After one year, I have lost 40 pounds, and many inches off of various parts of my body (I'm too lazy to do the math, get off my back). Which is awkward sometimes, because it's extremely noticeable and people are always like, "oh my god, you look great" which is nice to hear and I appreciate the encouragement but I'm not good at taking compliments no matter what my weight is. ANYWAY. Enough about my success (I feel like I'm bragging), here are some of the things I did that I found really helped.
Get serious about it. If you're not motivated to lose weight, it will not happen. It's as simple as that. You have to approach it as a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet. You have to form new habits and break the destructive ones. There is no magic formula for losing weight and it truly is hard fucking work, and you have to be willing to do it.
Drink water. Like, gallons of it. This is something that every diet website/book will tell you. It's a no-brainer for weight loss. Drink as much water as you possibly can. Replace everything else you drink regularly (milk, juice, pop) with water. Also, cut back your alcohol intake. My own personal rule is to save drinking for weekends (like I could ever completely give that up). And avoid beer. Like seriously, if I have one beer, I magically gain 7 pounds over the night. Not sure how that happens but it does. Moral of the story: beer = bad for weight loss. Oh and also, double fisting is fine, as long as one of your fists has a glass of water in it.
Find a meal plan/technique/support system that works for you. Weight loss can be difficult to accomplish on your own. You definitely have to have discipline for yourself, but getting a little help from others definitely goes a long way. Some people find success with Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, while some people are good enough with websites/apps that help count their calories. I'm not saying you HAVE to do these things, but if you think it will work for you, then go for it!
Make sensible choices when you go out. One thing that always frustrates me when I read weight loss articles is that the main gist of them is "Make your own healthy meals and exercise. It's that simple, LOL". At first I'm like, "thanks for wasting my time with advice that literally everybody already knows" and then I'm like, "how am I supposed to maintain my flourishing social life if I'm eating homemade meals every night?" The answer is that you're not! Trying to lose weight = never going out for dinner with your friends ever. The result is that you'll be thin but you'll also be lonely. Just kidding you guys. I SAID JUST KIDDING! If you find yourself out for dinner with friends, do not fret! Try to find the healthier items on the menu. You can probably switch your fries for a salad. If you're really worried about undoing all of your hard work, you can order an appetizer for your meal (I don't like doing this, going out for dinner is a treat, after all). Also, many Japanese restaurants will make your sushi with brown rice if you request it. It doesn't hurt to ask!
On a related note, make sure your friends know about your weight goals. One thing literally nobody tells you when you try to lose weight is that it can put some pressure on your relationships. You might find that some of your friends may press you to eat things you know you don't need (i.e. dessert). Stay strong, amigo. Or ask to share theirs and take one bite of it and be like, "oh I'm sooooo full". 60% of the time it works every time.
Binges happen. Get over it. Every now and then you'll have a day where you indulge a little too much. Under no circumstances should you see this as an opportunity to fall back into old habits. Drink some water, get some rest and try again tomorrow.
Find the reason why you make poor eating choices. I'm talking specifically to emotional eaters. Is it stress, anger, sadness, etc? Once you've figured out why you eat badly, try to come up with some healthier ways to deal with those emotions. You don't have to share this information with anyone, but you have to be completely honest with yourself here.
Exercise. Okay. I have a lot to say about this one. Most importantly: It's okay to start slowly. I read somewhere that in order to lose weight, you have to do at least 45 minutes of intense cardio 5 or 6 times a week. That's probably true, but if going up one flight of stairs knocks the wind out of you, you're not gonna make it! So here's my own personal advice for starting an exercise regime (and I used to be like, the most inactive person ever):
- Start with something very simple and manageable such as going for walks a few times a week at night. Go for as long as whatever feels comfortable for you. Go at a brisk enough pace for you to get your heart rate going a little.
- Once you're pretty solid at walking, try doing some beginners yoga/strength training. I'm talking downward dogs, lunges, and pushups. I used the programs on my Wii Fit, but there are other exercise videos you can follow along with on the internet. I also find that many fitness magazines have step by step instructions on yoga poses/toning exercises.
- When you have some downtime, invite a friend and go to your nearest recreation centre to do some swimming or skating. Swimming and skating are my two favourite activities because they feel the least like actual work. I'm all about not doing actual work.
- Finally, when you feel like you can handle more intense workouts, consider joining a gym. Again, start slowly here. If you've never lifted weights before, ask a trainer to show you the proper form (I'm 100% serious, you can really hurt yourself if you do it wrong).
Plateauing is frustrating, but it's not a reason to give up. Ughhhh hitting a plateau is pretty much the worst thing ever. But it's only temporary, so keep going. I like to use a plateau as a reason to try something new, like take a dance class or something. Because why the fuck not?
Never starve yourself. Again, this is a no-brainer. Compare your body to a fire that needs a new log to be put on it every now and then. When you feel hungry, drink some water and find a healthy snack.
Listen to your body, but shut out the voice in your head. Do you ever come home from work and think, "I should workout, but I'm too tired"? If you do, don't believe yourself because THAT IS BULLSHIT AND YOU KNOW IT! There is a fine line between needing to give your body a rest and just feeling lazy. That being said, it's okay to skip the gym if you're coughing up blood or shuking or feeling genuinely ill. Go see a doctor instead.
I think that's all the information I have to offer. So now it is time for my final reflection. One year and 40 pounds later, I know I still have a ways to go. But I've never been more determined in my life, and I'm completely confident that I'll be able to continue on this path towards a healthy and active lifestyle (ugh so cheesy I hate myself right now). Thanks to everyone in my personal life for all the love and support you've given me over the past year. I firmly believe that feeling good is looking good, and thanks to you, I've never looked better.