Soooo as some of you know from my Sarah Sunday posts, I’ve lost about 30 lbs since August. (And I’m pretty much stopping there, because 155 to 160 is a weight I’m okay with.) OBVIOUSLY this makes me an expert! …… *long silence* Yeah I didn’t buy that either. But a few people have asked me what I’ve done to actually accomplish this, so I thought I’d do a post. Partly because it’s Wednesday and I have no other post planned, and partly because I like to tell people what to do! Win win.
This is just coming from what I found to work for me – obviously certain things may not work for you, but you should give these things a try. So you know, if you’re looking to start that New Years Resolution weight loss stuff, here are my Ten Weight Loss Tips.
1. Diets are stupid - SERIOUSLY. Diets like the Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, etc. are really, really stupid and you should not do them. You do not need to research how to eat better.* You’re a smart person (I hope), you don’t need some expensive diet book to tell you what to eat. You know damn well that fries are probably less healthy than salad. And that you negate that salad’s healthiness if you dump ranch dressing and croutons all over it. You know in the back of your head that pasta is probably less healthy than broccoli. Just don’t be an idiot and buy into one of the fad diets. There’s a reason that there are a million of them out there – THEY DON’T WORK (especially long-term), but for some reason people keep buying them, so they keep getting invented and published because they are big money-makers.
2. Count the calories – This is the easiest and most effective way to help you watch what you’re eating. You can still eat whatever you want, just less. As long as you’re willing to sacrifice 400 calories for 5 tiny jalapeno poppers, go for it. It definitely forces you to eat healthier, because you’re trying to get the most out of your allowed calories. I used the My Fitness Pal app to count my calories, and it was THE EASIEST THING EVER. You put in your info, it tells you how many calories you should consume a day to lose the amount of weight per week that you chose. If you’re in a chain restaurant, you can look up the dishes that have fewer calories. You can enter your recipes to calculate calories**. You can scan most foods into your phone. And guess what? NO EXPENSIVE DIET BOOK REQUIRED. My Fitness Pal is a free app, and you can access it online as well.
Also, if you do join MFP, make your food and exercise diary public, and weigh in every week. Only people you accept as friends will see it, but it helps hold you accountable. Plus, friends can look at your food or exercises and leave comments congratulating you, cheering you on, asking for your tips, etc. When you post your weight loss every week, you’ll get plenty of positive feedback. It seems silly and campy, but it makes you feel good. Plus that’s one more thing motivating you to get the scale to go down that week.
I work ouuut.
3. Move your ass - Counting calories will help you lose weight. But if you want to be physically healthy, you need to get your ass to the gym. You’ll burn calories, and you’ll build muscle, and even though it sucks at first I promise that eventually you will come to enjoy that post-workout feeling. Also, non-gym stuff is good too – take walks, use the stairs, do some jumping jacks. Anything.
4. Keep candy in the house – Unless you’re a binge eater (in which case, you have big other problems to deal with), this is actually good advice. Get a bag of you favorite candy or chocolate and put it in the cupboard. When you’re craving something sweet, one or two Hershey Kisses isn’t going to hurt you much and it’ll keep you from deciding to eat a big ass piece of cake instead and then regretting the calories later.
6. Lick the spoon - This kind of ties into the candy thing. When I was still trying to lose weight, I was only at 1200 calories a day. A serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons, which is 200 calories, which means I didn’t eat a lot of peanut butter at the time. BUT I did put peanut butter in a dish with celery for the honeyman’s lunches, and I totally licked that peanut butter spoon afterwards. That way I still got the taste of peanut butter that I missed. Now I’m up to like 1800 calories a day, so peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been my JAM lately. But basically if you’re making some food for your significant other or kids, that taste of Nutella or Fluff or whatever is delicious.
7. Buy stuff! - This part appealed to the stereotypical girl in me, because it means I got to shop. Workout clothes are a must – take time to get a few shirts and workout pants that you actually like, because you’ll feel better about going to the gym in those than in your ugly old sweats. Also, buying a small food scale is a good idea if you’re doing the calorie-counting thing, because it helps you measure out pieces of meat and stuff. This isn’t essential of course, but it helps you with portion control. Most of us will totally overestimate how many ounces that piece of chicken really is. And you know, buy whatever else you feel like you need – a water bottle, a new mp3 player to listen to, headbands, new sneakers, etc. You want to make all this losing-weight crap as enjoyable and easy as possible for yourself. If you hate using a ratty old tote bag to carry your gym clothes in, then go buy a nice gym bag. You’ll be excited to use it, and you won’t feel self-conscious about how ugly that tote bag that you got from your job was.
8. Get someone to do it with you - This is not super important, but I have to say that having the honeyman do the whole calorie counting thing with me made it SO much easier. We could enter food into My Fitness Pal and “copy” it from each other, which made entering stuff easier. We ate at home more, because we both couldn’t afford the calories to eat out a lot. We didn’t have to get two different sets of groceries, because we were both aiming for lower calorie stuff. And we both joined the gym, and so working out together and then coming home to eat afterwards was easy. If you can get someone that lives with you to join you, it’ll be a lot easier, I promise. My sister and her whole group of friends all kind of jumped on the My Fitness Pal train around the same time and they all lost a lot of weight and look amazing. That kind of support is nice.
Me too, Emerson. As long as it’s Skinny Cow.
9. 100 calorite snacks - This is one of those things that you’re not going to believe me on until you try them. Skinny Cow ice cream is seriously JUST as good as regular ice cream, but fewer calories. I actually ate dessert MORE often when I started counting calories, because I had 100 or 150 cal ice cream snacks in the freezer and they’re really good. Keebler makes 100 cal snacks like Fudge covered pretzels that are awesome. Kellogg’s pastry crisps are 100 cals and they taste a lot like Pop-Tarts (tiny Pop-Tarts, but still). The honeyman and I had a discussion a few months ago where we basically felt like idiots because a lot of this stuff is so good and we can’t believe we were wasting calories on other junk food before. These 100 cal snacks are junk food stuff, but small controlled portions. (This is however one of the more expensive things to buy, but you can catch them all on sale and get coupons for them.)
10. Weigh every day – I was SO against this a year ago, but it turned out to be really effective. Basically, in the beginning you’re not going to see an immediate response in how you look or how your clothes fit. Weigh yourself every day and write it down – seeing those numbers go down bit by bit helps to assure you that you ARE losing weight, even if you’re not a size smaller yet.
Here’s an example of what I wrote down – this is the first 4 days of me counting calories and working out:
Aww, I started out so small. 15 minutes on the elliptical? I can do it for 45 now
Even though I couldn’t see or feel it yet, my weight did drop those first few days. THIS IS SO MOTIVATING, and will keep you determined to stay on track. So even though “weigh every day” seems like harsh advice, do it.
So there we have it. My humble little advice to you if you want to lose a few pounds. Thanks for putting up with me. But in the end, do what works for you and stick with it. You can dooooo it!
* Michael Pollan writes a great book about how retarded it is that we still go for fad diets and nutritionist advice in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, which was awesome. And yay, I made this post somewhat bookish!
** I was really lazy about entering my recipes, so I went in search of recipes that already had the nutrition info calculated – Skinnytaste is an AWESOME recipe website for this. I’ve made the Spinach Lasagna Rolls and the Chicken-Broccoli Noodle Casserole and they’re sooooooooo good. I can’t wait to try more of her stuff.