After struggling for several years with extra weight, I finally found time to get serious about my health.  All the information out there said the only proven way to lose weight was through diet and exercise.  So that’s exactly what I did, making a more conscious effort this time to control and monitor what I ate.

The result? I lost fifteen pounds and slimmed down to the same size I was when I was thirty pounds lighter.

Below are the lessons I learned:

  1. Skip the gym. If it’s not convenient, you won’t do it. Find space for an at-home gym.  The only equipment I needed was this space-saving elliptical machine and my 10-pound dumbbells.  Ladies don’t need weights heavier than that to get toned.
  2. 30-45 minutes of cardio exercise 5-6 times a week. You need to put the effort in to burn the fat, which, by the way, we lose while exhaling during physical activity.
  3. Strength train 1-2 times a week. It’s going to make you stronger and build muscle so you can burn more calories in your resting state.
  4. NO ALCOHOL. Probably a challenge, especially if grabbing an after-work cocktail with co-workers is the norm.  Stop drinking alcohol.  You’ll negate all your hard work if you do.  If you need to ditch your drinking buddies until you reach your weight loss goals, DO IT; I promise, you won’t regret it.
  5. One dessert a week. Cut back on the sugar, but not so much that you can’t sustain your weight loss efforts long term.  While I was working on my own weight loss challenge, I went to one of the best bakeries in my neighborhood and bought a lemon pound cake.  I cut it up into reasonable portions, placed them in individual plastic bags and froze them.  Every Friday after dinner, I defrosted one as a treat.  It gave me something to look forward to each week and was enough of a reward to help keep me on track.  The cake lasted the full three months.
  6. One cheat meal a week. Same as the above.  Once a week, eat whatever you want, so long as you get it done within one 60-minute time frame.  The point is to stuff yourself so that you feel sick.  It will deter you from eating like that again throughout the week while also giving you something to look forward to.  Most importantly, it will help keep you on track.
  7. Reward yourself. Get your nails done or go to the movies. Find a way each week to treat yourself for your effort.  Each month that you stay committed, reward yourself in a slightly bigger way.  Perhaps, a weekend getaway or a trip to the spa.
  8. Get the MyFitnessPal app. Log all of your meals here.  It will help you stay on target with your calories to lose weight within the time frame you want.  Also, the nutritional section will tell you how many of the right and wrong nutrients you’re getting.  You will most likely learn that your existing eating habits have not been healthy.  However, you can fine-tune them with adjustments that suit the new lifestyle you’re creating.
  9. Research healthy recipes and create weekly meal plans. Not to downplay physical activity, but what you eat is probably more important for weight loss.  There are tons of delicious and healthy meals out there that are easy to make…and I’m going to help you find them!
  10. Discover vegetarian dishes that you love.  I have to be honest: significantly cutting meat out of my diet was a game-changer for my weight loss goals.  It also had the added benefit of helping me lower my cholesterol levels which have been elevated for years.  If you can’t find veggie meals that you love, you will fail with your weight loss goals. 
  11. Avoid bad influences. Friend, families, colleagues, neighborhoods.  If they aren’t supporting your plan, put some distance for a while until you reach your goal.
  12. Find supportive networks. Conversely, if you’re putting space up with your old network, try to find new ones that will give you the encouragement you need to stick with it..
  13. Commit to the lifestyle change. All of the above? That’s really hard work.  You’re gonna love the way you look and feel when you’re done.  And you’re going to want to keep that weight off.  Slowly start to include some of the previous restrictions but at the end of the day, the new diet and exercise plan has to become a part of your new way of living.

Too soft or too strict? Try a few out and let me know below what worked for you and what didn’t.

Good Luck!

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