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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
You’ve lost the weight, what now?
10. 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. 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.
Featured photo credit: Siora Photography via unsplash.com