If you are reading this it means you are curious about how to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. Let me begin by saying welcome! and also that losing weight is not easy. It starts with determination that you do indeed need to lose weight. This is not easy to come by, as it is very easy to live in denial of this fact.
Personally, I was ignorant to the fact that I gained a lot of weight in college and just marked it down to being a big, tall guy. For the most part this was good enough for me as I have always been confident in myself and my body. My then girlfriend (now beautiful wife) was attracted to me, I was good enough at sports, and my extra weight didn’t really change how I felt about myself.
I was also a very active individual. I played ultimate frisbee whenever I could, and I was constantly walking around campus. I worked out fairly often and weight lifted as well. However, the college life of eating pizza and drinking soda every day was catching up with me and I didn’t even know it. I can’t say for sure, but I would guess that I gained over 40 pounds over the 4 years I was away from home. It was a very slow and gradual process and I didn’t even realize it happening!
It took a visit to my doctor to change my perspective. I decided to go in for a general checkup a little under a year after I graduated from college. I hadn’t been to the doctor in quite a while and I figured it would be a good idea. My doctor told me that I needed to lose weight. She gave me some tips on how to lose weight, mainly a high fiber diet, and sent me on my way. Little did she know I would be back a year later with proof that I had taken her suggestion to heart! This suggestion became the catalyst for my determination to lose weight and to live a healthier lifestyle.
If you haven’t yet found your own personal catalyst keep searching! All it takes is that big push to start you down the path of living a healthier life. Mine was having a doctor tell me I need to lose weight, but this could look different for each person. It may take a push from your spouse, a medical concern such as diabetes or maybe even a heart condition. WHATEVER your catalyst is, it is important to find it and let it push you to success.
For motivation ideas check out my post on the Top 5 Reasons Fitness is Important.
As soon as I left the doctor’s office that day in January of 2013, I began to immediately research the high fiber diet. I went to the grocery store and bought a few new food items such as bran cereal, fiber bars, and apples. I made the first step to admit that I did need to change my diet and that physical fitness was about all of the choices I was making, not just being active and going to the gym.
Fast forward to almost 3 years later and I am in the best shape of my life (well that I remember!). I am still extremely active and I have a much better diet than I did while I was in college. I lost all of the weight that I gained and I have been able to keep it off consistently. As I have stated, this has not been easy. It has taken a whole lot of discipline and determination. I have made a LOT of small changes along the way that aided in my fitness goals. Listed below are some of those small changes:
Water- Water consumption is so important to living a healthy lifestyle. It is the easiest change to make (as of course water is free!) and it will make the most difference. It is true that most americans suffer from chronic dehydration without even realizing it. It is almost unbelievable to think that over ¾ of the people of the US walk around each day without enough water in their systems, but it is a hard truth. Don’t be part of this statistic! Make sure you drink enough water during the day to keep yourself hydrated and your metabolism firing.
If you are convinced that you should probably up your water intake, the next question might be by how much? I have read several articles that suggest that you should drink up to half your weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you should make sure you are drinking 75 ounces of water during the day. I don’t think that it needs to be this complicated. My suggestion is to drink more than you think you need, and then some. I realize this is not too scientific, but the idea is to begin upping your water intake and not overcomplicate it. Be sure to get yourself a good Water Bottle and make this change part of your daily routine.
I personally start out each day by drinking 1 liter of water. It is a great way to being my morning and to kickstart my metabolism. I then spend the rest of the day sipping water and having water with all of my meals. For the discerning folk, here is an even more in depth article on why you should drink water each morning. Take away what you will from this, but water is the most natural and the easiest change you can make to your diet.
Fiber is great for your digestive system and has been proven to lower the chance of a great many diseases. It leaves you feeling fuller for longer and it is a necessary addition to any weight loss plan. It worked for me and I know that it can work for you! Fiber bars, especially Kind Bars, Bran Flakes, apples, wheat pasta, and whole grain bread are all examples of things you can add to your high fiber diet!
Almonds, peanuts, pistachios-
I love to eat any type of nuts. Nuts are high in good fats, fiber and protein. Almonds especially are a super food and are incredibly good for you (in moderation of course). I used to hate nuts when I was a kid, but now I love them. They are an important part of a consistent high fiber diet.
I love smoothies! As far as small changes go, this was my absolute favorite. It came at a time when I was starting to slip a little bit and get out of the habit of eating well. Smoothies are a great way to add yogurt, fruits, bananas, and other items to your diet. The benefit is that it tastes great and is all in one place! We use a Magic Bullet to make our smoothies and I recommended it over traditional blenders as it is much easier to clean and is more compact.
Oatmeal is a great tasting part of a good diet. It is high in fiber (both soluble and insoluble). As with most fiber rich foods it leaves you feeling full for longer and contributes to weight loss.
Why Small Changes?
Making small changes in lifestyle is the single most important element to living a healthier life. These small changes aid in the consistency factor as it is much easier to change only a few things at a time when it comes to eating better. This way you have ample time to analyze each change and find out what works for you! Changing several things at once may lead to an upset system, and because you added multiple things it might be hard to figure what is causing the mess up!
For example this matters specifically when adding fiber to your diet. We generally only get about 15 grams a day of fiber and we should be getting much more than that! However, adding fiber to your system to quickly can (and probably will) result in an upset stomach. Even though It is a positive change, it takes time for your system to put the fiber to good use. During this time it is important to remember to up the water intake as this will aid in the digestion process.
Make sure to include your spouse or a partner in this endeavor. I would never have been able to come as far as I did without the support of my wonderful wife. She pushed me every step of the way and made all of these small changes with me. We bounced ideas off of each other for changes that we could make, and constantly gave each other feedback on how we were doing. The key is that we did it together, when we slipped, we slipped together. When we succeeded, we succeeded together. We had each other’s back’s throughout the process and the support made things possible.
Losing weight is a long journey. It takes dedication and commitment to lose those pounds and to keep them off! Make those small changes over time and you will start to see those pounds fall off. Once you lose the weight, keep making small changes to continue to fight the battle as winning takes constant attention and focus to your goal.
All of that said, it is important to remember to indulge every once in awhile! Eat that chocolate bar or chow down on that juicy burger. Just remember to supplement with a walk, or a run, and continue to make good choices other days. Keep looking towards that end goal and continually re-evaluate where you stand and how you are doing, and continually make adjustments.
Good luck on your own fitness journey and thanks for reading!