I changed my body shape with changing up my diet and exercise routine about four years ago and I have managed to maintain my new shape since. Here are my tips in how to lose weight and what habits I have kept to keep my weight in check.
I began my diet my cutting down my portion sizes and since then I have continued to keep my portions smaller. I used to eat a large bowl of rice or bread with dinner, sandwiches for lunch, large servings of cereal for breakfast and raisin toast or crumpets for a snack. While none of these foods are BAD by any means, they tend to be high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fats. Now I like to balance every meal I have as high in protein with some fats and enough carbohydrates for energy.
For example, now I have an egg on a piece of rye toast for breakfast with wilted spinach and tomatoes. Snacks are almonds, fruit or protein bars. Lunch might be an open sandwich with one piece of bread, tuna, avocado and salad. Dinner is often half a cup of rice, grilled chicken or fish and roasted vegetables. After dinner I usually have tea, maybe some dark chocolate and I often have a glass of wine in the evenings too.
Note I rarely feel overally full after eating a meal. I eat to feel satisfied but not stuffed.
DITCH THE SUGAR
When I started to look at calories and what I was putting into my body, I started to see how sugar could quickly escalate your energy content without enriching your body. A bag of lollies quickly adds up to hundreds of calories without satisfying your hunger. I also noticed that when I did eat something high in sugar without balancing the meal with protein or fat, I would crave junk food afterwards and likely eat a much larger portion than I normally would. Since overhauling my diet, I honestly stay away from sugar most of the time and this is not difficult for me. Once you cut sugar out, you really don't enjoy it all that much and quickly feel sick if you eat a cupcake, lollies or chocolate. Cutting sugar from your diet is honestly the BEST thing you can do to lose weight and keep it off.
To cut out sugar, firstly try my tip of balancing each meal with protein, fat and carbohydrates. Make each meal count nutritionally including snacks. Even if you have fruit, add a small amount of cheese or nut butter onto the fruit or have with yoghurt (that has no added sugar!). Look at the sugar content of packaged foods and avoid anything with over 10 grams per serving. A few months in to limiting sugar, avoiding it will get easier and easier. Of course there will always be times where you eat cake at a birthday party or dessert at a restaurant but once you overhaul your diet, your sugar cravings will be much easier to manage.
DO WEIGHTS NOT JUST CARDIO
Before I changed up my diet and exercise routine I was a big cardio lover. I spent so much time of the cross trainer preoccupied with burning off as many calories as possible because that was how I could lose weight and burn off any junk food I had eaten. Cardio exercise does burn calories but doing weight training will increase your muscle mass which will help your body to burn calories even when you aren't at the gym. Don't forget to do cardio but don't confine this just to the gym. 25 minutes of moving your body each day, especially enough to break a sweat, will be beneficial in helping you lose weight.
Weight training will change your body shape and it has helped me to keep my arms slimmer and more toned, my stomach tighter and stronger, my legs shapely and my butt nice and perky! To get started, look up workouts on You Tube, hire a personal trainer or get a friend to help you formulate a weight training program. Start with light weights and work up to heavier weight training to maximise your results and avoid injury.
GET MORE ACTIVE
Like I said above, moving your body for at least 25 minutes every day is the easiest way to incorporate cardio into your weekly routine. Instead of confining yourself to long workouts on the treadmill or cross trainer, try to get more cardio in to your every day. For example, park further away for shopping centres to walk further, use the stairs at your apartment complex, walk to work or do squats while you watch your favourite tv show. If you try to add more exercise into your day and combine this with gym workouts, you will speed up your results.
While I have reduced portion control do not mistake this for restricting my energy intake. Even if you aren't exercising, you need to eat a satisfactory breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. If you don't eat enough you will overeat at some point. It is just a recipe for disaster and often leads you to binge on foods that have the highest energy content like desserts and fast foods because your body is starving and needs energy fast. Keep your meals regular and balanced.
For me personally, I eat even when I am not hungry and make sure I finish my portion even if I don't feel like it. I know some diet gurus will tell you this is a mistake but for me, it helps me so much in not overeating later in the day and not binge eating. If you eat a good breakfast and lunch, you are so much better prepared to not overeat at dinner and not crave dessert.
DON'T THINK IN ALL OR NOTHING TERMS
The most important thing you can do if you have eaten something that has blown your calories for the day is to forget about it! Eating a healthy balanced diet is about that middle word, BALANCE. Sometimes we overeat, we eat food high in sugar, we drink too many cocktails and we skip gym sessions. I do all these things and my weight hasn't gotten out of control. When I first lost weight I was really strict and was a few kilos lighter than I am now. The diet I followed then was too restrictive and the exercise regime I followed was not sustainable.
Eating healthy is to nourish your body and keep you feeling good physically and mentally.
Don't make up for meals or skipped gym days. Just get back to your normal routine right away. Move on and put whatever happened in the past. Doing this will be a sustainable way to keep your weight in check for the long term.
MY FAVOURITE FOODS
Here is an example of some of the foods I used to eat all the time versus what I eat all the time now. This may give you an idea of what you can change and what you can replace your choices with now.
- White bread toast with butter and honey
- Ice cream every night with chocolate sauce
- Biscuits or cookies with my tea or coffee
- Bread with meals
- Sugary cereal
- Lollies and chocolate were hard to resist and not eat if they were there
- Cous cous and white rice
- Adding cheese to everything
- Often needing something sweet after every meal
- Sweet coffees with added flavours
- Almonds, pistachios and sunflower seeds - also love LSA and flaxseed
- Protein shakes and protein bars
- No-sugar added dark chocolate
- Carrot and celery sticks with hummus
- Tins of tuna with light olive oil
- Drizzling big salads with a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar
- Cashew cheese dip
- Adding turmeric, paprika and herbs to all my foods!
- Roasting vegetables in coconut oil
- Using nutritional yeast flakes instead of cheese
- Making sweets with stevia
- Herbal tea and black tea with soy milk
- Black coffee