Growing up as a heavier-than-average kid, I never once imagined that one day I’d be writing an article on weight loss – in fact, I would’ve laughed right in your face (in between bites of perogies) if you even mentioned the idea to me. I was by no means a “fit” person – PE teachers shuddered when I walked into their gym class, and I rejoiced at the C+’s I received. Stairs were my arch-nemesis, a brisk walk left me exhausted and out of breath, and the only time I ever ran was when I ran out of fettuccine alfredo at the end of a satisfying meal. I once had to be emergency rescued from a zip-line because I was too heavy and lacked the strength to hoist myself off of it. That was my fitness level (if you could even call it that), so it was no surprise that my weight had made its way up to a hefty 270lbs.
Finally I decided that enough was enough, and during the last year I have been on a mission to lose 100lbs. I did lose a good chunk of weight a few years back, but when I went to university the dreaded freshman 15 (or in my case, freshman 50) placed its evil curse upon me, and before I knew it I was back up to a good 260lbs. So this time around I made an effort to lose weight differently, and over the past year I have lost a total of 89lbs – just 11 short of my goal weight. Below I put together a list of the “Ten Commandments” of weight loss that I found particularly helpful throughout my journey, and I will continue to follow them as I strive to lose my last eleven pounds!
1. Thou shalt have no other snacks after supper. In the evening I typically don’t find myself craving carrot sticks and rice cakes. I want good, wholesome, artery-clogging treats - German chocolate cake, tiger ice-cream, and those new Lay’s perogie potato chips that my parents just got me addicted to. When you snack in the evening you are more likely to choose higher calorie options; you’re also likely to eat more while mindlessly shoving handfuls of chips into your mouth in front of the television. To solve this conundrum easily I set up a rule for myself – after dessert, no more snacking for the rest of the evening.
2. Thou shalt not leave thy sheep penned up and unnumbered. Get 40 winks, catch some z’s, hit the sack. Whatever you want to call it, getting a sufficient amount of sleep is crucial to your weight-loss mission. I have found that when you don’t sleep enough, 2 things will happen. First of all, your energy for the day will be greatly decreased; you’ll be much more likely to pick up take-out food rather than cooking, and skip the gym. And secondly, when you cut back on sleep your metabolism will stop working properly. To start dropping pounds, the first thing I do is slip into my pj’s and get a good night’s sleep.
3. Thou shalt not take the name on the label in vain. At the very beginning of my weight-loss journey, I made a few simple (yet very effective) changes to my diet – mostly keeping my eyes open for low-fat options. I switched to low-fat cream cheese, low-fat mayo, low-fat cheeses, low-fat everything (except low-fat sour cream, you couldn’t pay me to touch that stuff)! Another switch that I made, that I know some people won’t agree with, is going sugar-free. A lot of products out there have options made with Splenda: pop, candy, yogurt, cookies…and no sugar means fewer calories. Finally, one more change I made was replacing all my white breads, buns and wraps with whole wheat versions. All of these changes have been very simple with minimal taste differences, yet have helped me to lose quite a bit of weight.
4. Remember thy accomplishments, to reward thyself appropriately. When I was working on losing weight I made little goals for myself to make the process more rewarding. When I hit my first weight goal I got new glasses. For my second one I got my nose pierced, for my third one I got a new haircut. It kept me motivated to keep working towards my goal, and also allowed me to change up my look. Create goals for yourself, and don’t forget to reward yourself along the way!
5. Honour thy weights and thy dumbbells. When trying to lose weight, a lot of people tend to neglect weight training and focus mainly on cardio. And while it’s true that you will burn a lot of calories working it on the elliptical machine, lifting weights has its benefits too. The more muscle mass you build, the more calories you will burn during the day, even when your body is at rest. Plus you’ll get that sexy, toned look that pedaling on your bike just won’t give you – I was surprised at the difference I saw in my arms after lifting weights for a few months!
6. Thou shalt not kill time with Venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccinos. When you add up all the sugar and syrup and cream in a fancy drink like this, it equals mega calories. Before I started being health conscious, I would mindlessly drink smoothies and Frappuccinos without even thinking about how many calories I was consuming. But after a little research I found out that the venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccino (my Starbucks regular) contained almost as many calories as a Big Mac! So I drastically cut down, and during my year of weight loss I have only indulged in these magical drinks one time (what, everyone’s entitled to a cheat day). This has saved me countless calories, and I probably shed a couple pounds simply by ending my Frappuccino addiction.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery – thou shalt not cheat on thy treadmill with thy couch. When trying to lose weight, it is important to exercise frequently and it is important to exercise regularly. Even if you only have time for a quick workout, five 20-minute runs a week are a lot more effective than one 100-minute run. To keep me motivated in this area, I invested a few dollars in a couple handy-dandy apps for my iPod. The first app, Tap Tap Revenge, I used a lot when on my stationary bike. I realized early on in the year that I could go a lot longer on the bike when I had some sort of distraction – as long as my mind didn’t realize how much I was pedaling, I was able to go a lot farther. Tap Tap Revenge was the perfect app for this; the upbeat music kept my pace up, and tapping out the rhythms was a great distraction. And Couch to 5K (the second app I downloaded) is designed to make you be able to run for 5 kilometers after 9 weeks of training. The voice on the app instructs you to run, then walk, then run – with the running intervals gradually getting longer and the walking intervals gradually getting shorter. There are many other workout apps out there, but these ones were especially useful for me.
8. Thou shalt not dehydrate thyself. Now I will admit, drinking 8 glasses of water a day is difficult - but it is also an excellent way to boost your metabolism and lose weight. To help me keep track of the water I drank each day I downloaded an app called Waterlogged onto my iPod. Recording each glass of water onto the app helped to keep me motivated to reach my water drinking goal, and reaching this water goal every day has put me well on my way to reaching my final weight goal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy scale. Over the year I made it a point to weigh myself each week to track my weight-loss. Seeing the numbers slowly decreasing over the weeks was very motivating for me, and it kept me wanting to work out and eat healthy to continue to see my weight drop.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s chicken nuggets. I’m pretty sure we’ve all done this – your friend has a bag of chips or an order of fries, and you can’t help but snag a couple (or more than a couple). I have always been guilty of playing the mooching game, but what I didn’t realize was how quickly all these calories can add up. A bite of my dad’s sandwich here and a handful of skittles there can pack on the pounds over time – especially since I don’t really realize how many calories I’m consuming when it’s someone else’s food. As hard as it is, I’ve learned that it’s best to keep my hands to my own plate (although I do sometimes stray from that rule)!
So these are the most beneficial weight-loss tips that I have discovered over the past year. If you have any other “commandments” that you believe should’ve been on my list, please leave them in the comment box below. I want to hear which weight-loss tricks have worked for you; just don’t suggest I stop eating perogies because, you know, not gonna happen!
Before (last September) and After (3 weeks ago).