Dec 14, 2014

My Journey to Losing 80 Pounds -- Weight Loss Tips that Work!

I've lost 80lbs since January 4. 2014.  For the past two months I have been partially off the wagon because of the Holidays, but I am still eating sensibly to maintain my weight.  I know, I know, I could have been closer to my 100lb goal by now if I didn't take a break, but the Holidays are big for me and my family.  My family cooks and they cook good food.  

Over the past few months I've gotten many e-mails and direct messages asking me how I lost my 80lbs and how I stayed motivated.  I'm going to be completely honest with you, it wasn't easy.  I struggled everyday with temptation and battling cravings and sometimes I would break down completely and cry over the fact that I couldn't eat what I wanted.  It was a very tough, but rewarding, 11 months.  Sometimes I still can't believe that I lost 80lbs and can't believe that I can fit into clothes 5 sizes smaller than what I was at this time last year.  I still feel like the girl that's over 200 pounds even though I know I'm no longer that person; it's all mental.  I think it takes a good while for your brain to adjust to your new body.  

I have been trying to lose weight ever since I had my daughter in 2005.  I would go on various fad diets and fall off the wagon...hard.  I would go back to overeating and not knowing when to shut off.  I usually lost a total of 20-25 lbs before I would gain it all back eating fast food, junk food and pure crap.  There was a time where I thought that maybe I was just meant to be fat and would never lose the weight, but I learned that when that is your mindset, you won't let yourself lose the weight.  I don't know what switched on inside my head, but on New Years last year I decided to make a resolution that I was determined to keep, to start to lose weight and stick to it.  Of course, this was my resolution for the previous 8 years as well, what would make this year any different?  I didn't know just what it was, but it was different.  

Fast forward almost an entire year later and I did stick to my resolution and am now only 20lbs away from my goal weight.  I do feel amazing and I'm very happy with myself at this current time.  I know that I will lose the last 20lbs, even though I know full well that the last twenty pounds are usually the hardest to lose.  Maybe that's why I'm taking a short Holiday break, because I know I need to be set for a longer-than-wanted road ahead of me for these final few pounds.  

Since enough people have been asking me what my secrets are to losing 80 pounds, I feel like I should write a post with what I've learned.  I will let you know now that there are no secrets to losing weight, it's all trial and error.  What worked for me to lose weight may not particularly work for you.  When I got tips from other people, I had to try various things and tweak them to what worked for my body to lose weight as well.  

Get in the right mindset.

This is first and foremost the most important thing.  You have to be in the right mindset.  Most people wake up and just decide that they want to go on a diet, I've been there before!  Though, that doesn't make for a successful diet.  You have to really want this and you have to feel that this is the right time in your life to embark on this journey.  I know that sounds so cliche and corny as all hell, but it's true.  

Get rid of the junk food in your house.

You don't want chips or chocolate  bars or ice cream to cloud your vision of what you want to be.  If you don't have the heart to throw all of the junk food out, see if someone else in your house wants it.  Come on, you want to be the sexiest person in your house, right?  You can also donate it (if unopened) to people who may need it more than you.  

If you have kids, now is also a great time to try to get them to eat healthier as well.  I'm not saying to put your kids on a diet, I'm actually against that! However you can get them to eat healthier along with you.  Try to wean them off of the junk food snacks and onto healthier alternatives.  That way you won't have the temptation of the high calorie snacks because you won't be around them!

Go grocery shopping.

I know, no one likes to grocery shop, but I enjoy shopping for healthy foods.  Make a list of healthy staples that you should always have in your house (almond or coconut milk, fruit, veggies, low fat cheeses, plenty of water, diet soda (if you must), whole wheat pasta, rice, etc...  You can easily look up a list of healthy staple food items on Google and I'm sure you will find what you're looking for!  That's what I did. :)  

Search the internet for coupons on items that you want to purchase.  Target sometimes has coupons for fresh meats & produce, so make sure you look at those.  You may also be able to find coupons on fresh meat & produce on your grocery store's website.  Eating healthy doesn't have to be expensive.  

Before you go grocery shopping, make sure you eat.  Do not go to the grocery store hungry, it will cause more impulse buys and unhealthy purchases than if you went shopping while you weren't hungry.  Trust me, I know this from experience. :)  

Some people may debate this, but it's important to look at the nutrition labels.  Eye the calories, eye the calories from fat, eye the carbs.  Make sure the calories from fat are less than 50% of the total calories.  If you need help figuring out what foods are healthy, I suggest to download Fooducate from the app store.  This app still helps me to figure out what foods are healthy and what aren't.  When you scan a certain bar code, Fooducate will grade your food from an A (being the healthiest) to an F (don't buy!).

Drink plenty of water or water substitute.

You need to keep hydrated and need to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to flush the toxins and extra water out of your body.  I always thought it sounded funny that you need to drink water to get rid of water, but it's true.  The more you pee, the better it is! lol

There are ways to make water better.  Use fruits or veggies (cucumbers) to infuse your water, this will give it a much better taste.  However if you absolutely can't stand or stomach the taste of water, even infused, go for a seltzer water, flavored water, flavored seltzer or even tea.  Whatever you do keep yourself hydrated

Make your own food.

Buying TV dinners such as Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice, etc... is okay in moderation but if you really look at the nutrition facts the sodium is through the roof.  What does sodium contribute to? Water weight and possibly stalling your weight loss. Sometimes you have no choice but to eat these meals and that's fine every once in a while, I do too, but it's important to make your own fresh meals.  That way, you know exactly what you're putting into your food, you can more accurately get a better calorie count and you know that your food is fresh.  

If you are a working mom or woman and don't have time to make fresh meals from scratch every single night, do some cooking on the weekends and freeze the meals in individual portions for weekdays when you are too strapped for time.  That way, you can let the meal defrost while at work and by the time you're ready to eat dinner you can just pop it in the microwave or oven.

Eating SMALLER meals spaced out.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but it's more important to eat foods that are filling than to eat too much at breakfast.  Honestly, I've tried a lot of things over the past year, and what helped me the most was eating more small evenly spaced out meals.  Eating smaller more substantial meals throughout the day really helps with cravings, hunger and your metabolism. (IMO)

Portion out your snacks in advance.

I have a rolling cart under my cabinet with all of my snacks and also a bin in the refrigerator.  When I get home from the grocery store I get out individual sized ziploc bags and portion the box of snacks so I have an easy "grab and go" snack when I need them.  It's easier than being in a rush and grabbing the wrong thing or too much of the healthy snack you want.  It's also important to always have a snack with you. Even if you go shopping.  This will cut down on impulse snacking while you're out.  PUT DOWN THAT AUNTIE ANNIE'S PRETZEL! ;)

Utilize Fitness Diary Apps/Communities

MyFitnessPal is what I use faithfully in order to track what I eat and the weight I'm losing.  This definitely helps keep me on track.  What's great about MyFitnessPal is that they also have a community that you can rely on.  You can ask for advice, get motivation, share recipes, tips & tricks...  This app and website is a great tool in your weight loss and I considered it a very essential tool in my weight loss since I had a whole community rooting me on.  I gave them encouragement in return. 

Weigh Ins

In the beginning of my weight loss journey I was a weigh-in freak.  I would weigh myself every day, even though I knew that wasn't good for you.  I was well aware but I did it anyway.  I would also beat myself up if I gained an ounce, a pound, or didn't lose anything and was expecting to.  Do not do what I did and do not weigh yourself every day. Limit weigh-ins to once a week or twice if you must do it more than once a week.  Do not stress yourself out and beat yourself up over normal every day fluctuations in weight.  

Beating Cravings

This is probably the absolute worst worst worst thing, the cravings.  There are a lot of ways to beat cravings and that could be an entirely different post but I'll give you a very short version here.  If you feel hungry in between meals drink a large glass of water and wait at least 15-30 minutes.  If that made you feel better, you probably weren't really hungry.  If you are still hungry after that, have a small healthy snack.  That's the fool proof way to really tell if you're hungry or just want to eat out of emotion or boredom.

Now, for cravings.

- Ice cream? Freeze yogurt in the freezer for true frozen yogurt.  You can also freeze bananas.

- Chips? Have some carrots, carrot chips or homemade cheese crisps instead.  You could also microwave pepperoni for delicious pepperoni chips, but they make your kitchen smelly for a few minutes. I make those sparingly or in large batches. :) (I will post that recipe soon!)

- Something sweet? Chew sugar free gum!  I like the dessert flavored gum, it gives you the taste of sweet without actually eating it.  You can also grab a handful of berries, my favorites are blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or blueberries.  Tea sweetened with honey or Splenda/Truvia/etc... can also help with this craving.  Especially a very sweet herbal tea!

- Salty? You can have one serving size of pretzels or even freshly popped popcorn with some sea salt and butter spray.

I have a bunch of alternatives for cravings and will definitely make a new post on all of them.  I know they will be helpful for anyone in their diet journey.  

Working Out

I feel like a hypocrite talking about this because I didn't work out religiously during my journey or even that much.  Honestly, I probably could have lost even more weight if I worked out more.  Working out is important, however.  It helps your metabolism and helps you burn more calories so you can indulge a little more. (Not go overboard!)  If you can't afford a gym membership there are many ways that you can work out from home.  Walmart has weights/dumbbells for very cheap and you can download different apps such as Pump Up, 7 Minute Workout, Zumba, Blogilates, etc... These will all help you to work out at home and lose some of the pounds/inches too.

I really hope that these tips helped you out a little because they really helped me.  Towards the first of the year (2015) I'm going to be doing a series on eating healthy and losing weight -- for all of you who made that difficult resolution to lose weight in the New Year.  So keep a look out for that!   If you have any questions, feel free to post them below.  I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about diet, exercise or weight loss.  I'm not a professional, but if I could lose 80lbs and counting, anyone can.