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10 Unconventional Diet Tips: How to lose 50 pounds in three months

10 Unconventional Diet Tips: How to lose 50 pounds in three months
The following are 10 unconventional weight loss tips that worked for me. Between January 4, 2006 and March 31, 2006 I lost fifty pounds. These tips work well because almost every tip is focused around completing a small goal. In my opinion, to stay motivated and lose a significant amount of weight, you should complete many goals in a short period of time. The reason I call these tips unconventional is that I had not seen a majority of them before starting my diet.

I will start by recognizing the typical “calories in, calories out” schpeil. Yes, to lose weight you have to eat well and exercise. But there is much more to it than that, and I don’t want to spend time regurgitating ideas you’ve heard before. That brings me to the first point:

Buy a digital scale
This seems easy enough. I recommend that before starting a diet, buy a scale that is accurate to .2 (two-tenth of a pound). I will explain why below. I also recommend either buying a scale that can record your daily weight, or manually logging your weight everyday. I bought a scale that was accurate to .2 and logged my weight at Sam’s Club for $22. It has been a great investment.

Weigh yourself everyday
You’ll find that almost every other dieter will tell you to weigh yourself only once a week. I recommend the exact opposite. I am very goal oriented and I like to see results everyday. The reason I recommend buying a scale that is accurate to the .2 is that there is a very big difference between weighting 170.8 one day and 170.0 the next day. Losing .8 pounds in one day is excellent. However, if your scale is not accurate enough to report the loss and still shows 170 after a day of healthy eating and working out, you will feel extremely discouraged. A more detailed scale makes it easier to keep a positive outlook. The more successes (days with positive weight loss) the easier it is.

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Drink 8 glasses of water everyday
This one is obvious and broadly recommended, however, the reason I recommend it is slightly different. Drinking eight glasses of water per day helps you “feel less hungry.” I can’t prove this scientifically, however, when I am at work, I drink 4 cups in the morning and 4 cups in the evening. On the days that I don’t drink the water, I feel hungrier, earlier. Also, on the days I don’t drink water I feel sleepier, sooner. Don’t feel intimidated by trying to drink 8 glasses of water. Try doing what I do: I have a pint glass I keep at work, it holds sixteen ounces (as all pint glasses do). All I do is drink two pints of water in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Make your diet public
Tell people you’re on a diet. There’s no reason to be ashamed to be on a diet. I found that trying to keep my diet a secret was harder than just telling people. In fact, telling your coworkers, girlfriend, family, etc. will increase your accountability. It motivated me knowing that my coworkers and family knew that I was dieting because I did not want to fail. I also chose a typical “fat picture” and put it on my fridge, in my cubicle, and on my wall. I wanted to have a continual reminder to lose the weight. I know it’s a cliche, but it was important for me to remind myself of my ultimate goal.

I feel I should also note that although I was 50 pounds over weight, when I told people I was on a diet they often said “you don’t need to diet.” I found this surprising because I was obviously overweight. Beware that you will likely hear similar comments. I found it easier to just accept the “compliment” than to try to justify my diet to them. Remember that you are on a diet for you, and that you do not need to justify yourself.

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Don’t diet on the weekends
This is another unconventional bit of advice. I was able to lose 50 pounds without dieting on the weekends. I found myself tired, depressed, and unmotivated if I tried to continue my diet into the weekend. I felt that Friday and Saturday (my weekend) was a time to celebrate 5 days of dieting. You may not find this necessary, especially in the first few weeks of a diet. However, as many weeks passed, the weekend became a time for me to celebrate my weekly successes and get myself mentally prepared for another five days of dieting. I considered it a mental recharge.

Don’t sacrifice your life for your diet
On occasion, you will find yourself unable to eat healthy. Whether this is because of lunches with your team at work, birthdays, or special occasions, there will be events that you just can’t (or don’t want to) eat healthy. A diet will feel overwhelming if you have to sacrifice special events in your life. The way I combated this was to exchange a day that I was not going to diet on the weekend. In other words, if I didn’t diet on Tuesday, for example, I would diet on Saturday, instead.

Make the small changes
This is a pretty common tip, however, I have a twist to it. Rather than giving up what most diets say you should give up (soda, coffee, beer, caffeine, etc.) just make healthier decisions. I didn’t want to give anything up, so I decided to make some changes instead. The first switch I made was switching to diet soda. Don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to the flavor. Before I started my diet, I swore I would never drink diet soda. Now thanks to my girlfriend, diet is the only soda I drink. The second switch I made was to drinking black coffee. Cut out the sugar and creme, and you get the benefits of coffee (caffeine) without the calories. The last major switch I made was to “healthy” beer. I’m a Miller Lite drinker, however, by temporarily switching to Beck’s Premier Light (60 calories per serving) I was able to still enjoy a healthy social life while maintaining my diet.

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In addition to making the small changes in your diet, make the small changes in your life: park further away, walk to the end of the train platform and get in the last car, and vow not to take an elevator for an entire week. I also found it advantageous to wear a pedometer and try to compete against myself for how far I could walk in a single day. The furthest I walked in a day was 6.5 miles. I voluntarily walked to work twice a week.

Gain perspective by understanding the fractions
Your diet is an incredibly small fraction of your life. If you live for 80 years, and dieted for four months, that would only be .42% of your life. That’s right, if you diet for four months, it will be less than one half of one percent of your life. On the other hand think of the major benefits you can get from .42% of your life. If it helps you stay motivated, count down the days starting at 120.

Rationalize your workouts
Finding the time to get to the gym can be very difficult. However a 1/2 hour workout is only 2% of your day (assuming 24 hour days). For me, the most motivating thought was comparing my workouts to sitcoms. As a huge Everybody Loves Raymond fan, every time I would sit down to watch an episode, I would remind myself that in the 1/2 hour that I was sitting and doing nothing, I could complete my daily workout.

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You’ve lost the weight, what now?

Have a red flag weight
Once you’ve lost the weight, you need to keep it off. This is where the red flag comes in. You need to pick a weight and vow to never get heavier than it again. It is normal for your body to fluctuate five to ten pounds. I recommend picking a weight that is ten pounds heavier than what you “normally” weigh and never weigh more than it again.  Setting a red flag weight allowed me to keep off every pound for over 1 year.

Lastly, for the curious out there…I followed the Weight Watchers diet. I did not pay for the diet, nor did I go to meetings. I found out all the information about the diet on-line. The first place to look is at their patent.

All well known diets are available via Google Patent Search.  For the several months that I was dieting, I also gave up red meat and made sure to drink a lot of milk.  The preceding tips worked perfectly for me and they will work for you, too. Prior to creating my own diet plan, I tried to diet several times and failed every time. I swear by these weight loss tips.  What do you think of them? Do you have a tip that didn’t make my list?  Let us know in the comments.  I will be glad to answer any questions or defend any point.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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