Disclaimer: This is a blog post, not a recipe. I am a criminal justice major, not a nutrition and exercise science major. That makes me not an expert, but this is what worked for me last summer for weight loss as this is how I lost 35 lbs by trying to be healthy and not to lose weight.
It is possible to lose weight on no special diet or juice cleanses, so don't spend money on that. It drives me bananas when people spend money on that stuff because it is not attainable in the long run.
I would say these upcoming tips are more for people who are used to over eating as well; such as eating at the dinning hall in college like a full fed calf or people who eat for pure enjoyment when they are not actually hungry. These tips are what helped me lose the Freshman 15 and also an additional 20 lbs on top of that.
Backstory of My Weight Loss Journey
I lost 35 lbs in 4 months last summer without expecting it. I tried to lose a little weight before that. The most I would lose is 5-10 lbs and then I would gain it back because how I tried to lose weight was not attainable in the long run.
I tried to start being healthier by eating slightly less at the dinning hall second semester of college, but that did not really work.
Last summer I was living on my own. I had freedom to buy whatever I wanted to eat. I told myself I was going to try to live a little healthier! My expectations were only to lose about 5lbs though.
I did not realize I was even losing weight by doing some of these tricks until I randomly weighed myself at the gym. I saw that I was down 15-20 lbs and was confused by the scale. To me, I felt and looked very similar to what I always looked like so I did not know I was losing that much weight.
Weight loss is gradual, and it is hard to notice it is happening sometimes. Since I was unaware of where this healthy journey was going to take me, I did not take any before pictures.
Even if I had before pictures, I would not want someone to think if they looked similar to my before, that they were overweight. I looked fine before I lost weight, I just changed my lifestyle to try to be healthier. In the process of that, I just happened to lose a lot of weight.
I Listened to My Body
Overall, I paid attention to how foods made me feel.
If overeating on salsa made me like a bloated tick, then I knew I needed to stop overeating on salsa. After all, it will still be there in the fridge tomorrow. There is no rush to overeat and finish foods all in one sitting, especially when you can save them for later.
As for the dinning hall goes, it is not like the dinning hall will never serve wings again on Wing Wednesday. They will be there next week.
I Made Some Changes
From April to August of 2019, I went from 175 to 140 lbs by using some simple tricks.
Almost a year later, do I still do these things? Most of the time. I do not exercise as much now with corona going around, but I do try to get at least 7,000 steps a day in and do 3 days a week of lifting. I have not gained a pound back. That more or less has to do with that fact that I have trained myself not to overeat (usually).
Here is what I did differently with my diet:
- Slowly starting to eat less. Obviously, if/when your body is used to overeating and then you start to eat proper portions, you will feel the urge to eat more because you are not used to eating that lesser amount. First semester of college, I was eating multiple plates of food. Second semester, I tried to eat only one VERY full plate of food because I could see what those multiple plates were doing to me. By March, I was eating one plate of food that was not extremely full. By the time I was living on my own in the summer, I was back to eating normal serving sizes.
- NO restrictions. I ate what I wanted to, however, I changed the quantity of my eating. I would start with one piece of pizza, and then take a break from eating and do something else such as reading or crocheting. If I was still thinking about the pizza 5-10 minutes into my reading or crocheting, then I knew that my body truly needed another piece. If I had already forgotten about the pizza, then I knew that I did not need to eat another piece like I would normally do. By doing this, I was amazed at the amount of food my body actually needed to function. I was able to differentiate between what my body needed and what I was eating extra for enjoyment.
- Use small plates. I always use smaller plates (8 inches) because when I use a big plate (11 inches), I end up stuffing myself and putting too much on my plate so it does not look bare and feel forced to finish it. By using a smaller plate, I am able to put food on my plate and not over eat.
- Eat fruits as a snack, I prefer smoothies. I usually eat a fruit or smoothie at about 3 pm. I try to eat at least 2 fruits a day now instead of my usual banana I ate 6th--12th grade every single day. Smoothies are a great way to consume many fruits at once. I do sometimes eat desserts as a snack instead, but I try to keep it more fruits than dessert for snack time usually.
- Eat before a workout! I used to wake up at 8:15 and be in the gym by 8:45. Usually, I am not hungry in that 30 minute time span to eat so often times I didn't. I found that by even eating a few corn chips before a workout I was able to function better during my workout and was even moving up weights faster when lifting.
- Salad. No, I do not mean lettuce and dressing like we were told a salad was when we were in high school. I mean like meats, cheeses, croutons, boiled eggs, dressings, bacon bits, the whole nine yards. That is what keeps you full, not lettuce with a little dressing. It made me feel good to eat a salad because I knew it was healthy and not another unhealthy meal.
- Protein. I discovered that protein leaves you feeling full longer. When you feel full longer, you do not need to stop what you are doing to go eat your 9th snack of the day to end the hunger. I often make protein bites or put protein powder in my smoothies or malts to ensure I stay full and get enough protein. I do not eat a lot of meat either so protein is important to incorporate into my diet (just me personally).
First Semester of College Exercise Routine
At the start of college, I was lifting twice a week (1 hr in total) and doing cardio one day a week (40 mins in total). Usually my cardio was 2 miles on the elliptical as I felt knee pain doing anything else.
Here is how I adjusted my exercise:
- Lifting 3 days a week instead of 2. 2 days a week of lifting and then a 4 day break is not sufficient in building muscle. With more muscle, you can have a higher metabolism (or so I read somewhere).
- Doing cardio after lifting. Instead of devoting an entire gym session to cardio, I made every session 30 mins lifting, 30 mins cardio to balance things out.
- Switch up cardio, slowly. Saying "I must run 5 miles" when you cannot even run one mile is not sufficient. I thought I had knee pain while running, but really I had knee pain because I was overdoing it every time I tried to run. I started running one mile a week (Monday), doing 10 flights of stairs (Wednesday) on the stair machine on level 1, and doing one or the other for Friday's cardio. Over time I slowly increased it. By the end of summer, I was being able to do about 3 miles of running and about 75 flights of stairs on level 8. Each still only took me 30 minutes even with the increases.
- I challenged myself. By the time my body was used to moving in other ways (used to running, used to stairs), I ventured out of my comfort zone and tried to push myself and set goals. One day my goal was to do 100 flights of stairs. Did I succeed? Yes. Would I do that everyday? Definitely not, but it is good to set goals to challenge yourself to be able to say you did it and feel accomplished afterwards.
- Change workout setting. It gets old driving to the gym 3 days a week. There are ways to workout at home if not feeling up to the gym. While I am in college, I can go outside and run on the trail for cardio. I can also run on the treadmill at home too. I can also do a Sydney Cummings strength video with or without weights on YouTube for my lifting without going to the gym.
If I Did Not Have a Gym Membership
In retrospect, if I did not have a gym membership (like I do not right now with the pandemic) I would have done a Sydney Cummings Strength workout on YouTube (MWF). Then, I would have run for speed on Monday (1.5 miles). Next, I would run moderate pace on Wednesday (3 miles). Finally, I would run for distance on Friday (6 miles), after I got better at running. If not feeling up to running, I could also have biked instead.
I Also Made Some Mindset changes
- "If my boyfriend, or whoever, eats 3 pieces of pizza, I need to eat that too." This is false because everyone's bodies work differently and need different amounts of food.
- "I just want to get to a point where I look healthier." Okay, what you going to do after that, Tyanne? Stop doing what got you there? Just because you got to a point where you look better does not mean you can go back to eating an entire tub of Ben and Jerries Ice Cream at midnight and expect a few months of work to keep paying off. Staying healthy is something that should be a long term goal and not something to work towards and then go back to the same old habits. Staying healthy is a life style change. It is a journey, not a destination.
- "Oh, I ate too much today, there goes all my hard work!" Sometimes I think this while feeling very full after eating out. I have to remind myself that chances are, I did not overeat by 3500 calories to gain a pound back. Plus, one pound back or even a few pounds back won't hurt. There are plenty of times I have over ate on occasion while doing these tricks, and that is okay because it is a rarity. It is not nearly as often as it was before which is the main secret of my weight loss: not overeating.
Things I hear people say about my weight loss when I tell them I lost weight:
- "I wish I had time to do that". Its not hard to find time to eat proper portions (mostly what I did) or get an extra few movements in a day. There's plenty of at home workouts that are quick (10 mins or less) and free on Youtube to get some calories burned and have you feeling accomplished for the rest of the day.
- "I just love food!" Well most people love food, I mean I have a foodstagram, and I look at pictures of food all day long; believe me I know. The slower you eat, chances are, the less you will eat and you are able to enjoy every bite more that way instead of consuming a surplus of food because you "love it so much". Plus saving some food for lunch tomorrow gives you something to look forward to.
- "I don't like to work out." Despite the fact that I come from a family that likes to exercise, I did not like working out until college. I worked out a few times after my dance career ended in high school, but that is it. It was not until I discovered that strengthening my weak muscles was going to correct my dance injuries physical therapy was not correcting. That is the main reason why I work out. Working out does not have to be boring either as there are many options. Everyone that works out usually has a reason they work out. Someone with this mindset just has to find their reason.
I managed to keep the 35 lbs off a year later because I changed my life style. When it comes to weight loss, it is best to do what works for you in the long run rather to shred pounds quickly in the short run. I created an attainable lifestyle that I think I will be able to keep up with for a long time to come. I do not believe any juice cleanses or wild diets would have gotten me to where I am today because it would not have been attainable or healthy to keep doing. After all, I tried to be healthy and NOT to lose weight and just happened to be down 35 lbs because I changed my lifestyle.
If you want to read a more recent blog post about eating all the holiday desserts and keeping weight off, click here.