Weight loss is something that everyone seems to care a lot about. Over the past year, I went from approximately 155 pounds to 145 pounds and I wanted to share the specific steps that I took to lose those 10 pounds.
First, a bit of background and context. I was traveling for work so for the past year, have been living out of a hotel (from Sunday to Thursday) and able to expense food (within reason). This means that I have easy access to the gym, did not need to spend time taking care of kids or doing chores such as vacuuming or cleaning (aside from when I returned home on the weekends), and able to tweak and experiment with food without having to worry about money (or even cleaning up). In that regard, travel projects are quite fun!
Here are the specific steps that I took to lose ten pounds over the course of a year:
Develop your mindset
At work, there were lots of different snacks including candy, chocolate, chips and more. I very rarely took any of the snacks. What really helped me was recognizing when I was hungry and when I was bored or stressed and wanted to eat to take my mind off of things. You can feel hungry (and in those cases, it was just a quick trip to the local coffee shop or food court for a smoothie or a healthy snack), but in the cases when I was bored or stressed, I got up to take a walk around the floor. The story that I was telling myself was that I was a healthy person and that I did not want to just eat snacks and gain calories that easily when I was in very good shape and enjoyed fitting into my work clothes.
What other things do healthy people do?
- Eat more veggies
- Avoid unhealthy snacks and eating when you are bored or stressed
- Being active
- Embrace physical activity
- Avoid sugar and carbs
- Making healthy choices at restaurants
Exercise or be active every day
There were times where I worked late and I really did not want to go to the gym. Over the course of the 2.5 year project, I may have missed a handful of workouts because I was too tired from the night before or could not wake in time. As much as possible, I tried to get my body sweating in the morning. If I didn’t feel like I had enough time to go to the gym, I would get in a 7 minute Youtube workout. Other times, I really did not want to do my kettlebell exercises or run on the treadmill, so I would at the very least get on the bike and bike for 30 minutes at a slow pace. Whatever the case, I made sure to move in the morning. I can’t say that I worked hard enough to burn calories and I have no idea whether the exercise actually helped me lose weight, but I can say that exercising helped me build the mindset that I was a healthy person.
I heard a lot about the benefits of intermittent fasting from various podcasts and other successful leaders, so I decided that I would make it easy on myself and skip breakfast. Since sleep is an easy way to ‘fast’, it was only a matter of skipping breakfast to make it a 16:8 fast, that is, fasting for 16 hours and then eating within an 8 hour window.
Before I was skipping breakfast, I thought it was healthy to be consuming veggie smoothies every morning, but I didn’t lose weight on a consistent basis. Perhaps it was simply a matter of calories so instead of drinking a smoothie, I skipped breakfast completely, only consuming a latte. I found that skipping breakfast also helped to improve my concentration and focus and the funny thing is that even when I did have breakfast (there were certainly days where I had breakfast and I didn’t restrict myself to skipping breakfast over the past year), I got hungry anyway around lunch time. Skipping breakfast also helped me squeeze out a bit more time to be productive and can save you money (since you’re not buying as much food).
Not drinking calories
Expanding a bit more on the smoothies that I had every morning, I thought that these were healthy and that they would help me lose weight. I also had a vitamix at home so when I was back home, I was busting out the vitamix and mixing together greek yogurt, fruit, protein and more into a gut busting smoothie. I never measured any of the portions, but I was probably consuming more calories in smoothie form than if I just ate a regular breakfast (which is probably why I never lost weight consuming smoothies in the morning).
Aside from smoothies, I also had to watch what I was drinking. Juice, or really anything with sugar can be deceptive. Bubble teas, a guilty pleasure of mine, have a lot of sugar and I had to adjust the sugar levels whenever I drank bubble tea.
One trick that I learned and like to do is that whenever you feel you are hungry (usually those afternoon pangs a few hours after lunch), drink a glass of hot water. It has this filling effect on your stomach and can help you make it to dinner or your next meal. And remember, it doesn’t hurt to skip a meal or to fast a little rather than eating food that otherwise isn’t healthy.
Purchase a tailored suit
About halfway through the past year, I purchased a tailored suit from Indochino. I had purchased suits before from a traveling tailor, however, due to the fluctuations in my weight, I ended up not fitting into a few of those suits. As a result, when I went to the traveling tailor, I asked them to make the suits a little looser, which was good for my fluctuations in weight, but not good because when I lost weight, the suits did not look as good with the extra material. I decided to take a chance with Indochino and suffice to say, it did not disappoint. The suit was tailored to be tight, but not too tight, and I got compliments every time I wore the suit. Purchasing that suit helped to make my weight loss tangible and it was a small reward for exercising and fasting.
All this to say that if you have been doing something for a long time, make sure you are rewarding yourself (even better if you reward yourself with something that you can see or use every day). The suit reminded me of the benefits of sticking to my exercising and healthy lifestyle. And it was a great motivator for me not to eat junk foods or to be a couch potato.
Just as important as what I did, is what I did not do. I did not go into this project to lose weight; rather, my goal was to be active and eat healthier. A side benefit of that was losing weight. I did not spend hours at the gym – most of my workouts were 30 minutes or less. I did not stick to my fasting every day as I mentioned, I had a few ‘cheat’ days where I just ate whatever and whenever I wanted, but more than 95% of the time, I stuck to my rules.
What about you? Are you interested in losing weight? What are you doing to work towards the goal?