Losing Weight – Safely and For Real

My mom always shares her People magazines with me after she’s read them. She does that with all of her magazines. She’s a good woman 🙂 This particular issue, she said, would really interest me. The cover was all I needed to understand: “HOW THEY DID IT: HALF THEIR SIZE! No Surgery! No Gimmicks! How They Kept It Off!” (Issue January 14, 2013) On the cover are two beautiful women who lost 137 and 126 pounds each. Amazing.

I love weight loss stories. I love motivational and inspirational stories. No, I have never had to lose an extreme amount of weight, but I have battled eating disorders and self-image issues and injuries and dips in motivation in order to be lighter, stronger, faster, and healthier than ever. So I revel in the weight loss stories in my magazines because I enjoy reading about those who gathered the willpower to stick with something for months and years to become a happier, healthier person.

I found the tips and tricks inside really interesting. Everyone—friends, family, clients, class-goers—asks me how to get fit and healthy. Honestly? I’ve talked about this before, but there’s no magic pill (weight-loss pills DON’T work—I’ve tried them!) and surgery isn’t going to cure all of your problems, so you need to go about weight loss the good ‘ole-fashioned way: hard work, discipline, consistency, and nutrition.

Don’t believe me? Here are the tips from over a dozen people who dropped major pounds (we’re talking 60-300 pounds!):

  • Joined Jenny Craig for meal planning
  • Started walking for 30 minutes 4 times a week
  • Treated self to a movie or outfit every time 10 pounds was lost
  • Stuck to Medifast meals and snacks for a year
  • Kept a list of activities to do instead of eating (from looking at pictures to reading to walking)
  • Worked out to P90X videos for 18 months
  • Formed a support group of friends who also lost weight
  • Used livestrong.com to track calories
  • Took progress photos to mark milestones for motivation
  • Committed to an hour of cardio exercises daily
  • Cut out bread, rice, and pasta
  • Keeps snacks out of the house
  • Preplanned dinners out using online menus
  • Traded recipes with friends on Facebook
  • Tried new activities like spinning and boot camp
  • Stuck to Atkins for 30 days and started walking
  • Weight-trained 3 days a week and played basketball for cardio
  • Joined Weight Watchers and doubled-up on veggies at every meal
  • Tracked calorie intake on homemade spreadsheets
  • Did Zumba DVDs at home and found hotels with gyms while traveling
  • Became a devoted yogi and snacked on SkinnyGirl Daily bars
  • Started eating breakfast, choosing Greek yogurt over regular yogurt, and did something active every day
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a peasant
  • Keep precut fruit in baggies in the fridge
  • Boost the flavor of foods with spices instead of dressings
  • Limit snacking throughout the day
  • Invest in a jump rope—it works your upper and lower body at once for big calorie burns
  • Set a complex carb (rice, potatoes, and bread) cut-off time, like after lunch
  • Walk at least 10,000 steps a day
  • Swap out plates for bowls to help you become more aware of portion sizes
  • Keep healthy snacks close by when you’re on the go, like an Altoids container filled with nuts—it’s about a perfect portion size
  • Make a date with your body and plan our your workouts like you work appointments or meetings

The truth is, I use a lot of these techniques myself. I plan ahead for most restaurant outings, I write certain non-teaching workouts in my planner, I make to-do lists so I don’t just sit around, I try to eat heavier earlier in the day, I try different workouts, I only eat Greek yogurt now when I eat yogurt, and I keep certain snacks out of the house completely because I know if they’re around, I’ll eat them (Wheat Thins and dried pineapple/mango!!!).

Remember though, it takes a while. Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight, just like it wasn’t gained overnight. Be patient. Make smart, small lifestyle changes because not only will you see results, but they will also become habits and keep you more motivated, healthier, and stronger for longer.