I thought it might be helpful to talk about the simple things I’ve done to lose weight, because you know I love to keep things simple!
I’ve got to say, I feel super self-conscious writing about this! I think it’s because I want to make sure we focus on being healthier and not just the number on the scale. Being healthier has always been my main goal and losing weight has happened as a result of healthier habits.
Anyway, I have lost about 15 pounds over the last year or two. My husband Austin lost 30 pounds. No, it was not a quick dramatic transformation. If it was, I’d be worried that it wouldn’t last.
Austin and I have worked at incorporating healthier habits into our lives slowly. These habits seem to have stuck for good, which means our weight loss is sustainable. I have no interest in extreme 30-day diets or bootcamps. I just want to live a healthier life!
So let’s get into the progression of the habits that led to our weight loss!
Simple Things I Did to Lose 15 Pounds
Don’t Focus on the Result
First, let’s look at the mindset. My main goal was never to lose weight (don’t punch me in the face for saying that!). I was always within a healthy weight-range, but that doesn’t mean I was healthy!
I knew that I had a lot of unhealthy habits. We ate a lot of processed foods and didn’t exercise enough. We had a habit of flopping on the couch for the whole evening to eat snacks and watch Netflix.
As I talked about in this post, we don’t really have control over end results. It’s a waste of energy to constantly think about losing weight. Focus that energy on creating healthier habits that will cause you to lose weight instead. It’s a mindset change that can make a difference.
I currently work out for 20 minutes every other day, but that’s not how I started. It’s all been a gradual progression.
Once I realized how little we exercised, my constant thought was, “get moving”. I love walking, so we would go on walks after dinner. Those walks would get a little longer and a little longer.
Eventually, I decided I was going to do 100 jumping jacks every day. That got me moving a little more.
I’d occasionally put in a workout DVD… and get winded after the 10-minute warmup.
When we got Mozzie, the walks became non-negotiable. Mozzie and I walk twice per day if the weather is decent; once per day if the weather is bad.
What really turned the corner for me was realizing how little exercise I got.
First, my mom gave me an old pedometer (you can get an app on your smart phone that does the same thing now). Even with walking Mozzie twice per day, I wasn’t getting that many steps in.
Second, I printed out a monthly calendar and would put a check mark on the days that I did a workout, not counting the walks with Mozzie. I had thought I was doing pretty well, but the calendar does not lie. I went weeks without working out out sometimes!
I now print out a calendar at the beginning of every month and check off each day that I work out. We don’t have a gym membership. I just do bodyweight exercises at home for 20 minutes with a few dumbbells and resistance bands added in. It’s a great workout!
- Track your movement, either with a pedometer or exercise calendar. Seeing how little you are exercising is eye-opening. It’s also empowering when you see yourself reach a certain number of steps or get a bunch of checkmarks in a row.
- Walk! Walk for half of your lunch time. Make an after-dinner walk part of your family routine. Walk around the soccer field while your kids have practice.
- Get moving. You’re not going to go from flopped on the couch to pro athlete overnight. Just try to get moving more today than you did yesterday. Take the stairs, dance while you cook diner, play with the dog… Look for little ways to get moving.
I had a soda problem, y’all. We used to just buy a 2-liter to enjoy on the weekend. Then, they would go flat so we started buying cans. Then I had a can everyday for lunch. Plus, we would split one for dinner quite often.
Here’s what opened my eyes to the problem: The AHA recommends that women have no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day (men: 37.5 grams).
And how many grams of sugar were in my can of Dr. Pepper? 41! I was getting almost twice the recommended amount of sugar from one drink, not even counting the sugar in my cereal, bread, BBQ sauce, dessert… Seriously, there’s added sugar in everything.
(I personally don’t think that any kind of “fake sugar” is good for you, so diet drinks are a total no-go.)
Austin quickly replaced the soda he was drinking with sparkling water (we get the Aldi version of La Croix). He just liked the carbonation of the soda.
Unfortunately, I like the sugar! I ended up replacing soda with drink pouches that have 12 grams of sugar. Much better!
That change alone caused me to lose 5 pounds!
I’m currently trying to cut back even more and ditch the drink pouches. I’ve found that making slower changes in this area is a lot easier. After I make a small change and adjust to it, I make another small change.
I still order soda when we go out to eat. It’s much more of a treat now! We occasionally buy soda for a weekend treat as well. I prefer to get a 20 oz bottle from the gas station so that we don’t have a huge amount in the house, even though it’s more expensive that way.
- Cut back on your soda consumption. If you’re drinking three cups per day, cut back to two.
- Replace. Trying replacing your soda with something else like a drink pouch or sparkling water.
I started paying attention to serving sizes somewhere along the way. One to the most helpful kitchen gadgets I have is my food scale because it’s so much easier to weigh food than it is to bust out multiple measuring cups and spoons (who wants extra dirty dishes?).
I especially look at serving sizes on cereal and junk food.
I eat the same cereal every single morning. It’s amazing. It’s also slightly expensive. I started weighing my bowl of cereal each morning because (1) it’s pricey and I don’t want to go through it too fast and (2) it’s really filling and I don’t need more than one serving.
We started weighing servings of junk food as well so that we don’t over-indulge.
After Austin and I treated ourselves to a bag of chips and ate the entire bag in one day, we decided this might be a good policy. I weigh out a serving of chips or other snack foods into individual bowls for us a lot of times so that we don’t eat crazy amounts and so that we make it last longer.
- Start looking at serving sizes while you’re getting food ready. You might not be aware what the serving size is.
- Pick a few foods to weigh! Start with chips, crackers, cereal, ice cream or other treats.
I have been very successful with losing weight when I count calories. The problem is that it’s a pain in the butt! It’s obnoxious to do for everything single meal and takes too long. But it works…
When I feel like I’m overeating, I’ll commit to counting calories for a week. I can’t stick with it for much longer than that. Usually after a week, I’ve readjusted myself to how much I should be eating and can moderate things for myself pretty well for a while. I use it as a reminder.
If you’ve never counted calories before, it can be really eye-opening. It’s also helpful because you realize that you need to eat healthier, more filling foods in order to not still be hungry after you’ve eaten your calories for the day.
I’ve always used Calorie King to look up foods and determine how many calories I should be eating. There are many apps that can help with this though.
- Commit to counting calories for a short chunk of time. See how it helps you adjust to how much you should be eating. Pay attention to what foods leave you feeling full longer. You shouldn’t be hungry.
Monitoring is such an interesting strategy. Gretchen Rubin talks about it in her book Better Than Before.
She explains that studies often show how off we are in estimating things: “we tend to underestimate how much we eat and overestimate how much we exercise. In one study, people estimated that in the course of daily activities (excluding exercise regimens), they walked about four miles; in fact, most walked less than two miles.”
My workout calendar is a way of monitoring. I’m not scheduling my workouts or setting specific goals. I’m simply monitoring myself and seeing how often I actually exercise.
It’s easy to lie to ourselves about how much we work out or how much junk food we ate. Monitoring doesn’t let us lie to ourselves.
A few weeks ago, I decided to try monitoring my food. I didn’t count calories. I simply wrote down in a note on my phone what I ate each day. Being able to see that I had already had three pieces of chocolate made a difference in how I ate. I could also see clearly that I was hardly eating any fruits or veggies.
Even though I didn’t count calories or set any specific goals, the simple act of writing down what I ate made me eat healthier!
- Monitor your food. Simply write down what you eat each day and see if it affects how you eat.
- Monitor your movement. Write down each day that you work out or track your steps with an app on your phone.
Adding In Not Cutting Out
No one likes feeling like they can’t have something. It can make your brain feel desperate for what you can’t have. I’ve been trying to focus more on adding in the good instead of taking out the bad.
I don’t focus my energy on thinking about how I shouldn’t have brownies. Instead, I focus on making sure I eat more fruits and veggies. If I’m eating more healthy foods, I don’t have room for much junk food.
Changing how I think about food makes me feel like I’m not depriving myself or missing out. I think about how I want to treat myself well by eating more lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. After I work on eating more of the good stuff, I’m not as hungry for the less healthy choices.
- Pay attention to how you think about food. Are you thinking about what you shouldn’t eat or about what you should eat more of?
- Focus your energy on eating more fruits and veggies. Set a goal for how many servings of each you want to eat in a day.
We’ve gradually swapped a lot of what we used to eat with healthier options. Since we did this over time and got used to the changes, it never felt too drastic. We’re at the point where we actually prefer the healthier options most of the time, which is kind of crazy to think about.
Here are some swaps we’ve made:
- White Flour ⇒ Whole Wheat Flour. When we buy bread, it’s whole wheat bread. My cereal has 100% whole grains. Aldi has amazing whole wheat mini bagels. We rarely eat pasta anymore.
- Chips ⇒ Popcorn. We try to only buy chips if we’re having a meal with friends or family. For a salty snack, we make popcorn on the stove. It’s far less expensive and healthier.
- Deli Meat ⇒ Boneless Skinless Chicken. We don’t buy deli meat anymore. It’s high in sodium and sketchy preservatives. Now, we just cook chicken and slice it to put in wraps or sandwiches.
- Soda ⇒ Sparkling Water or Drink Pouches. We already talked about this one. We’re consuming way less sugar because of this swap.
- Protein Bars ⇒ Hard Boiled Eggs. The protein bars we were buying actually had a ton of sugar in them! Always read the label. We swapped them out for hard boiled eggs so we still have a high protein snack option.
- Identify one swap you can make in your kitchen. Once you get used to it, try another.
Treat Yo’ Self
I eat chocolate every single day. I love to have little treats!
Finding treats that I could have self-control with was key. If there are baked goods in the house, I will eat them all. I have absolutely no self-control when it comes to cookies, brownies, and cake. Moderation is not possible.
I do manage to have self-control when it comes to dark chocolate. To me, it’s more satisfying than milk chocolate and I don’t need to eat a lot of it to feel like I had a treat. We buy dark chocolate at Aldi every week and I have a square after lunch and dinner.
I’ve found that it helps to use treats that come in individual wrappers, so they’re already like a single serving. The chocolate I get comes in small pieces. I’m not sure it would work as well if I was breaking chunks off of a large chocolate bar.
If you are good at moderating your treats, that’s great! If you’re like me and can eat an entire pan of brownies in one night, try finding a treat that you can control. I don’t ever plan on giving up chocolate! Finding a treat that I can have some self-control with has helped me not overdo the sweets.
- Find a treat that you can have without overindulging. Try looking for foods that come in single servings or are wrapped up individually.
- Treat yo’ self!
Do Better Than Yesterday
All of these changes happened gradually. We did not wake up and suddenly crave healthier foods and have a burning desire to work out. I found small changes that I could make to be healthier. As I got used to each change, I picked out a new area to work on.
It’s easy to compare yourself to people who are where you want to be. Ignore those comparisons and simply try to do better today than you did yesterday. Make a healthier choice for lunch today than you did last week. Drink one less soda. Swap your white bread for whole wheat. Walk more steps than you did previously. Just try to do better than you did before.
To be honest, this feels like such an unexciting post about weight loss. No crazy 7-day hacks. No 14-day workout bootcamp. Or 30 days to lose 30 pounds. Gradually changing your lifestyle isn’t near as exciting, right? But it works!!!
We are so much healthier today than we were 3 years ago, or even last year. Working at small habits over time has been the key for us! We’ve lost weight and for the most part, kept it off for good. We’ve gotten stronger and healthier without major ups and downs. It feels so good!
I know different methods work for different people. What worked for us may or may not work for you. But I’d encourage you to pick one small habit to improve and see how it goes. Then pick another, and another. You get the idea.
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