Monday, April 21, 2014

Losing Weight (Almost) Effortlessly

Going to Hawaii at the end of June has definitely helped with my motivation in terms of fitness and losing the extra pounds. I'm not a dieter, though, and know I never could be as I resist major changes so much, so I had no choice but to figure out easy lifestyle changes that I could make that would help me lose the weight.

So far, I have noticed a pattern that is almost 100% consistent: if I don't eat late evening, my weight is likely to be lower in the morning. What I mean by that is this: When I was eating snacks every night, my weight wasn't budging and I would sometimes even weigh more in the morning. I've had more and more evenings of not snacking after... not sure what time... 7? 8 at the latest... and my weight seems to go down or stay on the lower end when I do that. I ate a ton of food yesterday, including two (small) pieces of cake after supper (but probably before 7:30) and was certain my weight would be up this morning, but it was actually the lowest it's been in ages. I used to eat supper and often wait until late evening to have that extra little something, but I've been having the extra little something earlier and it seems to be making a difference.

My theory is that my body retains water more easily if I'm snacking later in the evening. I don't know if it's the particular foods I'm snacking on or just that my body gets more time to deal with the food before I go to sleep, but I honestly don't think I've lost 6-8 lbs of fat in the past few weeks (yes! I've lost that much!) and certainly didn't lose a pound of fat in a day, and in a day where I ate lots of Easter food. But another clue to it being water and my eating late night having something to do with water retention in my system is that I did not drink a whole lot yesterday, which might normally have gotten me feeling dehydrated and puffy, but I did not feel puffy at all this morning.

Omitting the late-evening snacking hasn't been the only thing I've done, though, and since what I've done might work for someone else, too, I thought I would share.

First thing is I've cut back on portion sizes a bit. I realized I was eating the amount I was eating out of habit and not out of hunger. Just cutting back a little bit on cereal in the morning, or not finishing the last bites of something (you know, the "I don't want it to go to waste so I might as well finish it"--well, it's either going to go to waste in the garbage or on your body!) I'm sure have helped. Not only that, but it's been a few weeks of that and I've hit a point where I'm much more sensitive to needing to stop eating, of not crossing that line between being satisfied and feeling full or overfull. I will often have some cereal left (need to cut back a little more, apparently!) and am not as bothered by throwing out stuff from my plate anymore. I didn't realize just how much I would finish stuff off just because it was there or I figured I "should." Any amount of food that is beyond what we need is going to get stored. (Yes, if you tell your kids to finish off the food on their plates, you might reconsider and have them figure out if they have had enough to eat. No good developping a habit of eating more than we need just to finish off the plate!)

A very simple thing I've done for cutting back is on treats. Take something like Oreos: I'll still have some, but instead of taking 2, I'll just take 1. At first, I had the rule that I would just start with one and if I really wanted the second one, I could go back and get it. I rarely did go back for the second because it was a hassle (the rule involves closing the package and putting it fully away before eating the first) and if I savoured the one treat, I was fine and didn't feel any need for the second. Now, I'm satisfied with just one and have even gotten to a point of not wanting them as much. Which is why we still have packages of Oreos in the house after more than a month. I'm well aware that I am typically their primary consumer in our house. This could fit in with the idea of cutting back on portion sizes, I suppose!

I'm not counting calories, but I am being much more aware of the junk calories. I wanted something to eat as a snack the other night and was going to go for PopTarts. I normally like to eat 2 of them. I then read the label: 200 calories per blueberry PopTart. Well, yikes. Good deterrant to the junk. I can't remember what I ended up actually eating, if it was something healthy or another junk item with fewer calories, but let's just say that I'm no longer going through PopTarts the way I used to.

And I also try at times to crowd out the less healthy stuff by first eating healthy stuff: melon cubes in the morning before eating something else, a salad at lunch before eating something else... Fill myself up at times with healthy, nutrient-dense stuff so that I don't have as much room for the other stuff.

Does this seem ridiculously simple? It is. I didn't make all of these changes at the same time (remember: I don't do well with major changes!), but in a nutshell:
  1. Cut back on portion sizes. Not going to extremes, just a bit at first and keep cutting back as needed to truly satisfy the appetite and not the habit.
  2. Think about the calories when you do want that extra little something and see if you can opt for something lower calorie--or healthier.
  3. No late-evening snacking. Not only will this help cut back on calories.
  4. Think healthy first--doesn't have to be only healthy, but get the healthy foods in first.
Do I always cut back? Never eat extra treats? No. Just mostly. My desire to see my body change is greater  (most of the time) than my desire to give into certain habits. And since they say that most weight loss is 80% due to diet... I'm paying attention to what I can almost effortlessly change.

Are you going to try these out? If you do and see results, come back and share! :D Do you have other easy tips for readers that have worked for you?

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