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Let me start by saying that trying to lose weight can be difficult for anyone whether you are already ‘in shape’ or not. But one thing that I have learned over the last several years is that it is in fact possible. Honestly, it is more in your reach than you think so I’m here to get you on your way!. Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 50, these changes will help you get you to your end goal if you keep at it. These changes do not represent the only things you should do, but they will help you start making better lifestyle changes that will positively influence your life.
Weight loss has been more important to me in the last few months during Covid-19 because I was constantly running and eating well, and I noticed I loved the results I was seeing. And to be honest, I wasn’t actively trying to lose weight. I noticed some small changes I made, started to show itself when I weighed myself every Tuesday morning. I kind of blew my own mind, seriously. Each week I was dropping a little more… then a little more… until next thing you knew I was loving how I looked in the mirror.
I accomplished this through exercise and small changes in my diet. If you’re new here or are not familiar with me quite yet… just know that I freaking LOVE to run. It gets me excited and always makes me feel good when I finish a long run. Recently I turned it into my form of meditation and therapy. As someone who does suffer from anxiety on most days, it was important for me to have an activity I enjoyed that would provide a calm in the midst of my own personal storms.
After getting consistent with running in April, I saw that I was dropping weight and it wasn’t solely because of the running. There were other changes I made such as intermittent fasting or increasing my fiber intake which made my body overall stronger and leaner. Over the course of about 5-6 months, I lost 23 pounds and I felt healthy doing so. Weight loss should be enjoyable and should not feel like something horrible. Yes, you do need discipline but the results of living a healthy life is so worth it, trust me. The best part… I absolutely loved my body and how I felt each day. I felt like a machine…
Okay not really, but you get what I’m saying!
So here are 9 small changes you can make in order to lose weight and start healthy living!
Trash Your Current ‘Diet Plan’
I am not really a fan of diets in general because a lot of them are just gimmicks and they are not built for long-term progress. I’m not saying that changes in diet are not good but most people want to lose weight and keep that weight off. Well a diet isn’t really the right term if I’m being honest. If you are looking to live healthy and sustain the weight loss, then I think you are really looking for a lifestyle change. This means that what you implement should be for the most part long-term habits.
My goal is to help people lose weight while having fun. I hate people who are the fun police so I do not want to be that for you haha. But you should make you are practicing healthy habits and are getting the nutrients you need each day. A lot of diets will focus on removing so many things from your diet that your body cannot sustain it so I do not encourage that.
Heart Matters wrote an excellent article on a few extreme diets and its impact on your body. You can check it out here and make sure that you are not doing your body more harm than good if you are currently on any of these diets.
Start Drinking More Water
This may sound like an easy one, but I have found that a lot of people with unhealthy eating habits tend to either not drink water at all (so sad) or they do not drink it enough. Not saying everyone but definitely something I’ve observed.
Different health sources vary in their recommendation for how much water you should drink each day, but on average, the goal is to drink 64oz of water every day. Also referred to the 8×8 rule which is 8 glasses of 8oz of water. This equals to being half a gallon of a water. Keep in mind that this entire amount does not need to be consumed through liquid but can be consumed through water enriched foods!
However, you should be mindful of how much water you drink each day. If you struggle with this, try drinking a glass of water before you eat or after you eat. You can also find a water bottle that is big enough to carry a substantial amount of water but not too big that it becomes a hassle to take with you every where. You should also be familiar with the size itself so that you can know in your mind how many times you need to fill up to hit whatever your goal is for the day.
For example, if you have a water bottle that measures 16oz, the math of 64/16 = 4 refills. For me, this makes my water intake goal way more attainable because all I have to think about is how many times do I need to refill my bottle before I go to sleep at night.
It also tricks yourself into getting into the habit of drinking water so you will be able to continue this, even after you achieve your weight loss goals.
Forget About The Scale
Yes, you technically do need a scale to track your weight loss on your healthy living journey, but you don’t need to live on it. You shouldn’t be weighing yourself every day. It really can mess with your mind and how positive you actually feel about the whole experience.
What I’ve learned works for me, is to find one day a week to weigh myself. This just makes it easier and doesn’t mentally mess me up when I don’t see the results I want at that particular moment. Something else you can do is journal your weight each week so you can track your progress. It’s hard to juggle a bunch of details, at least for me, so this helps and makes it easy to follow.
Tuesday mornings work for me the best but it doesn’t matter which day you choose, as long as it works for your day to day. I also recommend that when you do weigh yourself, you do so in the morning as soon as you wake up, before you eat anything. This ensures that you’re getting an accurate reading on your weight and won’t include a bunch of meals you’ve had throughout the day.
In other words, do not focus too heavily on the scale and worry more about how you feel. Use the mirror as your scale. It will never lie to you and will give you the most authentic version of yourself. It’s also nice to see how you physically transform your body! So yes, embrace the mirror, it is your friend.
30 Minutes of Cardio At least 3-5 Times Per Week
Like I mentioned before, I love to run so cardio comes pretty natural for me. But I know that is for sure not everyone’s story and it can really difficult for some people to pick up cardio if they haven’t done it before.
It’s important to include cardio because it will get you active and help burn calories, which will aid in your weight loss journey. Also, one of the great things about cardio is that there are many ways to achieve it. This is great for people who don’t want to go for a run but still want to get active. Below is a list of examples of cardio that you can start doing:
You can pick one type of cardio for now, but I would work up to including different types of cardio. Right now I focus on running more than any other type of cardio but I really want to get into dancing. I only dance in my underwear at home so I guess that counts for something, right?
Also, give yourself a break from time to time. If you can’t get up to doing cardio 3 times a week that is okay. The point is to build healthy habits that will help you long term. By practicing self-discipline over a period of time, you will continue to do more even when you don’t feel up to it. Discipline is better than motivation. When you feel down, self-discipline will push you to the finish line.
See Related Post – Running For Beginners: 10 Tips To Get You Started
Strength Training Is Your Friend
I really love strength training because I love how my body tones after doing it for a while. I think it’s cool that there are workouts that will help you get stronger and in turn, will help you shed weight!
Don’t fear strength training. It’s not just lifting weights as there are other ways to make your body stronger. Also, it will not make you bulky and it will not take away from your weight loss goals. It will actually help you get there quicker and help you maintain it. Strength training has many benefits, including making your joints more flexible and making you stronger (by increasing your muscle mass).
There are various ways that you can improve your strength. I prefer lifting weights myself because I find it really fun to track the increase in weights I train with. It’s my own little reminder of how strong I’m getting. However, I am learning myself to try other methods to build strength. You can try the below exercises to build strength besides lifting weights:
- Using resistance bands
- Push Ups
These are just a few examples but if these do not work for you, try reflecting on your day to day. Is there anything that you already do that counts as strength training? For example, if you work in your yard every weekend or garden where you have to dig and shovel, you are building strength! Give yourself some credit in areas you are already accomplishing this and use it as motivation to pick up more habits to get your body stronger over time.
Skip Breakfast—Welcome Intermittent Fasting
So this is a funny one because I actually implemented this habit on pure accident. Sounds silly but I didn’t know what intermittent fasting was until I realized I was already doing it!
So this is what happened…
As many of you know, Covid-19 forced most of the world to work from home. When that happened, I realized I lost my morning hunger. I was always hungry when I used to go to work, but waking up and working at home didn’t make me too hungry.
My boyfriend didn’t eat in the mornings either so it just became a habit for both of us to have our first meal at lunch time. After a few weeks of it, I noticed that I was losing weight quickly. At this time I was working out at this time about 3 times a week and I still wasn’t really eating too healthy, but I was dropping weight. I brought it up to him and he pointed out that it intermittent fasting that we were doing. I was bamboozled and mad he knew about it before me…
But I loved the results!
Keep in mind, this is not the only method of intermittent fasting. There are a few different ones but a popular one that we followed was the 16:8 method. Let’s say we eat dinner around 7pm. 16 hours after that is when we have lunch which is around 11am. We then eat dinner again by 7pm, or within a 8 hour period from when we had lunch.
The benefits of intermittent fasting is that your body starts making these small changes when it is not fueling up (eating). Your insulin decreases when you don’t eat, which aids in fat burning. It also aids in cellular repair, which is great for when you strength train! And it’s important to note that intermittent fasting is not just good for weight loss but studies are showing that it can improve your overall health.
While this has worked for me and many others, please listen to your body. There were PLENTY of days were I didn’t fast because to be honest I was hungry and like I said, I am not a fan of extremes. So on those days, I stuffed my face with something healthy and light. I do not promote starving yourself so if you find yourself dying in the morning, EAT!
Do Not Give Up Carbs
A lot of diets encourage people to cut out carbs but I do not agree with this as a lifestyle change. Carbs, or carbohydrates, are great for storing energy in the body, which you need. What I will say though, is to start eating more healthier carbs. Every carb is not a bad carb.
While not getting lost in the weeds, carbs is either sugar, starch or fiber. Starches and sugars get broken down in your body to glucose which provides your body energy for its various functions. Fiber on the other hand is not broken down because it passes through your stomach, small intestine and colon before it actually leaves your body (guess how?)
Good carbs will contain higher amounts of fiber while bad carbs tend to contain lower fiber foods. Bad carbs, also known as simple carbs are what you should try to limit as much as possible. I love me some chocolate myself, but I know I cannot eat it everyday if I want to live healthy.
Examples of Bad or Simple Carbs:
- White Bread
- Sweetened Juices
- Sugary Cereals
Good carbs are referred to as complex carbs. Some examples:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown or wild rice
- Whole Wheat
The points it not cut out carbs in its entirety. Remember that losing weight is a journey and you want to make lifestyle changes that will last. Be mindful of the foods you are eating and their nutricsal value. Opt for water instead of the sweet tea, incorporate brown rice or quinoa into your meals instead of white rice. Making better decisions about carbs every day will help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.
Ditch The Booze
Again, I do NOT want to be the fun police. Because they just aren’t fun. I myself love some tequila at the end of my week, but I know it takes away from my overall fitness and wellness goals (I am a work in progress). So, I would recommend cutting down your alcohol intake as much as you can. If you can cut it out completely or don’t drink, you will be ahead of the game!
Drinking alcohol all the time does nothing but provide your body with empty calories, of which have no real nutritional value. It will weigh you down and will usually interfere with the other changes in this post you will make. If you are going to drink, maybe limit how many days you drink and try to limit the hard liquor or beer. Maybe opt for one glass of red wine to take the edge off if you need it.
Find Someone To Lean On
I think this is actually one of the most important changes you should make if you are starting your weight loss journey. To be honest, we all need support when making a change and having someone in your corner during this will help you! Having someone in your corner helps hold you accountable for when you slack off or have a bad day or if you just simply need some encouragement.
It helps if that person is also trying to lose weight but to be honest, they don’t have to be. For me, I used my boyfriend as the person I leaned on the most when I was trying to lose weight. I just made sure to talk to him about my journey, the good and the bad. I also shared my accomplishments with my best friends if I hit a goal that I was working to. They always rooted me on and it felt good to have them in my corner.
Honestly, it makes the journey more fun when you have someone to share the experience with. You are making a great change, a lifestyle change, and it’s cool to have someone that can be your friend through it all.
If you don’t want to use a friend or family member, that is okay! You can find different support groups online which is great for people who want to see people on the same journey as them. Very Well Fit recommends these 6 groups for 2020:
- WW (formerly Weight Watchers)
- Bariatric Surgery Support Groups
- Facebook Groups
These are just a few of all the groups that exist so don’t feel limited to just these 6. Get online and find a group that fits your needs. Try social media platforms such as Facebook Groups or Reddit, and try to find other people that are on the same page as you. Not only will you feel better with your new found friendship, you will be well on your way to losing weight!
How’s your journey looking? Share a comment below!