Over the past 3 ½ years, I’ve made adjustments to my lifestyle in order to lose weight and get my fit body back. Losing weight was mentally and physically challenging in so many ways, but the experience helped me learn a lot about myself and the bad habits I had picked up along the way. There were many ups and downs, I had to let go of the things I thought I knew, and learn what it really took keep the weight off even after I had lost it. As time passed, I started to realize bad habits I had let go of that I no longer implemented in my lifestyle. I realized then, that there are habits I will will not return to and that’s when I made a commitment to keep them top of mind, just in case I ever reverted back to them in the future.
In today’s article, I want to share 10 tips that helped me keep the weight off. These are either mental, mistakes I made in the past, or habits I learned along the way. We all have bad habits that we practice daily, that we either notice, or don’t notice. While you’re reading, take note of the unhealthy habits you practice or have in your life and how you can work to slowly change them into good habits. I truly believe the smallest adjustment can make a world of difference in one’s body. I hope the following tips can help you begin your quest in making small changes, help in your current situation, or allow you to learn what habits you need to break in order to live a healthier, happier and fit life.
1 – Stop skipping breakfast and meals!
- I never used to eat breakfast which left me super hungry during lunch time. I would then eat so much at lunch I would be left in a food coma. Later in the night, I would find myself hungry again and stuffed my face. I wasn’t used to eating more than 2x a day nor did I know I had to. I realized I’d go hours without eating which lead me to overeat when I was hungry. I changed this by eating 3 nutrient dense meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and having 2 healthy snacks throughout the day. At first it was hard to implement this change and I needed to remind myself when it was time to eat. Over time, eating more meals kept me full and stopped me from overeating. In the past, I thought if I ate fewer meals, I would lose weight. But that was not the case as my weight didn’t move and later lead me to binge eating. I learned when I skipped meals or didn’t eat, I was actually putting my body in survival mode, meaning my body would hold on to whatever I ate in fear I would not eat again. I had also decreased my metabolism without realizing it (it used to be fast!). Now, I never miss breakfast or skip any meals. If I don’t have time to eat, I always make up a lost meal the next time I eat to ensure I get my daily calories!
2 – Remove frozen meals and stop eating at “bad” fast food restaurants
- Frozen dinners and the quick stop at Taco Bell are no longer on my list when I think of where to eat or what to eat. I used to go to the local grocery store and buy frozen foods because I lived on my own, I was tired from work and or too lazy to cook. These prepared meals, although tasty and very filling, were highly processed, had a high amount of sodium, were full of white carbs and were high in fat and calories! It’s no wonder I added 20lbs over 4 years. If I couldn’t make it to a grocery store, the next option for me was a fast food chain restaurant. I would order more food than I should have and if there was a combo special, you know I was all over it. Nowadays, I have taken the time to learn how to cook all my meals at home. I find what I like to eat and make healthier versions. This allows me to know all the ingredients that are put in my food and have more portion control. If I am on the run, there are a few places I like to stop at that are healthy; Flame Broiler, Waba Grill, The Counter (Bison salad), Wahoos, are just a few I consider “good” fast food restaurants
3 – Stop drinking beer and fruity cocktails
- First of all, I want to be 100% honest with you. I did not stop drinking (only when I competed). I did however stop drinking beer and ALL fruity drinks! Yup, no more frozen margaritas, no more Pina Coladas or Coronas. These drinks have tons of calories , sugar and are easy to keep on drinking. I now stick to wine and if I do have liquor, I mix it with tonic, soda water, look for the “skinny drink” or just take it straight up. I will however, let you know that I do notice a difference in my body when I drink. I learned that alcohol breaks down muscle (NO!!!) and when you workout you tend to burn off the alcohol first, then the fat that’s already on your body. The more I limit drinking the better my body looks.
4– Learn portion control
- In the beginning of my journey, I had no idea how much a ½ cup of carbs was, what 4-6oz of protein looked like and what my macro split should be etc. I don’t believe in measuring your food forever, but it is good to know how many servings of protein, carbs and fats you are really eating to help eyeball your food for future reference. How do you do this? I purchased a food scaled and slowly learned the weight in oz. for all different types of food. Measuring food has helped me understand if I am over or under-eating by taking a visual glance at my food. I also learned my macro split, which helped me learn what my macros should be (Learn how many carbs, protein and fat you should eat in Article LINK). If you don’t want to measure your food, there are other tips I learned when I couldn’t bring my scale (eating out, dinners, etc). One is, slow down when you are eating, sometimes I don’t know I’m full until I take a deep breath and wait a few minutes. Most likely I am full already!!! Often when I am at dinner events and there are a group of friends talking, it’s easy to keep on eating or snacking without even noticing it. Always take a minute and evaluate the situation and learn when to stop. Another option is to opt for smaller plates and slow down when chewing. The slower you eat the less likely you are to over eat.
5 – Ditched the long steady cardio and started lifting weights
- Like I mentioned in my previous articles, this is the most important change I made in my life in order to get my fit body back. I always thought doing long hours of cardio would get me “toned and fit”. I never listed to any of my friends, no matter how much they tried to get me to lift with them. Now, I learned that adding weight lifting/strength training has the power to change my body in ways no cardio machine can! Being a cardio bunny got me nowhere. It didn’t shape my body and the weight just didn’t come off. Now, I lift heavy and often and make it a priority week over week. I noticed when I stop lifting my body changes, and I slowly lose my strength and definition. Which is another reason why it has to be kept up (read more on how weightlifting can change your body in Article 6 -http://lifeisgoodarizona.com/2015/03/30/shape-your-body-start-weightlifting-8/ )
6 – Dont take too much time off!
- In the past, when I felt like I needed a break from working out. I would take a day off, then something would come up and I would find an excuse or reason why I had needed another day off. Eventually this break turned into a few days, weeks, months so on and so on. Then the cycle we often know too well would begin again. I was so tired of stopping and starting again, I wanted to learn consistency! Nowadays, I focus on taking a day or two off because it is needed now and then, and get right back in it no matter WHAT! If I don’t, I find myself getting lazier and lazier and finding more excuses as to why I should skip out on the gym. This is the last thing I wanted as I promised myself I would stay committed and break the cycle. So don’t let yourself take too many days off, it’s so easy to be lazy and just throw in the towel for good!
7 – Stop being unhappy about your new lifestyle and began to enjoy the process
- When I first began my journey, I took my frustration out on those around me (aka bf at the time now husband). It was so hard for me to get use to a new routine; wake up early, cook my meals, workout, and plan my day. I was used to sleeping in, being lazy and only worrying about what time I needed to be at work and what was going on later that night. I was upset that I had to eat healthy, while everyone around me got to eat whatever they wanted. I was irritable and the journey was making me a bitter person. I realized I could go back to my old habits and be unhappy, or get past the first 4-8 weeks (which are the hardest) and eventually be happy. In time, I slowly adjusted to my new regiment while understanding that this is a process I can either enjoy and make it easier for myself, or hate it. I knew that I had to change my mindset. I had a goal in mind and although it was hard, it was my goal. No one was forcing me to do it and I had no reason to be mad at anyone. As the months continued and I noticed changes, I started to enjoy the process. Overtime it has become a lifestyle and knowing that it is a lifestyle change has made the process a little easier
8 – Stopped the negative self-talk
- This is another important tip!!! It’s so easy to get down on yourself while on the road to a healthy and fit body. I can’t tell you how many times I thought negativity about myself and put myself down when I didn’t see change fast enough, when my weight had increased, when my body didn’t look the same, or when I compared myself to others. Don’t sabotage yourself! I know this is one of the hardest things to do because we all like to think we are not good enough. I experience this often with myself and clients. Stop thinking negatively about yourself and start learn to take pride in the little progress and changes you’ve made along the way. Change comes with a lot of mental strength! We don’t need another factor to derail us! Remember the body reacts to what the mind says!!!! Be positive and remember we are all beautiful no matter what the scale says! Remind yourself often and make notes as to why deserve to keep moving forward!
9 – Have a strong support group and ignore negativity
- When you first begin your journey, let everyone know your goals!! This will help them support you along the way and lesson the questions they may have. Once people understand you’re on a mission they will do everything they can to help you along the way. Trust me, you will need support!!! There will be days where you may cry, or just need to vent to someone. A great support system will always find a way to keep you going and follow-up to ensure you on the path to success. We all need encouragement! One thing to know is not everyone will be supportive. There will also be people along the way who will make rude comments about what you eat or have an input on your decisions. Don’t let these people derail you or make you feel sad about your choices. Understand that not everyone has to accept your new lifestyle this is not for them, it’s for you. They don’t understand and frankly they don’t have to. This is a true testament of your real friends and those who are really there to support you 🙂
10 – Never ever give up!
- Last, always know you can turn anything around. Being healthy and fit for life comes with its obstacles. Sometimes life happens, and the most important thing at the moment is not hitting the gym or eating healthy. There is always time to start again! If you fall off track and 3 months have passed, get back to it. Start a plan, be consistent and know that in time you can get your body back! If you go on vacation and ate a little too much and missed the gym, don’t worry!! Come back and figure out a game plan. Never ever give up!!!!!
Staying in shape and committing to a healthy lifestyle is a never ending cycle. Its a lifetime commitment in bettering yourself for you and those around you. You may notice that snacking or soft drinks or other habits you may have were not listed. That’s because it wasn’t one of my top habits, but I know its pretty common. Figure out what bad habits you need to change that are holding you back from losing weight or staying in shape. Trust me when I say, once you make healthier choices daily you’ll learn that you’ll slowly start making other adjustments in your life and in time create better habits.
Know, that we are all human and sometimes we go back to bad habits here and there (I have!). The good thing is once you realize what they are, you have the chance to change them or remind yourself where it leads. You have to work at practicing healthier habits until it becomes your lifestyle (that is the goal!). Sometimes it takes a longer time, but thats because it has to click with you and it has to come on your terms! Remember that changing habits doesn’t come overnight so please dont be upset with yourself or think you are a failure because it takes a while! Find your balance and works for your body and mind. Habits you can continue for the rest of your life.
Last week will be the end to the “Healthy and Happy You” series. I will recap all the lessons learned in a quick one-sheeter so you can print and place in an area that will remind you what you need to do in order to live a healthy and happy life.
NESTA Certified Personal Trainer/ISSA Certified Nutritionist
Founder of Fitbody4me (Personal Training + Nutrition Programs)
Triathlete, Adventure Junkie, National Bikini Competitor