[Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional about health care changes before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.]
I’ve struggled for 15 years to lose weight, and haven’t had much luck.
What was I doing wrong, I wondered?
I ate a balanced, whole foods diet and lived an active life. I even went to yoga. I couldn’t figure out why these things weren’t enough to get my body to drop the extra pounds.
I was frustrated and ready to give up, but I decided to give it one last shot. I’ve had plenty of experience trying fad diets and starting dramatic new “lifestyle changes” only to find myself quickly overwhelmed.
I never stick with any of that stuff, so this time I decided to make small, manageable changes that I could maintain. I’ve lost fifteen pounds so far.
Here’s what finally worked for me:
1. Go to the doctor.
There are a lot of medical conditions that can cause weight gain and slow the metabolism, and many of them can be easily fixed. It doesn’t hurt to at least rule them out. My problem turned out to be a sluggish thyroid. When I got on the proper medication, I felt a lot better and had more energy to exercise.
2. Take probiotics.
Tons of evidence links disruptions in gut flora to obesity. Bad bacteria can actually cause us to crave unhealthy foods and to gain weight. When we supplement with the “good” bacteria that our bodies need to thrive, the imbalance is corrected and people really can start to lose weight. I figured it was worth a shot and taking one tiny probiotic pearl every day certainly wasn’t a difficult thing to do for my health.
3. Get a Fitbit (or a similar device).
I’m not shilling for Fitbit here. Any pedometer or smartphone app that does the same thing will work. I just happen to have a Fitbit and love it. The trick is to get 10,000 steps per day or more. For me, measuring my exercise and seeing visual proof of it gave me the sense of accomplishment I needed to stay motivated every day. Plus, it’s fun.
4. Cut Carbs.
This was big for me. I was eating all whole grains and thought I was being healthy, but I was still eating way too many carbs. I gave up pasta and bread because those were empty calories, and replaced them with more nutrient-dense foods like greens and lean protein sources. I stopped eating my favorite Asian dishes with my beloved brown rice and realized I didn’t even miss it.
5. Play More.
Exercise should be fun and recreational—not a chore. I realized that while I despise anything that happens in a gym, I love hiking, swimming in the ocean, canoeing and doing anything “outdoorsy” so much that I don’t even realize I’m exercising.
6. Manifest Weight Loss.
I try to visualize my goals. In yoga, when we set our intentions, I tell my body that it’s okay to let go of what it doesn’t need.
7. Cheat Days.
Some experts think that cheat days—where we can eat whatever we want—is good for the metabolism and prevents weight loss plateaus. I really don’t know if this is true, but psychologically, knowing that I can have a cheat day here and there helps me not to feel deprived, and it lets me feel like I still get to have fun on holidays and special occasions. Most of the time I eat big plates of veggies, but once in a while I can still have macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake.
8. I Stopped Rewarding Myself With Food.
I’d gotten into the habit of this, and it was hard to stop treating myself to French fries and ice cream every time I felt like I’d worked hard and accomplished a goal, but I made a list of non-food rewards, and now whenever I need a treat I consult my list and go get a pedicure or a new perfume instead.
9. Have a bedtime snack.
It helps me stabilize my blood sugar and stops me from snacking on junk or gorging on an unhealthy breakfast the next day. I usually just have a couple teaspoons of unsweetened almond butter and a glass of water.
10. Intermittent Fasting.
This can mean a few things depending on who you ask. Some people restrict their calories on certain days, others skip one meal per day, others juice fast once or twice a week. I change it up, but most of the time I replace breakfast with coffee or tea, eat a sensible lunch around 2pm, enjoy a light, early dinner, have my spoonful of almond butter before bed and that’s it. Note that I also don’t do this every day, because I don’t feel like that would be the healthiest choice for me.
None of these ten changes have been painful or difficult for me to implement or maintain and the results have been obvious. I feel really good and I’m so much happier with the way I look.
I hope some of these tips work for you, and always remember that each of us is beautiful and worthy of love and good health regardless of our outward appearance.
Author: Victoria Fedden
Editor: Toby Israel