1. No more soda!
This was the kicker for me. Two years ago I resolved to eat healthier and try to lose a few pounds. I stopped drinking coffee with cream and sugar; I stopped eating sweet things like doughnuts and pastries for breakfast; and I made a real effort to pass on cookies and sweet snacks when I was hungry. But the biggest, and I think most beneficial, change that I made in my life was that I stopped drinking soda. I will still drink a soda with lunch or dinner every now and then, but having a soda is the exception now rather than the rule. I drink water or iced tea. In two months I lost almost 15 pounds. Even though I have slid back into my hold habits in a couple of those areas (coffee being the most notable) I still don’t drink soda and I never gained any of that weight back. Get off the soda, get off it now. You will thank me.
2. Eat smaller meals more often.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals causes your metabolism to always be in burn up the calories mode. Eat your first meal within an hour of waking up. Studies have shown that eating a breakfast with lots of protein can help you feel less hungry later in the day. Low-fat or non-fat yogurt with some fruit is an excellent breakfast. So is oatmeal. Oatmeal is one of the best things you can eat. Not the pre-sweetened instant junk, real oatmeal. Look for steel cut or rolled or old fashioned oats. Your meals should be healthy meals and light snacks, not junk food 4 times a day followed by a huge pasta meal at 8pm. Raw nuts are also very healthy: almonds or walnuts. I snack on almonds and raisins as a mid-morning snack. My menu looks like this:
Breakfast: Oatmeal (old fashioned oats) with walnuts.
Morning snack: non fat cottage cheese and either mandarin oranges or pineapple.
Lunch: A sandwich (ham on whole wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber) or a frozen meal with not much fat.
Afternoon snack: Raw almonds and raisins or a protein bar.
Dinner: Steamed vegetables and salad, sometimes a meat dish.
3. Eat smart.
Avoid foods high in fat. Weigh the amount of calories and fat against the amount of vitamins, fiber and protein. Eggs are a good source of protein, but they are also high in fat and very high in cholesterol, but all that bad stuff is in the yolks. Egg whites by themselves are almost pure protein. If you’re eating eggs, think about using egg beaters, or only using the yolk from one egg. Stay away from starchy white breads and processed sugars. Switch to whole wheat bread. Use a site like http://www.thedailyplate.com/ to track what you eat. It’s free and has tons of cool features: you can track your weight; you can set your activity level and see how many calories you need to eat to lose weight; you can create meals that you eat often; they have a huge database of foods including meals from different restaurants, and if you come across something that is not in their database you can easily add it. Use it to track every single thing you eat for a couple of weeks, if nothing else it will make you more aware of what you’re eating. Switch to low-fat or non-fat dairy products. Personally I don’t care for not fat milk, but I do drink the low fat 1%. Non-fat cottage cheese tastes exactly like the regular 4% fat kind. Switch to non-fat.
4. Don’t eat before bed.
This is a big one. Eat your last meal of the day at least three hours before you go to bed. Going to bed a little bit hungry is an excellent way to burn calories. If you have a big bowl of ice cream right before bed, your body will be busy burning those empty calories rather than burning the calories from the stored fat in your body. No more snacks before bed!
Get on some kind of exercise routine. There are thousands of them out there. Of course Beachbody has some outstanding programs! Something that gets your heart rate elevated. Even if all you do is walk a half mile on breaks at work, that’s something. However, if you do walk while at work, walk for exercise not to socialize! So many times I see people walking along at a leisurely pace chatting with their friends. That is not the way to burn calories! Walk quickly, as if you were late for a meeting. The goal is to get your heart rate up. Even a brisk walk will not burn as many calories as were in that doughnut you had for breakfast, so do not have the mindset that walking will make up for all the junk food – it won’t. Another idea is to take the stairs if you work on an upper floor. Even if you only take the stairs to the 2nd floor and then take the elevator the rest of the way, at least it’s a start. Have a goal, though: take the stairs to the 2nd floor for a month and then to the 3rd floor the second month. Challenge yourself.
6. Get Support.
I know I said 5 easy tips and this is the sixth, but the title “6 Easy Tips…” didn’t have the same flow.
You need to have some support on this journey. Losing weight and getting healthy can’t be a fad or something you “try for awhile”. It has to be a life change – you are losing some bad habits and starting fresh new healthy ones. It will help you tremendously if you have people behind you, encouraging and supporting you. Family, friends, coworkers, it doesn’t matter. What you don’t need is someone policing you, someone who says, “Oh, Aaron, I saw you eat that cookie just now, shame shame shame.” Tell people you are trying to get healthy, ask them to keep you accountable. Keeping you accountable means asking, “Carol, how is your healthy eating coming along? How do you feel? You’re looking great!” Sign up on a health and fitness message board, let people know you’re trying to change your life for the better, post your progress there and you will get tons of support and well-wishes.
Good luck. Have faith in yourself – you can do this!