When I first started this weight loss journey that's exactly where my mindset was; weight loss. I wasn't focused on much else. At the time that's what I needed...small steps. I needed to take it one small goal and one day at a time. Every day I woke up and went to the gym instead of lying in bed was a victory.
Once that had become routine, I set higher goals and pushed myself to go further. I exercised at a higher level on the elliptical machine, then pushed for a longer time. Now I've started weight lifting three days a week.
I'm realizing that instead of saying IF I reach my "big goal" but rather I am saying WHEN I reach that goal.
In four days I will hit my four month mark from when I started exercising everyday and counting my calories. I've come a long way and still have a long way to go but the journey has been great and very rewarding.
For the first time ever I do consider myself athletic. Being athletic doesn't mean I'm at my goal weight yet, or that my abs are ripped, or that I can compete in a triathlon. However it does mean that I'm PHYSICALLY STRONG, FIT AND ACTIVE! :-)
So not that I've become an expert in four months, but here are some tips I've learned that can maybe help and encourage someone else....
1, One Day At A Time.
This is especially important when you just beginning. In the beginning it can feel overwhelming and your goals can seem so far away. So just look at the "Now" moment and focus on getting out of bed that day and eating better and exercising.
2. Set Mini Goals.
Set smaller goals for yourself instead of looking at that BIG goal that seems months away. Start off with something like Wearing My Wedding Rings, within the first week or two of exercising I was able to wear my wedding rings again and lost some swelling in my hands. This was exciting for me and I used that as a Mini Goal.Try using goals like Losing 10lbs, Losing 10% of your starting body weight, Reaching your halfway mark, Moving down to the next size pants, etc. Reaching these Mini Goals will motivate you to keep working to reach that Big Goal.
3. 21 Days.
It takes about 21 days to form a habit and about the same to break one. So the first three weeks of your exercise and eating right routine will be your basic training. It will be tough but keep pushing through. Try to wean your body from the salty/sugary foods during this time. After the first two or three weeks without these foods your body will start craving them less.
4. Do More Walking.
Take the stairs, park at the end of the parking lot, walk the long way to get your child from the bus stop, instead of pilling all your laundry into one basket to carry upstairs...take more smaller loads (more trips up and down the stairs), if time allows go ahead and walk back and forth through the store to do your grocery shopping, if you live in town somewhere walk to the store or walk your kids to the park when possible.
5. Drink More Water.
By drinking only water or skim milk you'll be cutting out more calories than you think. I only drink unsweetened tea, water or skim milk. No pop, fruit juices, or sweet tea for this girl!
6. Have Healthy Snacks On Hand.
If you take some time to make sure you have some veggies cut up or healthy snacks in stock you'll be less likely to eat unhealthy food due to lack of time. When you're in a hurry and don't have time to prepare healthy food, that's when it's hardest to stay on track.
7. FAST Food Is Okay; Not FAT Food.
If you are in a rush and have to make a stop at a fast food joint; don't fret. Just get in the habit of choosing healthy options no matter where you go. Most fast food chains now offer healthier options. Grilled chicken, fruit cups, side salads, bottled water, unsweetened tea. You can easily still eat out and only put 400-500 calories into your meal.
8. Don't Write Off Junk Food Forever.
No, that's not a typo. A lot of people will cut their unhealthy snacking and go months without even tasting it but then backslide and binge majorly. The hardest part of eating healthy isn't cutting out unhealthy food....it's learning to control the portions of unhealthy food that you eat. It's okay to have chocolate, candy, chips, etc EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE and when you do, have the serving size, not 10 servings. :-) I've learned to LOVE Wendy's Jr. Frosty's. They are the PERFECT size and I really don't need more than that. I look back on the days when I would have a medium sized Frosty and I wonder how I ever did it. :-)
9. Learning To Crave Healthy Food.
After a while your body will begin to crave healthy food and resisting junk food will become even easier. I've noticed that especially on days when I have a hard workout I crave a good salad or fresh fruit....my body definitely knows which foods will give me the energy boost I need. If I do stray and eat not-so-healthy food, I immediately learn my lesson. My body starts to feel run down and slow and I am reminded why I should have gone with the fruit & veggies.
10, Strong Support System.
A strong support system while trying to lose weight and become fit is a must. My close friend and workout buddy is a major part of why I've been so successful. It's so much easier to get up and head into the gym knowing someone else is depending on me to be there. Posting my weight loss accomplishments to Facebook and MyFitnessPal have helped so much. I know my friends and family are seeing my accomplishments. They encourage me and hold me accountable to my goals. Don't try to do this alone!
11. Diet & Exercise
For the best results these must be done together. While you can lose weight and become healthier without doing these hand in hand it will eventually catch up with you. You can't exercise and expect to be able to eat a large pizza and see results in six months. It's possible to lose weight without exercising but it's a lot more difficult and will take longer.
12. Know Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)
My BMR is 1647 calories. That means if I stayed in bed all day I would still need to consume that many calories to keep my body functioning. This also means that when trying to lose weight I should not go below this amount of calorie consumption per day during my weight loss. You should "eat back" the calories you burn exercising to fuel your body, otherwise you will fall below your BMR and start eating away at your muscle. Then in the long run you will be losing muscle mass and it will be harder to maintain that weight loss. For example, if I burn 500 calories exercising I should be eating a minimum of 2147 for that day. Here is a link to a BMR calculator: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
13. Listen To Your Body
If your body hurts during your workout ease up. A little pain is acceptable, but if you're truly uncomfortable don't push so hard that you cause an injury. Easing up on your workout for a day is better than taking off for a whole week because you injured yourself. Same goes for eating. If you reach the end of the day and are STARVING (I'm not just talking about a little empty feeling) and you don't have any calories left, go ahead and have a 200 calorie snack. In most cases your body is telling you it needs it. Throughout the week you might have another day where you're not quite as hungry and eat less and your weekly calorie totals will average out.
14. Charts Aren't Always Accurate
Doctor's office height/weight charts are not completely accurate. They're a good guideline but you shouldn't base your goals solely off those charts. You can't tell just by using someone's weight and height how fit or overweight someone is. One person could be 5'5" at 145lbs with 30% body fat and a larger waistline while another person with the same height and weight is more muscular with a body fat of 15%. Pay attention to your inches, how your clothes are fitting, and overall how you look and feel. Here is a body fat calculator: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/body-fat-calculator/ Use this to more accurately define your fitness and weight loss goals.
15. Don't Stress Watching Your Scale
I have fallen into this trap over and over again. Just this morning I had a strong dislike for my scale. :-) Remember that a lot of variables can make your scale fluctuate. Don't get too upset if you see your scale go up a pound or stay the same without budging for a few days. As long as you are eating better, exercising, building muscle, etc in the long run your body is going to be better off than you were when you started. Don't expect immediate results and patiently wait for the transformation. It's happening even when your scale doesn't reflect it. :-) Look at your weight over the course of a month or two. As long as you see a downward trend you can breathe easy. Stick to your "guns" so to speak and you'll reach those goals before you know it!!
I hope what I've said helps you in some way. Like I said, I'm no expert, these are just things I've learned myself and that have helped me. I wish you all the best in meeting your weight loss and fitness goals!
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