One of the questions I get asked most often from those who know me and those who follow my fitness Instagram is how I actually got started losing weight once I decided it was something I WANTED and needed to do. I emphasize wanted because if you don’t really want to lose weight, it will be very difficult to do so. Yes, the doctor told you that you needed to, or maybe your clothes told you that you needed to, maybe a close friend or family member hinted at it… But unless it is something that YOU want for yourself, it won’t be done.
I blogged about my weight loss journey and how I got started here and promised to give some practical tips on how to get started. So here they are!
TIP 1: Change your bad habits first.
Before I started exercising I slowly started to change some bad habits I had that were contributing to weight gain, so carefully and honestly look at some things you do that you can change that will help get you closer to your goal.
- I started taking the steps. I only took the elevator if I was going farther than the fourth floor. Pick your number and stick with it. At least the third floor. So if taking the steps is possible, do so. (it helped that I lived in a dorm with no elevator that year)
- I watched my portions and listened to my body more. If you know you eat fast, slow down and allow your body time to digest your food before you continue. Also, it helps to drink a glass of water BEFORE your meal. I used to eat too much because I knew the cafe closed at a certain time and if I got hungry after that I’d have to buy food or be hungry until breakfast so I’d go down for lunch and dinner early just to one-up the hunger, crazy right?
- I began to walk more. My freshman year I would take the campus shuttle EVERYWHERE, mind you my dorm was literally one walk up a hill away from campus. I moved to a dorm farther away for campus my sophomore year and started to walk instead of taking the shuttle. I also began walking to different areas close by instead of taking the bus or metro. If you don’t live in an area that is walker-friendly, take the time to walk up and down your block or find a nearby school track, or walk around your building during lunch time.
- I improved my snacking. I was, and still am, a big snacker. Snacks are important but it’s all about choosing the right snack that will refuel you rather than slow you down. I.e. go for the baked veggie chips over the Doritos.
- I got some sleep! Sounds simple but with school, work, and everything else we may have going on sleep can be a luxury. Your body needs to rest to put to use all the work you’ve been doing to change it. Without rest, you won’t see much progress.
TIP 2: Say NO to fads.
Just say NO! It can be tempting to give into some of these programs that offer fast results but that’s all they are, fast and TEMPORARY! Whether it’s Herbalife, It Works, Flat Tummy Tea, Fat Transfers, Waist Trainers, etc etc. These methods are usually temporary, expensive, and sometimes unsafe. If you are considering these methods PLEASE do your research! Don’t go based on what sellers are telling you, a lot of them take before and after pictures from people on Instagram who don’t use their products and will tell you otherwise (I’ve seen it done too many times). Some of the sellers don’t even use the products themselves. They are more interested in getting as many people to buy their products and sell under them to earn a commission. This isn’t to bash anyone I know who sells them, this is just to help you NOT fall into the trap.
Research Multi-Level-Marketing and you’ll see that these companies are designed to make money off of you selling these products and then recruiting more people to sell them. The Instagram models and celebrities you see modeling Flat Tummy Tea? Yeah, they’re making a commission off of it while they go and get a fat transfer or tummy tuck. Those waist trainers? THEY ARE NOT HEALTHY. Point. Blank. Period. Excuse me if I sound bitter, I’m not, I just want better for people. Stop shelling out $$$ towards these products and put that money into healthy groceries or a trainer or equipment for your home.
Weight loss can be achieved the natural way it just takes hard work, dedication, and PATIENCE. Which brings me to my next tip.
TIP 3: Be patient.
This won’t happen overnight! You will notice inches lost before you notice a jump in weight. People will notice your weight loss before you do so do not be discouraged if by the first few weeks you think you look and feel the same.
Weight loss achieved naturally is also longer-lasting than any other way. There was a time I went a month without working out and my weight only fluctuated a few pounds because I did it naturally. If you choose the fad route, once you stop using the products and go back to eating regularly and maybe working out, you will gain what you lost, and then some back!
DON’T weigh yourself every day. This will keep you discouraged especially if the scale jumps unexpectedly. For my ladies, if you are tracking your weight, pick weigh-days a couple of days away from your period because this can cause a jump in number just from being bloated and all the other fun things that go on during that time. I think it will be healthy to track bi-weekly starting off. I don’t recommend owning a scale when you first get started, use a friend’s, use the gym’s, or if you have to own one put it away from your sight when it isn’t weigh-in day to resist the temptation.
Take pictures of your progress to go back and look at them. I guarantee if you stick with it week 1’s body won’t look like week 6’s and definitely not week 15’s. This is a lifelong journey and will not change instantly. It took months or years to put all the weight on, it will take time to get it off and keep it off!
TIP 4: Eat healthier.
Easier said than done, right? A common misconception about choosing to eat healthier is that it is more expensive. When you factor in how much you’re spending eating out, and how much you may be spending on doctor visits, medicines, and overall poor health it evens out and is worth it!
- Drink PLENTY of water. Plenty of it meaning A LOT!!! Water helps with making you feel full, cleaning your insides, and helps with belly fat. You can drink detox water with half a cucumber, mint leaves, a lemon, and a lime in 3 gallons of water let it sit in the fridge overnight and enjoy. If you don’t like the taste of water you can add fruits to it and drink it that way. However you do it, just drink it! I try to drink at least 64 oz a day, on average I drink about 85.
- Stay away from pop(soda), juice, and other sugary liquids when possible. These are FULL of empty calories and TON of sugar! I started with cutting out pop all together and only drank water and tea. Green tea is really good for belly fat. If you need that fizz that pop gives, try drinking seltzer water.
- Watch your sugar intake. Sugar definitely contributes a lot to body fat, belly fat in general. Note that three grams of sugar is equal to a sugar cube. So whenever you look at the sugar intake on a label think of that. An average pop bottle has about 45-60 grams of sugar so imagine eating around 20 sugar cubes. Ew.
- Eat frequently, six times a day. Eat three meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with three snacks during the day. Breakfast is important, it’s cliché but true. Eating often speeds up your metabolism, especially breakfast. You will feel lighter and feel more energized. Too busy or on the go? Meal prep is your friend! You can either prepare all your meals for the week at the beginning of the week or take a couple of trips to the grocery store and cook throughout the week.
- Starving yourself is NOT a solution, your body begins to store fat because it fights off starvation so you will actually gain weight faster than you lose it.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and cut back on fried foods.
TIP 5: Find what exercise works for you.
Yes going to the gym is fine and dandy but not knowing what to do when you get there or repeating the same routines over and over will surely lead to boredom and then quickly falling off. Before you start any intensive exercise be sure that your body can handle it and don’t over do it. You don’t need intense workouts or fancy gym equipment either. Check out Lakeitha Duncan who lost her first 100 pounds by walking every day, yes walking! Find whatever works for you and stick with it, it helps if whatever you find is fun for you and you actually enjoy. Whether it’s walking, swimming, line dancing, Zumba, boot camp, kickboxing, at home DVDs. Find your “thing” and stick to it. GET MOVING! Persistence and consistency is everything!
These are pretty basic tips that helped me get started on my journey. I also had friends holding me accountable and helping me along the way! Find a support group or an accountability partner to help you stay on track and motivated. Don’t beat yourself up if you get started and fall off, just remember that this is a continuous journey and it’s never too late to get back to it!