You can’t walk through the grocery store without seeing 50 magazines with “Easy weight loss tips to drop 100 lbs in 3 days!” Okay, the numbers might be exaggerated but you know what I’m talking about, right?
If you’ve ever looked for effective ways to lose weight, you’ve probably noticed that most of the advice out there is over-promised and under-delivered. Or extremely unhealthy. Some of the tricks might work…for a little while.
But if you’ve done the yo-yo diet and you’re ready to get off the roller coaster, I’m here to help. Back in 2014, I was you. But over the course of that year, I lost 60 pounds. I didn’t starve myself and I didn’t do the yo-yo. 5 years later, it’s still gone.
This was me…
I’ve always struggled with my weight. But when I got married, I packed on a lot in a short amount of time. Because of the extra weight, I started feeling pretty crappy physically–it was harder to be active and I started having knee pain. I was only 20.
No Weight Loss Tips are Effective if You Don’t Get Your Mind Right.
Read that again. I’ll wait…
Don’t skip this part thinking that you’ve got it. It’s the biggest piece of the puzzle and it’s why people yo-yo so much. Your mindset matters.
Here’s what I mean by getting your mind right:
You Need a Good Reason That’s Not Based in Shame
Shame is counterproductive. It creates an overwhelming flood of emotion that we try to seek shelter from–often with bad habits. Like overeating…
Trying to lose weight because you think you are hideous or ugly or too fat or *fill in the blank _______* starts you out on a shame based foot. It’s one of the reasons most of us aren’t super successful with losing weight.
Find a why that’s not starting with shame. For me, I’ve always been interested in health and what makes humans thrive physically. My why was the resolve to get as healthy as I could with practices that I could maintain. I was pursuing an interest and a passion. It helped.
I also really wanted to be able to do fun things without gasping for breath. I had gotten really interested in hiking but felt like I was going to die every hike we took. Another motivation for me was to be able to hike and enjoy it more. Which meant being able to breath better. As I lost weight, my breathing came much easier and the hikes were even more exciting.
Likewise, if you struggle on any given day, don’t shame yourself. If you beat yourself up for “messing up,” you’ll make it less likely that you ever keep going. Focus, instead, on identifying things that can help when you face that same struggle in the future.
Problem solve, don’t shame.
Related: How to be a Creative Problem Solver
Set Your Mind. You CAN do this. And Don’t Waiver.
This was a big deal for me. I’d tried to lose weight in the past and always felt ambiguous about it. I wanted to lose it but also really wanted other stuff, too. Like every sweet thing in the house.
I’m not exaggerating… I have a killer sweet tooth and once I get started, it doesn’t usually stop until every sweet thing is gone. ADHD treatment helped that a bit, but that came later…
This time was different though. This time, I just decided I could do it. I built myself up. I stood in confidence realizing that there was nothing but my own mind that could hold me back so if I kept my mind right, I knew I could do it.
This is another reason not to start with shame. It takes so much energy to operate in a place of shame. You need that energy to be direct toward things that build you up–like setting the resolve and determination that you can do it. Are you a stubborn person like me? Use that. I decided that I absolutely could and would do it. Then I was too stubborn not to.
This is long term. Don’t fall for the “lose weight fast” crap
All the “cabbage soup” diets and the “eat 700 calories a day!” crap just sets you up to fail. You need to lose weight with strategies that you can maintain from now on. Otherwise, you’ll just gain it all back.
No one can maintain a cabbage soup diet. I couldn’t maintain a low carb diet forever so I chose not to lose weight with one. You can’t survive on 700 calories a day. You might be able to do it for a few days or weeks but at some point your body will rebel and that’s how we get into the yo-yo cycle.
Don’t be tempted by the “lose weight fast!” schemes. It’s the gateway to the yo-yo diet life. Get off that crazy train and do something you can sustain for the long haul.
You may not lose weight every week. You definitely won’t lose 10 pounds every 10 days. You’ve got to be okay with that if you want to lose weight in a healthy way and actually keep it off.
Don’t approach weight loss with perfectionism
This is real life. There will be days that you eat more than you meant to. There will be days that the chocolate temptation is stronger than you anticipated. You’ve got to roll with the punches.
If you beat yourself up for giving in, you make it less likely that you’ll pick yourself back up. That shame creates powerful emotion that makes us more vulnerable to eating for comfort.
If you don’t eat as healthy one day as you intended to, just pick up and keep going. Don’t try to “make up for it” either. That just makes it less likely that you’ll reach your goal the next day, too.
During those times, I told myself “well, life happens sometimes.” And I moved on. I tried to use the next food decision I made to realign myself and keep going. No shame or frustration. No getting annoyed or down on myself. Just keep going.
There are No “good” or “bad” foods
If you set up that celery is good and cake is bad, you’ll find yourself craving cake more and more. There’s something about the “off limits” stuff that we humans can’t stop wanting.
When you set up cake as a “bad” food, you make yourself want cake even more. Then, when you do end up eating cake, you’re more likely to experience shame for eating that “bad food.” From there, it’s already hard to get out of the shame and keep eating healthy, plus we tend to feel like we need to punish ourselves to “make up” for eating it.
At best, this sets you up for the yo-yo effect. At worse, it can promote eating disorders.
Don’t place judgement on food as a weight loss strategy. It’s not good or bad. Food is just food. If you want cake, work it into your meal plan for the day. We’ll talk more about how to do that in a minute.
See? I’m working in some gluten free pancakes, here. (Gluten Free Because I have Celiac Disease)
Don’t focus on Food You Can’t Have or You’ll sabotage yourself. Focus on THIS.
This is really similar to the no good or bad food point. If you decide you’re going to eat more veggies and less sugar, but you keep your focus on how you can’t have the sugar, you’re gonna want the sugar more and more.
Sugar isn’t “bad” and it’s not something that you “can’t have.” It’s a food that you can work into your plan if you chose to do so. Rather than focusing on how you “can’t have sugar,” focus on how to add more veggies onto your plate.
Doing so is inherently more problem solving focused and as we find more ways to eat these foods we don’t usually choose and even enjoy them, it gets easier to fill our diet with them more and more. Sometimes I found myself so wrapped up in finding a new way to try veggies that I could forget about how much I liked sugar. That was helpful.
Practical Weight Loss Tips that Helped Me Lose
The mindset strategies above were vital in my success losing 60 pounds and keeping it off. It’s really tempting to ignore those in favor of these practical strategies, but don’t.
If you didn’t read them, go back and read. Seriously.
Otherwise, there are the weight loss tips that helped me lose 60 pounds and improve my physical health.
The biggest thing that helped was self monitoring strategies like these…
I’ve been really hesitant to talk about these strategies too much because for many people with eating disorders, they can be dangerous. If you have a history of disordered eating, make sure you are working with a professional.
That being said, if you aren’t triggered toward disordered eating, these strategies really helped me get healthier. If you try them and notice the tendency to disordered habits, stop. Seek a professional. It’s not worth it.
Yes, I counted calories. Here’s how and why…
I used the free MyFitnessPal app to track my calories. In the beginning, I started with a more aggressive goal to lose 2 pounds a week but quickly realized that wasn’t sustainable for me and I backed off. Remember, it’s better to keep losing slowly than to lose fast and gain it all back fast.
Counting calories was actually really helpful for me. It taught me more about nutrition and the kind of food that helped my body feel and stay satisfied. It pushed me to be more aware of what and how much I was eating. I paid attention to my macros to make sure that I was getting the nutrition that my body needed and learned that when I focused on protein and fiber, I stayed full longer.
Before I started doing that, I was frustrated at not losing weight and convinced that I had a metabolic condition. I argued with my doctor about it and decided to prove to her that my not losing weight had nothing to do with me eating too much.
I started weighing and measuring my food to prove it to her….
And then I started losing weight.
It was a major eye opener for me. After that, I learned that we often eat up to 30% more than we think we do. For me, it was definitely true and counting calories showed me where I was off.
Now, I can look at the nutritional contents of something and tell with confidence whether it will likely keep me full or not.
I semi-regularly weighed myself. Here’s why…
The other self monitoring strategy that I used was weighing myself. I struggled a bit with this one, though. The human body fluctuates a lot. It’s normal to gain or lose several pounds in a single week–not from fat, though, from water.
The fact that weight loss is anything but linear can be discouraging and weighing yourself on a daily basis is often a bad idea because of that. If you’re the person who doesn’t get bothered by that and can focus easily on the overall trend, it can be helpful. I’m not that person.
For me, I found it better to weigh a few times a month. I didn’t weigh when I was on my period, ovulating, the morning after a high carb dinner or a strenuous workout session because I knew that with each of these, I’d be carrying extra water weight. I chose a regular, every day morning 2-3 times a month.
Weighing helped me know whether or not the strategies I was using were working correctly. It was particularly helpful after I stopped weighing and measuring my food. I still counted calories but weighing myself helped me ensure that I hadn’t fallen into overestimating my food intake.
Plus, I read somewhere that people who weigh themselves lose weight more consistently. At least for me, I can say that was true.
Again, use these with caution…
Again, if counting calories or weighing yourself creates too much shame or the tendency toward disordered eating, STOP. Work with a knowledgeable dietitian and therapist.
Losing a few pounds is not worth triggering an eating disorder.
No food was off limits. When I had a craving, this is what I did…
As I mentioned earlier, no food was “good” or “bad.” I ate cake (that was before I knew I had Celiac…) and pizza and other higher calorie foods, I just worked them in.
This is another place where counting calories was helpful.
- It taught me to prioritize my wants. I wanted pizza and cake and candy, but if I wanted to feel full, I couldn’t have all of them on the same day. I had to prioritize and work it into my overall calories for the day.
- It’s a lot easier to accept that you just ate a slice of cake when you can see that you’re also still on track to reach your goal.
- It also showed me exactly how difficult a particular food would be to work in. Sometimes that made me less interested in that food. Other times, I decided it was worth it. Either way, it taught me the nutritional value of the food I ate and how much easier it was to feel full in my calorie limit when I focused on protein and fiber.
Working a food into your calorie budget is pretty easy with MyFitnessPal. You can log it in pre-emptively and figure out what the leaves you for the rest of the day. If you can’t stay full with what you have left over, you have some options that we’ll talk about shortly.
I focused on ONE thing for losing weight. Any more than that and I’d lose track of everything…
During this process, I focused on improving my diet. I didn’t worry about exercising consistenly. I knew that if I tried to change both at the same time, I wouldn’t end up doing either one of them.
That’s true for most of us. One reason you struggle to stay on track with your weight loss goals is trying to change too much at once. Either trying to lose too much at once, or trying to overhaul your entire life at once. Either way, it makes it more likely that all your healthy habits will implode.
Focus on one thing at a time. Get good at it. Get comfortable with it. When it feels like it’s second nature, then you can add something else. I started with my diet because when it comes to weight loss tips, here’s one for you:
You can’t out exercise your diet.
There, I said it. If you’re diet is a free for all, there’s no amount of exercise that will counter it’s effects. For that reason (plus a serious interest in healthy living that made me wonder why I didn’t pursue being a dietition), I started with a focus on improving my diet.
Later, I moved on to exercise.
Yes, I lost ALL 60 POUNDS with these weight loss tips alone. That’s right, I lost focusing exclusively on my diet. In fact, I don’t exercise for weight loss and never have. I workout for mental and physical health. And I make it fun!
Keeping food in the house
I mentioned my sweet tooth…it’s kinda legendary. I get it honestly–my dad is the exact same way. If there’s something sweet in the house, we’ll eat the entire thing in one sitting. It doesn’t matter how many servings it is…it won’t last for more than a day.
At first, I tried buying stuff like that with the intention of eating it in moderation and working it into my calories…but that didn’t happen. I get this thing where I kinda obsess about sweet stuff. It’s not pretty…
I learned that for me, I couldn’t keep sweet stuff in my house. If it was there, I’d obsess about it until it was gone.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t eat deserts. I did! But I bought them one at a time with the purpose of working it into my calories for that day. I couldn’t buy a thing of cookies and keep it in the house. Instead, I’d buy a cookie that was individually wrapped–only 1! And eat it that day. When I wanted to work another desert into my calories, I’d buy another individual desert.
If you can’t control yourself around certain foods, don’t keep them in the house. If you struggle to resist buying them when you are at the store, make sure your full when you go to the grocery store. It doesn’t completely get rid of the temptation but the impulse to buy is much stronger when you’re also hungry.
Weight loss tips I used when going out to eat…
Whenever possible, I always look at the nutritional menu in advance. I may decide to be more relaxed if I’m going out to eat and not worry so much about my calorie intake, or I may work it into my plan. Either way, it’s helpful to know what your options are and to have your plan in place before you go.
Sometimes you Can’t find the nutritional info for a given restaurant. When that happens, I usually look for comparable food from a similar restaurant. MyFitnessPal can come in handy there.
If you can’t find even comparable dishes, focus on finding foods that aren’t fried and don’t come with a cream based sauce. Those tend to be harder on your calorie intake that you’d even expect. I generally focus on finding a dish that has a lean protein and a healthy portion of veggies, brown rice and/or other high fiber foods.
I found it helpful to start my meal by mentally dividing it in half. One half to eat and the other to take home. When I get to that halfway point, I stop. If I’m still really hungry, I’ll take a few minutes to let my brain catch up to my stomach (because I eat way too fast). After a few minutes, if I’m still hungry, I keep eating. If not, I ask for a box.
Using these weight loss tips helped me have a social life that still helped me reach my weight loss goals.
To keep the weight off, it had to be sustainable. So I stayed flexible…
Don’t expect every day to be perfect. We talked about this a little bit already, but you won’t be under your calories every single day. You’ll have days where you just need to be relaxed with your diet and let it be. You’ll have days where you miscalculate and end up over. It’s not about perfectionism, it’s about sustainability.
If you are consistently going over, check your nutrition. When I was constantly going over my calories, that usually meant either I was too aggressive on my goal and needed to give myself more room or I was choosing too many foods that didn’t have enough protein and fiber to them.
As I kept going, there were times that I was going over because I was sick of being strict about the food: Diet Fatigue. I started factoring in a meal every week or two where I let myself be more relaxed. I didn’t binge eat or anything, I just didn’t worry about counting calories. That helped the diet fatigue.
Change your weight loss parameters. Sometimes you are going over your calories because you’re being too aggressive with how fast you are trying to lose weight. If you’re trying to lose a pound a week but only need to lose 10 pounds, you’re probably going to find that the calories you get aren’t enough. You need to back off of your crazy time line and find a goal that isn’t so restrictive.
When I reached that point, I was losing between 1/4 to 1/2 pound a week. Sure, it’s not jaw dropping numbers there, but it’s sustainable. When it’s too aggressive, you almost guarantee the yo-yo.
What to do when you’re still hungry…
First, are you actually hungry? We often think we’re hungry when were’ actually thirsty or bored. Drink some water or hot tea. Find a stimulating activity. If that helps, you probably aren’t actually hungry.
Be a bit more flexible with your calorie goal for the day. Eat at maintenance for the day if you need to. This diet plan has to be for life which means you need to be flexible with yourself sometimes.
Look at what you’ve eaten. Are you hungry because you haven’t had enough protein? You may need to add some in, even if that means you up your calories for the day. And keep that in mind for the upcoming days, that not focusing on that protein or fiber or whatever leaves you hungry…
Eat veggies/soup. If water/hot tea didnt do it, I often opted for veggies or soup as a way to get in more fiber to fill me up. Veggies and soup are pretty filling and are often pretty low in calories. I often found that doing this meant I could get the extra food I wanted without really going over on calories.
One Reason why many don’t lose weight with these tips…
These weight loss tips work. When they don’t, it’s usually because you are estimating your food. That was my story in the beginning.
We have a tendency to underestimate how much we are eating. The cup of rice we believe we are eating is often more like a cup and a half. That tablespoon of peanut butter is often 2 tablespoons piled up… and that ends up with us eating way more than we think we are.
Because I knew that I had this tendency, I started over-estimating what I ate. Even when I was weighing and measuring my food, you can’t exactly take a digital scale to your friend’s birthday party…I mean, you could but that would be super weird. So I learned to over-estimate.
I’d look at the amount of peanut butter and say, how much do I think that is? I think that’s a tablespoon. Ok, so I’ll double it. Then I logged 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Most of the time, my doubling it was actually more accurate than the tablespoon I thought it was.
But if I’d spent a lot of the day on over-estimating my food and found that I was still hungry, I’d use the strategies under “what to do when you’re still hungry.”
If you aren’t reaching your goal, revisit this weight loss tip. It’s usually the culprit.
With these weight loss tips, I lost over 60 pounds!
It didn’t happen in 10 days. It didn’t happen in 30 days. I lost it over the course of a year to a year and a half. That’s important, though. Losing slowly is more sustainable and you’re more likely to keep it off. Most experts say you shouldn’t lose more than 1-2 pounds per week for it to be safe.
And just keep in mind, it may average out to a set amount per week, but nothing about the human body happens on a linear scale. There are weeks with nothing and weeks with surprising loses.
Realistically, it often looks kind like this…
If you are gonna do this, be in it for the long haul. Set small goals for yourself so that you can see progress, but don’t get tempted by the “lose it all in 2 hours” non-sense. That’s not healthy. Nor does it work for the long run.
Above all, make sure this is about your health, not losing as much as possible as fast as possible. Just losing the weight isn’t healthy if you are abusing your body while doing it. Use these weight loss tips as your guide and tweak them as you need it!
Connect with Me!
I really want to know your why! What motivates you to lose weight or to get healthier? Are you a geeky health nerd like me or do you have a different why?
Drop and comment and let me know!