I don't believe in full on restriction. Let yourself have treats once in a while, but also don't sabotage yourself by filling your home with foods that will tempt you. Have lots of healthy options on hand.
How to: Drink Water
Water should be your best friend. There are so many positive health benefits of drinking water- and you need to be drinking enough! Do the whole "8 glasses" thing, but try to do even more than that. I aim for 10-12 glasses a day. Don't like water? Add lemon or cucumber and mint to it. Keep track of how much you are drinking during the day.
How to: Lift Weights
A lot of us, especially females, seem to be scared of weight lifting. Be not afraid, ladies! Lifting weights is key in your weight loss journey. I do it twice a week. I'm no expert so I am not sure if that is 100% correct, but it seems to work for me.
Lifting weights can seem intimidating, especially if you've never done it. You should consult a trainer or a friend who knows what they are doing to teach you the moves. You don't want to hurt yourself by doing it wrong.
I mix up my weight training, too. I use dumbbells, resistance bands, and the weight machines. I also add in my squats/lunges and my ab work on my weight days.
How to: Mix up your workouts
I can't think of anyone I know that actually enjoys walking on the treadmill. That's why you need to change it up! Do intervals, then do longer intervals. Shock your body! One of my favorite things to do is 10-15 minutes on each cardio machine (treadmill, stair climber, row, elliptical) at very high, intense intervals. It is hard, but so worth it. AND keeps things exciting!
Also, try different classes. Zumba is my favorite, and it's a good workout when you REALLY push yourself to keep up with the instructor. My endurance has built, so I don't get as tired anymore. Each week I try harder to push myself and go faster. There are lots of other classes to try. Yoga and Pilates are low impact, but great for overall body toning. Kickboxing is high impact and burns a ton of calories. I like classes like Bootcamp and Cardio Sculpt because they work everything. Just try some- you may be surprised what you like!
How to: Stay motivated
In the moments you feel most proud, most energized and most motivated, pause. Capture that moment. Put it in your back pocket. And when you are feeling down and discouraged, take it out and remember. Remember how great it felt, and try to emulate that feeling. Make a list of all the things you have accomplished so far, and then a list of all the things you WANT to accomplish. Know that you can do this and that your life is a precious gift in which you need to take care of. Remember WHY you are doing this. Then get up and keep going.