Are you ready to cut a few pounds? Read this today and start you diet tomorrow! And apologies for the poor line breaks between paragraphs. We tried.
So maybe you read Pete’s blog post about signing up for a spring race and are now all fired up to crush a PR soon. Maybe this past weekend’s warm weather has struck you with a case of spring fever. Or maybe you looked at the calendar, saw Memorial Day is less than three months away, and decided that you want to be able to go to the beach this summer without a group of concerned citizens trying to throw you back into the water.
Whatever your motivation, you may be thinking that now’s the time to start working on losing those extra pounds we all tend to find during the winter months. And I’m right there with you! I tend to get so full of holiday cheer during November and December that I spend most of January, February, and March trying to get rid of all of it. In fact, I’ve been here and done that enough times that I’ve come up with a handful of tips/tricks/guidelines/whatever you want to call them that help me get back to my fighting weight.
And I thought I’d share some of them with you! Some of them will make you say “well duh!,” some might make you say “huh?,” and I think all are worth considering because they all have worked (and continue to work) for me.
Of course, I’m not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be, so be smart about what you do and where you get proper medical and dietary advice!
With that, here’s the list. In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into the first two, and if there’s any interest, we’ll dive deeper into the other tips in a couple of follow-up posts.
- Start small.
- Weigh yourself every morning and record it someplace.
- Business during the week, pleasure on the weekend.
- Calorie counts aren’t always accurate.
- The less cooked and the less processed the food, the fewer calories you’ll get from it.
- Everybody’s gut biome is different, so everybody will react differently to different diets.
- “You get skinny in the kitchen and healthy in the gym.”
- If you want to implement a combo diet/exercise plan, focus on the diet first.
- Losing weight vs losing body fat.
- Above all else, weight loss is still about taking in fewer calories than you burn.
And the deeper dives into 1 and 2:
- Start small. If your goal is to lose 10 lbs, for example, don’t just set yourself a single target of losing 10 lbs. Set yourself 10 targets of 1 lb each. And when you’ve lost that first pound, that’s one victory down, nine to go. All of these little, more readily achievable victories will help to keep you motivated in your pursuit of your ultimate goal.
And let’s say for the sake of argument that you wind up getting stuck at 9 lbs lost instead of 10. If you just had a single 10 lb target, you might be tempted to feel like a loser and stuff your face because what difference does it make anyway. But you shouldn’t! You lost nine pounds! And being able to point at the nine 1-lb targets you took down will help you to keep a positive outlook about it and give you that final push to take out that final pound.
This whole “Start Small” tip really applies to all sorts of changes you might want to effect in your life. Want to tidy up the house? Start with one closet or bookshelf or cabinet in one room. Want to start getting up and going to bed an hour earlier? Start by getting up and going to bed 3 minutes earlier. If you start with too big of a chunk and fail, it’ll be too easy to get discouraged and walk away. Start with a series of easier victories in order to gain confidence and momentum.
- Weigh yourself every morning and record it someplace. This tip is a multi-parter, and we’ll start with the less controversial parts first.Each time you weigh yourself, you should record it somewhere. I have a little Notes file on my phone where I jot down each weigh-in, and then I occasionally transfer it to an Excel spreadsheet if I want to make a chart or graph that shows my progress. Even if you have no desire to crunch the numbers, you should still write them down somewhere so you can see where you are and how you got there. In business they say, “what gets measured gets managed,” and so if you’re trying to manage your weight, you need to measure it.
When you do weigh yourself, you should always do it at the same time of the day. During the course of any given day, you’ll likely gain weight, and you don’t want a false sense of progress or failure because of a variable you can easily control. I weigh myself right after I wake up as part of my daily morning routine: I’m always wearing the same general weight of clothes (i.e. what I slept in) and I don’t have a day’s worth of food and drink in my belly to skew results.
Finally, the controversial part of this tip: many sources will explicitly tell you to *not* weigh yourself every day, instead maybe checking in once or twice a week. The primary reason: your daily weight will fluctuate in unexpected ways on the way to your goal and – as mentioned in the weighing yourself at the same time of day every day piece above – you don’t want to be misled or discouraged by those fluctuations.
However! I have found that it’s much easier to stick with a disciplined dietary plan if I know that I’m going to have to step on a scale in less than 24 hours. I know I don’t have three or four or six days to atone for laying waste to a quart of Ben and Jerry’s – that ice cream will be facing me on the bathroom scale display in the morning, so I’m more likely to just have a little bit or none at all.
But since I also know that my body weight will fluctuate even if I’m totally strict and good on my diet, I don’t let the fact that I gained two pounds after a 20-mile run get me down, because I know that those two pounds will disappear just as unexpectedly as they appeared. I mean, the highest of high-flying stocks don’t go up every single day – they have down days too, and it’s just that over time, the up days outnumber the down days. Same with the weather: every day between winter and summer doesn’t get progressively warmer. You get warm streaks and cold streaks, but eventually June winds up warmer than January. If you keep that in mind and don’t let a little losing streak get you down, you can reap the benefits of incremental check-ins.
Thanks for reading! More to come! And if you have any thoughts or tips, share them in the comments! And exclamation points!!