After posting the advice on what I would say to someone who is just starting out, I got a lot of positive feedback via email, but most people also asked for some more practical advice on how to start out. Like what small changes they should make first. Well, I did mention some of the small steps in the previous post, but here are some more for you to consider. Some of these are taken from my weight loss diary I kept and some of them I have only learned myself during maintenance. They are going to be different for everyone, so you just have to figure out what works for you.
– Don’t give up: This is the most important one. It is not going to be easy, but it IS going to be worth it!
– Don’t take on too much: One of the points I made in the last post was to make small changes. Don’t change everything at once, otherwise you will get overwhelmed and something will have to give. Not being able to do everything will be frustrating and stressful and you don’t need any more stress. Start with the easiest things, like drinking more water and eating breakfast and then add on more changes from there.
– Snack wisely: No joke, I used to have a whole bucket full of unhealthy snacks when I was obese. I would never let the bucket get half empty before I filled it up with snack sized cakes, chocolate bars and other fattening treats. They would give me an instant hit of energy, but I would soon come crashing down. Choose nuts, seeds and fruit for a snack that will do exactly what a snack should do – carry you to your next meal and keep your energy levels up.
– Make sure you are eating enough: It might seem that seriously restricting your calories will help you lose weight quickly, but you will end up doing more damage than good. Make sure you are eating enough to fuel your body. I often found when I hit a plateau that upping my calories helped me start losing again. This is a good calculator to tell you how many calories you should eat if you just sat down all day: http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced
– There is no finish line on health: don’t see it as you have a certain amount of weight to lose and then you have finished. You will never finish. You always have to work hard at looking after your health. You will reach your weight loss goal, but you can’t just go back to your old habits.
– Move on from days where you go off track: I went off track countless times. Sometimes for one meal, sometimes for one day and sometimes for a whole week. But I always got back on track again and I didn’t punish myself for it. What is done is done, it is going to happen to all of us. As the saying goes, “fall down 7, stand up 8”.
– If you are hungry, then eat: you will see a lot of “diet plans” that say when you feel hungry, to drink a glass of water. I don’t necessarily agree with this. If you can identify it as real hunger, and not emotional hunger (which takes some time to tell the difference), then you need to eat. Trying to cover it up with water is most likely going to lead to a binge later on. But, if you can identify it as emotional eating, then a glass of water is a good idea.
– Don’t reward yourself with food: this is a bad cycle to get yourself into. Having a cupcake because you lost 1lb is not going to help in the long run. Sure, you can have a cupcake once in a while, but have it because you want it, not because you “earned” it. Reward yourself with a manicure or some new shoes. Let’s just say I have a lot of shoes.
– Food is not the enemy: I have written about it before, but stop giving food all the power. There is no good and bad food (this of course doesn’t include people who have allergies) and you don’t have to 100% cut things out of your diet and never eat the things you enjoy again. Getting healthy and losing weight is about creating a healthy relationship with food, not an even unhealthier one.
– Eat real food: try to make sure that the majority of your diet is made up of real food. Not things that are made in a factory or come in a box or packet. Your body will thank you for it.
– Find balance: you need to still enjoy your life, so if locking yourself in a gym 6 days a week isn’t enjoyable for you, do a little less. Make sure you are eating enough, but don’t over eat. It takes a while to find what is right for you and it is never going to be the same as anyone else. So take your time and figure out your perfect balance.
– Keep your body guessing: Again, when I hit plateaus in my weight loss, it was normally because I had been eating the same things, and doing the exact same workouts. If you body gets used to something, the weight loss will usually slow down. Try some new recipes out and go to a new workout class – it might just make a difference.
– Don’t be scared of weights: I never did weights in the beginning, and I was a bit of a “cardio bunny”. If I had of done weights at the same time, I am convinced that I would have toned up a lot more. Women are often scared of using weights as they think they will turn into a body builder overnight. To look like that, that takes hours of weight lifting and sometimes supplements. You don’t just have to lift 2lb weights either, lift heavy (but work your way up to it).
– Positivity goes a long way: and that includes not being negative to the way your body currently looks. You may want to change the way your body looks, but constantly saying negative things about yourself is not going to help. You can still love your body as it is at the time and work on changing it to make it healthier.
– Plan, Prepare, Schedule: The saying goes, fail to plan and you plan to fail – I agree with that to an extent. Sometimes you can get by without planning but I think it is my planning that helped me stay on track so much. Plan out a realistic workout schedule and stick to it. Schedule in workouts like you would a meeting and don’t back out of it. Plan your meals for the week and do an hour or 2 of food preparation on a Sunday and you will save yourself a lot of time.
– Build a support network: do you have friends or family members that want to get healthy too? Ask them to join the gym with you and host healthy dinner parties where everyone brings a healthy dish. Having like minded people around you will make the process that little bit easier.
– Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore: if you really, really hate running – don’t force yourself to do it. Not everyone is a runner and not everyone enjoys it. Find a workout that you enjoy and you will want to keep doing it. Dancing is normally a good place to start, as it is fun. Give Zumba try.
– Take time to relax: a long bath or an hour spent reading a good book can do wonders to de-stress.
– Get enough sleep: sleep is so important. It is a change for your body to repair and it gives your brain time to relax as well. Sometimes 8 hours isn’t realistic for everyone, but try to aim for that and see what things (like computer and TV time) you can cut back on to sleep a little more.
– Learn how to cook: it really isn’t that difficult. You don’t have to become a professional chef over night, but get some cookbooks, bookmark some recipes and try them out. Start experimenting in the kitchen too – throw things together that you think will work and see what happens. Very rarely will you make something inedible.
– Watch your portion size: one of the first steps you should make is making sure you are eating the right portion sizes. You will be surprised what a portion of food actually is, as most of us over eat.
– Don’t confuse simple with easy: weight loss is simple in the sense of eating better and working out more, but it is not easy. It is going to be tough, but improving your health makes it so worth it.
I hope that this helps you! Thanks for all the awesome messages after my last post. I know a lot of you said you wanted to be able to comment under the post. You will be able to soon – I promise. I am starting to re-design the blog tonight!
You have to find what works for you, and not all of these tips will be right for all of you – but they worked for me and that is what I am here to share.