Street CredEvery since I was in about second grade I've had body image issues. I remember wearing "pretty plus" jeans at one point, after I finally kicked the leggings to the curb. I was an average, active, normal kid. My genetics gifted me a strong, sturdy build (which turned out to be great for an outdoorsy career and lifestyle) but when you're built like an ox as a tween, you're a little insecure. I tried diets, I lived on caffeine and nicotine for a while in college. I have trained for a rigorous career as a wildland firefighter. I have birthed babies and I've watched for nearly thirty years as my body changed and morphed with each diet or physical exercise regime I tried. I'd love to share with you what has and has NOT worked for me in all that time. (Keep in mind, we're all different. What works for me might be just awful for you. I'm hoping this will help someone out there like me!)
Everyone is different, but for me, consistently running about 1.5 miles each day (for a total of about 4 days each week, with stationary biking, kayaking, or hiking taking up the slack) was an absolute guarantee to weight loss AND better physique/physical fitness. This was by far the healthiest weight loss plan that I have ever committed to. (To be fair, this was before I had a husband or kids - I could devote one hour of my day, everyday, to fitness, showering, etc.)
Nutrisystem has worked for me on TWO occasions now. It totally shrinks your appetite over time and teaches you portion control with pre-packaged, easy-to-use meals. The downside? It's expensive and I was often hungry. The upside? It's a great way to lose the initial weight in a few months to kick-start your exercise! For me, losing 20 lbs. is just what I need to want to get up to the gym or go for a run to keep the self-improvement going! Worth the money and the hunger pangs. (And, to be fair, I was overeating like crazy before starting the program the second time!)
Daily Physical Exertion
I once worked as a firefighter. Then as a biologist. And as a trails maintenance worker in the mountains. Every single time I have a physical job, I am in shape. So, if you plan most of your day around fitness and DOING -- it's going to show. On the other hand, as a sedentary dispatcher, connected to the radio console for sometimes 16 hours a day, I've seen my middle expand! In order for this to work, I needed about 8-10 hours of hiking and being active 5 days/week. I didn't have to be at peak performance for 8 hours, but I did have to be active most of the day.
More Fiber and Greens
It's true. Eating more of what is good for you fills you up. This fuels your body and leaves less room (or want) for all the junk. That's it!
What Did NOT Work
While I'm not saying that the "Walking Works" campaign is wrong and I DO think that someone who is 100% sedentary will see great results from getting up and going -- walking did not work for ME. I needed a little more high octane physical work to shed pounds. I do think though on the days that you cannot muster up the energy or drive to run or go to the gym or trainer -- whatever you do -- a walk is the bare minimum that should be done! Walking certainly helps and it makes you FEEL better getting some fresh air and a little exercise!
I tried some points systems - like Weight Watchers - and I really think this works for SOME people - but there must be a compatible personality for it to work. It worked for me a little - but mostly I just beat myself up about every bite I took. I didn't change my eating habits, I found ways to "cheat" the system, which was only cheating myself. I just was not disciplined enough for this one. I liked the weigh ins though! I've said that I need a The Biggest Loser style scale that beeps at me as I stand there half naked!
Now please do not be offended - but these ones I find both silly and ineffective. My friend does an at-home, pyramid-style business that uses these health patches. I tried them. Not only did I find it hard to remember -- I just couldn't buy in to the miracle fix. Sorry. Not for me. Super if this works for you. Comment here on how/why it works! I'd love to hear! But it's just not for me.
Skipping MealsThis one, proven MANY times over is just not healthy or effective. I get HANGRY. In a BIG way. I need to keep my blood sugar stable and it just doesn't work with deprivation. Even feeding myself scheduled meals I get rather nasty if I am even a little bit hungry! Don't even try this. It's stupid.
Disclosure: This article was made possible through a partnership with Nutrisystem and being a Nutrisystem Nation Blogger. #NSNation