From early 2015 to now, I have lost and maintained a 20 pound weight loss. Below, I want to share tricks that have helped me over the years! These may not work for everyone, but they’re what helped me, so they could help you too.
One of the oldest tricks in the book is to drink more water. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it; I know I am. Drinking water has so many health benefits I couldn’t even begin to list them all. It hydrates you, helps you feel less fatigued, keeps you regulated, cures headaches... you get the idea. Now you may be thinking that you don’t like the taste of water and I completely understand. You can always add fresh fruit and/or herbs to your water to give a natural, vitamin-infused boost of flavor to your water. If you are comfortable with consuming aspartame or any other artificial sugars, you may also enjoy Crystal Light or any other water flavoring packets. I personally enjoy these because the flavors are so good I don’t even think I’m drinking water!
Cut Back on Sugar
When I began my health journey, the first thing I did was cut out excess sugar. I dramatically reduced the number of sweets I was eating (which, as a senior in high school who has an affinity for baking, this was a challenge) and stopped drinking as many of my calories as well. I noticed a huge difference after a week or so once the cravings calmed down. I, unfortunately, fell off this wagon after a few weeks due to getting sick, but the time I was off sugar felt pretty good. It sounds cliché, but I genuinely starting enjoying the natural sweetness of fruit as something that could satisfy my sweet tooth. Plus, cutting back on drinking my calories helped me lose weight in a quick, but healthy, manner.
Don’t Restrict Yourself
In my freshman year of college, I had a professor who told us the following story. Once upon a time, my professor worked with a teenager and their mom. The teen loved to eat M&Ms, but their mother wouldn’t let them because she didn’t want her child to gain weight. This led to guilty feelings towards M&Ms and they would end up binging them since they were their favorite candy. My professor told the mother to go out and get as many M&Ms as the teenager wanted and to let them enjoy them without any parental interference.
The mother was baffled but did so anyway, and it turned out the teen only ate some of the M&Ms once they were given the freedom to do so. The moral of the story: your body regulates itself pretty well. If it wants something, it’s best to give it what it wants. This doesn’t mean to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s, or a few bags of M&Ms, but to have a taste of it to give you the satisfaction. Restricting foods has never helped me lose weight, and harsh restrictions can lead to negative attitudes towards food. I find that if I am too strict with myself I may not eat at all, which is worse than eating a cookie. If I want a cookie, I'll have the cookie, and then make sure to have an extra helping of veggies later.
Meal prep has been taking over the Internet from what I've seen and it's truly a lifesaver. The idea is to have meals ready or almost ready so that when you're tired in the middle of the week, you reach for that instead of something unhealthy. People may feel intimidated by meal planning because many people like to make everything in full in one sitting. However, you don't have to make a full week, full course meal plan for yourself all in an afternoon. Even just chopping vegetables or making lots of rice or quinoa on a Sunday can save you precious time during the week. I often like to make meals the night before so I can just grab and go in the morning when I'm trying to get to school. Over this past semester, I would make rice, veggies, and chicken the night before school so, in the morning, I didn't have to worry about making a healthy lunch. This also let me sleep in more, which helped me feel better about my health as well.
Making excuses for your health never gets anyone anywhere. My grandparents tend to say that they eat in "moderation," but they use this word as an excuse to eat anything they want. If I'm going to enjoy an unhealthy food, I will enjoy it for what it is but not try to fool myself into thinking it's healthy. Being true to yourself can save you time and energy in the long run, so define what "moderation" means to you and stick to it, no excuses.
I have a separate food Instagram dedicated to the healthier foods I eat. I do my best to post as often as I can so that I stay accountable for my actions. With this, I also will be honest about what I eat because I think it's fair to whoever sees my content. For example, the other day I had scrambled eggs with cheese and broccoli with tea for breakfast and showed a photo. But in my caption, I also said that I had a cookie before even making the meal. I don't want to pretend to be a health guru on Instagram; I just want to show people how I, a 21-year-old nonbinary college student, try their best to eat healthily. No health journey is linear, and being honest about it can help along the way.
Eating Something Is Better than Eating Nothing
I have to remind myself of this frequently. I often find myself unable to eat for a number of reasons; either my anxiety is too high, making my stomach anxious as well, or I'm too upset, which hinders my appetite. In moments like this, I have to tell myself that my diet is off limits and that I can eat whatever I want. I'd rather throw some empty calories in my body than none at all. I have a few backup "safety foods" that I can reach for to ensure my body is getting something. Not eating doesn't help weight loss—your muscles will begin to deteriorate if you stop eating. Just eating anything will prevent this from happening and can get you back on track for when you are feeling better.
For this section, I'm going to link some of my favorite YouTubers and general inspiration I have to lead a healthier lifestyle. At the end of the day, my ultimate goal is healthier, not healthiest. I can only do my best and if I'm clear of what that means, then I can be my best self.
Some of my inspirations are from diet-specific channels, but you just do what works best for you! I'm also not gaining anything from mentioning these folks, I just truly enjoy their content.
And of course, don't forget Pinterest!
I hope these ideas have given you a boost to help your health journey more of a reality. Again, I don't claim to be a health expert; I just hope that if something worked for me, it will work for you, too.