“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”
Spring is here and one goal for a lot of people this time of year is to get in shape for the beach season. And/or just to lose weight and get into better shape so you can have more energy to spend and less health problems to deal with.
I am certainly no fitness expert. But got in way better shape and lost 26 pounds last winter/spring (certainly one of the best things I have ever done for myself). Since I posted about that in June I have only gained back two pounds. So things are going pretty well and I don’t think that I have been in better shape than I am now since I was a kid.
So today I’d like to share six of my own favorite tips – mostly focused on the food you eat – for losing weight. This is just based on my own personal experience and what has worked for me. But since this blog has a pretty big readership I think that this article or at least some of the advice in it will be a good fit for quite a few people.
The advice in this article is simple. But it can have a big effect. If you actually apply it consistently.
1. Don’t guesstimate, actually know what you eat and use.
This was the biggest mistake I made when I tried to lose weight in the past. I simply didn’t know how many calories I put in my body each day or how many I used.
I realized that I had to monitor it in some way. So I used the free and very simple Fitday.com to monitor what I ate during the day.
You may eat some raw carrots for instance. Then you just choose that from their lists of food and how many you ate today. The site will calculate how many calories that is and how much of various nutrients you have put into your body. Fitday also tells you roughly how many calories you use with your current lifestyle and the exercise you get.
This is key. Because the three normal and most of the time actually pretty healthy meals I ate in the past consisted of the same amount of calories I used during the day. So little progress was made.
It’s also important to monitor yourself so you don’t eat too little food either. That isn’t healthy at all.
2. Replace one meal a day with a big salad.
This is a very simple tip to decrease your calorie intake each day and also get plenty of healthy veggies. I picked it up from Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple.
I ate a big salad consisting of whatever veggies I wanted and some kind of meat such as chicken, mussels, shrimp, tuna etc. for lunch pretty much every day for a couple of the months when I lost my weight.
I really liked it and thought it was a very simple way to quickly make a tasty meal and to get a calorie deficit without having to feel hungry half the day. Of course, you have to skip or take it very easy on dressings and such things if you want to use this tip and create that deficit.
3. Eat slowly.
I like to eat slowly. A meal takes thirty minutes or sometimes an hour.
This is a helpful habit if your want to lose weight. Because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. That’s because the food has to reach the intestines before your body starts sending signals telling your brain that you feel full. By slowing down your eating your brain can stop you before you eat too much.
How to eat more slowly:
- Eat before you get ridiculously hungry. If you’re really hungry it will be hard to eat slowly. The best way to avoid this is to not wait for too long but to eat when you feel just a little hungry. Or to have your meals at specified times during the day that you know from experience will be appropriate to avoid getting too hungry.
- Put down your fork between the bites. Put down your fork and then chew. Then to pick up your fork again after you’ve swallowed, take another bite and repeat the process. I like this tip because it forces you to slow down.
- Focus on the food and yourself. Not on what other people are doing. It’s easy to get drawn into someone else’s pace while eating (just like when driving or running). Be conscious of keeping your own pace instead of just unconsciously eating as fast as everyone around the table might do. Being aware of this challenge can help you. Being present throughout your meal can also be useful to keep a good pace and fully enjoy the food.
4. Drink water.
There are a lot of calories in soda or fruit juice. Replacing all of that or most of it with regular water is a simple way to reduce calories.
5. Remove what will get you in trouble.
Laziness and easy availability are two of the big reasons for developing kinda stupid and unnecessary habits. But you can use that to your advantage to change your snacking habits.
If you have a bad habit of eating too much sugar then don’t have cookies and candy at home. I recommend having something to snack on though. I always keep some nuts and vegetables in my apartment. When I feel the craving for candy, but find none in my kitchen and don’t feel like walking all the way to the supermarket then I eat a tomato instead.
Doing this will, over time, replace one habit with a healthier one and help you to lose weight.
6. Don’t try to be perfect.
Don’t take this too seriously. Don’t beat yourself up or get upset just because you had a pizza for lunch or one Snicker for a afternoon snack. If you take the process that will probably take months too seriously and create too much negative emotions around it then it will be so much harder. And so it feels “heavier” than it needs to and you’ll be more likely to quit too early and go back to your old habits.
Like with anything else in life, if you just stick with the program 80-90% of the time then you will probably make pretty good progress. No need to try to be perfect or to make mountains of molehills. It won’t help you or anyone else. A previous article of mine, The Very Simple Guide to Chilling Out has some good tips for keeping a pretty laid back and effective attitude. Check it out.