I participate in a wonderful and supportive online community of ladies (and gentlemen) that tend toward geek culture. Recently, a forum user asked for dieting advice as she was about to embark on a new, healthier regiment.
So, what’s my best dieting advice?
1) Don’t diet. Diets are not sustainable, are often very lofty (cut out all white foods? good! I’ll just add more brown sugar. TO EVERYTHING), and more often than not, you’ll end up back where you started. To be successful, it has to be a lifestyle change. As crazy as it sounds, it really is as simple as ‘Eat less, move more’.
2) Small goals work best. If your goal is “I want to lose 80 lbs” you’ll feel like it’s impossible and to achieve and you’ll have a hard time getting there. Planning for between .5 and 2lbs per week to lose, knowing that 1lb is a healthy average. (Note – if you see a diet that suggests you can lose more than this in a week, say FAR away. And see #1.) Other small goals can include double my water intake or take 40,000 steps this week. Keep it achievable and dependent on your fitness level and nutrition needs.
3) Measure everything. When you’re starting out, measure it all. Even down to the creamer in your coffee. You truthfully won’t get the hang of ‘eyeballing’ things until you’ve made a conscious effort to measure. And even then, if you have the time, measure anyway. More often than not, you’ll be surprised to see what a serving actually looks like compared to what you’ve been serving yourself.
4) Find support. It can be your BF, it can be your parents, a friend, or even me! Someone you can talk to when you’re struggling who can get you back on track. Ideally, someone who’s struggled with their weight or had similar struggles so they can offer sage advice, or at least understand where you’re coming from.
5) Cook for yourself. It’s the easiest way to control what and how much you eat of something. Check out this post about my favorite recipes.
5.5) If your recipe makes multiple servings, pack the additional servings up immediately after cooking and put them away (before you sit down to eat). Out of sight, out of mind. I invested in a bunch of Pyrex containers and LOVE them.
6) Prepare prepare prepare. Make shopping lists and stick to them. Keep your fridge stocked with good choice snacks and meals and watch out for foods you know you have trouble controlling yourself with. If you know you’re going out to eat, look at the menu ahead of time so you can make a good decision.
7) All that being said, eat what you want. The minute you deprive yourself of food you love, you’re on a diet. (See #1) Focus on portion control. Love pizza? Have it a couple times a month and order a small. Load it with veggies. Candy? Buy dark chocolate squares or the mini candy bars and make sure you account for each one you eat.
8) Exercise ≠ Gym. Find a way to move more that you don’t despise and you’ll do it more. Walks, Zumba, Dancing, Wii Fit, Cleaning – whatever floats your boat!
9) Find an anchor. Could be a person, could be a trinket, could be your “fat pants.” Pick something that brings you back to the core reason you’ve decided to make this lifestyle change and keep it where you can access it. When you’re struggling, remember why you started, look at how far you’ve come.
10) Restart. We all have bad days. Bad weeks. Bad months, even. Give yourself a break, give in to the occasional indulgence – but don’t forget to restart tomorrow. Better yet, restart at your next meal, or even right now.
I can’t recommend Weight Watchers enough. It’s the only thing that has worked for me, and I spent 28 years of my life yo-yo dieting or just not giving a flying you-know-what. I’ve maintained a 50lb loss for more than a year now thanks to WW and my amazing leader, Betsy. Leave me a comment if you want to know more.