I often get asked if I have any tips up my sleeve on how I lost the weight. While I have no miracle cures, here are some of my top tips that helped me lose the weight and keep it off. They are simple helpful hints and tips which you will hopefully find useful.
1. Change your lifestyle – Don’t call it a diet. If you do this you’re not really changing your attitude towards food. When you change your dietary lifestyle, however, you’re changing your habits – and you’re putting yourself on track for long-term / continued success and weight maintenance. Don’t ever tell anybody you’re on a diet – ever. Trust me I’m speaking from experience.
2. Take a before and after picture – I know you really don’t want to see a lardy picture of yourself rubbed in your face but it really might help to spur you on days when you just want to reach that biscuit tin. Then get an after picture – one where you were thinner and happier with yourself – and aspire to look like that again. If you have always been on the large size then find a magazine picture of what you would like to look like. Ok, reaching for a picture of Cindy Crawford may be taking things too far but hey we all must have goals!.
3. Never miss breakfast – I really couldn’t reiterate the importance of eating breakfast. It’s like driving a car – if you don’t put petrol in it really isn’t going to work. So yes eat something within an hour of waking up even if it’s just a piece of fruit or a glass of milk. Research shows that those that eat breakfast are likely to be a lot slimmer than those who don’t. It’s hardly rocket science.
4. Eat natural – wherever possible learn to eat food in its most natural form and stay away from processed foods as much as you can. This sounds harder than it is. Look under my quick recipe section to see how easy it is to cook foods from scratch.
5. Eat little and often – I’ve always been a grazer and like to eat little and often throughout the day. I always like to keep nuts and seeds or fruit in my bag or car so that when hunger strikes I’ve got something tasty and nutritious on me. This also help s to keep the metabolism revved up so that fat is being burned continuously.
6. Love protein – I have learned to include protein in every meal. This is really good to help rebuild muscle after workouts and can actually help you feel fuller for longer. Lean meats, pulses , milk, nuts and seeds are all good sources of protein.
7. Don’t cut out any major food groups – It’s tempting to cut out major food groups like carbs in a bid to lose weight fast. But the whole point is to eat healthy and maintain the weight so cutting out food groups will not help you achieve this. Protein helps to build muscles after a workout and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
8. Portion sizes – It’s so easy to misjudge the quantities of food we are eating so make sure you are aware of portion sizes. If need be get some scales and measure your foods until you can trust yourself to control the size without them.
9. Adapt -Fit your healthy eating around your lifestyle and not the other way around – I often used to tell my self I would start to live my life when I get to a certain weight. But this is silly because we still need to get on with our day to day lives. So if you are invited out to dinner, make sure you plan ahead. Have a smaller lunch and then have a healthy main meal and if you really must have a dessert the share one.
10. Identify your exercise – You’re really not going to become a marathon runner if you loathe running so choose something that you are going to stick to. There are so many activities to choose from nowadays, spinning, cycling, belly dancing, aerobics, swimming, yoga, so there’s no reason why you won’t find one that suits you. Also don’t buy into that whole “no pain no gain” stuff. You don’t have to suffer to look good.
11. Set realistic goals – Sure you can lose 20 pounds in a week if you exercised 12 hours a day and ate nothing but celery – but not if your human. Slow and steady is the way forward. Look at it this way – you didn’t put that weight on overnight so it’s going to take time for you to burn it off. Have smaller goals on your way to the bigger goal and you will get that sense of achievement to carry on.
12. Don’t always listen to your mates – It’s ok to tell people you’ve embarked on a healthy eating regime but sometimes members of your family or friends will try to dissuade you from losing weight. It’s simple: they might not want you to succeed where they may have already failed, whether consciously or inadvertently. Watch out for statements like: “You’ve lost enough weight.” or “I like you just the way you are.” What’s important is YOU don’t like the way that YOU are – then YOU are going to have to do something about it, no matter what anybody says.
13. Indulge a little – It really is ok to have a little of what you fancy now and then. It really isn’t going to kill you and to be honest it will probably help you stick to the straight and narrow. At first this was really hard for me to get my head around. I mean how could I eat chocolate and STILL lose weight? Incorporate it into your daily calorie allowance and you will be able to have your cake and eat it!.
14. Your mouth is not a pit – I used to eat really fast shovelling everything into my mouth as fast as I could. But my brain doesn’t know that my stomach is full until 20 minutes later. So learn to eat slowly and appreciate every mouthful. By doing this I found I was not finishing off the entire contents off my plate. Remember you never want to feel full – ever. That’s when you know you’ve eaten too much.
15. Every body is different – Don’t compare yourself to others. Two people could eat the same thing and exercise exactly the same but lose weight at a different pace. So there’s no point someone copying everything I do to stay trim because you’ll only be discouraged and likely to return to your old habits. Just concentrate on yourself and remain focussed on your personal goal.
16. Walk the walk – Did you know that walking burns off calories? Well, it just amazes me how many people don’t realise the importance of walking. Ok it’s not going to burn off the same amount of calories as a run but you are burning them nonetheless. Consider getting a pedometer to keep an eye how many steps you are taking and increase your walking by taking simple measures like parking your car on the opposite end to the supermarket carpark and getting off the bus a stop earlier. The calories all add up.
17. Eat from a smaller plate – Dinner plates have turned into trays in some cases. It’s so tempting to pile on the food when faced with a huge plate. So the trick is to use a smaller plate – sometimes the side plate is big enough to be a dinner plate and not too small to resemble a saucer. That way you’re also tricking your mind into thinking you’re having lots of food. And ladies, you really don’t need to eat the same amount as your fella so just because he eats off a bigger plate you don’t have to copy him.
18. Beware alcohol! – It pains me to tell you that yes alcohol does have calories. B’ah. My love relationship with Stella had to be toned down a lot when I was losing weight as a pint has 250 calories in it. So make sure that when you are planning a night out, you take into consideration that calories consumed via alcohol are included in your daily allowance. Stick to spirits like vodka with low calorie mixers as they contain about 50 calories each.
19. Weighing it up – Don’t weigh yourself everyday as your weight can fluctuate from day to day. Instead find a set time and day each week when you weigh yourself to monitor your progress. Don’t forget measuring yourself with a tape is also a great way of witnessing the inches that are lost. And finally remember that losing no pounds in a week is progress too!
20. Drink up – I’m talking water here NOT alcohol! It’s important to keep hydrated for your body to perform efficiently. Don’t worry about water retention as your more likely to retain water if you don’t drink enough. It has other benefits too like making you feel fuller before you sit down to eat your meals. The boffins are all split on how much you should drink but I drink at least 1.5 litres a day.
21. It’s ok to slip up – one of these days you will get invited to dinner with friends and you will eat your body weight in steak. Instead of repeating the over indulgence just get yourself back on track the next day and start again. You will be fine. Just don’t do it again and again and again and again.
AND FINALLY ……………… have fun along the journey. This is a commitment to changing your food and exercise habits for good. You will feel so much better for it I promise you.