Weight Loss Tips
A few years back, I went on a Weight Watchers-style diet and lost 75 pounds. Over time, I relaxed my rules and the weight slowly snuck back on. Not all of it, mind you. Still 30 pounds got back in. I would go back on the diet here and there but would never stick with it the way I stuck with it originally. One of the big differences between my initial success and my subsequent failures was that my wife wasn’t dieting with me. When we did it initially, we would support one another. When I tried losing the weight on my own, I failed. Now, we’re both on the diet again, however, and so I think I should be able to shave off 20 pounds before I head to Disney World in May.
Here are some of the lessons I learned from my inital successful diet:
- Support – This is a big one. It could take the form of an online group, an in-person meeting, or family members helping out. Having your spouse onboard is a big help. If your spouse regularly goes off and buys a dozen donuts while you’re trying to shed the pounds you will break your diet no matter how good your willpower is. And no, this isn’t an implication that B did anything to purposefully make me break my diet. However, when she was dieting with me, we could watch each other’s backs. One of us could be strong when the other’s willpower was tested.
- Drink Water – You’d be surprised how often you misinterpret your body’s “I’m thirsty” signal as “I’m hungry.” So drink plenty of water.
- Eat On Small Plates – Perception is a powerful thing. There have been studies where people were shown a movie and given large or small containers of popcorn. Some popcorn was stale and some wasn’t. The people with the large containers routinely ate more popcorn than the people with the small containers – even when the popcorn was stale. If you put a plate in front of yourself your body will think that you are eating more than if you put the same amount of food on a much bigger plate.
- Learn Proper Portion Sizes – The average “American portion” is about three to four times what a real portion is. If you go to a restaurant and order pasta, you’ll be given about 4 portions of it. Don’t be afraid to save leftovers for later. Read nutrition labels to figure out how much a portion is and weight/measure your food.
- Read Nutrition Labels – Yes, I just said this, but it bears repeating. I can’t tell you how many times something sounded good to me until I saw the nutritional information. And watch that “Number of Servings Per Container” number. Some packs that appear to be single serving will actually report numbers based on two servings. Like anyone is going to open a snack bag of chips and only eat half.
- Find Healthy Alternatives – Replace that fat and calorie filled bowl of ice cream with a small bowl of fat free frozen yogurt. Look for low fat, high fiber breads instead of plain white bread.
- Allow Yourself Some Indulgences In Moderation – If you feel cheated on your diet, you *WILL* cheat. So plan on some indulgences. If you like chocolate, Hershey’s Kisses are a great way to get that chocolate fix. I like popping one in my mouth and letting it dissolve without chewing for maximum chocolate-fix satisfaction. If you like pizza, have a slice every couple of weeks. Just don’t indulge too often or with too much quantity.
- Set Goals, Sub-Goals, and Reward Yourself – It’s nice that you want to lose 20 pounds, but don’t think about it in one huge chunk. Think about losing five pounds. When you reach the five pound mark, give yourself a small treat (cookie, slice of pizza, etc) and then focus on the next five pounds. This way you won’t be discouraged that it is taking you forever to reach your goal. You’ll be able to reach your (smaller) goal more often and boost your self-confidence.
- You Will Hit Plateaus – Don’t be discouraged if you hit a plateau. It’s inevitable. Don’t be discouraged when it happens. Just keep at it and eventually the plateau will break. Remember, even if you aren’t losing weight, at least you aren’t gaining weight. And if you do gain a pound or two, don’t stress out about it. Some fluctuations are inevitable as you attempt to shed the pounds.
What weight loss tips do you have? How successful have you been in shedding unwanted pounds?