I’ve been on a weight loss journey for a while now and I’ve lost about 30 lbs, so I wanted to share my best tips for weight loss with my readers. Losing weight can be one of the biggest challenges for us, and particularly so for women over 40. It’s kind of heart-breaking how HARD it can be to lose any significant amount of weight and keep it off permanently.
My weight had really gotten out of control these last few years and I was starting to experience some health problems as a result. For me, that’s been a pretty good motivator. Superficial things like wanting to look good or wear pretty clothes doesn’t get my attention as much as the idea of having to take medications I don’t want, or put up with unpleasant health issues from my weight. So I am putting my best tips for weight loss together as much for myself as to help my readers.
How I came up with my Best Tips for Weight Loss
The nice thing is that I have lots of information on exactly HOW to accomplish my weight loss goals. I am a huge reader and one of my favorite kind of books are what I call “brainy books”. Examples of this are Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, Predictably Irrational, Mindless Eating, and Change Anything. Yes – I’ve read ALL of these and probably about 10 more. I always pick up so many really cool tips, so I like to include them in posts to help me remember them. Read my post on Mindless Eating – It’s a genius book!
In fact, right now I’m reading a book called Drunk Tank Pink. All of these books deal with research studies, motivation, and ways our brains react to stimuli. I think I must have been a brain researcher in a previous lifetime!
Tip #1: Select a few vital behaviors and focus on them.
Rather than making huge changes, and sweeping statements that you know you can’t follow-through on. Things like “I am going to go to the gym four times a week”. Or “I am NEVER eating fill in the blank, EVER again”. Those just don’t work.
Instead, focus on small, specific behaviors like:
- I will do some exercise every day – even if it’s just for 15 minutes
- I will track my points for every meal
- Switch to water instead of soda (more on that later)
Research has proven that these small goals are easier to achieve and have a longer lasting impact, though progress may be a bit slower with them.
Tip #2: Find a support system.
Weight loss is too difficult to do entirely on your own. You can gain the support of family and friends or you can go with an organization such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or Noom. Some structure is really helpful to keep you on track otherwise, it’s so easy to slide back into bad habits again.
But do your research to find exactly the program that is going to work well for you. Some are too restrictive, some are too expensive, and some are great while you’re doing them, but aren’t great for long-term. But there’s always one that is a perfect fit for you.
The importance of support from friends and family cannot be overlooked. At times, that has been my downfall. My husband does most of the cooking and he likes every unhealthy food on the planet! There are times I’ve had to counteract that by either eating separate meals, or at least insisting on healthier choices and extra options for vegetables and whole grains. And it’s helping him eat a bit better too. You’ve got to stand your ground!
Sensible tips for Weight Loss Series
Sneaky Tricks for Weight Loss – Buffet Eating
Sneaky Tricks for Weight Loss – #2 Redo your Kitchen
Sneaky Tricks for Weight Loss – #3 Manage Snacking
Sneaky Tricks for Weight Loss – #4 Grocery Shopping
Sneaky Tricks for Weight Loss – #5 School Cafeteria
3. Use your tools!
Hopefully, your support program comes with some tools to help you keep on track with your food choices and your exercise routines. If not, there are boatloads of free apps and websites to help you track your progress. But the best tools in the world are only helpful if you will use them.
It can be hard to keep up on these tools. All the times I did Weight Watchers, I struggled to keep up with the food tracking logs – both paper and online. And I would mostly track my points in my head, which is the foundation of the program. Now that it’s all electronic, it’s easier with an automatic points look up, plus a bar code scanner for brand name foods. That makes it so much easier for me to track my foods and makes it almost impossible to cheat.
But food isn’t the only issue for weight loss. One of my best tips for weight loss is to spread in small amounts of easy exercise throughout the day. I would use restrooms on different floors at work, or try to squeeze in a walk around the building between meetings. Those little bits of exercise still count. My Fitbit tracks my daily steps and gives me movement reminders when I set too long. That’s really helpful in a sedentary job like mine.
4. Give up the darn soda!
I have to admit, this one was hard for me. My husband is a hard-core soda drinker and my sons will drink as much of it as they can get their hands on. Even though I wasn’t as bad about it as some of my soda-addicted friends, I did enjoy a daily Sprite or a Fresca with lunch and sometimes with dinner. But I had an eye opener.
One of the ladies at church is a pharmacist and she told me that she has seen over and over again a link between soda drinkers and Type II Diabetes. And you’ve got to figure that all these delicious sodas are made from nothing but mysterious chemicals – nothing that nature ever intended for us to consume plus something like 17 teaspoons of sugar. That’s just GOT to be bad for you, no matter how good it tastes!
I haven’t managed to give it up 100% of the time (I had a small 7-Up yesterday and it tasted SO good), but I’ve got it down to maybe one soda every two weeks or so – small changes add up to big improvements.
So I made the switch to water, tea, and lemonade for my beverages of choice. It wasn’t easy because I don’t really ENJOY those things very much, but I just made it a non-negotiable option. I don’t keep any soda in the house – much to the sorrow of my family (but they’re surviving – ha!).
A big change was to make it a point to stop ordering combo meals at fast food places, since sodas are usually bundled into them. A bonus side-effect was that it gave me a nice cost savings – just ordering just the sandwich and a cup of water is about 30% less than getting a combo meal. And I wasn’t tempted to eat the french fries either! #simplechoices #babysteps
Side note: I bought a water bottle called a Citrifuse. It has a little chamber in it where you can put cut up fruit, herbs, tea bags, or whatever you like to flavor your water. It gives you some nice variety. But I still hate the darn water!
Tip #5 – Exercise is a Big Part of the Equation
Like many overweight people, exercise is my Kryptonite. I really just HATE it and it has slowed my weight loss accordingly. But it is a MUST when it comes to weight loss, so I’ve tried to get creative in this area. You kind of have to experiment to see what type of exercise works for you. Are you the walk (or run) around the neighborhood type? Will you ride a bike? Join a gym? That one can be tricky – read my post on gym memberships.
I’m an exercise in your pajamas type, so I like to find online workouts, either on DVD, on YouTube or through a subscription service. There’s a great variety of choices for pilates, yoga, line dancing, Bollywood, you name it.
I also like to dance, so I’ve been doing a Zumba class at the local fitness center for the last few years. Even though I am pretty heavy and a LOT older than most of the ladies in the class, I can get through a whole 60-minute Zumba class without stopping once. That’s a nice feeling. And it really helps to have my friend text me and ask if I am going on a particular day. That’s part of my support system.