- 1.A Weight Loss Transformation Worth Sharing: An Introduction
- 2.A Weight Loss Transformation Worth Sharing: The Beginning
- 3.A Weight Loss Transformation Worth Sharing: Confidence is Key
- 4.A Weight Loss Transformation Worth Sharing: How It Happened
- 5.A Weight Loss Transformation Worth Sharing: Everyday Weight Loss Tips
I had no idea what I was in for when I set out to lose 150 pounds. I knew it would be a lot of physical work, but I never expected to learn as much as I did. When I started, I knew nothing about nutrition and I had the eating patterns to reflect it. A healthy lifestyle was a foreign concept to me at the time, but the healthy habits I formed throughout my journey continue to structure my daily life today. You can take the girl off the diet, but you can’t take the diet out of the girl!
Whether your question is about gaining, maintaining or losing weight, the answers lie in how, when and where your calories come from. Because everyone has a different weight, height, lifestyle and set of health goals, everyone also has their personal calorie budget. To get started with the fundamentals, use a calorie calculator to determine your suggested daily intake. Keeping that number in mind and using a helpful calorie-tracking tool like MyFitnessPal or MyPlate, try to be aware of how your meals and snacks add up during the day. When you understand the value of each food, you never need to worry about unintentionally consuming too many or too few calories. I still consult the CalorieKing website and mobile app regularly; both are super reliable, interactive and user-friendly sources of information. It’s worth it to do some research – making the right choices is much easier when you have a basic understanding of how calories work.
Knowledge is power when it comes to calories. I gained weight because I never paid attention to what I ate, and I could only lose weight once I understood the consequences of my eating habits. My initial challenge was eating less because my original goal was staying below the calorie maximum. Because I decided to tackle my obesity before actually having any knowledge of the calorie calculation (and wanted to do it as fast as possible), my diet turned overeating into under eating. Little did I know that I should have been concerned with staying above the calorie minimum, too! People often ask if I would change anything about my experience, and my advice is to always remember that slow and steady wins the weight loss race. Be patient when changing your habits, take baby steps, make minor alterations and aim to gradually change your lifestyle one decision at a time.
The weight loss journey functioned as an extreme makeover to my mealtimes. I now use the same basic structure for each one: a balanced meal should be 1/4 lean meat, 1/4 grains and 1/2 fruits and/or vegetables.
A typical dish for me looks like this: I choose between a serving of chicken, turkey, salmon or lean beef. Then, I add whole-wheat bread, brown rice or quinoa. I’ll finish it off with a side of green beans, asparagus or broccoli.
I still can’t believe it when I say it, but spinach-based salads have become my ultimate favorite dish! Salads are a perfect way to enjoy fresh veggies, and they’re perfect for adding protein. I’ve come to really appreciate the natural taste of a good vegetable mix, so I always add a few pinches of salt and leave the dressing off. Adding healthy fats is made easy if you like a drizzle of olive oil, but I personally prefer using seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia) or nuts (shredded almonds, pecans, walnuts) to add a bit of a crunch. When you know how to follow a balanced diet, each meal is an opportunity to mix and match the best of each food group!
Instead of following the traditional three-meal format, I like to keep my metabolism running throughout the day by eating smaller meals (200–300 calories), more frequently (five to six times a day). This also takes care of portion control, one of the absolute most important keys to healthy eating. When you think of every meal as a chance, not a challenge, to make the right choices, you’ll recognize every opportunity to skip the cheese, opt for light mayonnaise and choose reduced-fat salad dressing (on the side, please!).
With a water bottle always on hand, drinking the recommended eight glasses a day has become a mindless habit for me. Not a huge fan of guzzling the good stuff? Make your water work for you! Reap the many health benefits of lemon and lime by using them to naturally boost the taste of your water. If you’re typically drawn to sweeter drinks, try spilling a powdered iced tea or lemonade mix into a bottle of water. Low- and no-calorie options are found in almost every supermarket near the flavored water selection (another good resource for achieving the water goal). If you’re trying to kick the nasty soda habit, explore the market of carbonated water instead.
I was never interested in drinking tea before weight loss, but I’ve since become a big fan. There are endless varieties and flavors, many of which contribute to the wellbeing of both your mind and body. Because each cup can be anything from fruity and sweet to smooth and savory, I suggest everyone at least try it before deciding this 0-calorie, water-based treat isn’t worth considering.
I was also pleasantly surprised to learn about the many benefits of coffee, including its power to provide essential nutrients, burn fat and spark metabolic activity. By adding skim milk instead of cream and a 0-calorie sweetener like Splenda or Truvia instead of sugar, a cup of coffee or tea becomes a guilt-free indulgence.
Fruit and Vegetables
I wouldn’t believe it if you told me years ago that I would one day establish and stick with the habit of snacking on fruits and vegetables, but they have become my favorite go-to between meals. Let yourself get creative with these! I’m always jazzing up my options.
- A banana can easily become a smoothie when thrown in the blender with a handful of ice cubes and a swig of fat-free milk. Add in some berries for a mixed flavor or spinach or kale to get some greens!
- I recently realized my preference for warm and soft versus cold and crunchy, so my new favorite thing is baking carrots in the oven. Just spray a pan with cooking spray and toss them into 425-degree heat for around 20–30 minutes.
- You don’t need to wait around or spend money on a deliciously-baked apple. Slice up one of the apples sitting in your fridge (I’m currently going through a Fuji phase) and use your microwave to get the job done! Trust me on this one; a little heat makes a big difference.
- Consider your fruits and vegetables potential snacks. Use your imagination – I didn’t know I liked my grapes frozen until I tried them! Since then, I’ve realized that all types of frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) taste like tiny slushies that provide powerful punches of low-calorie flavor. Something about frozen fruit makes them taste more like a dessert, so everything from sliced peaches to chopped mango has a place in my freezer.
- Also keep an open mind and check the spice cabinet for additives – anything from a subtle salt and pepper combination to a dash of cinnamon can make all the difference (and even help you burn fat)!
One unique aspect of my experience – and one that my mom says I don’t give myself enough credit for – is how much information I gathered on my own. I don’t say this to brag; I say this to hopefully inspire you to do the same. There’s no reason for any of your questions to go unanswered because the resources on nutritional information are endless! I guarantee no matter what your question is, somebody somewhere has already typed it into Google and somebody somewhere has answered it.
I also find myself constantly learning from the many health and fitness accounts I follow on social media. I no longer go out of my way to find information or waste money on magazines. Now, I receive valuable information from Women’s Health, Everyday Health and LIVESTRONG through my social media feeds every day! Explore Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to find whatever content interests you most. Whether you’re looking to read articles about nutrition and weight loss or look at pictures to motivate you into the gym, these platforms can become quick sources of information and inspiration with just a few clicks!
My eating patterns now are a direct result of the knowledge I gained throughout my weight loss. I used my journey as a learning experience and developed healthy habits that still structure my life today. Hopefully these tips will assist you on your own path to looking and feeling your best.