Weight loss is a funny thing. It’s so simple, yet so hard. Eat less, workout more, right? Not exactly. There was a time that I clearly remember telling my husband, “I think my body just cannot lose weight.” I THOUGHT I was doing what it took to lose weight, but, in actuality, I wasn’t.
I know a lot of you all are in the same boat (I know because I’ve read your emails.) So, today I thought I’d share with you guys what I was doing when I couldn’t get the scale to budge and what I’ve since learned:
I Didn’t Eat Fast Food: I haven’t eaten a McDonald’s hamburger in probably 20 years. Yes, you read that correctly. I think the last time may have been in middle school. I thought that by skipping McDonald’s hamburgers and fries that I should immediately drop the weight. Well, one important factor I was forgetting – calories come in every food. I wasn’t taking into account the amount of calories I was actually eating throughout the day (even if they didn’t come from McDonald’s.) Things in my own pantry and refrigerator were adding to my waistline. Calories don’t have to come from a drive-thru to put on the pounds.
I Was Eating More Than I Thought: The biggest reason I didn’t lose weight was because I was eating more than I thought I was. Most people underestimate the calories they eat and overestimate the calories they burn exercising. I’m no math professor, but I know that’s a pretty good equation for weight gain. If I was going to pass along a weight loss tip for everyone to implement today, it would be to track your calories. You can do it on a million different apps (LoseIt, My Fitness Pal) or do it the old fashioned way with a pen and paper. But track everything you put in your mouth – including the handful of M&Ms off your coworker’s desk and the crust from your daughter’s grilled cheese. I bet you’ll be surprised at how many calories you’re actually eating.
I Was Only Doing Cardio: Man, I was guilty, guilty, guilty of this. I was a Cardio Queen. I was running, doing workout videos, hitting the elliptical – if it was cardio, I was doing it. But the weight wasn’t moving. Heck, I actually gained weight when I trained for my full marathon. All because I was missing a key component – I wasn’t lifting weights. In order to gain muscle, get your metabolism moving and start seeing changes in your body, you need to add weights. And, that doesn’t just mean the cute little five pound weights. It means heavy weight that challenges your body. Here’s something you may not have thought about: lifting weights help you gain more muscle. Muscle burns more calories when you’re just going throughout your normal day. So, by adding muscle mass, you burn more calories just existing. It’s a pretty awesome phenomenon. If big weights intimidate you, hire a trainer (check out my blog post HERE on finding a trainer.) I guarantee you’ll see changes in your body.
I Thought a Subway Sandwich and Baked Lays Was a Good Lunch: A lot of people are going to raise their eyebrows and get a little defensive with this statement, but hang on a minute and let me explain. I used to honestly try to make smart food choices. I would grab a Subway turkey sandwich and a bag of baked lays for lunch quite frequently. Even though, yes, this is better than a McDonald’s hamburger and fries, by the time I added my cheese and mayonnaise, my lunch was totaling 500 calories (and with the bread and chips – a lot of them were empty calories, leaving you hungry again way too soon.) Now, don’t get me wrong here – a Subway sandwich IS a better option than some lunch choices. But, when you get really serious about your weight loss goals, you’ll start skipping the sandwich and order the salad. This is a hard one to understand. I didn’t understand it 5 years ago – and that’s why the weight didn’t budge. I still eat at Subway, but you’ll usually see me ordering the salad and apple slices.
I Underestimated My Calories From Eating Out: Let me just throw this out there for you: a homemade hamburger does not have the same calories as a restaurant hamburger. Sorry to rain on your parade. But restaurants are going to use juicy, fatty hamburger meat, they’re going to butter that big, fat bun. And I guarantee the cheese is a thick slice of (not low calorie) cheese. So, a few years ago, I honestly would’ve estimated I was eating a restaurant hamburger for 400 calories (what it could be if I made it at home.) Wrong-o. That sucker could actually run me up to 1,000 calories. That’s a pretty big difference there. And this goes for all restaurant foods, not just burgers. So, if you want to get really serious about losing weight, you’ll want to be very careful about eating out. And if you do decide to eat out, carefully and realistically estimate your calories.
I Wasn’t Consistent: I would have a day where I would workout like crazy and my eating would be full of fruits and veggies. But then, I’d follow that by a weekend of pizza, beer, wings and cupcakes. That one day of eating well was easily overshadowed by my calorie-heavy weekend. All the good work I did during my week was negated (and then some.) Or better yet, I’d spend a few weeks cutting my calories so low that I’d burn myself out. You can’t eat a stupid low amount of calories and expect that to be sustainable. You’ll end up hitting a wall and not only just stop eating well, you’ll go the other direction by overeating and not caring at all about calories. In order to see results, you have to be consistent. Be patient. Slow and steady wins the race here, guys.
I Didn’t Have Accountability Partners: this is a super important topic (and one worthy of its own blog another day.) When I couldn’t lose weight, I did not have an accountability partner to help with my weight loss. Now, an accountability partner isn’t just a friend you just sit around with and complain about how tight your jeans are. This is a support system that is committed to helping you reach your goals. Now, I am incredibly lucky to have a whole crew of girls (and an awesome hubby) that hold this title for me. When I don’t have motivation to workout, I just text one of my accountability girls and they’re right there with encouragement or a reminder of my goals. Same thing with my eating: if I’m struggling with cravings, temptation or just staying on track with healthy food choices, I just pick up my phone and call one of my accountability partners. They’re there to offer to go for a jog, meet at the gym or just commiserate at how it’s awful that broccoli does not taste anything like chocolate cake.
Y’all, I’ve been there. I’ve literally stood over that scale with that helpless feeling of “I don’t know how to do this.” Weight loss is both incredibly easy and incredibly hard. But once you commit to it, and I mean really commit to it deep down in your bones (not just giving it lip service) it can be done. The tips above were ones that really proved a turning point and “ah ha” moment in my fitness career. Hope they’ll do the same for you.