I often joke that fat people know more about weight loss than anybody else. I know this isn’t totally true but I started saying it after being told for the hundredth time that drinking lots of water can aid weight loss. After hearing that little tip over and over I became tempted to say, “Gee, really? I have NEVER heard that before!” and then tell whoever it was that I already drink a ridiculous amount of water everyday. Obviously this would be kind of mean spirited because people mean well and it’s better than someone touting the grapefruit diet as a surefire way to lose weight. But it has gotten me thinking about the long list of healthy diet tips that I’ve acquired over the years. So I’m going to make up a handy dandy list of every weight loss tip (both diet and exercise related) that I’ve heard numerous times over the years. I’m aware that there are always going to be new scientific studies that come out and may debunk some of the tips but as I said, these are ones that I hear over and over and over and they seem pretty logical so I’m going to include them (along with a little commentary). Let’s start!
1. Drink water! Obviously I had to start with this one. There are a lot of reasons to drink water. The first is that it has no calories so it’s a better choice than pop or juice. Also it can help you to feel full and it’s important to stay well hydrated. And here’s something that I learned several years ago: if you’re hungry, try drinking some water first. Your brain is likely to confuse being thirsty with being hungry so if you’re unsure, drink a glass of water. If you’re still hungry after that then go ahead and eat something.
2. Breakfast is important. A lot of experts are starting to ease up on this and telling people that if they really can’t stand breakfast then it’s okay to wait a little while before eating. That’s not an option for me though because if I don’t eat within the first hour of waking up I usually start to get a massive headache and a gnawing pain in my stomach. Also, to me eating breakfast makes sense. Think about it. Your body has just gone probably 8 hours without eating anything. Personally I can’t get up and just expect to run on empty. I need some fuel to get me going in the morning.
3. Try to eat large portions of salad or vegetables at every meal. The thinking goes that if you fill up on salad then you’ll want less of whatever else is in the meal. This is one tip that I still haven’t really tried. There have been a few times when I’ve had a small side salad with my meal but I’ve yet to make it a regular part of my routine.
4. You can eat almost anything if you do it in moderation. This is another one I have trouble with. Obviously if I could eat cookies in moderation then I wouldn’t have a problem. But for some people this isn’t a problem. Years ago my grandmother lost a lot of weight and she still had dessert – but she always cut her portion in half.
5. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat badly. A lot of people eat something unhealthy and then start beating themselves up about it and then figure “well, I’m off the wagon so I may as well just eat everything that’s bad for me” and before you know it they’ve fallen down a cookie dough spiral of shame. We all mess up at some point. Rather than beating yourself up about it and continuing to eat more bad food, remind yourself that you can get right back on track and return to healthy eating immediately.
6. Snacks are a good thing. Some people can survive on only three square meals a day but a lot of us can’t. Eating healthy snacks can help you to stave off hunger so that you’re not completely ravenous by the time you get to your next meal.
That’s all I can remember for eating so now on to exercise tips!
7. Stretching is important! You should always try to stretch when exercising as it helps to loosen everything up. It’s almost a guarantee that if you exercise without stretching you will end up reallllly stiff the next day.
8. If you really want to burn fat then start lifting weights. Your body will burn more calories even at rest if you have more muscle mass so while you might be tempted to do nothing but cardio it’s better to add in a weight routine. Besides, who doesn’t want to build up some muscle and increase their strength?
9. Ladies, do not worry about getting gigantic muscle! Obviously this relates to the last point. Apparently a lot of women are concerned that if they start lifting weights they will suddenly develop gigantic Arnold Schwarzenegger arms. Trust me, unless you are lifting a crazy amount of weight and working out hardcore, it’s not going to happen.
10. Interval training can aid in weight loss. Now, this is just something I’ve heard and I haven’t yet put it to the test. Interval training is when you are doing some kind of cardio (running, elliptical trainer, cycling, etc.) and you alternate between a moderate pace and then going as hard and as fast as you can. The only thing I’m not sure of with this is how much time you should spend on each. I’ve heard about people going moderately for one minute and then speeding up for thirty seconds or I’ve been told to go moderately for four minutes and only speed up for one minute. I am truly not sure what the proper ratio is and it’s probably different for everybody.
11. Switch it up! After a while your body gets used to your workout routine and it becomes a lot less challenging. I’ve heard that that’s a factor for people who start to plateau for a long time. But more importantly, switching up your routine is a great way to work different muscle groups AND keep you interested. This is actually part of the reason I joined a gym. My building has a gym but I wasn’t getting the motivation do just do cardio and weights over and over again. I joined a gym so that I could try out a variety of classes (this week I did Zumba and yoga) as well as trying out all sorts of cardio and weight machines.
And here’s another story that proves my point. As you may recall, last year I decided to ride my bike after years of neglecting it. Even though I can do really well on an elliptical trainer, riding my bike made me realize that there were a ton of muscle groups that I hadn’t been using.
12. When lifting weights focus on your form and your breathing. Form is really important when you’re doing free weights because you want to make sure that you are lifting the weights properly so that you don’t injure yourself. This is why a lot of gyms have mirrors all over the place (trust me, they are not there to make you feel bad about yourself). And as for your breathing try to use slow controlled breaths. Also, I was taught to exhale while lifting the weight and inhale while bringing it back down.
So that’s it. I think that is pretty much everything I know about healthy eating and exercise. There’s probably other stuff but of course it flies out of my mind once I try to actually write it down and this post is getting really long anyway. If you have any other tips feel free to share them in the reply!