Hey there! We have another awesome guest poster today! Mary, to me, is a total rockstar. She is motivated and REALISTIC. So many times we expect ourselves to be super-human. Once we start a weight loss plan, we expect things to happen overnight. Mary's here to give us some tips and tricks on what has worked for her to lose 100 pounds in just 7 months. Be sure to check out her blog and follow her. You won't be sad you did!
My name is Mary, and I blog at [a small loss]. The name of my blog refers to a dream I had before committing to lose weight, in which I realized I was willing to sacrifice both vision and hearing in order to understand what it felt like to be unburdened by excess weight. In terms of my long-term goal, my physical loss would be anything but small: I had 210 pounds to lose.
Now, about seven months later, I am over halfway to my goal, with less than 100 pounds to go. I am constantly amazed by this success - I have been a big girl my entire life, and despite always wanting to change for the better, I never seemed to get the knack of losing weight for good. This time, though, I seem to have figured out a plan that works for me, and the results are speaking for themselves.
I get asked quite frequently about the details of my plan, what I have been doing to lose over a hundred pounds. I think the secret is that there really are no secrets. Regardless of what dietary plan someone chooses to follow, the success of every weight loss plan boils down to eating better, eating less, and moving more. It's a hard truth to swallow, I suppose - everyone seems to want a quick easy fix, and the makers of diet pills and gimmick exercise machines have made a fortune off of it. We didn't gain the weight overnight, though, so we can't reasonably expect it to fall off that quickly.
That said, there are a few things we *can* do to ensure that the journey to lose weight is a little easier for us - not easy, just easier. These, I would say, are my "secrets," though again, they're hardly secrets.
1. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
This is unbelievably important, especially when you're first getting started - finding or creating a system where you feel supported is absolutely essential. Many of my past attempts to lose weight were unsuccessful because I felt completely alone in my journey, so this time, I created a blog to get in touch with people who understood this part of my life. The community I have found online is invaluable to me, and I owe so much of my success to the advice and support I have received from other bloggers. Does this mean you need a blog? Of course not - this is just what worked for me. Your support system could be a friend, a family member, a co-worker - or several, the more the merrier!
2. Take baby steps.
Again, excess weight is not gained overnight, so losing it will take some time. Going immediately from couch potato to workout fiend might work for some people, but odds are that if you overdo it, you'll burn out and lose interest. Slow and steady wins the race! Changing eating habits is the same way - it may be easier to phase out the less-healthy choices than quit them completely and all at once. One of my big weaknesses has always been cheese - I would binge on whole blocks in one sitting - so whenever I wanted to lose weight, I figured cheese would have to go, and I cut it out entirely. I always ended up craving it so badly that I would snap and binge; this could have been avoided by allowing myself a small portion. I'm still working through this part of my recovery, and I honestly don't trust myself with a block of cheese just yet, but I've found that buying a single piece of string cheese will satisfy my cravings.
3. Make sustainable changes.
Weight loss is more than just the loss itself - when focusing on how to reach your goal, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you'll need a plan to maintain your loss once you get there. Despite what celebrities may claim, working out six hours a day and drinking only lemon juice and cayenne pepper aren't good ways to lose weight, because they aren't sustainable. You can't do that for life. There will be birthday parties and celebrations and rainy days and personal tragedies and a million other reasons to skip a workout or eat "off plan" - that's called living your life, and the best you can do is not get worked up over it. Sometimes the guilt feels harder to lose than the physical pounds - so it's incredibly important to have faith in yourself and your ability to balance your "off" days.
4. Keep your body guessing.
It's good to have daily calorie intake and exercise calorie output goals, but it's also good to mix it up sometimes. Vary your meals as well as your workouts - going too heavy on either carbs or cardio will be just as bad as not getting enough of either. If you do not know your basal metabolic rate (BMR), here is a link to a great post by Half of Jess that explains really clearly how many calories you should eat every day. For example, I am 5'6", 24 years old, and 232 pounds, so my BMR is 1854. Since being even just lightly active burns calories, you use your BMR to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and find out how many calories you should consume daily in order to maintain your weight. As a moderately active person, my TDEE is 2874. That's a lot of calories! I don't set a very strict limit for caloric intake, but since cutting 3500 calories should net a one pound loss, I try to stay between 1200 and 1400 calories a day to lose between 2 and 3 pounds a week. But of course, some days I'm hungrier than others, and so I eat a little more - again, that's me sustaining my life.
5. Work out your mind as well as your body.
There are innumerable positives about choosing to get healthy and lose weight, but one dark and often hidden truth is that it isn't a smooth and straight line from A to B. Something that tends to get overlooked with weight loss is the emotional change that occurs as your body physically changes. Even if you haven't been overweight or obese for very long, the transition to a healthy life and a smaller body is one that takes some getting used to. Don't wait until the last pound is lost to start your emotional weight loss. The road gets bumpy, and this is where your support system can be incredibly helpful - talk to them! Even if you write a blog, it may be helpful to also keep a paper journal for recording your thoughts and emotions. You may also consider a counselor or therapist to help with sorting out your feelings about the new you.
6. Don't see slip ups as complete failures.
Psst! Another non-secret: you're human. If one bad decision turns into two, three, or even ten, remember that it's never too late to turn it around. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. This is a journey - we don't turn around and head home because we got lost. Stop and take a deep breath, assess the situation, and ask for directions if you need them. And just keep going.