So, you want to lose weight?
I’m 15lbs down and counting!
I’m far from being a fitness guru and am not even close to a Victoria’s Secret model body, however, I have picked up some weight loss tricks by observing my ups and downs over the years. This is my “non-diet, diet”(aka lifestyle change). It has helped me lose weight without even trying, just a few mental rules and no definite restrictions. It has slowly been transforming my lifestyle and the way I think about my weight and health. This is not an overnight weight loss trick, it’s a lifestyle change. Results don’t come overnight, but you will never feel like you’re deprived or dieting. Before I tell you about my “non-diet, diet”, let’s back up for a minute…
(My results so far…kinda embarrassing, but most people like to see before/afters so here it is)
*I am not a certified nutritionist, so don’t take anything I say as scientific fact, these are solely things I found that work for me. This focuses mainly on the nutrition/eating aspect of getting in shape, I only briefly mention my cardio/exercise.
Background: (how I drew my conclusions)
I’ve always been a pretty good eater. From the time I was a little girl I loved the taste of all different types of foods and was willing to try anything. However, I was extremely active, so my love of food didn’t catch up with me until middle school when I became a lethargic, lazy pre-teen. Before I knew it, I was short and slightly…round. 🙂 I’ve never been obese or even fat, but I finally hit a BMI of overweight (5’2″ 143 lbs.), which worried my parents since my birth mother was diabetic. Luckily, I lost the weight after running track and playing volleyball during my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school. In my junior and senior years I became more involved with other extra curricular activities and let my athletics slide. My weight sort of teetered back and forth, but never quite got as high as my middle school years. Finally, near the end of my senior year in high school I dropped 15 lbs. below my previous lowest weight, woo hoo! How? A vegetarian boyfriend (kinda weird for me since I was a wing, steak and seafood lover). He was my first boyfriend and my first kiss (yes, my first kiss was after I graduated from high school…I was kind of a loser). Naturally, being around him almost every day, my meat and food intake went down dramatically. The weight just kind of fell off without me realizing until one of my friends pointed it out. But…most first relationships don’t last forever and I wanted to be a single lady for my first year in college!
I kept about half of the weight off my freshman year, thankfully I skipped the full freshman 15. That summer I went home to live with my parents during summer break and for some reason I constantly craved healthy foods ate less meat again. Since my family went to sleep around 9/10pm the gym became a regular part of my schedule because my night owl mode always kicked in. Without meaning to, I dropped even more weight than before and I was down to 115. College rolled around again and I resumed my not quite so healthy diet and lost my gym schedule. My weight plateaued around 125-127 and stayed around there for the next five years.
When I was 23 I decided to do the HCG diet and get in the best shape of my life (or so I thought). The diet worked and I dropped to 117 in about a week and a half before I plateaued and couldn’t seem to lose anymore even though I continued the diet. I became obsessive, I followed the diet exactly and measured every ounce of food I ate, still, the scale wouldn’t budge. I was waiting tables at the time, and the constant walking, eating only 500 calories made me feel like I was constantly going to pass out. Near the end of my diet, there was one night after my shift I actually did (luckily I was sitting)! Yet I was still determined to persevere (stupid). Luckily, I had a kind of personal experience (that I won’t share with the world here) that made me realize I was unhealthily obsessed. After about two weeks of feeling terribly guilty after everything I ate, I finally broke my obsession and went back to normal. My body bounced back to its previous 125-127 weight range.
At age 25 I got married to my husband and was still maintaining my weight. I started a job earlier that year doing marketing and product development for a company in Irvine where I was constantly sitting at a desk. The work was good, but the lack of movement in my life was not so good. My wardrobe changed from jeans to dresses, skirts and leggings (all of which were looser than my jeans), so I didn’t even notice the weight creeping in. When I was in China for work that spring I started feeling particularly heavy, especially after seeing how round my face was in a picture. I couldn’t remember my face looking that round since I was in middle school. After getting back home I stepped on a scale only to find I was 143lbs! It seriously shocked me and scared me at the same time. 145 put me squarely into the overweight BMI range, none of my jeans fit anymore and I just felt uncomfortable, kind of how you feel when you’re really bloated, except the feeling wouldn’t go away. I started a string of dieting, I tried HCG again, but upped the calories, but the diet was too restrictive when you have a trim husband that needs more calories. So I tried using phone apps like MyFitnessPal and signed up for Weight Watchers. I would lose 3-5 pounds and then gain it right back. I was constantly thinking about calories, food and working out. The more I thought about what I could and couldn’t eat, the hungrier I would become. The diets were either working, but I felt deprived, or I would just throw the diet out and I felt uncomfortable again.
What I came up with
This past January I moved to Utah with my husband to finish school. I wanted to get healthy again, but I decided to try something other than a restrictive diet. I decided to set a “diet” without set restrictions. (Sounds like an oxymoron, I know!) I realized when I counted calories, points, etc. my OCD would kick in and I would think about food all the time, which backfired on me. This made me think that restrictive diets weren’t going to work for me. I also knew that I wanted a lifestyle change. Up and down diets were becoming ridiculous to me, and I knew eventually when I have a family, strict diets just won’t be plausible. So I started a little mental “rulebook” that I added to every so often. Here is a summary of what I came up with:
The Mental Rulebook:
#1 Learn to say “no” to foods you don’t really care about, but say “yes” to what you really want.
“No” application: -Social situations (eating while visiting, even though no longer hungry)
-Filler foods (foods you order or that are on your plate that you eat just to get full)
“Yes” application: -Major cravings (tacos, chocolate, etc.), but I would only get that ONE thing I
(*If I felt hungry after satisfying my craving, I would tell myself to wait and if I
was still hungry later then I could eat something healthier at home, 99% of the
time I wasn’t hungry after 15 minutes and completely forgot about it)
~What it did for me: I wasn’t constantly thinking about foods I couldn’t have because there wasn’t anything I wasn’t allowed to eat. I was listening to by body, usually your body is craving something for a reason. Obviously it’s better to eat the healthy version of what it is craving, but sometimes when you are just dying for fast food, it’s better to just indulge so you don’t eat around it (i.e. eating more food to try to satisfy the craving than if you had just eaten what you wanted in the first place).
#2 Portion control. This goes hand in hand with the first “rule”.
Application: -Eat what you want, but portion control is KEY. It’s hard to not feel wasteful
throwing away food, but do it! Don’t finish what’s on your plate, mentally tell
yourself that a certain bite is your last bite and then just get rid of it. Wrap it up,
throw it away, whatever you want, just get rid of it.
-Distract yourself. You probably only wanted to finish your large portion of food
because it was right there, if you throw it away and then mull it over, it will feel like
deprivation. Sometimes I don’t even tell myself where my last bite is going to be, but
about half way through I put down my fork and become absorbed in a conversation
or some other distraction. All of a sudden I’ve lost interest in the rest of my food.
#3 Keep your body guessing. Vary your foods, your workouts, I even vary my calorie intake (although I’m not counting the calories, I still have ballpark estimates in my head).
Application:-Vary foods, spices, etc. so you don’t get bored. Listen to your body, it will usually
crave things that you need, so eating the same thing every day is probably depriving
it and could result in a major binge.
-I can’t tell you how many trainers and magazines have told me to vary my workouts
so my body is constantly adapting. I’m a group workout person, it either has to be
sports or classes. Treadmills and weight machines for me=15 min workouts
(because I get bored or give up). Around other people I get more competitive, or I
don’t want to feel like the slug in the class that can’t keep up so I push myself! Try
all sorts of classes or sports. Currently I alternate between kickboxing, Zumba and
yoga. Sometimes I’ll go on hikes or do random outdoor things too!
-Calorie intake: if you’ve never researched calories, it’s a good thing to do. Just don’t
become obsessed with counting them. Try looking up your favorite food items at
restaurants you frequently visit, or enter your favorite recipes into phone apps that
figure out calories so you have ballpark figures in your mind.
I try to eat relatively healthy most days and allow myself my occasional
indulgences, but there are some days I just want to eat whatever I want. I don’t
know if there’s science behind this, but for some reason having an occasional
“binge” day seems to reset my metabolism if I’ve been eating a more consistent,
lower calorie diet (low=healthy-each person is different, so you’ll have to figure
out your good calorie range, don’t go below 1,000 calories a day, trust me, not
healthy and miserable)
(*Sometimes things you THINK are healthy, are actually more calories and more
unhealthy than if you had made or ordered something you might have originally
steered clear from, after working in restaurants and looking up calories in my
favorite foods I found that this is almost always the case. i.e. Cheesecake Factory
appetizers: lettuce wraps are about 600 more calories than the calamari-kinda crazy
#4 Drink more water. I am absolutely terrible about this! I NEVER drink enough, but I’m getting better.
Application: -When I start getting hungry, especially late at night when I know I shouldn’t be, I
grab a water bottle and sip on it while I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing. There are
lots of times I think I’m hungry, but I’m really just dehydrated.
#5 Stock up on healthy foods, “bad” food substitutes and a few outright “bad” foods.
Application: -Figure out what healthy foods sounds yummy. Mine change week to week, lately
my go to healthy snacks are oranges and arugula. When I start wanting something
sweet late at night, especially during the summer, oranges just sounds good and the
effort to peel them actually keeps me more occupied, which keeps me from eating
something quickly and moving on to the next snack.
-I have a few “bad” food substitutes I keep on hand. I have a weakness for chicken
nuggets (I’m like a 5 year old, I know…). I developed a love for Morning Star
Buffalo Wings (meatless). They honestly just taste good to me now, often I want
them more than the real deal now. If I’m craving chicken nuggets I pop 3-5 in the
microwave and eat those instead. I got my chicken nuggets, I didn’t consume fried
grease, my craving is gone (meatless doesn’t always mean healthy, I use this as a
“bad” food substitute when I want to fulfill a craving, but I don’t want to be full on
-“Bad” foods: don’t go nuts and buy a ton, or this will backfire. I tend to keep a
salted almond dark chocolate candy bar in the house as well as some kind of salty
bad snack (i.e. tortilla chips, pretzel sticks, goldfish). I hide my candy bar in the
pantry behind my spices so it’s not staring me in the face every time I open the door.
Most of the time I forget it’s there until one day I get a chocolate craving (some of
you know what I’m talking about, it comes out of nowhere)! Then I break of a row
and I’m satisfied. Salty stuff, same idea. Try to put it some where that’s not
extremely visible and take a handful when you really need it (rule of thumb for salty
stuff-put a handful in a bowl, don’t take the bag with you-helps with overindulging).
#6 Enjoy your life, stay active, and learn to love your body, no matter the size. Dieting is full of frustration, mental breakdowns and self-loathing. Learn to love what you have. I’m not built to be a rail thin girl, I am a curvy girl. I used to hate it, but I honestly like it now! I can work what I’ve got, and I love my big butt! Confidence is key. This has been my biggest struggle, but the more confident I’ve become I’ve noticed that my body gets healthier naturally and I tend to lose weight without realizing it. People also respond to you differently, if you truly feel beautiful, you’d be surprised at how many people around you agree. It’s all about how YOU think and feel. There’s not perfect weight or perfect build, there’s just a perfect you, and you are perfect no matter what weight you are!
Since January I’ve gone from 143 to 127, I can honestly say I never once felt deprived. I was just as shocked to see the scale recently as I was when I had gained the weight. I continue to see my clothes get looser and the scale go down every month, so I will add an update in a few more months 🙂
*I will try and post pics soon! I’m having a hard time finding “before” pics since I didn’t really take pictures over the past year.
*I weigh myself once every 2 to 4 weeks (more than that gets me obsessive, but I do it to prevent a major weight gain like last year).