I was inspired to write this because yesterday, I learned that since I started my fitness journey, I’ve lost 25 pounds! In a year, I’ve gone from 162 pounds to 137 pounds. I’m 5’5” if that matters. But I didn’t do anything drastic…I just took small steps at a time. (“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”)
So I thought it might be useful to someone if I share some of my tips on the changes I made in my life. These incorporate weight loss into everyday activities. My progress was slow and steady, but added up to a lot at the end. It’s always best to start small. That makes it easier to stick with it and not give up. So these are some of the things I did along the way:
1. Step counting
If dieting is hard for you, doing more walking is an easy and practical way to get the exercise that it takes to burn off the calories. My step counter clips onto my clothes, but there are watches that do this also.
Using a step counter helped motivate me to get more exercise. I made it into a game. Each day, I challenged myself to see if I could break my own record for the amount of miles walked in a day. (The highest I've ever reached was 15 miles in one day.) My goal was to walk at least 10 miles each day and most days, I accomplished that. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Basically, just try to keep moving all day and sit down as little as possible.
If 10 is too many for you, then you can choose your own goal. Maybe start with 5 and work your way up. (Having a desk job can limit the amount of walking you can do.) Other than a treadmill, the things that added the most steps were:
- Cleaning the house. The chore that involved the most walking was doing laundry, specifically putting it away. That’s because of having to walk to different areas of the house to put each item where it belonged. Vacuuming is also good.
- Grocery shopping. Walking through all those long aisles really adds up.
- Window shopping at the mall. Go to the mall for a few hours and walk around the whole time. This is fun and the time will fly by.
(Caution: Window shopping might become real shopping. Try leaving your wallet in the car.)
- Taking out the trash. Especially in an apartment complex, walking to the dumpster can be a long way to walk.
- While at home, walk while doing things you would usually sit for. Some examples are: walking around while reading a book, while studying, while watching TV, or while being on your phone (either looking online or talking on it),
2. Changing eating habits
- Only eat when you are hungry. This sounds obvious, but think of how many times people eat just because it’s lunchtime. Or just because it’s morning, they automatically eat breakfast. Go by the signals in your body instead of the time of the day. If you’re not very hungry yet, then wait until you are.
- Keep snacks in the car instead of in the house. If you have to go outside every time you feel like having a snack, that will make you not want to. It will stretch the time between snacks and sometimes will make you decide not to even have the snack at all. This is much better than having snacks within reaching distance.
3. Learn to deal with hunger
A bit of hunger is a necessary part of weight loss. That’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re not eating as much as it’s used to. But of course, eating less than enough is the goal. So there will be a battle between you and your body.
I also like to think of hunger as being what losing weight feels like. Similar to how having sore muscles is what building muscle feels like. For most people, hunger is the number one reason that they have trouble losing weight…because they’re not able to handle that feeling. Here are some simple tips to help:
- When you become very hungry, wait one hour before eating. Giving yourself only a limited time to be uncomfortable will make it more bearable.
- Brush teeth. Have you ever noticed that after your teeth have been brushed, food isn’t as appetizing anymore and doesn’t taste as good? This can be used at any time of the day, to reduce cravings.
- Stay occupied. The busier you are, the less you will daydream about meals.
4. Intermittent fasting
This is a new one for me. I just started it a few weeks ago, but I’m getting results already. This is what helped me get past the weight that I was stuck at. I hit a plateau at 140 pounds and wasn’t able to get below that until I started doing this.
The concept of intermittent fasting is to eat only during a set amount of hours each day, then to skip eating the rest of the day. One of the most common splits is 16-8...fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours.
The reason for this is to give the body more time to burn off the food that has been eaten.
- Eating window. For me, it’s easiest to skip morning eating and start eating later in the day. My food cravings are always highest late at night, so I try to have my eating window as late as possible. So I usually do 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Those are the times that I eat between. So most of the fasting time is while I’m asleep and I’m essentially just having a very late breakfast.
- Don’t overeat after fasting. Just because your eating window is smaller than normal, don’t eat more than you usually do to make up for it. Try not to binge eat during this time. Stay reasonable with the calories and eat as healthy as possible.