I’ve had a few friends reach out lately asking if I’d lost weight so I figured I’d write a little about it. Sure, I’ve lost about 35 lbs this year, but I’ve also gained a noticeable (to me) amount of muscle. The next question is usually “How?”.
Let me say this clearly: There’s no quick fix, don’t believe anyone trying to sell you snake oil or a diet plan so extreme you’ll never maintain long-term.
The secret is something we’ve been told since we were young – Diet and Exercise. I know that’s not what people want to hear, but it’s really the only way to healthily lose weight and keep it off long term. Get-skinny-quick schemes may show some results at first, but they won’t last when you go back to your old ways.
So if that hasn’t scared you off yet, feel free to read on to see more details about the diet & exercise plans I’ve put in place in the last year and how that’s worked out for me.
I use the LoseIt app and paid $14.99 to upgrade to Premium for a year. This app tracks my calories eaten and burned. It’s not exact (no app can be) but it gives me a good visual of what I’ve eaten that day/week and how much I’ve burned which helps me adjust for the remainder of the day or week. This way I stay within a reasonable range for my weight loss goals. Right now I have an almost 350 day streak going on in this app; I particularly love the gamification of weight loss that it causes.
I’ve never been the kind to start a fad diet or completely restrict foods from my diet (well, beyond already being vegetarian!). I figure if it’s something I find hard to adhere to, it won’t last long term. Turns out, that’s what the experts say too! I aimed for a weight loss plan of 1-2 lbs per week. However, paired with exercise and muscle-gain that’s not exactly how things have shaken out.
To help, I try to keep our pantry/fridge stocked with a few healthy snacks. Some of my favorites are unsweetened applesauce singles, cucumbers (sliced and soaked in vinegar is my fave), dark chocolate (with hazelnuts), mini bags of popcorn, and these delicious popsicles.
I try not to stress out day-to-day about what I’m eating. If I go “over” one day on the calorie count, I know that other days I will be “under”, and our bodies don’t keep score every day, it’s about the long term.
My advice to those getting started with any app would be to track what you eat for a week or two without making any adjustments, at the end of that week or so you’ll have a good idea of what’s normal for you and you can set goals within the app based on that. But beware, most apps want you to set a goal right out the gate. I get it, they want to work with the momentum you have right then and there, but that doesn’t work for everyone.
Anthony’s been losing weight as well by focusing on his diet. Honestly, he’s lost almost as much as I have, but of course I’ve gained muscle during the process as I’ve been exercising. As they say, “Different strokes for different folks!”.
Shortly after moving here form Texas, I signed up for a YMCA Richmond membership. I’ve got a $30 a month membership that includes access to all 17 locations (3 of which are within 15 minutes of my house). At each location I can use the group exercise classes, pools, machines, free weights, etc. When I signed up I was told I get 3 sessions with a personal trainer… but I’ve yet to use those because I knew that I wanted to drop some weight through the group classes before focusing on fine-tuning things.
I make use of the group exercise classes the most – usually 5 times per week. I attend PiYo on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Hatha Yoga on Tuesdays, and Zumba on Thursdays. I love the social aspect of group classes, and my competitive nature works quite well in a group workout setting. The music in PiYo and Zumba make those classes tons of fun, I often find myself signing along (when I can catch my breath). Hatha yoga is more about relaxing and stretching than exercising for me, but you still burn a decent amount of calories of course.
Just the other day we had GLOW PiYo where we had black lights and glow sticks. It was a fun way to celebrate Halloween!
At this point I can see some definition in my arms, which I’ve never had before as far as I can remember (but can we all agree tricep pushups still suck?). I also don’t feel absolutely wrecked after any of the workouts even though I push myself to my limits, so that’s pretty cool.
I plan to schedule some time with the trainers for some extra help figuring out which machines I can use for certain areas I want to target. I don’t really find it exciting to sit at machines and lift weights but maybe if I do a few minutes before or after my regular group exercise classes I won’t find it too terrible.
There are also a few things I’ve purchased and use regularly to help with the above diet and exercise plan:
Fitbit Aria – We purchased ours several years ago and still love it. It stays connected to our Wifi well and integrates with Fitbit (which then syncs with the Apple Health app, LoseIt, etc.).
Manduka mat – This is not my first yoga/multi-purpose mat by far, but it’s one of my favorites right now due to the price point, durability, and the reversibility. See, you can use one side for a good while until it wears out a little, then you can rotate it, then flip it, then rotate it again! I purchased this mat in the “Harbour” color on July 1st and it’s still going strong. It’s very lightweight too, so with a strap I can sling it over my shoulder with no problem. The YMCAs that I go to supply mats, but it sort of grosses me out to lay on something someone else has sweat on, so this is why I supply my own. Totally unnecessary though, as most gyms provide them.
Of course, these aren’t the only things I’ve purchased to help with my goals… I purchased a set of workout clothes (4 outfits that I wash very regularly), a new pair of New Balance sneakers, and a few other things here-and-there. The point being though, generally you can lose weight without spending too much money. It’s not about how much you spent, it’s about your plan and dedication.
So as I mentioned, this year I’ve lost around 35 lbs so far. But I’ve come to realize it’s not just about the numbers on the scale, it’s about how you feel. I feel stronger, I don’t get as tired when out on walks/hikes, I can fit into shirts and jeans I wore years ago, and I feel more comfortable in a swimsuit and photos… so mission accomplished I guess.
I’d love to see your thoughts on weight loss, calorie-counting, exercising, equipment/tools you use, etc. so please feel free to share them in the comments or DM me on social media of course.