It takes several weeks for a person to change a habit. Habits are comfy for us-that is why many people, including myself a year ago, are afraid of change. It takes work and a ton of dedication, which is scary. But changes make us better in many ways.
One of the best things I did for myself to help me lose weight was to make small changes throughout the day that made a difference, every day. Though they took time to become habits (three months to be nearly exact), they are now things I do every day, often without even thinking. At first, they took much thought and effort, but now, they are so easy to implement.
1.For breakfast, I would eat (and still do eat) two eggs or a handful of cashews with some fruit, usually a banana. I never knew how filling these could be! Replacing cereal, oatmeal, waffles, and toast (which was what I usually ate) every day definitely dropped my caloric intake as well as my carb intake. I also now only drink coffee with some half n half.
I don’t add sugar or other sugar loaded creamers, just my cream. I am now obsessed with my coffee/cream combo that I don’t get excited to go to Starbucks anymore. Getting a sugary drink at Starbucks was something I used to do nearly every day. And if it wasn’t Starbucks, it was my favorite coffee shop Latte Donatte.
2. I prepped my lunches at work and included some form of meat, veggie, and fruit. That is it. I ate no bread, no added sugar, and no dairy. Typically, I would cook a healthy meal with each of the above the night before, and would just pack the leftovers.
If I didn’t pack leftovers, then I made something quick and easy, like a simple tuna salad with the following: a can of tuna, about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, onions, tomatoes, and a handful of spinach. I also tossed some oregano in there. Then, I mixed it all up, put in a bag with an apple, and took it to work.
One of my other favorite, easy meals is pork with sautéed apples and asparagus:
3. I never ate past 7PM at night. Eating before bedtime keeps me awake and actually makes me hungrier in the morning. Also, eating at night is usually when I eat my worst, so before I made this change, I definitely was adding wasteful calories and sugar to my food intake. Making this change helped me sleep better AND lose weight because I was dropping my caloric intake by not stuffing my face with chips and dip, which was my usual go-to snack.
4.I worked out (and still do work out) 3 days on, one day off. Before this change, I worked out every other day because I believed only working out about 3 days a week was enough for weight loss. However, I started reading online and realized that the best way to lose weight, to tone, and to maintain weight loss is to workout 5-6 days a week.
Then, I read somewhere (I really wish I could find this article) that Crossfit trainers typically have a 3 day on, one day off workout schedule. After I read this, I immediately implemented this regime into my own schedule. I NEVER thought I could workout this much in a week because I always believed it would be too difficult.
However, once I found an exercise program that was right for me and my motivation, it was and still is, surprisingly easy. In fact, there were weeks where I loved working out so much that I wouldn’t even take that one day off-I would work out 4 days on and then would take that one day off. For more information on my workouts, read this article.
5.I make sure to incorporate strength training at least twice a week and strength exercises every day. I not only devote two days entirely to strength training, but I also ensure that I am incorporating some type(s) of strength training exercises into my every day workouts.
I have never consistently strength trained, and when I was reading several articles online that discussed the calorie burn during and AFTER strength training, I knew I was not giving my body what it needed to really burn calories, to tone, and to lose weight.
Once I started incorporating strength training workouts, I saw IMMEDIATE changes to my body. My arms and shoulders have never been this toned/muscular before. Here are the exercises I did/do that helped tone my arms.
I am finally seeing definition in my stomach that I never have before, and my thighs are all muscle. Even better, when I don’t eat healthy, I have found that I still am able to maintain my weight because of all the calories I burn during and after strength training. I have most definitely increased my metabolism by lifting weights.
6. I drink a ton of water. I was never a drinker; I hated water. However, ever since I started my Paleo diet, water, coffee, and almond milk are all I drink. Therefore, I have since developed a love and a thirst for water. I drink it at every meal. When we go out to eat, I never order a soda or an alcoholic drink, just my water with a lemon. Also, I fill up my 24oz water bottle throughout the day and carry it with me wherever I go. Best habit I ever got into.
7. I workout when I know my energy is at its highest. In the past, because of others who did it, I would get up early and workout. However, I noticed that when I got up early to workout, I fucking hated it. I wouldn’t give the workout my all and I was counting down the minutes until I was done. Therefore, I gave my workouts minimal effort and certainly got out what I put in-hardly any results.
Now, I workout either in the afternoon while my youngest is napping, which is between 1:30 and 3PM, or at night after both kids are in bed, usually between 7:30PM and 8:30PM. I did what was best for me, not what others thought was best.
When I workout now, at those times, I am so in the zone and my mindset is entirely on how can I improve each exercise to get the best calorie burn. I ENJOY working out at these times. When I enjoy working out, I get what I put in: great results from great effort.
8. I don’t use time to workout; I use exercises. When I used to workout (run or walk), I told myself I would run/walk for 30 minutes. So, before I would workout, I would dread the coming half hour. Then, during my workout, I would constantly watch the timer, and would say to myself “Oh my God, it’s only been 10 minutes!” It REALLY decreased my motivation and joy to work out.
After my best friend made me use Pinterest, I saw a whole other side to working out rather than running that I knew I had to try: HIIT and Circuit workouts. I knew I would enjoy these exercises significantly much more than just running and walking. In fact, before I encountered these workouts, I took a long hiatus from exercises and let myself gain weight because of how much I loathed running and walking.
Soon, after reading different pins on different workouts and watching very fit women perform these exercises, I was hooked.
I decided to attempt my very first Pinterest workout the next day; of course, I had to begin with a very difficult one because I love a good challenge. After I did the workout, I realized a few things: I was NOT in shape, that it was a ridiculously fun workout, and that I sweated my ass off. Ever since then, these are all I do, and I am now in the best shape I have EVER been in.
I quickly became addicted to Pinterest, and added a ton of workouts that I knew were going to challenge me. I started having so much fun working out. I still challenge myself, but I have found three workouts that I consistently perform because I love them and because they are effective (my favorite kickboxing workout that I have adapted to suit my fitness level; my own strength training workout (with another variation), and my own HIIT/Circuit workouts with different variations).
I rotate these three types of workouts during my three days on. I always know what I am going to do, and even better, I always know that I am going to get in a killer workout that will burn a ton of calories.
Below is the pin of my favorite kickboxing workout-it makes me SWEAT! I now add 5 pound dumbbells in each hand when I do my jabs. Also, I now add 6 extra minutes to this-3 of those minutes are punches with those 5 pound weights in each hand. The other 3 minutes are jumping jacks and uppercuts. Then, I finish my workout with three sets of the following: some core exercise, oblique crunches, and supermans.
So, instead of waiting until my time is up, I finish my workout after I finish the last exercise of my last set.
9. I was motivated by myself and realized that my change had to be by ME. I didn’t and do not use any dietary supplements to help me lose weight. Here is why.
I consider this a habit because I changed my self-talk; I wanted to tell people that I lost weight and got in shape because of what I did, not because of a meal replacement shake or because of pills I took. Instead, I told myself (and still do) every day that the change needs to begin with my attitude, my self-talk, and my motivation.
In order for me to lose weight and to tone, I had to tell myself every day that I CAN do it, that I CAN workout because I want it bad enough. However, the most important thing I told myself was this: I have every right to be thin, and I will make myself thin. I wasn’t trying to be thin to please others or because I wanted to look like models; I simply realized I am getting older, and that I have never been happy with my body.
I knew that getting thin and losing my baby weight was going to make me incredibly happy. So, I set out to do just that. And I was right-I am happy! I am SO happy with my body right now; my self-esteem has skyrocketed. Self-talk and determination is so important to weight loss! It gives me so much pride when friends and family tell me how amazing it is that I lost weight and got toned all on my own-that I didn’t use any supplement to help me.
10. I stopped bringing my debit card to work. This was my main problem at work: I would bring my debit card with me so I could buy food. I work at a university, so there are several little shops across campus that sell delicious, but horrible-for-you food choices. Every time I had my card with me as well as my packed healthy food, I ALWAYS chose my card.
Once I realized my bad habit, I stopped bringing my card with me, so I was forced to eat what I packed. I made tastier, but healthy meals for me so I could enjoy my meals that I packed for myself. Not too long, maybe a good two months, I began looking forward to not only packing my meals, but also eating them at work and not walking across campus, waiting in line, and eating bad food for me. I felt/feel so much better now. Oh, and I save money too!
Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard. You just need to make small changes each and every day that soon turn into positive habits!