Last week I asked you all to offer up your best weight-loss tips.
And boy, did you deliver.
I’ve compiled some of your best tips into a list of ideas, below, for those looking to lose weight (and that’s probably most of us).
It’s not a step-by-step guide, and there are contradictory tips — but there are some great ones here, so pick and choose those that will work best for you and give them a try.
Note: I couldn’t include all of them, or it would have taken me 3 days to do this.
I just picked some of the best, and combined many of them.
Some tips may be slightly redundant, but I like them, so I included them.
General weight loss tips
Remember to keep your goals in sight to motivate yourself.
5 Word Diet Plan – and the only one that works: Eat Less and Move More!
Doing the Zen Habits 30-day challenge to make something a habit really helps make exercise a no-brainer. The first step is getting yourself to do it, after that, the gains are much easier to make.
To be successful you need to change your life. You need to take control of the bad habits you have turned into an unhealthy life. You need to be excited about it too. And you have to believe that you can do it. Dreams turn into reality very quickly when you work hard.
Don’t try to lose weight. The number one indicator of excessive weight gain in the future is attempting to lose weight in the past. Don’t diet, it won’t last. Instead get up and go get more exercise.
Ultimately weight loss is about the balance between calories taken in and calories burned. Take the weight you want to be and the activity level that you maintain and calculate the number of calories that you should eat to maintain that weight. Now you have to eat fewer calories than this number, on average, over time to lose weight and achieve your target. Keep a food diary with full daily calorie calculations. Write down everything.
Never, never, never eat between the 3 main meals. Then eat what you want when it is time to eat.
Avoid processed food, or at least food where you can’t pronounce the ingredients. Keep it as natural as possible.
Stop watching the scale every day. If you weigh yourself, do it just once a week — as soon as you wake up, after you use the bathroom.
No matter how much you want a change in your life, nothing will happen until you DO something. You can talk about starting an exercise regiment and eating healthier foods all you want, but nothing will change until you START DOING IT.
Change your schedule, if possible. If you exercise in the afternoon but overeat while while watching TV at night, try exercising at night. Go to work earlier, come home later, schedule your walks during times you know you’re vulnerable to snacking. Switch things up to help break bad habits.
For people who want to lose 100+ pounds, dealing with the underlying issues of self medicating depression or anxiety is going to be a lot more effective then anything else. Feeling bad about being fat and trying to lose weight, or putting yourself in exercise situations you dont feel comfortable in are not going to really help until the underlying issues of using food to treat boredom or anxiety or depression. After treating this underlying problem, the good habits will come without nearly so much struggle.
Start small. Changing your lifestyle overnight is very bad for your body and your mind. You’ll get sick of eating oatmeal 3 times a day, or grapefruit. Your life should be enjoyable and healthy!
Tell people around you what you’re doing. This will keep you motivated to continue. Don’t ask for their support, but say “I’m on this new thing where I’m going to kick my butt at the gym/road/bike today and” whatever.
Be aware of self-deception. It can sneak up on you from any angle. Examples of food deceptions: Breaded/fried chicken breast does not constitute an optimally healthy protein source, compared to simple grilled chicken breast. Potatoes do not constitute a viable vegetable source (they are a carbohydrate source).
Derive your self worth from something other than a number on a scale and instead gift yourself a body that will function well to serve your noble life’s goals.
Never give up, even after you have failed a few times. When you fail, start over. Watch those TV programs like “The Biggest Loser” or “Celebrity Fit Club”, because they are great motivators.
Rewards! New clothes make awesome rewards for weight loss. Going out with friends (but not for anything food related) is a great reward.
Weigh yourself but also take your measurements. Sometimes your scale won’t budge but your waistline will.
Get enough sleep – that’s the first and most important step. Without sleep, it’s harder to plan your meals, to exercise, or to consciously eat healthy.
Tell others your goals. Not only will you then have someone else also expecting you to perform but you’ll gain a cheering section!
Focus on one thing at a time. Everything we do is based on habits. If you’ve got to both get into the habit of eating great AND exercising daily, you run a big risk of getting overwhelmed when you’re not seeing results or you slip a little.
Find motivation other than within yourself. Workout FOR somebody else that you care about (your kids, loved ones, friends etc.). When you don’t feel like working out, remember that you’re doing it for them.
Focus on health and NOT weight loss. It is far more important that you live a happy, healthy life than look good naked. You’ll thank yourself when you are 80 and still lead an active life.
Healthy eating tips
Water water water. It kick-starts your metabolism. Stop drinking soda.
Make one change at a time. Don’t cut everything out at once. For example, cut out fried foods. When you’re used to that, cut out soda, etc.
Lay off the junk food, except for one day a week where you can eat what you like – it’ll help you stick to it and you won’t have the temptation to eat junk all the time.
Eat according to the Glycemic Index, sticking with low and medium index foods.
Be mindful of what you are eating. Keep a food journal or diary. Seeing it in writing always gives it weight and helps reveal patterns or triggers.
Stop the evening eating. You don’t want to eat and then go to sleep. All those calories just sit there unused while you sleep.
Eat mostly raw fruits, veggies and nuts.
Brush your teeth early in the evening rather than just before bed. It keeps you from snacking if you’re not really hungry.
Cut wheat-flour based products out of your diet. Wheat is surprisingly easy to replace when you start thinking about it – rice, oats (still some gluten there, but a lot less), more vegetables.
Portion control used with a 20 minute wait time — wait 20 minutes after eating the sensible portions, and then see if you still feel hungry. Nine times out of ten, you won’t. If you do, get a little more.
Cut out sugar.
No fast food. Period.
Commit to one diet — and stick to it for life. Start by making a list of low-calorie foods that you love, that you find satisfying; and when you’re hungry make sure you eat lots of those foods.
If you’re a parent, don’t absorb “invisible” calories by eating your kids’ food.
Snack between meals – starving yourself for 6 or 7 hours at a time between lunch and dinner means you will overeat at dinner.
Eat slow and you will only eat as much as you need to be full.
Whenever you eat, think about how much food you would waste by overeating. Your body doesn’t *need* all the food that’s on your plate, why waste it? You could eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and save yourself some money, or you could split it with your loved one and have company while you eat. You could give it to the homeless guy down the block who REALLY needs it. Any reason you find not to waste that food is a good one.
Everything in moderation. If you really want French fries and a hamburger, or ice cream, or a cookie it’s OK to indulge a little occasionally. Key word is occasionally. Better to indulge a little, than to binge later.
Learn to cook, from scratch. That way, you control what you are eating.
Don’t buy into the idea of “diet” foods. It’s better to eat the original food that has been less processed and only eat less.
Observe your hunger patterns. Choose a bedtime that’s early enough to keep you from after-dinner snacking. Stick to that bed-time. If you must snack before bed, have a something small and healthful. Maybe a tiny portion of whole grain cereal with milk.
Eat lots of fiber, it’s surprisingly filling compared to that cupcake.
Eat as soon after you get up as possible. This gets your metabolism working at a higher rate sooner in the day.
Cut out alcohol or reduce your intake to one or two glasses a week.
If you are hungry between meals, try eating a small portion of food that is high in protein. It can be more effective to eat one piece of cheese or some yoghurt or nuts than to eat bread or crackers or other snack foods.
Go to bed early and get up early. If you stay up late, you will overeat, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you are a night person; change into a morning person. When you go to bed early, you don’t think about food all night.
Instead of counting calories, concentrate on reducing your fat intake. Fat that you eat converts more readily into body fat than does protein or carbohydrate.
Try to enjoy your food, eat it slowly and consciously.
Only diet on weekdays. Don’t binge on weekends, but save two days a week to eat the yummy things. Also, because many people really can’t break that chocolate addiction, calculate one treat every day into your calories.
Positive change is easier than negative change. Instead of thinking of foods that are “bad” and that you feel like you need to cut out, think about all the new recipes and foods you will get to try if you start experimenting with more vegetables, more beans, more spices, etc.
Don’t count calories after you each them, count before.
Create a routine for what you eat – for a month, do not think of food as something to be enjoyed, think of it as fuel.
Take one of the three meals a day, and make it healthier (veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc.). Combine this with drinking ONLY water when at work, and it’s quite the effective method to lose a few pounds.
Eat a varied diet. Only, half your usual portions.
Eat nothing that you have not bought yourself, cooked yourself, and cleaned up after. This way laziness works in your favor. If you don’t feel like going to the store, or if you have stuff but don’t feel like cooking it or cleaning up afterwards, you are less likely to eat.
If you’re a stress eater, try sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Lots of chewing, not many calories. Just don’t spit the seeds on the floor.
Reduce the intake of three white things – white flour (all purpose flour), salt and sugar. Get rid of white flour completely if possible.
Go backpacking. Carrying a heavy pack and walking around a lot will help you shed a lot of pounds.
Exercise 3 times per week.
Exercise: any kind any time. Sure there are better times and better exercises for fat burning, but they all beat sitting on the couch.
Cardiovascular training in the morning before you eat breakfast. This forces your body to utilize stored body fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, since you are in a carb-depleted state after having not eaten for 8-10 hours.
Regular aerobic exercise helps, for a period of at least 40 minutes.
If you can’t run, start slow by walking for 9 minutes and jog for 1 minute. Do that a couple of times and then slowly exchange the minutes walking for minutes running.
Buy a pedometer and try to get 10,000 steps per day in. That’s about 5 miles +/- depending on your stride length.
Walk everywhere (carrying a baby while you walk also helps a lot).
Swim, swim, swim.
Find fun exercise. Join a softball team, commute to work on a bike, whatever. Your strategy should be time-sensitive – only make choices you can see yourself committing to for years, be it gym, dieting, whatever – temporary won’t work.
If you are resistant to exercising, consider volunteer labor. Walk dogs at the animal shelter. (Find a shelter at Petfiinder.com. Do beach or riverside clean-ups with a local environmental group. Volunteer on building and repair projects.)
Replace your least favorite TV show with mild calisthenics for 30 or so minutes.
Get an active dog! They will force you to get outside every day, and they make the best exercise companions.
Make friends (if you haven’t already) with very physically active people. If you have very active friends, you will be exercising without even noticing it because you will be having fun with friends.
Do squats while brushing the back sides of your teeth and calf rises while brushing the fronts. Then you get in at lease some exercise and also brush long enough.)
Take the stairs. Walk or bike ride that short distance instead of driving.
Use those multi-colored stars on the calendar for each day you’ve achieved your goal — exercise, diet, whatever it is. Gives you something, small as it may be, to look forward to.
Start walking outside to get fresh air, which translates into better mood. If rains, use treadmill. But walk fast, no sissy stuff.
Often we’re stuck in a rut of doing things a certain way, because that’s the way everyone else does things, because that’s how it’s always done. Because it’s safe.
But the normal way of doing things is often not the only way, nor the best way.
Bloodletting and leeches were once the normal way of treating most illnesses until smart people started questioning the practice.
Women for a long time were kept out of the workplace because they were thought to be too weak or emotional for many jobs. People used to throw away very little, and nothing was ‘disposable’ because that was thought to be wasteful … wait, maybe that wasn’t so bad.
What if you could shake things up … just by being who you are? Without having to do anything but tell someone who or what you are? It turns out, that’s often been the case in my life. I will just mildly tell people who or what I am, and they start getting defensive, even if I haven’t actually attacked anything they do.
People assume I’m judging them, just because I do things differently. They’re wrong — I don’t judge what others do, but rather just try to live my life consciously, and conscientiously. I often fail, but in the attempt is everything.
Here are just a few examples from my life:
1. Vegan. Just telling people I’m vegan will cause all kinds of interesting reactions. Often people will start to talk about how they were once vegetarian, or how they eat very little red meat, or only sustainably. Or they’ll start to talk about how delicious meat is, or how humans were meant to eat meat, or ask me if I just eat salad. I don’t mind any of this. Instantly, people are giving more thought to these questions than they ever have in the past. As for myself, the reasons are simple: I do it out of compassion for living, feeling, suffering beings who are treated as objects in our society. (Read: the minimalism of veganism.)
2. Minimalist. This is probably the other biggest thing I do that gets a reaction from people. They’ll talk about how they live with very little, or how they want to get rid of clutter, or ask me how you can be minimalist with kids. These are good discussions. We need to start talking about why we own so much, why we buy so much (not just physical stuff, but apps and digital content), why we’ve become consumers instead of just simply living. (Read: my blog mnmlist, or breaking free from consumerist chains.)
3. Self-employed. This is becoming more and more common these days, of course, but the majority of our society remains employed by a corporation (or unemployed). I choose to work for myself, to be my own boss. And now that I’ve done it, I’m unemployable. I’ll never go back, and I’m constantly subverting people I know, showing them how to break from the chains of employment if they’re unhappy. There’s no reason we should work for other people if we don’t want to.
4. Car-free. Almost a year ago, we gave up our car. We’d been slowly cutting back on car usage anyway, but finally giving up a car was liberating. Most people don’t understand this — they see the car as a symbol of freedom, of convenience, without realizing just how much we’ve been chained to cars, just how inconvenient it is for us individually and of course as a society. People often don’t know what to make of someone who voluntarily lives without a car. (Read: lessons we’ve learned riding mass transit.)
5. Healthy & fit. There are many people, of course, who are healthy and fit — much fitter than me. But I’m healthier and fitter than most people I know, and while I don’t judge them at all, discussions always come up about health and diet and exercise whenever I visit. Choosing to be active on most days is a radical thing in our society. Weird, I know.
6. Unschooler. My wife and I homeschool four of our kids, and that makes us weird. Even though compulsory schooling as we know it has only been widespread for a little over a century, and for most of human history, the majority of children were educated at home and somehow their parents found a way to deal with the socialization issue. Parents who send their kids to school get defensive when I talk about unschooling, which is a radical branch of homeschooling that throws the normal model of school (teachers dispensing knowledge to students who memorize it) out the window. We believe our kids should learn how to teach themselves, as many of us learned to do as adults. We don’t believe anyone can create a curriculum of knowledge that will prepare our kids for a future that can’t be predicted, for a workforce that is rapidly changing. Instead, they should learn how to figure things out for themselves, to solve problems, to work on their own without being directed. They’re the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
7. Goal-free. I’ve written about the radical notion of giving up goals, though it’s thousands of years old (Laozi taught it to me). But the idea of goals is incredibly ingrained in our society (myself included), that people think I’m weird for even suggesting you can live an amazing life of achievement without goals. As if goals were the only reason to do something great. (Read more: the best goal is no goal, and the illusion of control.)
8. Ad-free. The advertising model is an old one, and yet it’s still the predominant form of making money from creating things on the Internet. If you have a blog and want to make money, you probably have ads on your site. Even if the ads suck and no one wants to read them. We put up with them so we can get to the content. What if we could do it differently? I’ve been living without ads for well over a year, and I’m still surviving. It’s forced me to create things of my own, and I’m loving it.
9. Socialist. It wasn’t that long ago (less than a century) when you could say you’re a socialist and not be too weird. George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Vonnegut, Einstein, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Jack London … were all socialists of one sort or another. Now it’s seen as against the “American Way of Life”. I’m a socialist. I’m not for state-run socialism, but would consider myself more of a mutualist or a (peaceful) anarchist. I have to add “peaceful” because people assume anarchists want to bomb things, while I don’t believe in violence or the violent overthrow of governments. I believe we have given the corporations too much power over our lives and our society, that they’ve turned us into consumerist machines, and that we should have the freedom to run our own lives, and take the power back from the corporation by being self-reliant. That probably brings up more questions than it answers, but the questions are good things.
None of these things defines me, but they are all a part of who I am. They all challenge the norm in some way, bring up questions and discussion that otherwise might not occur, and I believe those are necessary questions and discussions.
We’ve all been hurt by another person at some time or another — we were treated badly, trust was broken, hearts were hurt.
And while this pain is normal, sometimes that pain lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over, and have a hard time letting go.
This causes problems. It not only causes us to be unhappy, but can strain or ruin relationships, distract us from work and family and other important things, make us reluctant to open up to new things and people. We get trapped in a cycle of anger and hurt, and miss out on the beauty of life as it happens.
We need to learn to let go. We need to be able to forgive, so we can move on and be happy.
This is something I learned the hard way — after years of holding onto anger at a loved one that stemmed from my childhood and teen-age years, I finally let go of this anger (about 8 years ago or so). I forgave, and not only has it improved my relationship with this loved one tremendously, it has also helped me to be happier.
Forgiveness does not mean you erase the past, or forget what has happened. It doesn’t even mean the other person will change his behavior — you cannot control that. All it means is that you are letting go of the anger and pain, and moving on to a better place.
It’s not easy. But you can learn to do it.
If you’re holding onto pain, reliving it, and can’t let go and forgive, read on for some things I’ve learned.
1. Commit to letting go. You aren’t going to do it in a second or maybe not even in a day. It can take time to get over something. So commit to changing, because you recognize that the pain is hurting you.
2. Think about the pros and cons. What problems does this pain cause you? Does it affect your relationship with this person? With others? Does it affect work or family? Does it stop you from pursuing your dreams, or becoming a better person? Does it cause you unhappiness? Think of all these problems, and realize you need to change. Then think of the benefits of forgiveness — how it will make you happier, free you from the past and the pain, improve things with your relationships and life in general.
3. Realize you have a choice. You cannot control the actions of others, and shouldn’t try. But you can control not only your actions, but your thoughts. You can stop reliving the hurt, and can choose to move on. You have this power. You just need to learn how to exercise it.
4. Empathize. Try this: put yourself in that person’s shoes. Try to understand why the person did what he did. Start from the assumption that the person isn’t a bad person, but just did something wrong. What could he have been thinking, what could have happened to him in the past to make him do what he did? What could he have felt as he did it, and what did he feel afterward? How does he feel now? You aren’t saying what he did is right, but are instead trying to understand and empathize.
5. Understand your responsibility. Try to figure out how you could have been partially responsible for what happened. What could you have done to prevent it, and how can you prevent it from happening next time? This isn’t to say you’re taking all the blame, or taking responsibility away from the other person, but to realize that we are not victims but participants in life.
6. Focus on the present. Now that you’ve reflected on the past, realize that the past is over. It isn’t happening anymore, except in your mind. And that causes problems — unhappiness and stress. Instead, bring your focus back to the present moment. What are you doing now? What joy can you find in what is happening right now? Find the joy in life now, as it happens, and stop reliving the past. Btw, you will inevitably start thinking about the past, but just acknowledge that, and gently bring yourself back to the present moment.
7. Allow peace to enter your life. As you focus on the present, try focusing on your breathing. Imagine each breath going out is the pain and the past, being released from your body and mind. And imagine each breath coming in is peace, entering you and filling you up. Release the pain and the past. Let peace enter your life. And go forward, thinking no longer of the past, but of peace and the present.
8. Feel compassion. Finally, forgive the person and realize that in forgiveness, you are allowing yourself to be happy and move on. Feel empathy for the person and wish happiness on them. Let love for them, and life in general, grow in your heart. It may take time, but if you’re stuck on this point, repeat some of the ones above until you can get here.
Besides reducing your ability to perform and increasing your risk of making mistakes (sometimes fatal ones), sleep deprivation has been blamed for issues including things such as memory loss and cognitive impairment, depression, relationship stress, various kinds of injuries and generally lower quality of life.
And not only can a lack of sleep affect you mentally and personally, but it can affect you physically too. For example, sleep deprivation has been known to cause physical ailments and symptoms such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular symptoms, stroke, obesity and more.
While we all know that getting enough sleep is an important component of our mental and physical health, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Everything feels harder when you’re sluggish and tired.
Obviously, the most important thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to just simply get more sleep. But I’m not here to preach at you. You know what you need to do to stay healthy.
What I am here to do is to help you get through today, this moment, right now.
So, in that spirit, I offer the following five ways to boost your energy fast so that you can get done what you need to get done. And after you do, I hope you’ll go take a nap.
Eat Something Good
Eat energy-boosting foods. Skip the candy bars and sweets. As it turns out, Snickers doesn’t really satisfy you. In fact, according to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, you should eat a healthy snack that has both protein and complex carbs in it.
Gerbstadt says that snacks like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole-grain bread or whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese are ideal energy-boosters.
“That combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way,” she says. “It boosts energy longer than if you eat gumdrops, for instance.”
Give Yourself a Little Pressure
And I don’t mean that you should beat yourself up. Next time you’re pooped and pushing through the day on autopilot, try a little self-massage.
“Massage stimulates your nerve endings, which increases blood flow and gets your circulation pumping,” says Maureen Moon, past president of the American Massage Therapy Association in an interview with Parents Magazine.
Moon recommends the following quick pick-me-up massages.
“Using your fingertips, rub your scalp or temples in a gentle, circular motion for two minutes.”
“Vigorously rub each earlobe between your thumb and forefinger for one minute.”
“Place your forefingers behind your ears (where the base of your skull meets the top of your neck), press for ten seconds, release, and repeat.”
Get a Move On
It may sound counter-intuitive, but try getting up and moving your body. You don’t have to go into full-blown workout mode, but try doing five to ten minutes’ worth of exercise. This can be anything from a walk or jog around the block to doing a couple of laps in the pool to dancing around your living room to a good beat. Just move.
“A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” says researcher Patrick O’Connor, PhD, in a news release. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.”
Drink Some Water
One reason many people feel tired is that they’re actually dehydrated. Studies show that most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Next time you’re tired, try drinking a glass of water, and try to stay hydrated throughout the day to maintain your energy levels.
“It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink,” says a Mayo clinic expert. “By the time you become thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated.”
Citrus is Your Friend
Vitamin C is known to help increase both energy and nutrient absorption–and the scent of citrus is proven to increase alertness and energy levels. So eating citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines (my favorite!) or grapefruit can significantly improve your energy levels in a hurry.
“Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue,” says Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta.
A tip from me to you: have a piece of cheese or lean turkey with your orange to help balance the natural sugar.