I have tried many times to lose weight, desperately trying everything from the Cabbage Soup diet, to the GM diet, to South Beach diet. None of those diets work long term. I lost 6 pounds using South Beach, but when I got off the diet, I gained it back. I enjoyed eating tons of bananas in GM diet, but I was weak and unable to think most of the time. It is only in this fitness journey (see my previous post my fitness journey) did I stick to it and it actually worked. I seriously committed to in July 28, 2014 did I really start to see real results. I am not a fitness expert, but I’d like to share what I learned and what worked for me. Here are 15 learning, what worked and helped me in losing 18 pounds:
- Eat Clean: You can Never out run your fork.
Eating clean is the most important part of getting healthier. I learned that I can never outrun my fork. Sure, I can hit the gym and work out. But if I feed my body with fried food, pork crackling, potato chips, French fries, and my insatiable desire for dessert, my workout is useless. I used to indulge in Cinnamon Swirls from Starbucks only to learn this cream cheese frosted bread is 500+ calories.
I didn’t pay for any diet food service or weighed my food. This is what I did. I chose to eat more vegetables and protein. I cut down on my carbs, limiting my intake of bread and rice. But I still ate oatmeal everyday. I opted for wholegrain carbs. I could eat as much vegetables and fruits as I wanted.
I cut down on processed food this included canned food and junk food. I snacked instead fruit, nuts, yogurt, and eggs.
- Prepare your food in the morning
To stay on this fitness path, it required me to wake up at least at 5am to prepare my food for the day. I would prepare my hearty salads with chicken or lean meat for lunch and snacks for the day. Having them ready kept me from binging on unhealthy food, it also kept me track.
- Give yourself a treat
I love chocolate. I still eat a small portion of chocolate everyday. It is usually one serving of chocolate. I allow myself this sweet treat. I am just being kind to myself. If I am too tough on myself and deprived myself of chocolate, I probably wouldn’t have kept on this fitness path.
- Find a fitness friend
Having a friend to workout is a huge help in this journey. Having my friend invite me to box with him, it made exercising less intimidating. In the beginning, I didn’t exactly like boxing or hitting the gym. But knowing I would meet up with a friend, laugh, and chat with him helped me show up to my workouts. That helped me get into the habit of going to the gym. Find friendly faces in the gym, too. Instead of finding a friend to join me in the class, I instantly became friends with my favorite Zumba teacher, Paolo Sason. It made it painless to show up for classes with him. It also helped that he and I laughed in and out of classes.
- The Weighing Scale is my Friend
They tell you not to weigh yourself everyday. But I do. I am not obsessed with the weight. But knowing that I would have to step on the scale every single morning, I became accountable for my actions. When I didn’t eat clean or didn’t work out, it showed the numbers. The weighing scale kept me on track.
- Eat Breakfast
I try to eat breakfast within the first hour of waking. It gives me energy early in the day and also fortifies me for my workout. I eat oatmeal almost every single day. Eating right in the morning also sets the tone my choices for the rest of the day. I notice when I indulge in an unhealthy breakfast, I end up making unhealthy choices the rest of the day. In my head I think, “I already cheated for breakfast, so I can cheat the rest of the day.”
- The day you don’t want to workout is the day you need it the most.
There are days when I really don’t want to hit the gym. But when I ignore that lazy bone and hit the gym, I realize I’m glad I did. I feel more energetic and think clearer later in the day.
- Chart your progress
Jot down your weight, your BMI, your body measurements. It is good to see how you are progressing. Try apps like My Fitness Pal, which help you monitor your progress and even help you count your calories.
- Take photos
Sometimes you don’t easily see the progress you are making with the scale. But photos don’t lie. You can see your body change. I didn’t like my big flabby arms and batwings. I now see the difference with defined arms. Look out for the glimmer in your eye. Watch your smile and twinkle in your eye emerge, as you get healthier.
- Drink lots of water
Before, I struggled to drink 2 liters of water everyday. Add to that drinking three cups of coffee everyday. Now, more often than not I drink my 2 Liter water allocation. Sometimes, when we don’t drink enough water, we mistake thirst for hunger. I emphasize water too, not sugary drinks or even Coke Zero or Coke Light. It can’t even remember the last time I had a soda. Maybe five years or longer, and I don’t crave it. There is nothing like water to make your body run properly.
- Be Mindful of Calories
I never really counted every single calorie I ate. But I started becoming mindful of the calories of food. It helped to know how many calories a sandwich or a beverage is before putting it in your mouth. My Fitness Pal App has a scanner to scan your food (but that’s usually for processed food) and tell you how many calories. You can also search for calories in the food you eat using this app. I suggested doing this in the beginning. Eventually, you become more mindful of what makes healthier food choices.
- Find an Exercise you really Enjoy
For a person like me who was intimated by gyms and machines, I found Zumba to be the most enjoyable workout. It is a forgiving exercise. Non-dancers like me can follow the steps to Zumba. More importantly, I had fun. Find instructors you enjoy working out with and stick to it. Whether it’s spinning, Zumba, cross fit, boxing, or running, find something you enjoy. Be true to who you are. If you enjoy it, you will stick to it.
- Mix it up
Mix up your exercises. In the beginning of my fitness journey, I only did Zumba. I later discovered Definitions classes involving planks, burpees, weights, squats, and lunges to be fun. Sure, I was sore in the beginning in muscles I didn’t know I had. But it is empowering to see myself get stronger. I also started doing yoga and joining circuit classes. Your body gets used to exercises. Mixing it up pushes your body in different ways. Doing a variety of different exercises also keeps it interesting.
- Allocate a rest day
Sure, it’s great to push your body. But also allocate a rest day to not work out. A day of rest lets your muscles recover and function properly.
- Do It For You!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy has called your fat, or if your neighbors murmur how big you are when they see you, or if your friends comment on your weight gain. You have to do it for YOU! When I decided on my 38th birthday to commit to my health, I wanted to do it for me. That has made the difference!
Do you have fitness tips that have helped you become healthier, feel free to share in the comments section.
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