I am a regular guy. I have zero resemblance to the guys you see on the countless weight loss commercials currently running on television. I still have work to do to become more healthy. But I did something last year that I’ve never been able to do in a lifetime of weight struggles. I lost a significant amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time. Moreover, I did it in a healthy way, and I was able to keep it off.
How did I do it? Well, first let me tell you the basics. On January 1 of 2013 I weighed in at 283 pounds. I was significantly overweight. I was unhealthy, ate poorly, was very inactive, and took blood pressure medicine that I desperately needed. By May 1, 2013, I dropped 40 pounds, was eating much better, exercised 5-6 days a week, and was off blood pressure medicine. And most importantly, I felt great doing it. Well, what did I do? I could probably list 20 things, but I narrowed it down to five. And these are five things that I think can help anyone get healthier if they are ready for a change.
5. Make water your friend.
Have I lost you already? Is this too boring for you? Is this too simple? I don’t care. Do it! Drinking a ton of water was a key to my weight loss and I guarantee it’ll be a key to anyone else’s weight loss. Get yourself a big bottle that you don’t mind making your friend. Take it to work, drive with it, work out with it, and have it with you always. And then take sips all day, every day.
What’s the big deal about water? It has too many benefits for me to list them all, but here are a few: water suppresses your appetite, has zero bad stuff in it (drink filtered), increases metabolism, helps your body retain nutrients, is what your body is made of, helps maintain normal digestion, and energizes muscles. There are more, but those are enough reasons for any of us to start diving into some H2O.
Water is your new friend. Save money by drinking water instead of other beverages. That’ll free up some income to buy healthier foods. Drink a full glass of water before a meal and it’ll both speed up your metabolism and make you eat less. Get at least 64 ounces a day. And if you think that’s a lot, then check out your biggie cup of soda. I bet it’s at least 32 ounces. Put down the soda and pick up a big bottle of water.
You’re going to need to be well-hydrated if you are going to do number 4.
4. Find a competition if you are even a bit competitive.
I know that all people aren’t competitive, but a lot of you are. I am very competitive. Some people are good at competing with themselves to be better. Me, not so much. I need to compete against other people. I like to win. I like prizes. And one of the best things I did to lose weight was enter a competition.
Right now there are lots of people and places ready to do weight loss competitions. Last year my local gym did a special biggest loser competition. The top three people who lost the most percentage of weight loss won some pretty cool prizes. That spurred me on. I got real serious, because I wanted to win. Any time I thought about not going to the gym or not eating right, I just thought about wanting to win. I thought about other people who were in the contest who were probably making the right choices. I needed to do what they were doing. And the larger benefit was that it helped me create new habits.
So find yourself a competition to get involved with (and no, I don’t mean competitive eating). Check at work, a local gym, or a weight loss group — or just challenge a few friends. Weight loss works better with accountability, and other people and a competition provide both those things. Right now it’s very easy to find people who want to lose weight, so go lay down a serious challenge and then stick to it.
I know you’re wondering what place I ended up in my competition. Well, I came in fourth. Remember, only first through third won prizes. So yeah, I wasn’t too happy. Good news is I’m doing a new one this year. I’m going to win this time!
For number 3 we are going to get back to your drinking habits.
3. Replace breakfast with raw juice or healthy shakes.
Honestly, I’m not big on a lot of diet plans that call for consuming things that aren’t part of regular eating. However, I do think they have a good fit when it comes to breakfast. Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most people either skip it or eat stuff that has no real value to their health. And one of the most consistent health questions I get concerns what do I do for breakfast. So here’s the answer. I don’t eat cereal or a pound of bacon or a stack of pancakes (though those last two sound pretty good). I either drink raw juice or healthy meal-replacement shakes.
Thanks to movies like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, juicing has become quite popular the last couple of years in America. I’m not a fan of the juice-only diets, but a big glass of raw juice is a great start to your day. You can either buy the stuff premade (which is a bit pricey) or buy yourself a decent juicer and get to discovering what mixtures you love. Most people need to lower the calorie count to lose weight and juicing is a great way to consume lots of nutrients with a low calorie count. And it’s actually filling and energizes you for the day.
Another low calorie and filling option for breakfasts when you have a sweet tooth is healthy replacement shakes. Stores offer these, but I question the quality. You don’t want to start your day with junk, so I’d encourage you to buy a quality product. There are a lot of direct sale businesses that offer shakes right now and most of those are higher quality. They have become very popular the last few years. Do your research and talk to people who are selling and using these. I’m involved with and drink BodyKey shakes by Nutrilite, but there are other ones like Herbalife, Advocare, Beachbody, and Body by Vi.
These shakes are usually 150-300 calories and come in flavors like chocolate or vanilla. I love chocolate ones, and I’ll blend them with banana, peanut butter, almond milk, and ice. Very yummy, filling, and nutritious! It’s a great start to your day, and you’ll need some good nutrition to do number 2.
2. Find a way to make working out fun.
Do you hate working out? I always did. I only liked to exercise if it didn’t seem like exercise. Put me in a basketball game or get me on the dance floor, and I wouldn’t mind sweating off calories. Those things are fun. They are enjoyable. I never dreaded it like I dreaded the idea of going to the gym every day or doing some monotonous exercise video over and over again. The problem was that playing basketball and shaking my booty on the dance floor were never going to be regular habits of mine.
So how did I make exercise a regular habit? I made it fun. Sadly, I never figured out how to do daily basketball games or dance parties on my schedule and in my small town. But for me it was as simple as joining a gym with WiFi access. I discovered I could do cardio exercises like elliptical (my personal favorite) or a stationary bike and watch some of my favorite programs on my smart phone. And for me, that’s fun. Somehow watching Inside Edition on the gym television never made me forget how much I was hating being on an exercise machine, but watching an episode of one my favorite shows on Netflix does.
Obviously, what’s fun for me may not be fun for you. You have to figure that out for yourself. What do you already enjoy doing? And can you integrate that into an exercise routine that you can do four or five days a week? For me, I discovered working out late worked best with my schedule. And I began to love my nightly routine of unwinding while watching my favorite shows but doing it while sweating on an elliptical machine or doing ab exercises. Make it part of your life to where missing it is a real letdown. I didn’t always eat right this past year, but I always worked out because I hated it when I missed it.
And now for the number one biggest thing that helped me finally lose weight and keep it off:
1. Discover clean eating.
If I could only promote one thing to lose weight, it would be clean eating. I know what you are thinking. You are wondering if I’m just mentioning the latest eating fad like low-carb eating or only raw juice for 6 months. What I’m actually referring to is what everyone has understood for generations but we keep forgetting. If you eat right (and are active), you will be healthy. So what is eating right? I honestly believe the easiest way to eat right is to discover clean eating.
Clean eating is eating the way everyone did before food companies started processing foods with all kinds of questionable things. Open up your pantry and probably almost everything in there is not clean eating. The good news is there are countless foods that are clean eating that you can find in your fridge and on your counter. Clean foods include all veggies, fruits, nuts, regular meats, whole grain products, and more. It’s foods that aren’t overly processed. A good basic rule is that if a food has more than seven ingredients, you probably don’t want to put it in your body.
Here’s the thing, you can exercise every day until you pass out but if you aren’t eating healthy then you will not lose weight consistently. It just won’t happen. Healthy living requires healthy eating. And I honestly don’t believe there’s a healthier way of eating a well rounded diet than simply eating cleaner. Do some basic research on the subject and you will find all sorts of ways to eat clean and you will enjoy it. Moreover, my weight loss was immediate and measurable any time I did strict clean eating. Plus I just felt good when doing it.
I am not a nutrition specialist or physical trainer. I am not telling you that you need to do what I did. I’m just telling you my experience and hope it helps. During the recent holidays I wasn’t as strict on all five of these things, but now a new year is starting and I’m ready to go again. Will you join me? Find me on Twitter or Instagram, and we can encourage each other. Let me know what you are doing this year to stay healthy.