While losing weight is one of the absolute hardest journeys for so many people, it is also one of the most desired things to accomplish. With every pound we drop, we feel a sense of a job well done. So, why then, is it so darn difficult? As women, and even more so as moms, it seems like the second we take our eyes off the scale or our mind off the calories, the pounds pack on in days. Why does it take oh so much effort just to stay at a somewhat healthy weight?
Now, before I begin on this… please note that HEALTHY does not equal SKINNY. They are not one in the same. You can be perfectly healthy and still be “technically” overweight. You can also be incredibly skinny and very unhealthy. Some of us are bigger boned than others. Some of us need less or more calories than another. Some of us are genetically prone to carrying a little extra weight or being on the thinner side, and there’s nothing harmful or bad about that. Some of us have special eating needs and can’t eat dairy, grains or meat. Some of us have a sweet tooth and some of us love our veggies.
So whether you are on a specific diet or not, or whether you love to exercise or not, here are ten life habits that will help you slowly shed those pounds!
- Only eat when you feel literal hunger pains – and stop eating when you are full. This was my dear momma’s advice to me when I was a chubby junior high girl. Though it’s tempting to snack all day long and eat whatever food you see, DON’T do it. Wait until you feel that grumbling in your tummy. When you are starving, you are more likely to enjoy healthier foods. When you are eating for pleasure, you are going to eat what tastes good… and we all know that doesn’t usually mean healthy. While you are eating, try to chew and swallow slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that you are satisfied and send that notification to your brain. As soon as you feel satisfied, stop eating!
- Eat whatever sounds good to you, but make sure your portions are reasonable. I went through a really hard time with portions when I was pregnant. I was “keeping track” of my calories, exercising and eating decent food most of the time. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I was gaining weight SO FAST. I gained 50 pounds over the course of my pregnancy. I didn’t realize until I was hanging out with a friend and we ordered at McDonald’s together that I was eating INSANE portions that were totally unnecessary. While measuring exact portions isn’t a necessity, it may help you out to actually know what you are eating for a little while so you can gain control.
- If you have SPECIFIC cravings, give in to them. Your body is telling you that you need something. Of course, you could figure out what that nutrient is and find a healthier version – but you still may end up going for your craving later in the day anyway. Do yourself a favor and give in! Eat a proper portion: don’t just take the entire package of whatever it is with you to the couch and shove it down your throat. If you want cake, cut yourself an average size and put the rest away. If you want crackers, give yourself 1-2 “servings” on a plate or in a bowl and close the package. If you want ice cream, dole out 1-2 servings in a bowl and don’t look back.
- If you just have the munchies, don’t wander around your house eating everything in sight. There are some evenings, usually when I’m PMSing, that I don’t know what will satisfy me – I just want to EAT. These nights are awful because I end up eating hundreds of calories and in the end, my “cravings” were never satisfied. My best advice for this feeling is to DISTRACT YOURSELF! If you feel the munchies coming on, think of an activity you enjoy (a favorite TV show, exercising, household chores, social media scrolling, etc.) and go do that. After that activity is completed, hopefully, your brain will no longer be on food. If it is, pick a healthy snack with something fatty (ex. apple slices w/ peanut butter). Fat helps to satisfy that cravings part of us and will hopefully get your mind off of food.
- It is absolutely essential that you have a calorie deficit to lose weight. You could fill your tummy with 110% organic, natural, raw foods and you wouldn’t lose a pound if you didn’t have a deficit. Of course.. you would feel better, have clearer skin, might have lower blood pressure or heart rate, have more energy, sleep better (the benefits of healthy food are amazing and always worth it!), but you WILL NOT LOSE WEIGHT just because of what kind of food you eat. If you want the scale to drop, figure out how many calories YOU need. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is what you burn just from being alive and breathing. Then you can add the calories from your daily activities to see what you need to eat in a day. For quick and steady weight loss, subtract 800 calories from that number. To sustain your current weight, eat 1-200 calories less than that number (as it probably isn’t exactly accurate).
- Eat what makes you feel good. A huge part of feeling good is to eat what brings you joy. I do like how certain foods taste, but they always leave me feeling bloated, crampy and wanting to unbutton my jeans. I cannot believe it took me so long to realize that it wasn’t worth it to feel like crap for a few minutes of pleasure. If you can eat three cookies and feel great, then allow yourself to do that occasionally. If meat leaves you feeling tired and nauseous, eat very small portions or none at all. If dairy gives you diarrhea and cramps, remember that IT IS NOT WORTH IT to feel nasty just for a moment of pleasure. Remember: EATING IS FLEETING, BUT CALORIES LAST FOREVER. Just kidding. But not really.
- Don’t drink your calories. I’m sure you’ve heard this one hundreds of times, but it’s so true. I’ve never been one to drink soda or juice all day. To me, that’s just absolutely nasty. However, anytime I used to go out to eat I would get a large soda and fill it up a few times while eating my already insanely calorie-packed, greasy meal. Recently, soda hasn’t been appetizing to me – so I just stopped drinking it. Anytime I choose to drink it, I don’t enjoy it and wonder why I even tried it again in the first place. I’ve been counting my calories the past few weeks and my 1200 calories goal has been really easy to meet. A few days ago, I didn’t eat until lunch. For lunch, I had a small deli meat and cheese sandwich with a few chips and a glass of lemonade. I also had a small dinner that night. Guess what sent me over the top of my calorie limit? THE LEMONADE. It’s ridiculous! But a high-calorie drink doesn’t fill you up. Our bodies are designed to drink water only – think about that. Milk is for babies, and beyond that humans used to only drink water! Your body will tell you to drink as much as you want because it doesn’t know that you are ingesting thousands of calories. Do your body a favor and drink what it wants and needs: WATER.
- Find a few healthy meals you LOVE and eat them all the time. Finding healthy food that actually tastes good can be quite a feat. If you can come up with 5-7 really delicious dinners, 2-3 quick lunch ideas, and 1-2 breakfast ideas, you can pack your whole week full of yumminess! As long as you have a little bit of variety amongst the meals, there is no reason to not eat the same things every week. If you know what to expect, it will be easier to not just give up finding something to eat and go out.
- Prepare for eating out. It’s inevitable in our culture that you are going to be eating out. Fast food is a cornerstone of our busy, fast-moving life and it’s near impossible to avoid entirely. It’s not necessary, and would really be pretty cruel, to tell yourself you just can’t eat with your friends or family and that you’ll eat at home. The best solution is to know the menus at the restaurants you visit most often. Pick one or two options that serve your calorie and nutrient needs best and be determined to get those options and nothing else. Make sure it is something you enjoy though, otherwise you will be tempted to get something else. And of course, ditch the soda always!
- Aim to be active every day. You know you. If you absolutely despise running, don’t try to force yourself to do it every day. I guarantee it won’t last long and then you will find yourself giving up. Try different methods of working out until you find something you enjoy. Then, start small and keep challenging yourself. I’ve found that things like a sudden, intense “30 days to a flat stomach” or telling yourself “I’m going to run a mile every day!” just aren’t realistic. If you decide to go on walks every day, start just walking around the block. Then every day stretch yourself a little bit. It doesn’t matter what activities you are doing, just do SOMETHING. And if you miss a day, don’t even let it phase you. Lifestyle changes shouldn’t be stressful. It’s a learning process, mentally and physically.
Everyone is so different. Everyone’s journey is unique and all of our bodies have a different story to tell. Remember that no matter what shape you are or how much you weigh, this is the only body you will ever get. Your stretch marks, freckles, moles, wrinkles, and scars have a story to tell: YOUR STORY. Always be thankful for what your body CAN do, and if you are a mama, what is HAS done! No matter how skinny you get, if you aren’t confident in who the good Lord made you to be, you will never be confident or satisfied in your image.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”