How To Lose Weight (And Generally Be Healthier)
A lot of people have been asking me what I’ve been doing to lose weight, so I figured it was about time I post about it. I don’t really do well with structured diets like Atkins, South Beach, or Weight Watchers, so I’ve been researching things and picking and choosing what I can do. It’s all about what works for you, right?
So here is a list of things I’ve learned and have been trying to apply to my own life.
- Drink more water. When I wake up in the morning, before I do anything else, I go to the kitchen and drink two tall glasses of water. Filtered tap—I’d get into why you shouldn’t buy bottled water, but I’ll save that for another post. (Or just watch the documentary Tapped.) Think about it—you haven’t drank anything for the entire duration of your slumber. Your body is aching for hydration and your metabolism needs something to work with. Not to mention it wakes you up.
- Eat breakfast. Sure, your metabolism likes water, but you need to give it something to work on too. Try to eat protein (like eggs) and fiber (like an apple)—trust me, this will keep you fuller for much longer than a bowl of cereal or a waffle. Feel free to have a sprinkle of cheese with your eggs, too. Just be aware of how much you’re actually using, which brings me to…
- Read labels. I know I said I don’t do well with structured dieting, but this isn’t what it seems. It’s important to know what you’re putting in your body. If you just glance at a label and think “Oh, this is only 100 calories,” best believe you better pay attention to the serving size! Most of the time, you’ll only have to look at a label once before you retain it and remember, “Okay, 100 calories was for one tablespoon.” Once you’re aware of how many calories (and sodium, protein and everything else) are in certain things, you’re much more likely to make better decisions in the future.
- Eat more often. Yes. That’s what I said. Give your metabolism something to do. Now, this is a dangerous bullet point if you’re not careful. By eating more often, I don’t mean eating 5 cheeseburgers and 5 large Cokes will make you lose weight. If it’s not already obvious, choose healthy food. If you ate your omelet/apple breakfast at 8am, have a banana with some peanut butter at 11am. Then have an open-faced (as in only one slice of bread) turkey sandwich with black bean soup at 2pm. At 5pm have grilled chicken and zucchini with a spinach/tomato/balsamic/mozzarella salad. At 6pm, have dessert: raspberries/blueberries/pears with lime juice. 8pm if you’re hungry, have some raw string beans (they’re awesome) and chamomile tea. The times and foods will obviously change depending on different factors.
- Cheat. Yep. That too. Cheating is important (to me…and with food only!) because that way, I don’t feel deprived. Be aware of the nutritional information of your dietary mistress and limit the frequency of your dates. Too much metaphor? Okay. In other words, have I had french fries since I started? Absolutely. Have I had ice cream since I started? Hell yeah. The key is to keep it small and not lose control. You can cheat every couple days if you need to, but skip it if you don’t. If you notice you’re gaining weight, you’re cheating too much and need to discipline yourself. As long as you’re ready and willing, it’s really not as hard as you may think.
- Move more. This could mean joining a gym, enrolling yourself in some sort of martial art or fitness class, or if your funds are low, doing push ups and crunches on your bedroom floor. Anything that will make you more active will help. Those 10lb dumbbells lying around your house? Use them. Instead of parking right next to the mall entrance, park as far as you can and walk. If you’re weird like me, run in place while your tea is steeping. Ideally you want to raise your heart rate and keep it up for at least 15 minutes a few times a week. I think it goes without saying that when you move more, you lose more. Strength training is important because it builds muscle, and just by having more muscle, your body burns more calories. Look up some good exercises or ask someone that does work out to show you what they do. It’ll help lots!
- Breathe. I know that sounds weird. This is something I learned a couple years ago in a speech class and I’ll explain why it works in a second. Sit up straight. Take the deepest breath you can take, hold it for a second, then inhale even more. Hold it for three seconds, then let it all out of your mouth at whatever pace feels comfortable—not too slowly, not too quickly. Force all of the breath out. Repeat this two or three times until you notice your regular breathing pattern has changed. You’ll already feel more calm. Now, starting from your toes and up through your head, flex every muscle in your body until you are completely tense. Hold this for 10 seconds then starting from your head this time, release each muscle until you reach your toes and you are completely relaxed. Repeat the breathing exercise from the beginning. What this does is relieves stress, and when you’re stressed your body likes to store more fat. Think caveman days when we had to run from predators and our bodies had to hold onto every morsel of energy we had—yeah, we never got rid of that. Destressing/meditating/relaxing is so important, not only for weight loss, but for being an overall healthy individual. And with everything we have to deal with from day to day—we need it!
That’s pretty much all I could think of at the moment, but if I do think of more, I’ll either write up another blog post or maybe I’ll make a video if enough people are interested. Again, I’m no doctor, this is just information I’ve come across in my own research and what works for me. Good luck to you and I hope this motivated you in even the smallest way possible! ■