10 non-expert tips I used to lose weight
FEELING confused? So was I. Weight loss is seemingly harder than ever, partly due to an endless array of options, each telling us they're better than the last.
Obesity is a massive problem in our country. So are fad diets. One tells us eat carbs, another says not to. Some say protein is king and others say not to overdo it. Even personal trainers differ on their thoughts.
I even had a doctor tell me once that it was almost impossible to lose weight as an adult and not to bother trying (um, thanks?).
The endless mixed messages are enough to make you give up and reach for the nearest tub of ice cream.
Now at about the 12kg weight loss mark, I'm not exactly a walking twig. In fact, I still have about 30kg to lose before I can be considered thin and fit.
I should point out, while I've gathered expert advice from doctors and other people in the know, I am not a professional and before embarking on any diet plan you should seek professional advice.
However, these simple changes have helped me incredibly, and they might just help you too.
1. Eat sugar like it's meant to be eaten, in tiny (NOT DAILY) doses
I went cold turkey off sugar completely at the start of the year and dropped weight like it was running away from me.
I cut it out completely - not a grain of it entered my mouth.
I was going to try it for one month, but I was so impressed with how I felt, I've kept it up and don't see myself going back any time soon.
I'm now eating a sweet food once in a blue moon - an ice cream sundae or chocolate as a rare treat is okay, but just remember not to start getting complacent and having too much of the sugary munchies.
Going off sugar will mean three things - if you want sweet foods you'll need to cook modified versions of recipes (you can still enjoy cake, just bake it yourself and use a handful of sultanas instead of cane sugar), you'll have to read labels (many foods and packed with sugar, with sauces being one of the worst culprits), and if you're anything like me, you'll feel pretty dreadful at first. After that, you'll feel much better.
2. You're human, and it's totally okay
If you have a bad day and eat something you shouldn't, don't get down.
Just realise it's all part of the process and try to see the bigger picture. If you get too down about it you'll feel hopeless and give up.
Also, don't push the panic button if you don't lose weight quickly. Everyone is different. At first my weight loss was rapid, now it's slower, but I'm seriously okay with that.
The other surprising thing I learnt is that weight fluctuates a little while you're losing it. So it's not uncommon to go up a kilo or two, then down again.
And never set yourself up for failure by saying something like "I'll never ever get to eat a chocolate eclair again" because you can and you will, just not so often.
If you can make a challenge of finding healthy ways to replicate treats (for example baking cakes with wholemeal flour and removing sugar or making choc coated nuts by mixing some cacao with cashews and a little coconut oil and popping it in the fridge) then you won't even feel like you're missing out.
3. Learn to have a good relationship with food
Love food the right way. I probably love food more than ever before because I'm appreciating everything that's good about it, instead of resenting it for making me tired and sluggish or relying on it to give me a quick pick me up.
Try to have greasy and fatty foods in moderation, and fill up on more wholesome things like fruit and veg.
4. Counting calories is counter-productive (and so are too few)
Many diets recommend women have about 1200 calories a day (I think it's about 1800 for men) if they're trying to lose weight.
Funnily enough, while I was counting calories I never lost so much as a gram.
I can only think that maybe this was because I was so worried about the numbers, it was easy to forget the source of the calories.
Some foods which are low in calories have all sorts of nasties in them.
I do an occasional calorie count to see how my average days are going in terms of energy intake, but obsessing over them wasn't helpful, for me, anyway.
And don't be fooled into thinking even less calories will mean less weight.
If you dip too low, your body will switch to starvation mode and save all the fat it can. Been there, done that.
5. Sleep, fibre, water
You hear it all the time, but it's true. Sleep is vital.
Fibre is also incredibly important. It's not just for older people or those who want to stay "regular", fibre is vital to our health and many of us just don't get enough of it.
And water, drink plenty of it!
6. Wholemeal everything
Whole grains of wheat are incredibly nutritious. But when they're stripped to make white foods like bread and flour they lose their goodness.
I bake with wholemeal flour now and choose wholemeal crumpets, bread and pasta.
7. Exercise when you can
Exercising can be hard to fit into a schedule and finding something you enjoy can be tricky.
Since we're all different I really can't say what might help you, but for me, I found swimming and the gym to be great.
But even finding little ways to move (parking a block away from where you want to go or taking a stroll at lunch time) is awesome.
8. Ignore fitspo, ignore really skinny people
My younger brother is skinny. Really skinny.
Growing up, I was the kid who liked the vegetables, and he was the kid who loved the junk food.
We all have different bodies that do different things with fat. He burns it like a factory, my body collects it and protects it like it's precious.
There will always be those people out there who can eat donuts and chips all day and never show it.
I thought my seemingly moderate sugar intake was okay because I was comparing myself to friends who were drinking cans of soft drink and eating lollies by the bag, but it wasn't.
Don't think that because they can, you can.
And it's no secret how much I am annoyed by so-called fitspo images telling people to work out until they're bleeding somewhere or till they collapse. That's not healthy, nor is it fun or normal.
9. Find out who your body is
This is the single most important thing I can say - take time to find out what's right for you.
The biggest lesson I have learnt after years of frustration is that we are all unique and built differently and no two of us are alike.
What has worked for me may not work for you.
Talk to experts (real ones, not TV ones), read up and just really get to know what your body is doing and what it responds to.
For example, I know people who can't lose weight eating carbs. I love carbs, and I've always been able to lose weight while enjoying them.
Don't give up and just find what works for you.
10. Never, ever compare yourself to others
So Sue has been losing 1.5kg a week? So Barry has a six-pack. Doesn't matter. It's not a race or contest.
Just eat foods that are as close to natural as possible and be active when you can. Enjoy it.
Have you got a great weight loss story or tips? Share them here.