OK, so the holidays are officially over with and it is time to start a new year. Whether one of your New Year resolutions was losing weight or you just ate too much turkey and brownies then you are probably considering ways in which to get back in shape and lose those unwanted pounds for good.
I must confess that I had a lot of delicious treats during the holidays and I was not even thinking about dieting (come on, that’s really boring to diet when everybody else is having fun.) Now is the time to get rid of a few extra pounds, a few inches in the wrong places and get back in shape.
I was thinking for a while about writing a post about weight loss. After all, weight loss was actually a trigger that made me think about a balanced body at first and a balanced life in general afterwards. I think it is time for me to open a few of my personal secrets of getting into the best shape of my life without diets and without long and exhausting hours at the gym. Let’s get on to it!
#1. Be Happy
It is not a secret that most pounds are packed on due to emotional eating. Sweet, fatty, creamy, smothered in fat and high in carbohydrates foods are drugs for most people because they make us feel good (for a while at least.) This is an addiction that does not cost much, that is easily accessible by anyone and that is not reproached by our society.
The only problem is that the pounds that come together with that delicious taste in your mouth bring you the most depressing thoughts and lower your self-esteem to the ground. Even though eating makes you happy for a few minutes, you feel like a complete loser afterwards.
Do not try to fix your problems in life with food and do not expect that losing weight will make everything in your life go smoothly and joyfully. Concentrate on being happy right now and you will notice that your pounds will start melting on their own.
I have been fighting my weight for many years (well, I was not fat; I just could not lose the last couple of pounds that would have made me completely happy with my body.) The moment I stopped concentrating on weight loss and started living a happy life (fell in love with my husband, found my passion in life, started spending more time with my true friends) I found myself feeling lighter (in a physical and emotional sense.)
#2. Stop snacking
No matter what weight loss advice you read you are most likely to hear that you need to eat frequently in order to keep your metabolism high and to not be super hungry during your big meals. I have found that I managed to lose my weight when I eliminated all snacks during the day. I didn’t do it on purpose; I just didn’t have time to eat between meals after my girls were born.
My schedule allows me to have a late breakfast, a regular lunch and an early supper. This way I do not have more than 4 hours between meals and I do not get too hungry. If I want to eat something small then I always choose apples or berries, green tea without sugar with a square of dark chocolate or 2 cookies (about 75 calories.)
#3. Stay Busy
A lot of times we eat because we are bored and we do not know what else to do. We eat while watching TV, we munch on something at our desk at work, we crunch on something while driving and drink something (sugary of course) while reading or waiting. Keep yourself busy at work, find some exciting tasks at home, try new hobbies, be outside as much as possible, play with your kids, go out with your friends, learn something new, try something extraordinary and stop watching TV. Keep your life full, not your mouth.
Sometimes you can get distracted from hunger by reading a fascinating book or following an incredibly funny blog. I have a great suggestion for you, check out the Dietgirl Blog and read her hilarious book The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. It can get you in the perfect mood to tackle your pounds.
#4. Concentrate on being healthy instead of being slim
In order to be healthy you need to eat a healthy diet and to be physically active. Being slim is a goal that is too narrow and too shallow; it does not provide any benefits other than enjoying your reflection in the mirror.
When you are young and do not have a family yet you often want to lose weight in order to find your Perfect Match (and this motivation is usually strong enough to get you through diets, exhausting hours at the gym and constant feeling of hunger.) However, when you already have a loving partner, kids, and friends who accept you the way you are, your motivation to lose weight starts to crack. You keep on eating and become more sedentary with each passing year. The right motivation is to be healthy at any age.
#4a. Healthy nutrition and no dieting
Healthy eating is the best diet strategy that you can maintain your entire life. It is really simple:
- you need a lot of vegetables, legumes and whole grains to fill your stomach without consuming too many calories,
- you need healthy fats like olive oil, nuts (especially walnuts) and fatty fish (salmon and herring) as well as
- lean proteins (fish, beans, moderate amounts of lean beef or chicken) to keep you full
- and some fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth
- make sure that you use only healthy cooking methods like boiling, steaming, broiling, grilling, sautéing and baking (you should forget about two words: frying and deep-frying)
- remember to drink plenty of liquids (water is your best and only friend) and to cut back on sweets and sugary drinks. That’s it.
If you are not sure about how to fix healthy meals that will actually taste delicious rather than … well… healthy then you can check out my cheap and healthy grocery list and recipes that follow.
I am also a big fan of the World’s Healthiest Foods Website and George Mateljan’s book The World’s Healthiest Foods, Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating that is like the bible of healthy cooking.
#4b. Be active throughout the day and not only at the gym
In order to be healthy you need to exercise because our bodies were meant to move instead of sitting in one position for hours. You need at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day (you will need more than that if you want to lose weight though.) You don’t have to become a gym rat though. You can walk or jog, you can play sports with your kids or friends, you can exercise at home and of course you can go to the gym if you want to. And even better, gardening, vacuuming and shopping are also types of exercise. You just have to do them frequently and long enough. I am sure that there is a perfect workout for each and every person on this planet, sometimes it just takes a while to find it (check out these 9 Secrets of Choosing the Best Workout.)
#5. Take it easy
Slow as a turtle is the best speed rate for losing weight and getting the best body of your life. I know that all of us want to look gorgeous instantly and this is the exact reason why so many people fail at maintaining healthy weight. Changes do not happen overnight and you must be prepared for a long journey if you want to see results that will last.
It took me one year to lose the 20 pounds that I gained during pregnancy but I am absolutely happy with the result. I was not crash-dieting, I was not exhausting myself at the gym, I was not skipping my deserts and I was living a full life while losing this weight.
Do not try everything at once when you make a resolution to get in shape. Start by making your diet healthier (get rid of fast food and junk food, incorporate more veggies and whole grains), then cut your portions slowly (not more than 20% at a time) and add as much exercise as you feel comfortable doing (do not try to run a marathon the first time you put on your sneakers.) Losing weight is all about developing new habits that you can stick to your entire life.
I think this is it. I really could not come up with any other strategies that have helped me to lose and maintain my weight. I hope that these tips will help you to reach your dream weight and to be healthy and happy for the rest of your life!
Keep it balanced!
P.S. Links to books in this post are affiliate links, so if you buy these books then you will support Balance In Me not only mentally but also financially:-)