If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you may have hit the pesky number on the scale that is just 10 pounds shy of your goal weight, only to discover, those last 10 pounds aren’t giving up without a fight. (Please know that our ideal weight should be one that is based on our height and weight – every body is different, and if you’re not sure as to what your ideal weight should be, always consult your doctor.)
Now immediately, I want to say, I am not a nutritionist, and I am speaking solely from my own experience having finally, nearly two years ago, lost those last 10 pounds after trying for ten years to get them to simply go away. Last year I shared in depth ideas on how to get and stay in shape (click here to read), so today I’d like to simply share ways that have worked for me to take off and keep off those last few pounds.
There is an inner confidence that fills you from within when you feel and know your body is healthy and at its optimal performance. You wear your clothes with more confidence, you hold your head a bit higher and you begin to enjoy being in your own skin, celebrating others for their beauty instead of being envious because of them you are content with who you are.
I will begin by saying this however – there is no quick fix. All of these tips I suggest are permanent changes I have instituted in my life. After all, if we want a body that we respect, we must respect our body and understand that when we take care of it, it will take care of us as well as it possibly can. So with that said, here is what worked:
1. Drastically reduce or eliminate processed foods. When I reviewed Nell Stephenson’s book Paleoista, I was introduced to a handful of ideas that I began to incorporate my life. No, I am not a full-fledged paleoista. After all, I am a Francophile and proud of it, and that includes the cuisine as well – cheese, bread, and chocolates - but I came to realize that so much of what she shared made since. Why would I want to fill my body with ingredients that aren’t really food? Why would I want to abuse my body that way? So I’ve tried to consciously and significantly limit the processed food that I eat – no pizza, less milk, nothing out of a box, reduced pasta meals, no cookies, etc. I certainly feel less bloated and more satiated because what I do choose to eat is more balanced and satisfying.
2. Reduce your sugar intake. Refined sugars found in many of our desserts, condiments, sauces, and morning treats just to name a few, are items that by reducing can surprisingly cut your craving for sugar throughout the day. I was amazed how when I chose not eat cookies anymore, that I actually didn’t crave them after a certain amount of time. Natural sugars from fruit – go for it, but again, it comes back to my first point – reduce the processed foods.
3. Ditch the soda/pop. I’ve never been one to enjoy pop. I’m not a saint by any means, but to me I was always conscious of my calories and saw liquids as a waste of calories that I could have enjoyed far more in a wonderful meal. So my drink of choice is water or tea. There is something very refreshing about a cool glass of ice water with a hint of lemon that quenches my thirst every single time. Not only is it healthier, but it’s easier on my wallet.
4. Keep your exercise regimen simple. As I mentioned in my post last year, I used to workout like a fiend as I was a step aerobics instructor during college sometimes teaching three classes a day. What I discovered is that while I need to do something aerobic everything single day, I don’t need to beat my body to a pulp to achieve the results I want. There may be times when you want to train for a marathon or triathlon, so you change your training, but otherwise, simply stick to a regular routine (for me I prefer walking briskly) and do it every single day. Eventually you will see positive results.
5. Allow yourself to feel hungry. I have read my fair share of fitness and diet books, and many of them state that we should eat every three hours. While this may work for some people, what I’ve discovered is that if I never let my body feel hungry (not starving), I am never certain what it really needs. If you truly are in tune with your body, you will know what it needs – protein, vegetables, water to feel hydrated. But to understand your body you must pay attention and you must not continually be shoving food down your throat simply out of habit or because it’s in front of you.
6. Include protein and fiber. A quick way to satiate your hunger that often gets forgotten because we are being bombarded by sugary concoctions is the amazing powers of protein and fiber. While it does take time for our bodies to register when we are full (approximately 20 minutes), after eating some protein – chicken, fish, etc or having some fiber – for me it’s oatmeal (porridge) in the morning, you’ll stay full longer than if you just popped a Starbucks coffee cake in your tummy with a side of a tall latte.
7. Keep portion sizes in check. Whether you choose to use smaller plates or simply place less food on your plate, allow yourself to get used to smaller portions, but make the portions you are eating delicious and filling, so you are less likely to notice the reduced amount.
8. A wonderful night’s sleep. The power of a good night’s sleep is quite profound. Not only does it help us feel more energized, but also when we sleep a full 7-8 hours our body isn’t begging for food to keep going if we are pushing it beyond what it can do.
9. Lift weights. You certainly don’t have to do anything drastic, but choose to incorporate a strength program into your weekly routine (1-3 times a week) that targets your arms, legs, abs and anything else of interest. You can easily do this type of routine at home with a few dumbbells from your second-hand store and a yoga mat, and it doesn’t need to take longer than 10-15 minutes.
10. Reduce snacking. See point #5
11. Walk more, drive less. Walking is one of the easiest exercises to incorporate into our daily lives no matter where we live and no matter what climate we live in. Either incorporate it into your daily routine or hop on a treadmill.
12. Be consistent. Once you have incorporated these habits into your daily life, the changes you seek won’t happen overnight, but they will happen with consistency. Find pleasure in these routines and somehow make them your own. In doing this, you are certainly more apt to continue to do them regularly.
13. Always keep in mind moderation. The only thing I have cut out of my diet are cookies (and that’s only because I can’t say no to just one). Other than that, I eat real food – whatever I want, but I try to enjoy the bites I have and really savor well-took meals. Whenever I have indulged with a particular food too much, I am not as fond of it or don’t enjoy it as much the second time around, partially because it feels comfortable (physically) to eat too much, and no one wants to feel that way after a meal.
14. Be kind and forgiving to yourself. Sticking to anything 100% of the time isn’t going to be possible, but what makes these work for me is that if I do slip up, I don’t beat myself up. Instead, I get back on track immediately and move forward. After all, we’re human. We’re going to make mistakes, but the longer we stick to habits that we gradually see working, the more apt we are to be less tempted to stray.
15. Create a life you love. Continually strive to create a life that involves your passion, routines that invigorate you and people who uplift you. When you create a life that you love, you will choose to eat food to fuel you, not to comfort you, and then . . . then, you will have become the master of food and not the other way around.
Make no mistake. I am not stick-thin. In fact, I remember shopping in Paris this summer in Eric Bompard being helped by one of the saleswomen and noticing that her hips were quite narrow compared to mine, but you know what? For the first time, I was happy in my body. I knew I was at a weight that I am happy with and love, so I could appreciate her unique beauty and not be envious. It was an amazing feeling!
I know these tips sound far too simple, and I trust me I know that every body is different, but once we establish the idea of respecting our bodies and not reaching for food to make us happy, we will find a happier way of living because we will feel better in our skin and discover we are beginning to live up to our true potential.
Below are a few books in which I found inspiration to not make drastic changes, but instead create a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle: