Having lost a lot of weight, i've been asked some questions along the lines of "what's your secret?" Each time i've answered that there isn't really a secret to it but after more reflection, and the help of one person, i think i have a better idea of what that question really means. So here are some of what i will, for lack of a better term, call my weight loss secrets.
- Track and weigh your food. i use a kitchen scale and MyFitnessPal. This helps to make sure you're not accidentally overeating.
- Smaller meals. Society in general has normalised frighteningly large portions, often of the worst possible foods. Less meat, less snacks, more veggies and fruit.
- Water! Make sure you drink enough! This is another case where your smart phone can help. There are apps that help you track your water intake. MPF has this option, but i also use Water Alert as the reminders help me keep sipping. Simply replacing sugary drinks with water is a great way to reduce Calories.
- Track what you burn. For this i use Fitbit. There are other options, of course. But one that tracks heart rate will be giving you the best guide.
- Make healthy meals easier. For me, part of the problem was related to my chronic illnesses and disability, i was eating based on what was easy to make. What's solved this for me is a steamer, frozen veggies and a foreman style grill. (There are now reasonably priced alternatives to the brand name grill.)
- Find or remember the healthier options you like. A diet of foods you hate is not going to be something you stick to. But remember variety!
- Find exercise options that you like. For me it's the gym as it's a controlled environment where i feel safe.
- Do not overdo your exercise. Starting slow might seem like it's not doing anything, but if you push yourself too much and injure yourself, you'll lose a lot more ground than you would have "lost" by building up gradually.
- Weigh yourself regularly. But always in the morning after using the toilet and before eating. This will give you the most accurate idea of how much you've lost.
- Do not try to lose too much too quickly. The 1kg a week i'm doing at the moment is at the upper end of safe, i'm doing this to get down to what would be considered a medically healthy weight based on BMI. Once i have gotten there, any further weight loss will be at a much slower rate.
- Don't starve yourself. MFP advises a minimum of 1000 Calories for women a day and 1200 for men. Eating too little will be extremely hard to maintain and can be dangerous.
- Don't sweat the occasional day where you eat too much. The holiday season, birthdays, going out for dinner all make keeping the Calories down harder. That said, going over your Calories once in a while is not the end of the world! Besides, you're working hard, you deserve the occasional treat!
- Don't just weigh. Measurements can indicate loss on weeks where there has been no movement on the scales. Neck, waist, hip are a good option for quick measurements, but there are apps out there that allow you to log more.
- Motivation. You need to find the right motivation for you! Wrong motivation has caused a few false starts for me. In my case appearance doesn't work very well because it's very hard for me to see the changes in my own body. It's only been recently that i can see it.
- Progress photos. These are a great help when you're struggling. Take a photo on the day you weigh yourself, you can post them online or keep them to yourself, but flip back through them and see how your body is changing. This is how i first saw the difference.
- Clothes. As much as you can afford, make sure you're wearing clothes that are the size you actually are. While it's a nice feeling to put on a piece of clothing and find it's too big, it's not flattering and wearing clothes that look good helps with the confidence and will keep you going in the long run.
- Eat regularly! This may seem obvious, but regular meals make it easier to not overeat. They will also prevent your body going into starvation mode and storing more fuel as fat.
- Support. Find a group of people, either locally or online that are also on the weight loss journey. Encouragement and commiseration help even more than you can image.
The list is a little all over the place, but hopefully it helps. Feel free to leave questions in the comments or add me on fitbit/myfitnesspal.
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