There are so many options for weight loss that the industry has become very over-saturated and confusing. There and tons of supplements, shakes, wraps and procedures that claim to help you lose weight in record breaking time. Many of these options have brought about positive results so it can be hard trying to decide which one is best for you.
The most important thing that I have had to decide is what my goal is. Every other time that I have tried to lose weight my goal was only weight loss. So I tried Hydroxycut, Lipozene, Slim Fast, Herbalife and the list could go on. Each method that I tried did bring about some form of weight loss, but I never reached my goal.
This time my objective is to be healthy, fit and strong. This mental shift has changed my approach to the process. Instead of looking for programs that will help me to shed the weight fast, I’m developing long term habits that will help me reach and maintain my goals.
And believe it or not, this way is a lot simpler. I’m not popping tons of pill, starving myself or wrapping my waist in anything. I’m literally just making healthy food choices and exercising at least 5 days a week. I’m almost at the 40 pound milestone and it has all come from good old fashioned hard work.
So if you are wondering where to start and what to do at the beginning of your journey, I have a few tips. Now, let’s be clear, I am not a doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer. I am only sharing my experience and what has worked for me so far.
- MOVE YO BODY! It’s so simple. Get active and stay active. This means choosing to walk instead of driving short distances. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Spending more time outdoors instead of on the couch watching television. Take your kids for a bike ride or a swim. Anything that will keep you moving is a great way to get your heart beating. When I initially started working out all I done was cardio. At 330 pounds, cardio was not easy to do. But I started off doing what I could. Walking. As I got stronger with power walking my trainer added a little jog to it. Then after feeling comfortable with that we added inclines to my routine. Jumping jacks and jump rope are excellent ways to get your heart rate up as well. They take a lot out of energy because you are lifting your own body weight. But anything that gets your heart beating is good for burning calories. And burning more calories than you consume is the only way to lose the pounds.
Most people struggle to find the time to do 30 minutes of cardio. That was my issue for a while. When was I supposed to do this exercise? If you have a busy life like me (Children, Career, Community Service, etc) then the best thing to do is schedule it in your diary. I literally have my personal training sessions scheduled as if they are business meetings, because that is the only way that I find time to do it. You have to make the decision to commit to it at all costs. On the days that I do not train at the gym, I find a way to fit exercise into my routine. Sometimes I jump on the elliptical for an hour while watching television or listening to a podcast or reading an eBook. Or I may take my kids to the park after school and play with them for a solid hour or so. (Trust me chasing three boys around a field is WORK!) Whatever I do, I just make sure that my heart rate is in the cardio or fat burning zone for at least 60 minutes each day.
A good thing to invest in is a heart rate monitor or a watch that monitors your heart rate and calculates the amount of calories you burn. I find that this helps to focus my workouts and guide me to what exerts the most amount of energy and subsequently burns the most calories. I have a Fitbit HR Charge. It syncs with the Fitbit app on my phone and gives me a really good idea of how hard I am working during exercise.
- CLEAN EATING. This has given me the most success. No matter how much you work out, if your diet does not support what you are trying to do you will not see results. I’ve decided to follow a low-sugar and low-carb regime. I avoid any food that has over 10 grams of sugar, ideally 5 grams and under is pretty good for me. Of course this does not include natural sugars found in fruit. But I do try to avoid high sugar fruits. I eat a lot of berries, watermelon, apples and citrus fruits. I eat A LOT of green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and zucchini. I don’t eat much carbs unless from vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potato or corn, and I only eat those for lunch so that I can burn it off during the day. I avoid breads, pastries, pasta and rice, eating them only on occasion. I don’t count calories because then I get obsessed with that number. But I do log my meals (on most days) in the MyFitnessPal app. It gives me a rough estimate of how many calories I am consuming and where most of my calories are coming from.
You can download a sample meal plan here > Meal plan. Be mindful though, this is just an outline. It is low carb, low sugar and high in protein. It is designed to help shed excess fat. As time has passed I have modified the plan but continue to stay within the low carb, low sugar parameters.
- WATER, WATER, WATER! You need to stay hydrated when exercising so water is really important. It is suggested that when trying to shed pounds you drink half of your body weight in water. So if you weigh 300lbs you should try to drink 150 ounces of water each day. That is a difficult task and I struggle to meet it most days. What helps me is setting an alarm and chugging a bunch of water every half an hour. My trainer suggests that I drink at least 16 ounces of water half an hour before and after our sessions to ensure that I am well hydrated. Your body releases a lot of water while working out and you have to be sure to replenish it.
What I have found to be the best benefit of drinking only water is all the extra calories you eliminate. Soda and fruit juices all have tons of sugar and unnecessary calories. If you replace them with water you are sure to remove a bunch of calories from your diet each week. If you struggle with the taste of water I suggest you buy an infuser bottle and put whatever fresh fruits you like in it to give your water some flavor. I usually just stick with lemon water for my meals and plain water throughout the day. After a few weeks you won’t even miss the soft drinks at all.
These are just a few simple things to help you get started. Weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated. We can make it really complex or we can keep it simple. Eat better, not less. Exercise more. Find the balance of diet and exercise that works for you and supports your lifestyle. Be committed to it. That’s it!
Be healthy…be happy…BE GREAT!