A few years ago Matt and I began a new year with a resolution to get our budget in order. One of the unexpected results of trimming our budget was a substantial trimming of our waistlines! We don’t own a scale, and didn’t set out to lose weight, so we were elated to discover that it was happening without having to go on some crazy diet.
Five Tips for Weight Loss
Looking back on that year, the first pounds lost were accidental, but after gaining momentum we put some other deliberate changes into place. Five major things contributed to our weight loss, and I think you will be pleased to see that the list doesn’t include complicated calorie counting or hours in the gym.
Note: do NOT obsess over losing weight. Doing so can cause severe anxiety and depression. If you struggle with this, read about these 20 tips on fighting anxiety and depression naturally.
1.) Eat out less
This was the catalyst for weight loss in our house. I’m embarrassed to admit how often Matt and I used to go out to eat and how much money was spent on culinary treats. Once we resolved to cut back to one or two restaurant trips per month, the pounds began falling off.
Save restaurants for special occasions. Force yourself to check the pantry, freezer, and fridge when tempted to go out or order a pizza. Look for ingredients you can get creative with even when it seems like you have no food in the house. You might just create a new favorite recipe this way! Meals at home tend to be healthier, you will usually eat less, and you have FULL control over the ingredients used.
Restaurants serve portions that can easily feed you two or three meals. If you are eating out try sharing a meal or cutting off only a small portion to eat as soon as your food is served.
2.) Portion Control
Once Matt and I paid more attention to our portion sizes, the weight loss was kicked into high gear. We were so used to gorging ourselves at a fast pace, we never knew that our hunger could be satiated by much smaller portions. We simply plated our food (on small dinner plates or in smaller bowls), and waited 10-15 minutes after eating to determine if we REALLY needed another helping. We learned to listen to our body instead of allowing our eyes to determine how much to eat.
Snacks were still tricky. We were careful to avoid sitting down with a bag or box of something. It’s important to fill a small bowl with a snack and eliminate any “grazing” habits you may have in the kitchen. During the week Matt and I packed our lunches and TWO healthy snacks for work so we would not be hungry between meals. We were not in favor of starving ourselves, and knew hunger would lead to grabbing junk food or anything else we could get our hands on during the work day. Our favorites were fruit, nuts, healthy chocolate chip cookies, and whole-grain crackers.
3.) More Fruits & Veggies
Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet is a good way to keep from eating other less nutritious foods. You can eat as much as you want without feeling guilty. Experiment with different fruits and vegetables you have never tried before. Matt and I have discovered that we are more likely to eat fruits and veggies when they are already cut up. We like to buy 3-4 types of fruit and make a big fruit salad we can eat all week long.
4.) THINK about your food
Don’t just eat what sounds good. THINK before purchasing food and ask yourself a few questions:
“Is it healthy?” If you struggle with this question, I found a great app for Smart Phones called Fooducate. It allows you to scan the barcode of a grocery store item and supplies you with lots of information about its nutritional value. It will assign a grade to foods and offers alternatives to each item. I love that it shows a glass of water as an alternative to soda or fruit juices.
“What are the ingredients?” Look for products with very few ingredients, and make sure you can pronounce each one. High fructose corn syrup should NOT be an ingredient in anything you eat. It’s an unnatural ingredient that is found in countless prepared foods/condiments/beverages at the supermarket, and should be avoided.
“Where did it come from?” This is a good question when considering meats, dairy, eggs, and produce. Shop your local farmer’s markets, talk to the local butcher, and look around for farmers selling eggs. The closer you can get to your food source, the more information you will have about your food. Meat should be from grass fed animals, dairy from pastured cows not treated with hormones or antibiotics, eggs from free-range chickens who eat bugs and grass, and produce that is organic or treated minimally with pesticides.
Yes, grocery shopping takes a little longer when making informed decisions about the food you are eating, but your body will thank you later.
At different points in my life I have been very disciplined about incorporating high impact exercise into my schedule. However, the year I lost the weight I was exercising less than ever. I wasn’t going to the gym, signing up for exercise classes, or forcing myself to run. I was going on brisk 30 minute walks regularly, but without putting pressure on myself to make it a weight-loss activity. I was able to get my heart rate up and actually enjoy my walks. This helped me look forward to and make time for more walking.
No time for exercise? Focus on increasing your activity during a normal day… this might require a little creativity. Look for excuses to get up from your desk during the work day. Turn the TV off and get outside when you’re at home. Do your chores at top speed. Join the kids for a little play time. Do squats while drying your hair or calf-raises while brushing your teeth.
There wasn’t anything special about the way Matt and I lost our weight. Some of the weight was off before we even realized it, and we never had to do anything complicated. It required discipline, but we had fun learning about our food and buying smaller clothes along the way.
While I’m not a medical professional, I believe most can agree that these five components are important for staying healthy and keeping excess weight off. In addition to these, remember to get lots of sleep! When your body is well rested you will be able to make better decisions about your food and find the energy to exercise.
Do you have any natural weight loss tips? Feel free to share below!