How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? I know that a bunch of you really wanted to make it a priority to lose weight and get fit, and I’m right there with ya!
2008 started off with several cardio and weight lifting sessions, but on Thursday I caught a bad cold, so I haven’t been to the gym in a few days. Once I get over this nasty cold, though, the fitness will again be on like Donkey Kong! Are ya with me?
First up: planning my workouts. I found an old issue of Women’s Health, a magazine I love, with a cardio and weights plan, and I’ve scheduled January sessions into my calendar. Once I commit those workouts to paper, they’re etched in stone (paper, actually). No excuses. They become like scheduled business meetings. Each workout gets me closer and closer to my goal, and big goals are all about baby steps.
Anyway, last week I got a few nice e-mails from readers asking for weight loss tips. Richard Simmons, I am not (no one else works those short shorts like he does), but I’ve got a few tricks that have helped me lose some poundage in the past, and I’m happy to share them with ya.
1. Ready, set, go!
I enjoy exercise, so getting motivated usually isn’t my problem, but I do have tough days. When I’m not feeling the spirit, I resort to good ol’ fashioned mental trickery.
If I’m feeling lazy and stuck on the couch, I strike a deal with myself: I put on my gym clothes, prep my water bottle and iPod, and slip into my running shoes. Then, I stand totally ready at the door with my keys in hand. If after all that preparation I still don’t feel like exercising, then I am allowed to skip out on my workout.
I don’t know why, but once I’m all dressed up and standing in the doorway with keys in hand, I almost always think to myself, “What the hell, I’m already dressed and ready to go. I might as well.”
I’ve been using this trick for years, and I’ve never actually taken the option to ditch the gym. Weird, huh?
2. Bookmark the USDA National Nutrient Database.
The biggest thing that helped me lose weight before my wedding was understanding and tracking how many calories went in and out. When I started not only watching what I ate, but also understanding how many miles I’d have to walk or run to burn off that brownie, it changed everything. I was finally able to lose weight.
Along with reading nutritional labels on food, I started using the USDA National Nutrient Database to help me learn how many calories were in the foods I ate.
What makes the site really handy is that you can search on different food serving sizes. Say, if I want to know how many calories are in a cup of raw broccoli, or in a single stalk, or in a given weight of broccoli, the site will tell me.
In addition to providing caloric information, the site provides the minerals, fats and amino acid (protein) content of foods, but the numbers I usually look at are just energy in kcal (calories), protein and fat.
What works for me is writing down everything I eat, including portion size (1 cup, 2 cups, etc.) and calories per serving. At the end of the day I add up all of the numbers and subtract the amount of calories I’ve burned from exercising. Having the numbers lets me track my progress.
3. Buy pants that make your butt look cute.
Why are gyms so often covered in 360 degree mirrors? It’s just cruel.
It ain’t rocket science, but I figure if I’m going to be staring at myself jiggling up and down from all angles, I might as well look cute.
I walked into the Lululemon Althetica store a few weeks ago and asked the sales girl to find me a pair of pants that made my butt look “super hot” (No, I’m not making this up). She put me in a pair of their bestselling exercise pant, Reverse Groove.
It’s reversible, wicks and does a pretty good job of making my big ol’ bum look grab-worthy. You won’t lose 10 pounds on the spot, but at least a cute gym outfit makes it that much easier to stare at your bad self in the mirror.
4. Cut it up.
I have a very intense sweet tooth, and when it kicks in I have a hard time resisting my cravings. I don’t deny myself sweets when I’m watching my diet, but if I decide to indulge there are a few things I’ll think about beforehand.
First, I’ll look at my numbers and see how many calories I’ve eaten and burned. If I worked out extra hard that day, and I have the extra calories available, then I’ll have my treat. But, if I know the snack would take me over my calorie limit, I’ll skip it and tell myself that if I’m still craving it tomorrow, I can work it into tomorrow’s meal plan. It gives me a little something to look forward to.
What I crave most often is chocolate, and in particular the fudge slice cake at Safeway. When I’m craving it I’ll cut one slice up into fourths. Then, I’ll just eat one fourth that day and save the rest for later on in the week. That way, I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself, and my sweet tooth gets satisfied.
5. Speaking of shoes…
Certain activities are high impact and hard on your body. If you plan to do much running, then get yourself some good shoes. Go to a specialty running shoe store and have your running stride analyzed. A trained sales clerk will study your stride and recommend shoes that fit based on how your feet hit the ground. I first did this in 1996 and learned that my left foot is neutral (meaning that the ball and heel hit the ground evenly), and my right foot overpronates (my ankle tends to roll out). Don’t settle for shoes designed for someone else’s feet. Find a shoe that works for you.
6. Wear one earbud.
I know it’s safest to run without earphones on because you can hear traffic and aren’t distracted, but sometimes I need the extra kick I get from music. If I’m going to run with my iPod, then I wear one earbud and leave the other ear free. It takes a little getting used to, but that way I can still hear cars and traffic around me. To keep that earbud in place, I take the one I’m not using, stick it underneath my shirt and then weave it underneath my bra strap. That keeps it from flying all over the place.
7. Pick up a few workout DVDs.
Marin County floods at least a few times each winter, so I have a backup plan for when I can’t make it to the gym: exercise DVDs. I’ll do yoga or watch a dance class in my living room. It’s not the same as running four miles on the treadmill, but it’s better than nothing, and I don’t have to put on my contacts or brush my hair to visit the living room. Hell, I could even wear my pajamas.
To keep myself interested and the workouts fresh, I rent different workout DVDs from Netflix. That way, I don’t have to spend a lot of money on DVDs and can switch up my workouts. Netflix has a huge selection of workout DVDs, and plans start from $5/month.
And if I can’t make it to the gym and don’t have a workout DVD I’m interested in doing, I pop in season three of Sex and the City (the pinnacle of the series, IMHO) and hop on my portable exercise bike. Next thing I know, poor Aiden’s heart gets broken, an hour has passed, and I’m really, really sweaty.
8. Drink lots of water.
Drinking massive amounts of water helps keep hunger away (and has the added benefit of clearing my skin). A couple glasses of water before and during meals also stops me from overeating.
9. And speaking of drinks…
One quick way to cut calories is to dilute juice drinks. If I’m hankering for orange juice, I’ll fill my glass half way with OJ and the rest with water. I don’t like overly sweet drinks, so it doesn’t bother me, but if you can’t stand the taste, you can start slowly by mixing 3/4 juice, 1/4 water. Just remember that a full glass of orange juice (regular 8 oz glass) has about 100 calories, so 1/4 of a glass has 25 (or 5 minutes on the exercise bike).
If you intend to lose weight in 2008, I feel your pain. I hope you’re making progress on your goals. What are your favorite weight loss tips?
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,