People often ask me for diet and weight loss tips so I’ve put together my top 20. This is eleven years of tricks, tweaks, discoveries and epiphanies all condensed into one handy list. Hopefully you’ll find something helpful here for you!
Please feel free to link to these tips but do not republish them elsewhere.
- First, start with the big picture. Write down your goals and be specific. What do you want to change? Where do you want to be a year from now?
- Next, focus on the details. Every day we make dozens of tiny decisions that can spell the difference between whether we lose weight or gain. Do you pick the muesli for breakfast or the chocolate muffin? Do you spend twenty minutes on the couch or twenty minutes on a brisk walk? Small changes can add up to huge results.
- Start exercising - no matter what your fitness level. At 25 stone I could only shuffle to the end of the street, but I gradually built up to the whole block. Within a couple of years I was running! Don’t compare yourself to others, just work within your limits and take it slow and steady.
- Eat breakfast. A wholesome breakfast makes me feel smug, satisfied and determined to stay on track all day. My favourite is porridge/oatmeal, livened up with grated apple and cinnamon, or chopped banana and teaspoon of peanut butter.
- Be kind to yourself and your body. You don’t have to look in the mirror and chant, “I love me! I am beautiful!” but at the same time yelling at your thighs won’t encourage your weight loss efforts.
- Make your treats miniature. Instead of banning dessert, I choose smaller portions – like an apple crumble baked in a ramekin dish or a small bar of Green and Blacks chocolate. I get my sugar hit without dangerous leftovers!
- Lift weights. It won’t make you bigger – it’ll make you svelte and strong! If you’re worried about loose skin, resistance training is the best thing you can do to tone your body as you lose weight.
- Planning is crucial. Every Saturday I take ten minutes to plan our meals for the coming week. I choose from a list of easy, tried-and-true recipes, so it’s quicker to cook than phone for a takeaway.
- Buy your groceries online. It saves time and you’re not tempted by all the sights and smells of the supermarket. Or tortured by your screaming children.
- Feel your emotions, don’t feed them. In times of stress it’s tempting to bury your feelings in cake – better to feel bad about binging than tackle the real issue! But try to find non-edible ways of coping – I highly recommend kickboxing classes.
- Go Greek. If you’re a cream or sour cream fiend, 0% or 2% Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute. It’s low in fat, protein-rich and incredibly creamy. Dollop into meringue nests and top with fresh fruit. Splodge onto a bowl of chilli. Swirl into butternut squash soup.
- The best exercise is the one you enjoy. So what if your best friend swears by aerobics at dawn? If you’re a shift worker or just plain grumpy in the morning, this will never suit you. Choose an exercise you like and do it when it’s most convenient for you – this way you’ll stick with it.
- Stock your office pantry. It’s much easier to ignore the vending machine when I’ve got half an orchard sitting on my desk and a drawer full of oatcakes, nuts and seeds.
- Have a cuppa. When hunger strikes and it’s not meal time, I make a cup of tea. This gives me time to figure out if I’m really hungry or if I’m just bored or cranky or upset. Herbal tea is great – experiment until you find one that doesn’t taste like grass clippings!
- Have a moan. Losing weight isn’t easy, but you don’t have to feel alone in the struggle. Start your own blog, sign up for a message board, or join in the conversation in the train for a 5k or challenge yourself to do ten push-ups>? Focusing on fitness means I don’t fret about the numbers so much. And all those endorphins make me feel less inclined to go on a chocolate bender.
- Accept that sometimes it’s going to suck. Despite your best intentions, there will be days when you fall into a bag of crisps. But long-term success is about persistence, not perfection. It’s picking yourself up when you fall, over and over again.
- Don’t wait to be “skinny” to start living your life. If you have dreams of traveling or writing a book or learning to scuba dive, don’t think you need a smaller bum before you deserve them. Your life is happening right now – so forget about your wobbly bits and jump right in!
© Shauna Reid 2008.