I’m working out every day, eating great, and at the perfect weight… all these things are as far from the truth as possible right now in my life. These last month has been busy, it has been fun but it is time to get back to normal. I feel the effects of the lack of exercise, the exhaustion from the sugar crashes and the scale is far from my friend. Time to ditch the diet and get back on track… um what? Hang in there with me, we have a lot to talk about today.
It seems appropriate to write about diets since today we kick off a new fitness challenge at work. A fitness competition that two years ago changed my life. In years past, whenever I want to lose weight I look for a diet to follow. Slim fast ruled my life (and helped me lose ten pounds), I laughed when someone explained the paleo diet to me, Shakeology roped me in and I’ve spent hours looking into various other forms of fad diets. Ironically it wasn’t until I decided to ditch the diet and rethink how I ate in general that I changed my life for the better.
Little man was just about a year old. I still had about 15lbs of baby weight, I was exhausted, working full time but knew something had to change. We had a fitness competition at work that kicked off the day after cookie day (two weeks before christmas) and then ran through the end of January. Virtually no one participated since who eats healthy over the holidays. Towards the end of January the fitness competition got pushed back… suddenly we had until April 1st to try our hand at winning. The game changed.
I found the late night workouts to be my sanity, the salads I ate for lunch tasted better and better, cooking at home was healthier and my overall attitude about everything was better. Yes, I counted calories but I didn’t let it rule my life. In fact, I counted sodium, carbs & cholesterol more than I did calories. I had good days, I had bad days. If I went over calories because something was higher calories but less sodium, I was okay with it.
In the end I dropped 4.5% of my body fat in 3.5(ish) months and about 10% of my body fat in a year. I am NOT an expert and in no way am I saying that all of my advice will work for everyone. Every person is different and somethings that worked for me might not work for you. Some things that didn’t work for me, might work for you. I made some simple, but major, changes to my life style and in the end I lost close to 40 pounds.
How To Ditch The Diet & Change Your Life
The number one thing I discovered in my success a few years ago was to ditch the diet. Okay, that sounds incredibly stupid, huh? I removed the word “diet” from my vocabulary and suddenly the healthy eating, working out and day to day temptations were suddenly not so bad. Diets are temporary, lifestyle changes are permanent (hopefully). The idea of ditch the diet wasn’t something that was going to happen over night, in fact it happened over a year and a half.
As I worked to change my lifestyle, there were a few things that helped me along the way.
Yes, activity trackers are EVERYWHERE right now. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have stayed as close to on track nor would I have been as successful with the ditch the diet mentality as I did without my Fitbit. Working a desk job, I don’t move a lot during the day. When I first realized how few steps I actually took on a normal day (between 3,000 and 5,000) I was shocked.
Having a Fitbit tell me that I hadn’t moved much throughout the day encouraged me to get up and walk at lunch or go for a run at night. It held me accountable to get to my 10,000 steps. I’ve worn a Fitbit for almost two years now and if I don’t come close to my steps I find a way to make up for it the next day.
Track Your Calories
This is a hot debate in weight loss. I’ve read hundreds of articles over the last two years as to why you should or shouldn’t track your calories. I understand both sides of it but for me, it held me accountable. If I went over my calories, I didn’t freak out completely. I took a look at what I ate that day, some days I went over calories because I ate 6 snacks that were fruits and veggies instead of 4. Those days, I was okay with going over on my calories. The days that I ate two pieces of chocolate cake or a large blizzard at Dairy Queen, I made sure to do a longer run at the gym.
Track Sodium, Carbs, Sugars, Etc
More important than calories, I tracked everything else. Instead of saying “omg I’m screwed this is 400 calories” I would look at the back of a package and make my decision based more on the sodium percent and sugar percent. If a granola bar is 12% of your daily sodium, chances are it’s loaded with a bunch of stuff that is pretty bad for you.
Maybe this seems like a “duh” moment, but finding a healthier lifestyle has to be two parts. Eating right will only get you so far. Yes, it might help you shed a few pounds the first week but without exercise you will not see your total results. Sometimes it can be as simple as getting on the treadmill and walking for 30 minutes a day if you have a job (like I do) where you barely move all day. Just a little bit of extra movement a day can go a long way.
As you evolve in your effort to ditch the diet, try running, an elliptical or a spin bike. Each of those will take a little more effort than walking and each day you can progress more into something stronger.
Have a Partner
The reason biggest loser competitions or DietBets work so well is because you have accountability with your competitors. There is no question in my mind that I wouldn’t be where I am today without one of my closest friends. She and I had our babies 10 weeks apart and both were in a similar situation needing to lose weight. While she kicked my ass in the weight loss department she also held me accountable to go to the gym. If she could do it, I could too.
Most Importantly Remember… Everyone Starts Somewhere
Changing your life doesn’t happen over night. Comparing yourself to someone who is 3 months ahead of you will not help you move forward. Focus on your journey and only your journey.
What is your favorite way to ditch the diet?
What have you found to be successful in building a healthy lifestyle?