While I am not a health or fitness expert, I am a woman who, like most women, cares about my weight and wants to look my best. I spent some time living overseas and came back with more than just experiences and souvenirs, I was horrified to discover that I had put on 15 pounds! I thought the weight would fly right off as soon as I was back on US soil but that was a bust. I started working out like a fiend, watching my diet…and still, I didn’t shed a pound. After six months of frustration I decided to stop going the traditional diet and exercise route and figure something else out. It took some trial and error but it was worth it. I lost 25 pounds in less than a year and I have kept it off for six months now.
Here is how I did it:
1. Green Juices
I have been on and off with juicing for the past few years. I’ve been back on for the past few months and the results are enough to make me never go back! I learned about the benefits of green juices from celebrity nutritionist and best-selling author Kimberly Snyder and make her glowing green smoothie every morning (you can find the recipe here).
Making the smoothie in a blender ensures you get the maximum vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can be stripped away in a juicer. It also keeps me full throughout the morning. In addition to losing weight, the biggest and most noticeable improvement is how great my skin looks! I barely need to wear makeup anymore because my skin is perfectly smooth, even, and I have a natural glow that not even the best blush can create.
MORE: How to Get Gorgeous Skin
2. Keep a Food Diary
Keeping a food diary has been a big eye opener for me. I spent months trying to figure out why my dieting efforts weren’t paying off. It wasn’t until I started keeping track of every morsel of food that went passed my lips that I realized I was taking in way more calories than I realized.
Most people underestimate how much they are actually eating in a day which can lead to frustrations if you’re trying to lose weight. If you track everything you eat (and I mean every crumb!), you’ll have a better awareness of what you’re actually putting into your body and where you might be getting derailed.
3. Give Yourself One Cheat Day
It’s important to have a day where you can indulge a bit, just don’t go too overboard. The idea of never eating your favorite foods can mess with you psychologically and cause you to crave them even more.
Losing weight isn’t about banning the good stuff, it’s about learning the art of moderation. My cheat day is usually Saturday because weekends are tough for dieting in general anyway.
4. Do a Detox Day
I’ll admit that sometimes my cheat day starts Friday night and carries all the way through Sunday. Like I said, weekends are tough! I usually eat a little more over the weekends, and am not as good about getting to the gym, so I make Monday my detox day. What that means for me is eating only things that can be found in nature, not in a cardboard box. I also try to avoid, or drastically limit, carbs on my detox day. I usually find that one day to reset my system is enough to undo any damage from too much weekend indulging.
5. Load up on Veggies (and make them delicious!)
You can eat super healthy and stay satisfied as long as you’re eating the right things. The best way to avoid caving into your cravings and overeating is to load up on good-for-you foods like vegetables.
I personally never cared much for veggies until I learned how to make them delicious. Just buy a bunch of spices (I especially love rosemary and oregano), dump them on an assortment of vegetables, stick it in the oven and enjoy.
My personal favorite is zucchini. It’s very low in calories and has a high water content so I feel full.
6. Watch the Booze
We’ve all heard that alcohol has tons of calories….I just never knew quite how many (probably because I was always too scared to find out!).
The fact is, two grueling hours at the gym can quickly be destroyed by a fun night out. A shot of vodka or tequila packs almost 100 calories. A margarita averages 250 calories. A beer averages 150 calories (and who only orders one, so now you’re at 300 calories and you only have a minor buzz going!). Wine also packs about 100 calories a glass (and again, who just has one?).
If you cut alcohol, you will expedite your weight loss efforts but you will also probably be miserable from having no social life so that’s not much of a solution for most people. The easiest thing to do is make sure you mix your liquor of choice with seltzer or lemon juice instead of a sugary juice.
When I know I’m going to be drinking, I also try to be a bit more stringent with my diet (if you eat less you’ll also have to drink less to feel a buzz!). Or I’ll make sure to structure my day so I can spend extra time at the gym . You can shed pounds while maintaining your social life, just be aware of how much you’re actually consuming and tweak your diet and workout to balance out the extra calories from alcohol.
MORE: 5 Ways Your Social Life is Making You Fat
7. Don’t Just Rely On the Scale
One of the biggest issues most people have when it comes to weight loss efforts is staying motivated. And nothing can put a wrench in your level of motivation like working hard and not seeing results. When it comes to the scale, some days you can go down a few pounds, then you might go up another pound, then stay the same for a few days in a row.
This can get very discouraging and might make you feel like all your effort is being wasted. Instead of just going by the scale–which can be unreliable because everyone fluctuates and if you’re working out a lot you can be building muscle which weights more than fat–you should also measure yourself to track your progress.
Measure your waist, hips, arms, and thighs regularly and track your progress. If you’re doing all the right things, you may not always see a difference in the scale but you will notice changes in your measurements. Taking pictures every week also helps. You probably won’t notice a difference when you look in the mirror, but you definitely will in a picture, especially when you compare it to photos from the week/month before.
8. Working Out Isn’t Enough
I was never much of a gym buff but about eight months ago I decided to join a gym for the first time in seven years. I expected to see instant results and allowed myself to eat a little more freely since I was working out so hard five days a week. After months of intense workouts I didn’t lose a single pound!
It was only when I decided to change my diet by implementing all of the suggestions above that the pounds started melting right off. The fact is, it’s much easier to take in calories than it is to burn them. I mean, it takes a few minutes to eat a cupcake and about an hour on the elliptical to burn it off.
Exercise has many benefits and can absolutely contribute to your weight-loss efforts, but it’s a trap to think that working out alone will help you reach your goal. Once you do lose the weight, exercising will help you maintain it and you’ll be able to enjoy some of your favorite foods. Adding more intensity to your workouts will help you reach your goal faster, but only if you make the necessary diet modifications as well.
MORE: Why Your Workouts Aren’t Working
So there you have it, all my best weight loss secrets. I’ve lost ten pounds so far using the tips I outlined above and it really wasn’t all that difficult and I never felt deprived.
Got another weight loss tip to share? Tell us in comments!