When I asked readers about their resolutions for the coming year, many mentioned losing weight. I can certainly understand that. But too often we’re yo-yoing up and down the scale. That’s why I think maybe we don’t need a new resolution but rather to focus on these 3 simple steps to lose weight and stay healthy.
I spend all day sitting in front of my computer pounding out books. With seven children on top of that, I don’t have a lot of time to worry about fitness or what I’m eating. I bet YOU don’t either. Besides, diets are often too strict and unpleasant. And who wants to live life worrying every second about what we put into our mouths?
A few years ago after I noticed a bit of weight creeping on, I did try a diet that basically included meats, fruits, veggies and no sugar except a cookie or two on Sunday. It worked wonders, but I could only keep it up a year. When I re-added regular carbs to my diet, the weight returned with a vengeance, appearing in places I never had fat before. Ugh!
Last year, I made a decision to focus on developing overall healthy habits, and it’s working! First, I had to reset my metabolism by basically eating anything I wanted for six months before slowly starting new changes. I had to teach myself that carbs were not my enemy and in fact useful for energy and for better thyroid function (which means your metabolism and the rate you burn calories).
I’ve narrowed these changes into these 3 simple steps to lose weight OR to stay healthy. Be warned, this is no overnight fix. No obsessive eating, swearing off sugar, or spending half the day in the gym. No huge weight loss (maybe 10 pounds every six months), but also no cutting out foods you love or yo-yoing with the weight.. These are little steps anyone can do to start becoming more healthy, happy, and to have more energy.
Sleep is the best place to start—and the easiest. When we’re overworked or stressed, sleep is usually the first thing to go. But if you’re not sleeping, losing weight is doubly hard. I know you’ve seen movies or read books with a too-skinny hero or heroine, a tragic figure who doesn’t sleep. Guess what? THAT’S FICTION. In real life, your body needs rest to be its best.
How much sleep do we need? That varies. Children often need 10-11, while teens (who can sleep all day) need at least 8-10, and adults need between 7-9 hours. I find if I can get seven hours, life is so much better.
When I sleep, I have more energy, my body works better, and I feel less stress. My metabolism works better. Plus, I’m less likely to eat impulse foods to keep myself awake, which can be high in calories or can mess up my metabolism.
If you do one thing today about losing weight, get some sleep!
Daily food choices are also something where small differences will make a huge difference over time. But instead of focusing on what to avoid, the 3 steps to lose weight focus on what you should eat. That includes three good meals a day and snacks. Food is fuel!
Don’t skip lunch
So many times in the past, I would work right through lunch. Then often I would grab whatever came to hand, and that usually wasn’t a healthy choice. That was when I noticed I was gaining weight.
Recently, I just happened to be exchanging emails with a reader who told me he lost weight by eating regular meals.
What? I thought.
Well, he’s right. It works. Yes, wise food choices are important, but skipping meals played havoc with my metabolism. Eating three good meals made it so I had less desire to snack on foods that were NEVER coming off just sitting in front of the computer.
Become aware of what you’re eating
I recommend writing down your food choices or using something similar to the My Fitness Pal app. Not to restrict your diet, but to become aware of what you’re eating, and to better understand what food choices might be better. It pays to monitor yourself every few months to see where you’re at.
Make small food changes
I think the biggest error I’ve made in the past regarding food, was to completely change my diet and to give up foods I love. It never lasts. But making a few changes is something I can stick to and even learn to love. Here are a few I started with:
- Filling up a 30 oz. mug with herbal drink or water and keeping it handy through out the day.
- Making an effort to eat more fruits and veggies, by bringing some in a bowl to my desk.
- Laying off the rice and potatoes. Instead of a cup, I take a few tablespoons. Brown rice and potatoes with skins is a better choice.
- Using a vinegar dressing or cottage cheese on salads. (I love this!)
- Eating larger treats only on the days I do some exercise.
- Finding a few low-calorie recipes I love and that are easy to make with ingredients I always have on hand. Here’s a link to my three favorite meals, which I actually eat almost every day.
You get the idea! And I’m sure you can come up with a lot more to add. The point is to just pick one or two things in the beginning. Learn to love those and then go on from there.
3. Get Moving
Yes, you knew some kind of exercise was going to be a part of my 3 steps to lose weight, didn’t you? But don’t despair. If you’re like me and can’t spend hours sweating at the gym, you can still find simple and enjoyable ways to get yourself moving.
- Do some yard work a couple mornings a week.
- When shopping, park far away from the entrance to get in a few extra steps.
- Buy a hula hoop and watch your favorite show while you revisit your childhood. (The picture of this three-pound hula hoop is the one I use. It was a Christmas present from my husband and I love it.)
- Arrange with a friend to walk around the block a few times a week. Not only will you be more likely to find time, but you’ll have more fun.
- If you work at a desk all day, make sure you get up once and hour and walk around the office.
- Use your lunch hour to get up and get moving. Eat and then take a short walk.
- Instead of driving, walk to a neighbor’s or to church or to your child’s school.
- Take up a new hobby—tennis, biking, swimming. Have fun!
- Put on your headphones and dance all alone in your room. Even twenty minutes two times a week will make a huge longtime difference.
- Go to the park with your kids, grandchildren, or your neighbor kids.
- Get a video and learn how to belly dance.
- Take a yoga class.
- Use your imagination to figure something else that gets you up and moving. Nothing is off the table.
A great way to get moving is to volunteer a little time in your community. For instance, I’ve been going to my daughter’s grade school to push kids on swings and help out in the lunchroom. It takes less than an hour, and not only do I put a smile on the kids’ faces, but I get moving! I don’t like to disappoint the children, so I keep going, even when I’m tired.
Lifting weight is especially important if you’re over forty or if you’re a woman. In fact, you may find it next to impossible to lose weight without lifting. Building a little muscle not only will help you burn more calories all day, but will give you more definition. However, this doesn’t have to be a big production. I began with inexpensive hand weights and used them while watching Netflix. I do three sets of eight to ten repetitions lifting as much as I can each time (which isn’t much, lol).
Choose just a few
No need to jump in and do all the above things all at once. Just choose a couple and find out what you enjoy doing. If it’s fun for you, you’ll be more likely to continue. If you hate it, find something else. Soon you’ll be doing twenty minutes a day of extra steps and maybe something more intensive a couple times a week. Don’t forget the weights! It’ll become habit and you won’t really notice the effort. Plus you’ll be able to enjoy more activities and have more fun.
3 Simple Steps to Lose Weight and Stay Healthy
That’s it. Small changes with sleep, diet, and exercise can do amazing things. Not in a month or two, but over a year or two. This isn’t about finding your skinny high school body (if you had one!), this is about being happy and finding your healthy place and maintaining it for a lifetime.
What are your simple tips to losing weight, feeling good, and staying healthy? Please post them below.
Copyright 2018 Teyla Rachel Branton
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