Stepping on the scale and finding out that I have lost 50 pounds has given me so much excitement and fulfillment. In my 9-month weight loss journey, I have reached my first goal at last! 50 is a big number. It is so surreal that I used to have 50 more pounds on me. I have not reached my goal weight yet, but I have learned a thing or two (well, 5 to be exact) about successfully losing weight.
I know that there are many people in my position who are trying to lose weight, and I want to give you my top 5 tips for losing weight and keeping it off. These are only my experiences, and they do not replace any professional advice. However, many people have asked me how I have lost weight in my personal life, and I want to be able to share my story and my experience with others in hopes that you may take something away from my advice. There is no one right way to go about weight loss, so you do not have to take all of my claims to heart, but I hope that you can get some inspiration and ideas for how to lose weight in a way that I would consider as very healthy, safe, and sustainable.
1. Follow a 100% Plant Based Vegan Diet
Look, I’m not trying to convert anyone to veganism if they don’t want to, but I’d be lying if I said that eating a 100% plant based vegan diet isn’t responsible for my weight loss. Cutting animal products has been hands down one of the greatest things I’ve done for myself. I feel lighter, more energized, and less sluggish throughout the day. I eat a diet rich in whole foods: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds. I have learned to really love plant-based cooking and have accumulated so many healthy recipes that I actually enjoy. I know that going plant-based is not the only way to lose weight, but it can really make a significant difference since you tend to eat less fat, no cholesterol, and less sodium if you avoid most processed foods. Going vegan is an awesome way to lose weight and reduce your risk of future diseases (and you save some adorable, innocent animals). It’s the best!
2. No Strict Calorie Restriction
I get really irritated by the amount of diet fads out there that advertise low-calories. If a country is unable to get 2100 calories per day, the WHO declares a famine in the nation….with that said, how does 800-1200 calorie diets seem safe? If you don’t eat enough, your body will store fat to prepare for famine. Also, your metabolism will lower significantly. It can be normal for your metabolism to lower when you lose weight, but I think we can agree that maintaining 1200 calories per day is not sustainable. Why make yourself miserable? If you want to lose weight, shouldn’t you find something that you can happily sustain for life? Is eating as little as possible really going to make you happy and healthy? Probably not. I say instead of eating as little as possible to have a large calorie deficit, eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are satiated. You should not have to have any calorie limits. If you’re hungry, eat. I personally eat 1700-2000 calories per day because I feel like I have enough energy with this amount. I also exercise for an hour a day, so I still have a calorie deficit, but it is not as big. My weight loss is pretty slow (it took 9 months to lose 50 pounds), but I am doing something that I feel that I can sustain for life. My changes are permanent and I am content with where I am at. There is no need to rush the weight loss. If you eat healthfully and exercise, the weight will go off. It may be at a slow pace, but you are more likely to maintain it.
3. Regular, Well-Rounded Exercise
When I say that exercise is important, I am not saying that you need to run several miles per day or lift weights for hours. Instead, I think that 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise 3-6 times per week will definitely help you achieve your goals. I recommend that you do not do the same exercise all the time. Walk or jog one day, then take a barre, yoga, HIIT, etc. class the next. That way your body is always guessing and does not get used to anything. Keeping your body on its toes is a great way to lose weight. If your body gets used to something, you’ll hit a plateau (I learned that the hard way). Find workouts that motivate you and that you can actually enjoy. If you don’t like running, you shouldn’t have to do it. Bike or swim instead. Take some time to try different workouts and find what you enjoy and find what gives you results.
4. Cutting Out Sugar, Salt, Oils, and Refined Products Significantly
Refined sugar is just empty calories, too much salt will make you bloat, oil is just pure fat, and refined products (white pasta, bread, etc.) has little to no nutritional value. Now, I am not saying that you can never have any of these, just that reducing them from your diet significantly can make such a difference in your health, and can make weight loss much easier. I don’t think you need to obsess over this, though. Personally, I have sugar in moderation (very low amounts), I do add salt to some meals, but not all the time. I do not use oil to cook, but if I buy something that has oil in it, I usually don’t worry too much about it. In terms of refined products, I have always like whole-wheat products and brown rice better anyways, so it is easy to cut them from my diet. If you do what you can to limit all of the above in your diet, your body will thank you for it!
5. Lots of Water
Ok, maybe this should go without saying. Virtually everyone knows the importance of staying hydrated. However, I think I need to make the reminder that drinking enough water is so important. I drink 1-2 gallons per day. Drinking water helps with digestion and bloating, and keeps you energized and feeling great. I always try to keep a glass of water with me so that I can remind myself to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water is also so important for exercise, satiation, and also helps with your skin. Again, this should all go without saying, but I don’t want anyone to forget about how important water is (and that goes for everyone, not just those trying to lose weight).
Bonus: Learning Patience and Self-respect
I think that the best part of any lifestyle change is learning to respect yourself for who you are. It is easier to be patient with weight loss when you love and accept yourself regardless of your weight. Your weight is just a number, and you are so much more than that. Remember that the next time you feel guilty for eating something, or when you feel like your progress is not happening as fast as you want it to, or when you just aren’t in the mood to do your workout. It is ok to have a ‘cheat’ day. It is ok to make a mistake. As long as you are respecting yourself by listening to your body and not putting yourself down all the time, you’re doing something right. You can always find something about your body that you dislike. You can still be insecure when you reach your goal weight. If you love yourself and feel comfortable with who you are right now, you’ll be so much happier. Weight does not define happiness, happiness comes from within. Don’t let your body define you. Love who you are and what you look like now.
Weight loss can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. My life is changing every day because I have learned to embrace health and fitness. I am proud of myself for losing weight and for getting closer to reaching a healthy body weight, but the most important part of my journey is not the weight I have lost, but rather the respect for myself that I have gained. I now crave everything that is good for me and I now listen to my body. No road bump in my journey will ever get in the way of that.
Anyone can make a change, it just starts with you. What are you waiting for? Make good things happen for YOU!