Monday, November 26, 2012

Colleen's weight loss tips

It's funny how many websites post things like this yet I still have people requesting that I do a post listing my most important "weight loss" tips.  So, for my purposes- and hopefully you will find some helpful- here are my healthy living tips, centered around losing weight.  If you guys like this I could do a post centered around what I think is important in creating a healthy lifestyle- NOT a diet.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and not approved by any specific doctor, it's simply what has worked for me.  The best thing you can do is what works best for you and your lifestyle.

1. Keep a record of everything you eat.  Whether it is a journal, on the computer, an app on your phone, calorie counting, or pointsplus (weight watchers) counting- write it down.  And be HONEST.  The only person you are hurting by lying about what you are eating is yourself!  I track every single day at multiple points throughout the day.  It is such a habit that if I miss a meal I feel compelled to catch up and track before the day ends.  Also keeping track of strong emotions or thoughts centered around food at specific times can help you pinpoint triggers and trouble times or places.

Great example

2. Know the appropriate portion size and stick to it.   Read the label or look up the calories before you dish out your food!   That means in the beginning you may need to measure everything.  Buy a cheap measuring cup and spoon set from your local kitchen supply store and don't just keep them in the drawer- use them!  My 1/2 cup and 1 cup measuring cups are in constant rotation in my drying rack because I use them every day, multiple times a day.  I'm such a frequent user, I have multiple sets.  You can also weigh your food if you don't like measuring, this works better than measuring cups on really bulky items like cereal and pretzels.  Even after 3 years, I still weigh and measure many of my foods and drinks every day.

cheat sheet

3. When you shop in the grocery store, stick to the perimeter.  This is where all the fresh food lives and where you want to buy the majority of your groceries.  Think fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, low fat dairy, and don't forget the great frozen options as well.  Often times frozen fruit/veggies are cheaper and just as nutritionally rich as fresh, so don't be lulled into the false assumption that if you don't have an astronomical food bill you aren't eating healthy.  You can eat healthy on a budget.  Dr. Oz wrote a great article about it in the most recent TIME magazine if you want to check it out.  I try to avoid overly processed foods and snacks.  I do always keep 94% fat free popcorn in the house if I want a salty snack that is filling, too.

Think colorful!

4. PLAN!!  This could have been number 2 but I'm actually not the biggest planner when it comes to food (I know, shocker!).  I plan but not every single meal for every day/hour like some.  I like to know I have some flexibility so that I don't feel like I'm dieting, but every day I have an idea of what I'm going to eat.  When eating out is when I actually plan the most and will often track my meal before arriving and ordering.  Many restaurants have their nutritional information on their website (some right there on the menu) so do your research before going out to eat and it will save you frustration and regret.   My husband and I plan our restaurant choices around my healthy lifestyle (o yeah, Adrian rocks!) so I know what I can eat at our favorite spots.  Since I eat out a lot for work and with friends I know what is best to chose from any given type of food....and know what to stay away from.  For example: grilled or baked chicken vs. fried or even blackened (they add sugar on top to blacken).  Also if something says smothered, creamy, or heaven forbid "heavy" I stay away at all costs. 

5. Know your hard limits.  We all have our red light or trigger foods that make us just lose all sense of control.  When I first started this journey, I cut fast food COLD TURKEY because I was addicted to fast food.  I was so addicted I had withdraw symptoms- headaches, shakes, and cravings so bad that I felt like I would simply die if I didn't have a fix immediately.  I haven't eaten anything at a fast food place in over 3 years and I don't plan on EVER eating at one again.  With subways, chipotle, q'doba grill, and panera breads pretty much everywhere, I have never been in a situation where I HAD to eat fast food or not eat.   I will never go back there, even though some have "healthier" options now.  For me it is the equivalent of an alcoholic going back to have just 1 beer because it's "light" so therefore it's ok.  You would never say that to an alcoholic, so please don't pressure me to eat at a fast food place.  This is a hard limit for me.  I also adamantly refuse to step foot into buffets- particularly of the Chinese variety.  They are disgusting and hardly ever have healthy options, and I don't want to support something that was so harmful to me and the country at large.

Red means stop!

6. Get moving!  This seems so simple...and it is!  "Exercise" doesn't have to be done in the gym at super high intensity to make an impact on your health.  Walking is a great activity that is good for your hear and not hard on your joints.  People often say they "only walked" and that's not fair! Walking is great activity and you would benefit greatly by adding it to your routine.  Most importantly- find activity that you ENJOY doing!  If you love dancing, try zumba- it's fun!  If you like working out with others, try a fitness class like step, kickboxing, or maybe join a sports team.  Just get out, have fun, and remember that everyone is too concerned with themselves to judge you. ;)

Have fun!

7.  This is about YOU!!  Don't be afraid to be a little selfish and worry about yourself for once.  Ultimately you are making a great choice by taking control of your lifestyle choices and if it means you can't split a large pizza anymore with your friend then they will have to move on- and they will if they are your friend!  If it means you have to get up an extra 30 minutes early to get a workout done in the morning, it's your choice to do it.  Even if your new lifestyle results in a little less time with your significant other, just remember- you are adding years onto your life to continue to share with your loved one!

8. Don't be afraid to say no!   Just because your grandmother made a huge chocolate cake does NOT mean you have to eat a slice...or 3.  If you want to have a piece, then it is YOUR choice, not somebody else's.  I've dealt with many food pushes in my day and in many different forms.  The important thing is that you need to remember that this is your lifestyle change, and therefore your choice to abstain (or not) from a particular food.  Your grandmother/aunt/mother/friend will get over you not trying their dessert.  They won't get over you dying at 40 from obesity related disease.  Point that out to them and they shut up really quickly. I know. I've said it. 

9. Saying yes is ok, too! I find that the more I restrict myself the more I want to binge, so I plan into my day little treats- whether it be something sweet or salty.  The bottom line is if you always restrict everything and never enjoy the little things in are dieting. It won't last. Live and little and enjoy life!

10. It's all about WANT power! Everyone says that I must have incredible will power to have changed my life so drastically.  Really- it's all about WANT power.  I wanted to change my life, and I knew I had to. SO I DID.  It's simple really, although that doesn't mean it's easy- some days it feels impossible.  When it gets rough and I want to binge I dig deep to my reasons behind losing weight- my health and happiness.  That's what many call their anchor.  It's important that we decide to lose weight for our own reasons and not just to make somebody else happy. Our own happiness is most important!  And remember: YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Yes, you can!!

So, now that you've heard mine, what weight loss tips can you add?  I love hearing new tips!


  1. Best post ever! I especially like the analogy about alcoholics. One thing a lot people don't realize about living a healthier life is that light, healthy snacking between meals will take away food cravings late at night, which is half the battle!

    1. Thanks!! And very good tip- snacking throughout the day on healthy and filling snacks is key to keeping you from eating a crap ton of food later in the day!

  2. Great post! I like that I am already following some tips. I agree with Adrian this is one of your best ones. Honest, right to the point, and helpful!

    1. Thanks, Melissa! Keep up the great work, too :)

  3. Thanks!! I wanted to change my life, and I knew I had to. SO I DID.

  4. LOVE THIS! I also think that reading and hearing about other people's success stories is a big help. I still can't hear enough how people are successful and DOING it. Also, the reality of maintenance isn't all flowers and bouncy houses. It's as much, if not MORE, work to keep it off. If you accept the reality that you need to change your life and continue to do it FOREVER, then you will be successful.

    1. That is so true- this maintenance and end of the losing line is hard! But you are right, it's all about forever!

  5. I have to also agree, best post ever! This was extremely helpful to me to read this and to know some of the keys to your success.

    I like eating healthy but when I get home from work I'm so exhausted, I often turn to over processed foods that seem quicker to heat up and eat. I don't like eating over processed foods either. I try to cook meals on Sunday for the week and have leftovers to eat at lunch at work. But I think I eat too much over-processed stuff and need to add more veggies to my diet! and need to find easy ways to do that. I do buy frozen veggies, and that has been helpful.

    1. Thanks, Tanya! Fruits and veggies are awesome and so much more satisfying then their processed counterparts :)

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