Where do I start?
I've never given anyone tips on dieting or exercise before, I've never been in a position to. Even now, I'm only really 2 months into a successful diet, who's to say it won't all fall apart soon? Why would anyone listen to me anyway? Well, a few people have been asking for tips and I've been thinking long and hard about it, and that was what led me to this blog.
It might be best not to really call them top tips as such, but the top things that have worked for me. After all, I'm no expert and I have no training. Also, as I have said all along, what works for me might not work for you. But please, read my tips, give them a try, and if they don't work, try something else. Whatever you do though, don't give up!
Lets call that tip number 1 - don't give up!
Dieting can be hard. I'm feeling it today myself, I have no motivation to push myself. But you have to keep your goal in sight. If you give up then you will never reach it. Tell yourself this everytime you feel like you can't be bothered. Hopefully once you start seeing the results it will become easier to stick to. Even if you have a bad day, just start again the next day. If you're ill or are having a bad time of it, keep going, the weight loss will make you feel better than comfort eating or lazing around.
Tip 2 - Sort your head out
If you're not in the right frame of mind, it won't work. You have to know what you want to achieve and really commit to it. Do not make excuses as to why you can't exercise or why you can't eat right, find reasons why you can. I was always great at making excuses - I've been in work all day, I'm too tired. Its too close to bedtime, I can't do exercise now or I won't sleep. I've had a stressful day, eating that share size bag of crisps will make me feel better. Only it didn't really. Losing weight made me feel better than those crisps any day of the week.
My dad gave me a great example of this the other day. Like myself, he does a sit down job for living and works in an office. He told me that he started using the stairs to get to his office and once it got easier to walk them, he started jogging them. Not only that, but he runs to the tram stop to catch his tram home. Fitting exercise in wherever he can. NO EXCUSES!
Tip 3 - Record everything
It will make it so much easier to stick to if you get into the habit of keeping track. Record everything you eat - and I mean everything. Keep track of your weight so you can see your progress. Record what exercise you have done so you can see overall how much you're doing. Make an exercise plan so you can work out where and when you can fit your exercise in and you know on any given day what you should be doing. I use Noom on my phone to do this as I always have my phone with me but just a notebook would do.
Tip 4 - Keep it simple
Ok, maybe this should be 'keep it simple where possible'. Dieting does require weighing and measuring, if you don't do this you can't keep a reasonable record of what you're eating. I found diets such as Weight Watchers hard to stick to because it overcomplicated things trying to work out what foods cost in points. It was almost like learning a new language and new names for things, knowing foods as their points value instead of just their names. I felt restricted in what I could eat simply because I didn't know somethings points value and stuck to only a few things I did know.
These days, calories are on the packaging of everything you eat so its really easy to see what your eating in those terms. Some restaurants even have the calorific value of things on their menus (have a look at the menu on the wall of a McDonalds sometime, that will make you thing twice!). I found it so much easier and much less restrictive. I can look at the package of anything and know if I can eat it or not.
The same goes for exercise. Plan something that requires little fuss and effort to actually do. I stick to my weekly Zumba class as it is literally on my way home from work and its free. I started my Zumba Wii game as once the Wii was set up, it was ready to go any time I was ready. I didn't even have to get changed if I didn't want to (although it was always a good idea to at least change afterwards so I didn't smell!!). Now I have moved onto running, this is also so easy to organise. I just start the 'Couch to 5k' app on my phone and some music and off I go. These exercises can also work with having to look after my son. He watches me doing my Zumba and sometimes joins in. When I jog, I put him in his stroller and take him with me. There will always be ways around whatever you feel to be your stumbling block, if you want to find them.
Tip 5 - Eat fresh
Most diets will tell you this but it is better to cook your food from scratch. The main reason I do it is simply because you can eat more of it! The calorie count will be so much different in freshly cooked foods to those ready meals or take aways that it will show in the portion size. In some of my future blogs I will share some really simple recipes I use that hopefully will help you as they helped me. You don't have to be a massive fan of cooking as they're not complicated at all, and as I am always on a budget they don't involve fancy ingredients. They are also food that all the family can eat so you don't have to make yourself anything different to what everyone else is having. My son loves most of the stuff I make.
Don't get me wrong though, I still use some ready meals or ready prepared meals. Life doesn't always give you the time to prepare everything from scratch, but where I can, I do. I'll also share the things I've found to be most low in calories in future blogs.
Tip 6 - Find your motivation & set goals
If you don't know what you're aiming for, how will you know when you reach it? Also, what is the point in aiming for something if you don't know what it is? My motivation is obviously to lose weight, to be healthier and to be a good role model for my son. I don't want to look fat in pictures and I want to be comfortable in my clothes. I don't want to be restricted on what I can wear and I want to enjoy buying clothes again. I want to be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes that are still sat in my wardrobe untouched for around 2 years. Whatever it is for you, find it and hold on to it. Remind yourself of it everytime you lose motivation. It it helps, write it down with everything else you're recording and keep going back to it.
With goals, I worked better with short term targets. After Christmas, I said to myself - you have 3 months till your birthday to lose as much weight as you possibly can, now go! After my birthday, its then only another 3 months till I go on holiday, there's my next goal. I have an even shorter term goal of losing 2lbs a week and just recently I set myself the goal of losing weight at that rate and hitting my 1 stone loss in a total of 8 weeks. I was so comitted I did it a week early!
Whatever it takes to keep you on track, use it and stick to it. NO EXCUSES!!
Tip 7 - Find some support
Even though the biggest change and motivation has to come from yourself, it really does help to find people to talk to about your journey and share things with. Its even better just to hear someone say 'Well done you!'. I'm lucky to have an amazing husband who has been incredibly supportive, and a great family. My son has even been known to cheer me on when watching me do zumba. I also have Aimee, you might have read about her before, my Zumba instructor, who is a great source of advice and support. I'm sharing it all with a colleague who is also on her own weight loss journey, and the lovely nurse who weighs us and is encouraging me to try running.
I know some people will feel they are alone in this, but you're not. Even if you really have no-one to talk to, join an internet forum or try one of the social networks. There will be people there who feel just like you and will be there to say well done! I'm even on Twitter now (@fatgirldietblog) and would be happy to cheer you on.
And I guess thats it...
I could go on about which foods to avoid and which to eat more of, but if you're anything like me, you've heard it all before. Whilst things like that do form the basis of any diet, I don't believe they are they key to a successful diet. The biggest key to success starts in your head, if you want to get there and commit to it, you will.
Last bit for those of you who have read my previous blogs and are keeping track, I lost 1lb this week!! Now I'm off for a run... NO EXCUSES!!