Saturday, September 22, 2012
There is A LOT of advice on SparkPeople from members on what they have done to lose weight. I thought I'd write a little bit about what has worked for me so I don't forget it! While I wouldn’t categorize my weight loss as “fast,” I haven't been putting much effort into the program. In fact, I am down 2 dress sizes - which is purely AMAZING given that to date, this has basically been EFFORTLESS. Here's what has worked for me:
1. Find inspiration - for me, it was a woman I know in our religious community. She is in a higher age bracket than I am, and has lost lots of weight anyway! While she is an awesome person and extraordinary in many ways, she is "ordinary" as in - not a celebrity or someone on a reality TV show. Knowing that someone in my life could accomplish a significant weight loss meant I could do it too!!!
2. Use your nutrition tracker. While I already had a SparkPeople account, I never used it. I deleted my old account and started a new one. I describe my weight loss to date as "effortless" because the ONLY thing I have basically done is pay attention to how many calories are in food and tracked my calorie intake using SparkPeople's nutrition tracker. (It gets easier over time, particularly if you save your frequently-used foods to favorites and create groupings.)
3. Handle cravings with calorie-free strategies. When I get a craving for a sweet, I grab a couple of pieces of sugar-free gum and a sugar-free, calorie-free carbonated flavored water (I love strawberry lemonade, but drink it very infrequently, maybe 1x a month at the most).
4. Use SparkPeople Recipes. Before I even started tracking my calories, I had looked for healthy recipes using my smartphone and found SparkPeople recipes. I had told lots of people about SparkPeople's Healthy Recipes because I LOVED the recipes I was getting out of their database! Once I started tracking calories, the recipes REALLY helped me with meal planning. I didn't have to enter individual ingredients for a recipe anymore but could simply add a SparkPeople recipe to my nutrition planner. The shopping planner that is attached simplifies the shopping experience by listing all the ingredients you need for the week! One word of caution though, when you add a recipe to the meal planner, it records ONE serving - and the shopping list ONLY records ingredients for ONE SERVING. Make sure you get enough food to make the recipes!
5. Don't skimp on calories. Starvation mode is real - and when you fall underneath your calorie intake for even a day, the weight stops coming off, particularly if it drives overeating the next day!!! More importantly, failing to get enough calories in during a day can impact your sleep quality and rob you of your vitality.
6. Follow the recommended range of calories to meet your goal. If this is too difficult at first, change one small thing about your intake, and work SLOWLY to reach that recommended range of calories.
7. Use SparkPeople's weight tracker daily measures. Once you are able to stay within the recommended range of calories, work that plan for at least a couple of months without modification, and track your energy levels, sleep quality, self-esteem and stress levels on weight tracker. Staying in calorie range will help you lose weight and tracking your daily measures will give you a good baseline to help you know how the recommended calorie range is working for you. What I learned is how my recommended range impacted my motivation to exercise.
8. Make sure to eat enough calories to have energy for exercise!!! If you are finding it almost impossible to get motivated to exercise, you may not be eating enough calories and are robbing yourself of energy you need to get up and get moving. It is MUCH EASIER to get moving if you are feeding your body enough food to move! Remember that unless you reported that you exercise during account setup, your calorie range is restricted to minimum for a sedentary lifestyle. If you are NOW starting to exercise, don't forget to allow yourself additional calories to compensate for calories burned. (Again, this only applies to those who reported no exercise during account setup.) Failing to account for calories burned, you can throw yourself into starvation mode. For example, my recommended calorie range is 1200-1550, and I like to stick close to 1200. However, if I exercise and burn 300 calories in fitness activities, I have learned to compensate for the calories burned or risk going into starvation mode. One caveat - when you do this, MAKE SURE YOUR CALORIE COUNTS FOR FITNESS AND INTAKE ARE ACCURATE!!!
9. HOW TO GET MOTIVATED FOR EXERCISE:
9A. As mentioned earlier, get enough calories to fuel your fitness motivation.
9B. Listen to music with a great beat that can motivate you to go longer or faster - but PACE YOURSELF.
9C. It really is easy to keep going once you get started - build minute by minute and day by day.
9D. Start exercising with someone you love spending time with. It is even easier to get your exercise in this way. A lot of exercise tips talk about how this builds accountability. But "accountability" isn't a FUN way to motivate yourself. It definitely helps to have someone there saying "come on, lets do this." But it is much easier to get started on your exercise routine if you make it fun. The person I love spending time with the most is my husband. Last night, I asked him to take a walk with me around the neighborhood (.6 miles). Since I had walked 1 lap two days earlier, the 1st lap felt very easy, so I felt comfortable doing a 2nd lap. Although my husband only did one lap, I kept going, and found myself jogging a bit! I decided to do 3.5 laps to get a nice round number (2.0 miles) but just couldn't bring myself to turn back at the 1/4-way mark, so kept going, and got a 4th lap in. When I saw my neighbor at the end of that 4th lap... I put one more in for good measure. 5 laps - 3 miles! WOW.
10. The biggest pointer I think I have is this: TAKE IT SLOW. You are trying to change a lifestyle - and if you create small habits along the way, it will be much easier to lose the weight and keep it off for a lifetime. It is much more pleasant - and motivating - to find out how EASY (and fun) weight loss can be.