Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Weight loss: 15 tips & tricks I'm using right now!

If I don't want to purchase a new wardrobe, I need to get it together and drop a few pounds, well a few more than a few. About 10.

Now I know 10 pounds isn't considered a lot, and I'm grateful for that, but after awhile of trying and failing, it's easy to get discouraged and give up altogether. Then you buy the next size up and it sneaks up on you, then you have more than 10. Maybe 20 or 30 or more. I've been there before, and I desperately do not want that to happen again.

So, I'm pulling out all my old tricks and some new ones. I think they can apply to any weight loss goal. Here we go:

1) Spark People. I cannot say enough about this free resource. It works well for me. Track your food for the day (I never have to enter stats myself, just do a search and they have everything in their database or something comparable) and it not only gives you a target range (very much like Weight Watchers), but just taking responsibility for each bite makes a huge difference. It usually surprises me how fast it adds up.

2) Drink tea! When I feel the urge to eat and I don't want to or don't really need to, I reach for a cup of tea. If it's decaf, I sometimes reach for two. It really helps. Plus sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger.

3) Pray. Really. I do this. I pray before I eat. I pray when I feel like eating and I know I'm not really hungry, I'm just bored, or tired, or sad, or whatever. I pray for the strength to make healthy choices and I pray to God for confidence in myself and Him.

4) Find ways to exercise, especially walking! I will not probably ever pay for or take the time to go to a gym. I also am not the type to have structured exercise like jogging at 5 a.m. or biking every night. So I have to fit in exercise when I can.

I play outside with Brady, ideally every day. That means biking, hiking, practicing soccer, tossing a ball, building our stick house, running in a sprinkler, sledding, playing at the playground or park, etc. I walk everywhere I can: to the store, to the post office, to my in-laws house, to get Brady from after-school care. I turn up the music and dance around the kitchen. I park way back from the store (this morning by accident I parked in the wrong parking lot and had to walk a long way to the store, LOL! But it counts!)

I try and find active hobbies. For me it's metal detecting and digging, collecting mulberries, apples and walnuts (and then cracking them), and gardening. Mostly, just look around your day and see places where you can tuck in some activity. Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving. 

5) Positive self talk. Don't beat up on yourself, not for where you are, how far you have to go, if you fall down and make a mistake. Meet yourself where you're at. This is why I hate the idea of  "fat jeans." Sure I have jeans that fit better at one weight and others better at another, but to call the larger ones "fat" just sets me up for self defeat. Be who you are in the moment, and if you want to change, take the steps to do so. Work hard, set goals, but go easy on who you are. And always live in the NOW, and look forward, not backward.

6) Toss in quick exercise. Take 10 minutes whenever you can and wherever you are to do some quick exercises. I do these at the office, in a bathroom stall sometimes, at home in the morning or at night when Brady's watching TV:

Wall push ups
Basic standing squats
Toe lifts
Backwards leg lifts
Forward leg lifts
Standing side leg lifts
Knee cross crunch
Chair push ups (chair dips)

There are probably others too. 

7) Keep myself looking my best. Whatever my situation, I try to keep my hair and make up in a state that makes me feel good. I try hard not to get down on how I look and do the best with what I have. I try to dress in a nice, pretty and flattering way (at least most of the time! Let us not forget the early morning crash in hot pink pajamas, at least they are kinda cute). Because if I have confidence in how I look, that will give me confidence to work toward my goals.

8) Be cautious when out and about. Check fast-food restaurant nutrition information closely. Order baked potato, salads, grilled options. And one of my favorites, grab lunch at your local grocery store salad bar.
And when you can, take lunch instead of buying out.

9) One-bowl low-cal soup. One of my favorite "diet" indulgences is making this out of broth, veggies and seasonings. You can even sneak in a few bits of pasta, rice or canned meat. Check out this one I made recently (2 c water, 1 bullion cube, diced tomatoes, frozen veggies, hot sauce, a dash of Parmesan and spices). It is so hearty, you'd hardly tell it has very few calories. It can really help to stave off hunger.  

10) Rethink dessert. Instead of a treat like cookies, cake or candy, I try and dress up fruit like berries and fat-free whipped topping, or this fake banana split. I also will have oatmeal or farina with a bit of sugar and milk. Other ideas are caramel corn rice cake (Aldi's brand is only 50 calories per cake) or cut up strawberries with a little sugar or sweetener on top.

11) Rethink party food.When you're going to a potluck or cooking for a holiday (there seem to be at least two of these deals a month anymore!) try bringing healthier alternatives to fill up on rather than fried, greasy, cheesy, buttery stuff. Oh that's hard though! But try. Also use fat-free ingredients - cream cheese, sour cream, reduced fat cheese, whipped topping - whenever possible to save a little.

12) Keep low-cal snacks handy! In this case, I munched on homemade tomato pickles and baby carrots.

13) Stay well fed! I have a little bit low blood sugar, so if I go too long without eating I get RAVENOUS. If I have let myself get too hungry or if I don't have a steady supply of good stuff around, I will eat anything, most likely something bad for me. That is the quickest way to sabotage any weight loss plans. Eating every few hours, not starving yourself, as long as it is healthy food, will keep your metabolism up and running. This not only burns calories but you'll have the energy to exercise and focus on your goals.

14) Be patient. I find myself doing one of two things: 1) Getting frustrated that it's not working fast enough or 2) When it starts to work, thinking, "Oh boy, I lost a few, now I can eat whatever I want!" and then I end up where I started before long. No, no, no, self! I recall the words of a grad student I worked with years ago. He was a very deliberate, smart, talented, structured student from Korea. He always said, "Slow and steady work, slow and steady." That applies to scientific instruments and it also applies to weight loss. Just take it slow and steady, be patient, stick with it, day after day after day until it is a habit, a routine, an ingrained pathway in your brain. If you do that, it WILL work.

15) Plan your meals. I do this for two reasons, one, to save money so I buy only what I need and can utilize what I have already stocked up on, and two, to keep our meals healthy. On the fly meals are rarely as healthy as the ones I've planned out. I have in the past planned out my next day's meals on Spark People so I have locked myself into something within range the day before (you don't have to do this forever, just until you get in a good pattern or rhythm). I even have stuff around that is easy to grab for breakfast (low-fat yogurt or cheese sticks, lean jerky or lunch meat, whole grain bread, tortillas or cereal, fruit, things I don't have to think a whole lot about).


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! So far, so good. I'm adding a 14th one too :) I keep thinking of other things I do or need to do!


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