It is hard to lose weight and keep it off for life. The weight loss struggle is real! According to the World Health Organization, almost 40% of adults worldwide are overweight. And that number goes higher every year. More people are struggling to lose weight than ever before. But, I want you to know that it is possible to permanently lose weight with the right mindset. There are many people who have succeeded. And it is possible to lose weight with healthy methods without using harmful dieting techniques. Start your weight loss journey off on the right foot by arming yourself with these healthy tips and tricks from lifestyle blogger Shelley Hanson from Sensibly Shelley
I met Shelley in one of my online blogging groups. She and I immediately hit it off, as we have had the same struggles with losing weight and keeping it off. She has successfully changed her mindset and lost weight permanently. Want to know how she did it? Well, I asked her to share her story with you here on Pink Ribbon Runner. And I was thrilled when she graciously agreed to do just that as my honored guest blogger. I know you will enjoy her story and find healthy, practical, and useful weight loss tips to use in your own life.
Without further ado, here is Shelley’s story and healthy tips to stop your own weight loss struggle for good.
How I Finally Ended My Struggles with Weight-Loss
Weight loss is such a struggle! Take it from someone who has been there more times than I care to admit. But not anymore. I am proud to say that I have lost more than 25 pounds and kept it off for years.
Want to learn my secrets? I was hoping you would say that. But in all honesty, my secrets are not secret. I just didn’t realize that I needed to incorporate everything together to make it happen.
“The distance between who am I am and who I want to be is only separated by what I do! ” – Unknown
Now, my story:
Changing My Relationship with Food
I have struggled with my weight and body image my entire life. As a child some of my family used to call me Shelley Belly. It didn’t bother me much as a kid…or so I thought. Looking back, I realize that even though my nickname was, and still is a term of endearment, it really did influence my body image, and my relationship with food.
With age comes wisdom, right? I have learned a great deal about nutrition, and fitness throughout my 50+ years of life. I have overcome many challenges in my life with one of those challenges being my relationship with food.
It is my sincere hope that by sharing my story with you, it will provide you with some comfort knowing that you are not alone and, at the same time inspire you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Developing a Weight Loss Mindset
First and foremost, you must change the way you think about food. I don’t know about you but whenever I would hear the word “diet”, I would cringe. I would think to myself, no pizza, no sweets, AND I will be starving!
Whenever I would think about starting a diet, I would have to mentally prepare myself in advance and, of course, I would pig-out on all my favorite foods prior to starting the dreaded “diet”. But that just meant a few more pounds to lose.
Today, the word diet doesn’t bother me except when I hear someone else say that they need to go on a diet. Then I have a strong desire to educate them, which means pointing out they are wrong and not everyone appreciates that. So here is my chance.
“Weight loss doesn’t begin in the gym with a dumbbell; it starts in your head with a decision.” – Toni Sorenson
My Advice for Dieters
This is what I would say to “dieters”:
You need food to survive. Food provides nutrition your body needs to function properly. It is good for your brain, muscle repair, your immune system and so much more. You should never subject yourself to starving to lose weight.
With that being said, let’s jump in to how I finally ended my struggles with weight loss.
Eat A Healthy Diet for Weight Loss
As I just mentioned, you need food to survive. Eating a healthy diet is the best way to nourish your entire body and help you lose weight too. Eating foods high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats helps you feel full, so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
Good sources of fiber are whole grains, nuts, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Fruits and vegetables are also low in calories.
Since protein is harder to digest than carbohydrates, it keeps hunger pains away longer. Foods such as eggs, fish, and lean cuts of meat are good sources of protein.
Replace Junk Food with Healthier Choices
Another simple trick to eating healthier is to substitute junk food or foods that have little nutritional value for foods containing more nutrients. Simply put, make healthier choices. It’s easier than you think.
When I began substituting some high-calorie sugary foods for more nutritious foods I admit, there was some will-power involved. But before long, the new choices became automatic for me. I don’t even consider eating a donut or muffin for breakfast.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a lover of all things chocolatey and gooey, I just eat them in moderation. It is perfectly okay to indulge on occasion. If you don’t allow yourself to have some of your favorite foods, it could backfire. You may end up going hog-wild and eat an extra-large piece of cake!
More Healthy Eating Hacks for Weight Loss
Just remember baby steps. If you make one small change at a time, it is a step in the right direction and that is progress. Set yourself up to succeed by being prepared. Keep healthy snacks in your desk drawer at work. Keep cut-up veggies in your refrigerator. Easy-to-eat fruits and vegetables like grapes, bananas, or baby carrots will also keep you from reaching for unhealthy alternatives when hunger pains strike.
Exercise Regularly for Weight Loss
Along with a healthy relationship with food, you must get some form of physical activity on a regular basis. When you engage in any type of cardio exercise, it increases your heart rate to burn more calories.
But just like the concept of the dreaded “diet”, many people dread “exercise”. Changing your perception will help. Turn your thoughts away from “exercise” towards “physical activity”. All you need to do is find something fun you like to do. Choose an activity you enjoy and try to work it in most days of the week.
Breaking Old Habits to Make Fitness Part of Life
At this point you may be thinking, “I’ve tried this before. I start off good, then after a couple of weeks, I’m back to my old ways.” Yep! I’ve been there and have done that too.
For many years I would exercise frequently, but not regularly. Then I decided to make fitness a part of my life. I felt good. I felt more confident and upbeat. So don’t be too hard on yourself and, by all means, don’t give up!
“The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.” – Unknown
Fitness Hacks for Sustained Weight Loss
Here are a few tips that will help:
- Vary your routine to keep from getting bored. If you walk all the time, try substituting one of your walks with some yoga or swimming.
- Get a workout buddy. Workout buddies support and motivate each other.
- Be prepared. Have your workout gear packed in your gym bag or laid out on your dresser the night before. You will be less likely to skip your workout.
- If you are short on time, you can break your workout into shorter workouts. It still counts!
- Find an activity you enjoy.
Every time you fit physical activity in to your day, it increases your chances that this healthy habit will stick. I can’t go a day without some form of physical activity. The only time this has ever happened was due to sickness or a family emergency. I just remind myself that it is just one day, and I will get back to my routine the next.
“I don’t work hard because I hate my body. I workout because I love it !” – Unknown
Disclaimer: Talk to Your Doctor Before You Start
If you have a heart condition, limitations due to cancer, or other serious medical condition, seek the advice of your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Always remember to:
- Warm up for no less than three minutes
- Stretch before AND after every workout on warm muscles
- If it hurts, STOP!
- Cool down for 2-3 minutes
- Drink plenty of water before and after
Weight-Loss is Not Measured by Numbers on a Scale
We all love to watch the numbers go down on the scale. But then what happens when you hit the dreaded “plateau”? Do you give up? Do you go to dieting and exercising extremes? I will tell you that will back-fire and it is not healthy.
Even though I exercised every day and watched what I ate, the scale hardly budged. It was so frustrating! After I gave birth to our youngest child at the age of 39, I was able to lose some weight but had little success getting below 150 pounds and staying there.
After all these years, I finally realized what I needed to do shed the pounds and maintain a healthy weight. But it wasn’t just about the number on the scale finally moving in the right direction, it was about how my clothes felt and how I felt in my clothes.
Keep reading if you want to know my secret weight-loss weapon.
Cardio Exercise Alone Is Not Enough for Sustained Weight Loss
For me, cardio exercise just wasn’t enough. Exercising and dieting together worked better. But it still wasn’t enough. The scale was stuck no matter what I ate or how much I exercised.
Don’t get me wrong, being physically active and eating healthy foods are still necessary to end your weight-loss struggles. But the one thing that I was missing was incorporating strength training into my routine. This was the secret weapon I needed.
Strength Training for Weight Loss
Not long after I added strength training to my routine, not only did the scale start moving, but I felt the difference in my clothes too! I got more satisfaction out of the way my clothes felt and looked on me than I did with the numbers on the scale. It was so motivating!
The reason strength training is beneficial to weight loss is that it increases endurance and builds muscle. The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn, even at rest. This is especially helpful for older women.
Another good thing about strength training is that you can do it in the comfort of your own home, that it what I do. Going to the gym really isn’t necessary. I have a set of dumbbells, but you don’t even need that (at least at first).
Body Weight Exercises: The Secret to Weight Loss
Body weight exercises such as push-ups and squats count as strength training exercises. You should start out slow without any weights and as you build strength add light weights.
Here are some dos and don’ts:
Do use proper form for each body weight exercise.
DO use slow, controlled movements. Moving too fast can cause injuries.
DO engage your abs, it protects your back and strengthens your core.
DO Not lock your knees, always keep them slightly bent.
DO press through your heels, not the balls of your feet.
DO Not keep going if it is painful.
The phrase “no pain, no gain” is NOT true!
How to Make it all Work for Successful Weight Loss
So now what?
Maybe you have heard about nutrition, regular exercise and strength training a hundred times before, but you just can’t seem to make it stick. I get it.
My advice to you is to take baby steps. Maybe you already follow a healthy diet. Then you should work on adding physical activity several times a week. Once this takes hold, add strength training. Baby steps!
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out” – Robert Collier
Be SMART about Weight Loss Goals
Another thing you really should do is set SMART goals. Setting SMART goals is the best way to achieve and maintain weight-loss. Never heard of SMART goals? Let me explain.
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. If your goals fail to any of these criteria, your chances of achieving your goals will be dramatically reduced.
Oftentimes we are bombarded with marketing efforts that guarantee quick, dramatic, weight-loss. “You can lose 10 pounds in just one week!” This is not only almost impossible for many people, but unhealthy.
Here is an example of what a SMART goal should look like:
“My 30-year class reunion is 10 months away and I would like to lose 20 pounds”.
This is a realistic goal because it equates to losing 2 pounds a month. It is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.
More Weight Loss Tips and Hacks
Is there anything else you can do that will help you lose weight?
A Good Night’s Sleep for Weight Loss
And did you know that you burn calories while you are asleep? That’s right. Most people burn anywhere from 40-55 calories every hour they are sleeping. Do the math. If you sleep for 7 hours, that is anywhere from 280-385 calories while you sleep!
Limit Stress In Your Life For Weight Loss
Stress and unhealthy eating can be a vicious cycle. When we are stressed, we tend to reach for our favorite comfort foods which are usually not very healthy. When we load up on unhealthy foods, we may become even more stressed.
Chronic stress increases cortisol production and can result in extra belly fat. There are many things you can do to manage stress.
Here are a few things to try:
- Healthy Diet
- Practice Gratitude
- Chewing Gum
- Play with Your Pet
- Learn to Say “No”
- Listen to Music
- Get Adequate Sleep
- Getting Organized
- Taking Baths
Did you happen to notice that a few of these items are also part of the weight loss tips I’ve already mentioned?
Drink Plenty of Water for Weight Loss
Drinking enough water helps keep all the systems in our body working properly. And ice-cold water helps rev up your metabolism. Drinking ice water can temporarily increase your body’s calorie-burning power because it must work harder to warm it to body temperature. Drinking 8 pints of ice water every day will cause your body to burn, on average, an additional 120 calories.
And, if you drink a full glass of water before a meal, it will create a feeling of fullness which will help you eat less. Additionally, when you think you are hungry, try drinking a glass of water first and then wait a few minutes. If you no longer feel hungry, you may just have been thirsty.
“A huge part of losing weight is believing you can do it and realizing it’s not going to happen overnight.” – Unknown
End Your Weight Loss Struggle
To end your struggle with weight-loss, remember to:
- Follow a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Do strength training 2-3 x week
- Set realistic goals
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
- Manage stress
- Drink plenty of water
- Maintain a positive outlook
I continue to utilize these same components today. And I am happy to say that I have successfully kept the weight off for years now. You can do it too!
The better you are at maintaining your weight, the less you need to worry about losing a few extra pounds.