When I turned 40, and my kids were 5 and 7 years old, I finally decided that I would get healthy and fit…and lose the “baby weight” (can you still call it baby weight when your baby is 5?!).
Like everyone else, I had tried and failed to lose weight, eat right and start a workout routine MANY times. Maybe every Monday?! So I thought I would share what I did this time, and what I did DIFFERENTLY.
In the past, I’d tried every “fad” diet and workout product/video/routine. No carbs, no fat, no sugar, no eating after 6pm, measuring out my food in little containers, doing tons of cardio…I’d start great and very motivated, but I’d always fall off the wagon, start eating a ton of junk and stop working out. Every.single.time.
I finally realized that none of that works for me. I can’t go extreme. I love carbs. I love sugar. I hate cardio. I had to start slowly, be realistic and have BALANCE. Everything in moderation.
(1) Number one is BALANCE.
So instead of going hard all in, cutting things out, and trying to workout for hours a day, I cut NOTHING out. I committed to working out (at home) 5 days a week for as much as I had time for, ideally 30 minutes, but sometimes 15 or 20.
I did free FitnessBlender workouts at home. Usually I did a 25-30 minute video, but sometimes I’d do an hour, or if I felt super busy that day, I’d do 15. But I always made myself do something.
And here is my secret. The thing I think made a huge difference and completely changed my body composition. WEIGHT LIFTING. I did have some basic knowledge because I had worked with a personal trainer in college, but to start, I just did weights-based workout videos at home. (I also started researching a ton about weightlifting which I used when I started working out at the gym).
I fell in love with weight lifting. You don’t have to fall in love with it, but I do think it’s very important (even necessary) to incorporate it into your workout routine!
(2) So number two is WEIGHT LIFTING.
Why do you need to weight lift though? There are so many benefits. Besides the obvious building muscle and getting that awesome looking definition, it helps burn fat and maintain weight loss, you gain bone density, it boosts metabolism and supposedly lowers inflammation!
You will literally burn more calories throughout the day from lifting than you will from steady state cardio.
Now what about food? You have to be in a caloric deficit to lost weight. I repeat, you must burn more than you eat. It’s calories in vs. calories out. There is no way around this, and if someone tells you otherwise, you should run.
So what did I do? I installed the MyFitnessPal app and started counting calories. I feel like people never want to do this and say it’s too much work- you guys, it’s so easy.
Say you’re making tuna- you scan the tuna can, you scan the mayo container, you scan the olive can and it’s automatically there. Then it will be saved into your “recent” or “frequent” foods. Seriously, there just isn’t an excuse not to do it if you’re serious about losing weight.
I ONLY tracked calories at the beginning, not macros (macros are fat, protein and carbs). I eventually started tracking protein for muscle gain purposes, but unless you want to track macros, and it won’t stress you out, tracking calories only will work great!
(3) Number three is COUNTING CALORIES (eating in a caloric deficit).
But how do you know how many calories you should be eating? When I started, I just Googled “calorie calculator” or “macro calculator” and typed in all my info (height, weight, activity level, etc) into several of them to get an average of what my maintenance calories are (the calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight), then I cut that amount by 300-500 calories to get my deficit calories.
So if your maintenance calories are 2,000, you would eat 1,500 – 1,700 calories a day to lose weight. If you do it for 3 weeks and don’t lose weight, adjust- reduce it by another 100.
I had counted calories in the past. So what did I do differently this time? (a) I didn’t drastically cut my calories to 1,000 or 1,200 so that I was starving all the time and would eventually binge. (b) I ate EVERYTHING- if I wanted McDonalds, I got it and just plugged it into MFP. But I wouldn’t go crazy- I’d get a small cheeseburger and small fries (as opposed to a Big Mac and large fries).
I don’t recommend doing this everyday because you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck, meaning it’s not satiating- it’s a lot of calories for not a lot of food. But once in a while, it’s perfectly fine! (c) I changed my “all or nothing” mindset.
I allowed myself nights where I didn’t track, went out with my friends, drank, ate pizza, and went over my calories, BUT I didn’t beat myself up about it, and I was right back on track the next morning (or next meal!).
You are going to mess up. You might binge one night. You’ll go out with friends. You’ll live your life.
The difference this time, is that I didn’t then spiral out of control and binge for the next 5 days and stop working out since “I ruined everything anyway”.
I would literally eat within my calories the next day. I believe that having a workout routine/habit really helped with this.
(4) Number four is creating ROUTINES and HABITS.
At first, it will take discipline and motivation, but you are motivated. That’s why you’re reading this and want to start getting healthy! I believe motivation (and thereby discipline) are always present at the beginning.
But it does not last! You will not always be motivated to workout (or eat right). That is why it is ESSENTIAL to form routines and habits.
How do you do that? By being consistent and doing it over and over and over. As I mentioned above, I committed to working out no matter what 5 days a week.
You can start by just committing to a 20 minute walk everyday, then start doing YouTube videos, then maybe move to the gym. I started doing free videos at home with very little equipment.
I eventually joined the gym and focused more on weight lifting, but for months and months, I just did videos at home. I think it’s best to do it around the same time every day.
I have to workout before I start my day. So it may be at 8am or it may be at 5am if I have something to do that morning, but it is always before I start working or running errands or whatever I’m doing that day.
I hated working out my entire life. I still hate cardio. But because I kept with it, working out is now a habit for me. It’s part of my routine. It’s actually weird- I don’t even think about skipping the gym. It’s like brushing my teeth.
Even on the days I don’t feel like going, it doesn’t occur to me to not go- just like even the days you don’t want to go to work, you still go, right? You can’t just skip 3 days of work every week! Same with working out.
I happen to love weight lifting (but that doesn’t mean I don’t have many days where I do NOT want to be at the gym!), so do what you love.
If those circuit classes or spin or running is your thing, do it! But again, I highly recommend that you still incorporate serious weight lifting because I do think that’s the secret to my success.
And finally, I was patient and consistent NOT perfect. Consistency over Perfection!
(5) Number five is PATIENCE AND CONSISTENCY.
It took me about a year to lose 40 pounds. You can definitely lose weight faster, but I believe that the faster you lose the weight, the less likely you are to keep it off because you’re probably doing a quick fix or fad diet or over-exerting yourself.
Like I said, I still went out with friends for dinner, I had days when I binged. I was not perfect, but I was CONSISTENT. I always got back on track the next meal/day.
I had DAYS or WEEKS even where I would not lose weight…a lot of times, the scale would even go up. In the past, I would ALWAYS give up and say, well this isn’t even working so why I am even trying?
This time, I just kept going. And eventually, the scale would go down further, and my arms did look more cut. Don’t forget that you will have days or weeks with no weight loss and even weight gain. DO NOT GIVE UP. If you stay consistent, you WILL get there.
You can do this!! I consider myself an inherently lazy person, who would eat fast food for every meal if I could. Trust me, I am not that naturally disciplined, loves to workout and eat kale type person.
If I can do it, you can do it. I know people always say that, but really, I’m just like you. I would have rather sat on my b**t watching Real Housewives and eating Cheetos, but I just needed a change.
I wasn’t happy. I still hate cardio and only do it twice a week, BUT I’ve gained a love of fitness in general. I love lifting. I love hiking. I love going for walks outside.
I love being active now, whereas before, I would always choose sitting inside and watching tv over doing anything active (btw, I still do like to sit and watch tv!).
Oh! And one last tip- since I hate cardio and don’t do it very often, I do try to get at least 10,000 steps a day. I recommend a Fitbit (or something similar) because it does help keep me on track with getting my steps.
But no worries if you don’t have or want one – I didn’t get a Fitbit until after I had lost my weight so it’s definitely not necessary!