I can’t even begin to tell you how super excited I am about this guest post today. Joining us is Tammy from Skinny Mom’s Kitchen. Tammy is sharing how her organized approach to weight loss helped her lose 40 pounds so far!! Tammy is a regular participant of Menu Plan Monday and shares fantastic healthier recipes on her blog. My favorite so far is the Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps. They were so delicious!! I hope you find her post here today helpful :)
For many people, trying to lose weight is something that would often result in feelings of frustration and disappointment. They would start a diet plan, with the best of intentions, only to give up a short time later for a variety of reasons. Whether it was the cost, foods, or the lack of support or willpower the “diet” just did not work for their situation. Does this sound familiar? As someone who has tried to lose weight for the better part of my life – it sure does to me.
Over a 10+ year timespan I put on around 60 pounds. Of course, this weight did not accumulate over night. Rather, it crept on as my life transformed in a wife, mother, and full-time employee. Life changed, my eating habits got worse, and I was moving a lot less than I did during my early twenties as a waitress. Looking back, knowing what I know now, it really is no surprise that I gained the weight that I did.
As you can imagine, I tried what seemed like every diet to lose the weight – each time ending in failed results. However, in October 2010, something changed. It is almost like the weight loss light bulb went off and I finally was able to commit to adopting a healthier lifestyle. I slowly started making small changes that resulted, 1 ½ years later, into a 40 pound weight loss – I still have about 20 more to go.
So, what was different this time around? How was I finally able to lose the weight? More importantly, how do I keep it off?
I organized my weight loss.
To succeed at losing weight, the basic concepts are very similar to that of saving money, getting out of debt, organizing your house, or any goal you set for yourself. You need to create a plan, take action, and track progress. Organizing these concepts for weight loss provides you with the structure you need to take control back over your weight.
Many people will try to follow a fad diet because it seems to offer that structure and organization that we all crave. However, most will fail because these diet plans don’t take into account a person’s family, schedules, dietary needs, and other things unique to their situation. Therefore, you need more than just the latest fad diet plan – you need an organized weight loss plan that fits into your family’s lifestyle.
My weight loss is the direct result of creating an organized weight loss plan that my family and I could rally behind and more importantly follow. Over a year later, choosing healthier habits has become more of a lifestyle rather than a plan and feels much more natural to us now.
Here are 7 tips to help you organize your weight loss.
Set realistic goals
First and foremost, it is important to set realistic weight loss goals for yourself. When I first started on my journey I had 60 pounds to lose which to be quite honest was overwhelming. I knew it was unrealistic to think I would lose all of that weight in 1 – 2 months. It took me 10+ years to put it on and it certainly was not going to come off in only a couple of months.
We live in an instant gratification world – everyone wants results yesterday. Well, unfortunately, healthy long term sustainable weight loss does not work that way.
To set realistic weight loss goals you need to break down the overall weight loss goal into manageable smaller goals. By creating smaller realistic goals you will keep your weight loss from becoming overwhelming and out of reach.
Once you decide on your goals make sure to write them down – somewhere, anywhere! For me, it is easier to remember and hold yourself accountable when goals are taken out of my head and down on paper (or computer).
Keep a food journal
In my opinion, keeping a food journal is one of the most important weight loss strategies you can adopt. Keeping track of the food you eat holds you accountable and helps to reduce or eliminate mindless eating (ex. grabbing a handful of chips without thinking about it). Once I started tracking my calories, using a food journal, the pounds started to melt off.
Keeping a food journal is as easy as writing in a notebook. However there are many online calorie tracking programs that I would recommend using instead because of their user friendly weight loss tools. The online food journal I use is MyFitnessPal. I love the functionality of their website and the mobile app. They have a huge database of foods and many different tools to make tracking much easier. Even someone with the busiest of schedules will find keeping track of their food and exercise easy with these online tools.
Menu planning, as you know, can really help keep you sane during the busy week as well as keep your grocery budget under control. But did you know that a menu plan can also help in achieving your weight loss goals? That’s right, when organizing your weight loss, menu planning plays a key role.
Think of your weekly menu plan as a weight loss road map. This road map will direct you daily on the ingredients you need to purchase along with the meals and snacks you will eat. With a menu plan, you will wake up every morning knowing exactly what you will be eating throughout your day. Therefore, the anxiety ridden question of “what’s for dinner (or breakfast and lunch)” will be eliminated.
I strongly suggest combining your menu plan with your food journal ahead of time. This way you can figure out the nutritional information prior to starting the day so you can make dietary adjustments should you need to.
Prepare foods ahead of time
It is much easier to eat healthy when foods are prepared ahead of time. Throughout my weight loss journey, I have utilized freezer cooking and other make ahead meal strategies to have healthy foods ready when I want them. Basically, I look at my menu plan and make note of everything that I can prepare ahead of time. Then I take a couple hours over the weekend and prepare as much as I could for the following week. In addition, I will take time 1-2 days out of the month to cook a bunch of meals, meals starters, and snacks for the freezer.
With having homemade freezer meals available and ingredients prepped I am able to provide my family (and myself) with healthy nutritious meals, even on the busiest of nights.
Schedule in exercise
I always say if it is not in my calendar it does not exist – and this has certainly proved to be true when it comes to exercising. Just like adopting a healthier diet, you need to create an organized plan in order to successfully integrate exercise into your lifestyle.
Exercise requires not only the actual time to work out but also time before and after to get ready. Therefore, you need to carve out at least an hour or more to fit exercise in. As a busy mom, if that is not planned ahead of time it is near impossible to do.
To help me prioritize exercise, in the last few months, I have used Google calendar to actually schedule exercise in. It’s almost like my treadmill and I have a date 3 times a week. Of course, I block the actual time I am working out – not that I am doing anything else, besides sleeping, at 5:00am – but I also set reminders to pop up the night before to get my clothes and sneakers ready. These simple tasks have worked wonders to help me stay focused and committed to exercising on a regular basis.
Organize your kitchen
Most people don’t understand what an organized kitchen has to do with weight loss – I used to be one of those people too. However, when it is time to cook and prepare healthy meals you will find it easier if you have an organized and functional kitchen. Keeping kitchen tools and equipment accessible allows you to prepare healthy meals quickly without having to spend time looking for everything.
Organizing your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to make room for healthy ingredients, foods and snacks will reduce temptations and help keep you focused on your weight loss. It is hard to eat chips when they are not hanging around in the cupboards.
Plan for going out to dinner
Of course it is easy to organize and control the environment you live in but what about when you go out to eat?
Most restaurants offer their menus online. I suggest checking them out and making note of all the different options. If they don’t have calories listed then plug as much of the information you can into MyFitnessPal to get a good idea on the nutrition value.
My other restaurant survival tips would be don’t drink your calories; remove the extras from the table (ex. bread); order lunch portions or box up half; and share dessert. With a little planning you can enjoy a nice dinner out and still keep focused on your weight loss plan.
At first, organizing your weight loss can seem like a lot of work. I am not going to lie and say it will be easy because it is going to take some effort on your part. However, after the initial planning and once you take action, your healthy changes will naturally become part of your lifestyle.
Tammy, the author of Skinny Mom’s Kitchen, is dedicated to helping busy moms eat healthier and lose weight by teaching them how to combine calorie awareness with menu planning, freezer cooking, and other make ahead cooking strategies. She loves showing others how easy, and affordable, it is to serve their family healthy nutritious meals everyday. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.