Trial and Error: Things I Learned on My Weight Loss Journey

Over the past two years, I’ve read countless articles, sworn by diet crazes and even considered myself gluten-free for a short time (literally a week). In the end, after a lot of trial and error – I found out, like most people, there is no short cut to a healthy lifestyle.

The good news? You don’t have to workout for three hours a day, limit your meals to solely spinach leaves or lift weights that would scare John Cena away. I’m no expert, but if I could go back in time, there are definitely a few things I wish I would have known.

  1. Be patient. This is first on the list because it’s the most difficult. While everyone’s different, it took me nearly two months of healthy living to see any significant weight loss – then it dropped like crazy. It’s all about sticking with it, as hard as that is. As much as I hate to use the cliché phrase, “it just takes discipline” – it really does.
  2. Sometimes, low-fat foods just aren’t worth it. While I admire people who can eat healthy 24/7 – I’m not someone who can. My sweet tooth will not be denied. In some respects, I think it’s good to go for the low-calorie or low-fat versions of things (popcorn, yogurt, milk, etc.), but sometimes, let’s be honest – it tastes gross. Sometimes there’s just no replacement for the real thing, which is why you won’t catch me eating reduced fat peanut butter (I’ll take full-fat, thank you).
  3. Use someone as inspiration. Don’t compare yourself to someone, but use them as motivation. God knows I’m never going to have Carrie Underwood’s legs, but one look at them and suddenly that Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t seem so appealing.
  4. Don’t drink your calories. I like a good vodka cranberry as much as the next person, but unfortunately these sugary drinks are often high in calories – which can counteract all the hard work you’ve been putting in outside of the bar.
  5. Prep meals on the weekends. If you’re like me, you barely have time to catch your breath during the week. The last thing you want to do when you get home is prepare a five-course meal for yourself. On the weekends, I bake chicken breasts (or some sort of protein), steam vegetables and cut up fruit so it’s ready to go. This way, my free time can be used to do important things, like watch “Friends.”
  6. Forgive yourself. So you ate a king-sized Snickers bar, you had an entire bag of movie theater popcorn, or you drank one too many mojitos this weekend. Forgive yourself. Think about how hard you’ve been working –  in the grand scheme of things, one Snickers bar won’t hurt you. You’re human, so cut yourself some slack.
  7. Go the extra mile (literally). If you’re on the elliptical, go five minutes longer than you planned, do one more set, do ten more squats. Push yourself. Five more minutes won’t kill you, I promise.
  8. Exercise in front of people. Go to a gym, run outside, play a sport. As much as you might not want to admit it, you’ll run further, lunge deeper and do more reps if that good-looking guy or girl is watching. The plain fact is, even complete strangers can hold you accountable (even without knowing it). Exercising at home allows you the opportunity to give up and switch on the TV – don’t let yourself fall into that trap.
  9. Even if you don’t want to do it – do it anyway. You forgot your oven needs a good clean and you’ve been meaning to alphabetize your DVD collection, right? You can always come up with an excuse, but fight the urge. Make yourself a priority. Plan to go to the gym for 20 minutes. Chances are when you get there, you’ll stay longer anyway. Your DVD’s will still be waiting for you when you get back.
  10. A healthy lifestyle is meant to be just that – healthy. Don’t get too carried away. While eating right and exercising is great, give yourself a break once in a while. Take a day off from your workout routine, have a cheat day, order some Cabin sticks. You deserve it.