Hello my favorite peoples! Spring is in the air! We can finally go outside without our eyeballs hurting. After a long, lazy winter, the warmer weather definitely gets me motivated to ramp up my fitness. I’m way more ambitious in my head though. I’ve had images in my mind all day of putting a nice workout outfit on, hitting the pavement running, and feeling amazing. Like I haven’t run in 10 years, calm down brain. In real life, I’ll just cry on the elliptical for a bit then lift weights while watching Grey’s Anatomy. I’ll still have a damn fly outfit on though. Obviously.
I assume I’m not the only one feeling rejuvenated by the nicer weather. I’m definitely hoping some of you that were stuck in ruts or at plateaus, like myself, are feeling like entirely new humans. Winter diet ruts are the worst. With my new and improved motivation, I’m here to tackle my most commonly asked questions: “Howwwwww??”
At first I was confused by this question. Like, ‘I told you how already’. I just eat healthy, whole foods… Duh. Then I remembered I’ve had 14 years of practice at this. If I asked someone for help 14 years ago, and they just told me to ‘just eat better’, I would have poked them in the eye. I think the real answer is, you just do it. I don’t mean suddenly cut your calories down to 1100, and vow to run for 2 hours a day, every day. Just start. You can start slow, or just start somewhere.
I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and I still haven’t “succeeded.” There’s not a finish line, only a starting line. And a lot of pit stops…
I wouldn’t be where I was today without all the advice and inspiration from all my fellow fitness journey peoples. Seriously, I have nothing but respect and compassion for anyone who knows the struggle and hard work this requires. So, to hopefully help someone like myself, here is the best advice I have.
Take before pictures and measurements
These will be important later! Eventually you’ll lose a decent amount of weight and when you start to lose motivation or are just frustrated, these real body size references can really help you stay on track and feel proud of your progress. The scale WILL occasionally be a jerk and refuse to move, but by looking at how much your body has changed so far you can go by more than just the number on the scale.
Set non-numerical goals and remember why you’re starting
As you’re starting your journey, try to jot down the reasons or goals for your weight loss. Not just numerical goals. Real, personal reasons. It doesn’t matter if the reason is silly or superficial, if it’s important to you, write it down. Donuts and tacos are good stuff, guys. No one just “isn’t in the mood for a taco.” That’s ridiculous. Figure out why turning down that taco is going to be worth it.
Some people do need to throw themselves into a program and stick to it. This doesn’t work for everyone though. If you’re having a hard time getting started, start slow. Try to limit your fast food trips. Switch to diet soda. Cut back on the after-work beer. Start walking the dog instead of just letting him out. Bring healthy snacks to work. Pick a few of these or make your own little changes, and soon you will start to realize that you’re feeling better and more motivated, and possibly able to make more positive changes.
This is my biggest thing. You have to grocery shop. So much grocery shopping. You’ll learn that healthier food doesn’t just stick around like the macaroni and cheese in your cupboard. You need to replenish your produce and meat at least once a week. The other part, and my weakness, is that having a lot of healthy food around helps prevent you from stopping to get pizza on your way home from a long day at work. It’s quite hard to be so tired and crabby and force yourself to go home and eat chicken and broccoli for the 5th day in a row. Make sure you have a lot of good, healthy choices and you’ll usually be able to keep yourself on track.
Once you have your kitchen stocked up on healthy food, you want to make sure you have food ready to eat. You’re not going to want to come home and defrost some chicken breast, cut veggies, and cook a single cup of brown rice. This is where meal prep comes in. We’re just starting out here though. Don’t get intimidated by what you see if you google “meal prep.” You don’t need to prep 28 perfectly balanced, brightly colored meals every Sunday. Start by maybe packing a healthy lunch a few days a week, and making sure you have food ready to eat at home. Make sure a pack of chicken is always thawed in the fridge and ready to cook. Try to keep some pre-cooked rice or other sides ready to reheat. And keep your veggies chopped and ready to eat! I always have chicken, brown rice, and veggies ready to go in case of emergency. And by emergency I mean the “I had such a long day and I just want to shove food in my mouth and go to bed” type of emergency.
This is also important to me. I suppose some people can make a plate of suggested serving sizes, no problem. This is not me. I’m pretty sure 450 sweet potato fries is one serving right? Gotta only be like 97 calories. So, that leaves me with 1302 calories for the rest of the day. No wait, I had a large mocha Frappuccino for breakfast. That’s just coffee, so that’s basically no calories. What’s in a Frappucino? Some milk? So I’ll go with 50 calories. That’s 1252 calories left for today! I’m so good at dieting, guys!
There are a million apps out there to log your food. Or do it the old fashioned way. But seriously, log everything you eat for a few weeks, you may be surprised at the nutritional facts of some of your usual food. A friend, who shall remain nameless, was having trouble on her low-carb diet recently and couldn’t figure it out. Until she finally examined her morning coffee and realized it had over a day’s worth of carbs in it. She’s no dummy either; she’s lost 70 pounds by monitoring her food. Which nicely bring us to the next point.
Keep Learning and Replacing
If you’re really serious about big changes, you can’t get too comfortable. Yes, you can easily yo-yo diet around your current weight forever, with minimal effort. I could hover around the same weight for 5 years at a time. I was okay with that at the time though. Now I’m not, and I have had to make a lot of changes to learn how to consistently continue living this lifestyle. I’m not okay with losing 10 pounds in a month, then binging for a few months until I need to lose it again. I’ve had to learn how to eat differently for months at a time, instead of weeks. Even if I’m doing well and feeling motivated, I make sure to read every single piece of information on real, healthy eating that I come across. You also learn your triggers and how to avoid things that may set you back.
Adjust to what works. If it’s not working, change it.
This is important. I’ve tried just about every fancy diet, guys. Some of them worked great, but weren’t sustainable. A few were just way too complicated and involved way too much math for me. One was just not realistic for long-term success. Some were too hand-holdy for me. Almost every single ‘diet’ I’ve tried has worked though. The last diet train I jumped on was Atkins, and that’s what really stuck with me. For the first time, I felt strong and healthy and energetic. Unfortunately, it’s also very hard to maintain at a healthy level, and quite expensive. I did feel better though, and it did make it easier for me to stay on track by avoiding carbs. Nowadays, I stick to a (much more sustainable and less strict) high protein diet. It is definitely what works for me, and what my body thrives on. If you start something new, and you’re really struggling for one reason or another, do not feel like you need to stick to it! Give it a fair shot, and if you’re really having a hard time sticking to it, or don’t feel your best, move on!
Ask for help. Look up other blogs.
Unlike when I was 14, I have a lot more peers with real advice and successes. And you bet I quiz them when I have a question. I also whine to them and force them to encourage me when I’m having a hard time. I’m fun guys, I swear. Find someone who inspires you, and ask them what they do. How do they make it to the gym at 6:00am four days a week? What do they do for meal prep? What is their go-to recipe?
If you don’t have a lot of these people around, or you don’t think their strategies will work for you, look online. Find people on Instagram who seem like your type of peoples. Many of them give their emails and welcome the chance to help someone with their journey. Blogs are also great resources. None as great as this blog, but they’re okay. *wink* I definitely credit random blogs for a lot of my inspiration. Personal stories also get more motivated than most things. “If that person can quit eating tacos every day, so can I!!!” My taco consumption has got to be down by at least 75%...
Lastly, everyone’s experience is different.