Photo by JUCO
Editor’s Note: This article details my recent adventure into how to lose weight fast. Even if you are not interested in losing weight, check it out. There are some useful thoughts on the power of self image embedded within.
By Tina Su
“Losing weight is hard.” ~me
“Anything worth having in life is hard.” ~my husband
I admit it. I am not the most active person. I sit for more than 8 hours a day, and actually prefer to sit than stand, and drive rather than walk. To say that I am adverse to exercise is an understatement. In fact, the last time I visited a gym was over three years ago, for a burst of about 5 days, around New Years.
I always took for granted the gift of my tiny frame, Asian genes and fast metabolism. I was, for most of my life, naturally skinny. To the outside, my body gave the illusion that I was fit.
My mom used to say, “You should do sit ups. Otherwise, it’ll catch up with you after you have a baby” or “You should go jogging. Otherwise, it’ll catch up with you after you turn 30.” And each time, I would ignore her and wave her off in complete annoyance, while saying or thinking “Whatever. I don’t care”.
You know what annoys me more than anything?
… when that rebellious part of you learns that your mother was right. Arrggggh!!
Anyway, fast track to now. I’m in my thirties. I’ve had a baby. Most of my energy is spent on my business while seated like a sack of flour for hours at a time. I eat when I am extremely hungry and I eat whatever I want.
And what do ya know? I’ve learned that my mother was right, and the advice I’ve ignored for more than a decade is true: your metabolism slows the heck down in your thirties. *Gasp*
So here I sit, 20 pounds heavier than my teenage prime, and 15 pounds heavier than when I met my husband.
What’s interesting to note is that the actual weight sometimes isn’t what bothers us. (although, too much weight can cause serious health problems).
The problem is how we interpret it. How it affects our self-image (aka how we view ourselves). Strangers who see me wouldn’t think I am over-weight, but internally, in the privacy of my mind, I feel like an elephant. I feel gross. “You’re so fat and ugly,” is what my internal dialog usually repeats.
You see, our self-image affects everything that we do and creates the reality of our experience.
For the past year or so, I saw myself as “fat”. I would jokingly rub my (now larger) abdominal region and comment, “Don’t I look pregnant?” Whenever a fat joke came up, I would respond and somehow integrate myself into the joke. “I’m fat. I’m fat. I’m fat.” is what was repeated, like a broken record, in my mind.
Jokes or not, I started to identify with that image of an over-weight person. Like an insidious disease, it started to spread in the subconscious of my being and became the foundation for how I lived in the last year.
Because I felt gross about myself, I started to behave differently: I wore baggy clothes, sometimes I would wear pajamas to the office, I repeatedly wore one pair of jeans (my fat jeans, the only ones that fit), I stopped wearing any makeup, I stopped taking care of myself, my libido went down. I just felt gross and ugly, and this transfused into my external reality.
And you know what happened? I gained more weight!
I knew I should do something about it, and have been wanting to since the start of this year. You and I both know what happen to should: it gets added to your pile of shoulds, where thousands of others shoulds live. None of which will likely get looked at again.
Besides, my brain is just too quick and clever at coming up with excuses.
- I know I should exercise. But I hate to exercise.
- I sort of like jogging, maybe I should start jogging. But I’m in Seattle. It sucks to jog in the wet, cold darkness. We should move to California, so I can go jogging outside everyday.
- I should go to the gym with Jeremy (my husband), but I’m busy. I’ll get to it when I’m not so busy.
- I should go on a diet, but I’ve tried to cut out my morning bagel and I’m still fat.
- I should track my intake of food calories, but that’s too hard and too much work.
How I Started to Lose Weight
Photo by JUCO
Between my personal struggle with weight and my learning about the importance of self-image, (via this incredible and highly recommended book Psycho Cybernetics) something clicked. I wanted to change my self-image and how I felt about myself. I didn’t want to see myself as “fat and ugly” anymore. This was my inspiration for losing weight.
Last weekend, Jeremy was poking around in some new iPhone app he got. Jeremy does weight training and has weight gaining goals. Because tracking caloric intake is important, he’s been on the hunt for tools because he was struggling with gaining lean muscle weight.
He then excitedly showed me how easy it is to track food calories and exercise and other fitness & dieting goals with his new app. The app is called MyNetDiary—online food diary and exercise log– and has a database of over 430,000 food items so you can quickly enter what you’ve eaten and track calories. It has a barcode scanner, so you can scan the packaging of food you’ve consumed and add nutritional info to your daily food diary in a few seconds. Woah!
(And no – no one is paying me to say that. They don’t even know who I am. I’m just a raving fan of a truly exceptional and useful product.)
You can enter your current weight, body profile, dieting goal and target date, and it will give you a plan with your daily allowed/required caloric intake. It will then measure against this daily goal with your food diary. Incredible.
The paid version (there’s also a free version) of the iPhone app also has a water tracker, so you can record how much water you’re drinking. For $4, the app seemed like a bargain and I quickly installed it. *Queue singing angels* My life was about to change.
Within minutes of setting MyNetDiary, I knew that A) I was consuming more calories than my body burns, B) I wasn’t drinking enough water at 1-2 glasses a day and C) consuming less calories than what I was accustomed to would be a challenge.
I was, however committed to change. I was ready and I had the tools. I was committed to eating leaner and healthier meals. I was committed to tracking my calories. I was committed to losing weight. I was committed to changing my self-image from one of “fat” to one who takes care of her body.
No more shoulds. Shoulds don’t work. This time I was committed.
Within the next 4 days, I lost 4 pounds. And no this wasn’t water weight – I was drinking 4 times as much water as before.
Let me share with you how I did it, what I’ve learned and tips on losing weight quickly.
At the Heart of Weight Loss: Calories Baby!
Photo by Chloe Rice
It says in my plan from MyNetDiary that in order to lose 15 lbs in 3 months, without exercise, for my age/weight/height, my target daily food caloric intake is 1341.
That is, like, very little calories. “I’m not sure I can do that without starving. I don’t want to starve,” I thought. But I was determined to find a way to consume under 1340 calories without starvation.
What was cool about knowing this number was I was now aware of food calories and how they can add up to a result I don’t want (ie. gaining weight). I started to pay attention to labels and measuring my food.
I was shocked to discover just how many calories are in simple dishes and beverages we consume without thinking. Being informed helps you make conscious decisions, right?
I used to think that salads were low in calories. But to my shocking surprise, while vegetables are healthy and low in calories, it’s the salad dressing and other toppings (chess, nuts, fruits) we add that boost calories to insane levels.
Turns out the balsamic salad dressing I like is 150 calories per serving (2 tbsp), and I typically use 5 or more tbsp for my (big) salads. That’s 375 calories just in the dressing!
Oh and that delicious Starbucks Grande White Chocolate Mocha Cappuccino with whipped cream I get every day is 470 calories! Yikes!
Don’t even get me started on deserts, sweets, and pastries. Let’s just say, you can easily consume your day’s calories in one sitting. No wonder, so many of people are putting on weight.
The morning after I discovered the MyNetDiary tool, I felt inspired and I rushed to the gym bright and early. I was pumped. My motivation was this: if I exercised, I will be able to add more to my daily food caloric budget, so I can eat more and not starve.
I enthusiastically jogged for 30 minutes while listening to a motivating Tony Robbins talk. To someone who hadn’t exercised in 3 years, a 30-minute jog is like a marathon. To me, it was a lot of work.
Do you know how many calories I had burned from those 30 minutes?
Dude, that’s like less than half of the salad dressing I use at one meal; that’s one tablespoon of olive oil; that’s one small glass of orange juice; that’s one Starbucks Latte.
Yup. All that work for something I could easily consume in seconds by casually eating something innocent and ordinary.
Here’s an important lesson: exercise alone will not cause you to lose weight. It’s a myth. While exercise will help in boosting your metabolism, is good for your heart, and burns some calories – relative to some foods it burns very little calories.
I wanted to know how to lose weight fast, and looked like exercise alone was not going to cut it. What may be more essential to losing weight quickly is an increased awareness of our caloric intake.
The Diet Plan to Fast Weight Loss
Photo by aeschleah
Following the slow-carb diet, I focused on eating food with dense calories. I was able to stay full for longer and thus consume less total calories. Here’s a summary of the diet plan:
- No White Carbs – No bread, rice, noodles, pasta, cookies, pastries.
- No Fruits – Except avocado and tomatoes, which we limit to a max of 1/day.
- No Drinking Calories – No juice, milk, sweet drinks.
- 3 Foods – For every meal include at least one item from each of these three food categories:
- 1) Protein: Egg, black beans, chicken, beef.
- 2) Legume: Lentil, soybeans (Edamame), pinto beans, red beans.
- 3) Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, peas, green beans.
- 4 Meals – Eat 4 meals a day. Plan meals in advanced. Eat simple meals that you can repeat.
- Cheat Day – One cheat day a week to eat whatever you want.
In addition to the above diet plan, I also:
- Measure – Track caloric intake using MyNetDiary.
- Water – Drink at least 8 glasses of water. One glass is defined as 8oz. I carry a 16oz water cup with me at all times. How much water your body needs differs on your height, weight and age. Find out how much you need to drink here.
- High Frequency, Low Quantity – Eat more often and avoid feeling hungry. Sometimes I’ll eat part of a meal, then wait an hour or two and eat the other half.
This is how I lost 4 lbs in 4 days.
I have since continued to lose weight every few days, not as fast as the initial 4lb burst, but making notable progress on the weight every 2-3 days.
While sticking to the diet has been challenging (I’ve slipped a few times at the sight of ice-cream), overall, I feel great. Better than I have felt in a long time. I have more energy. I feel better about myself. And seeing progress is always cool.
The answer to how to lose weight fast is to figure out how many calories you can consume for your dietary goals and activity level, and change your diet such that you consume less than that number. Remember, the magic to losing weight is in the calories.
- Sign up to MyNetDiary (Free) and get your daily caloric intake number.
- Watch and record calories for everything you eat.
- Stick to one diet for 30 days. I like the Slow-Carb diet described above.
- Measure every morning on an empty stomach.
- Rinse and repeat.
Tips for The Person Losing Weight
Photo by Karrah Kobus
Obviously, we are all different and our individual results will vary. But if you stick to a plan—where you are consuming less calories than your body will burn–you will lose weight.
Regardless of how fast you are losing weight, give yourself a firm pat on the back for taking action. It’s not easy. But then again, anything in life worth having isn’t easy.
By adapting these new habits that will result in weight loss, you will improve the quality of your life, and your body will thank you for it.
Make a full-on commitment to yourself. Try it for 7 days, then 14 days. Then extend that to 21 days and 30 days.
If you are someone like me, who likes to accomplish goals quickly and efficiently and are serious about your commitment to doing so, here are some tips:
In business, the popular saying goes: “What gets measured gets improved.” or “What gets measured gets managed.” This is also true when it comes to losing weight.
Weather you want to make more money, or get more traffic to your blog, or lose weight, one of the most efficient practice you can adapt is measuring you progress and tracking numbers most relevant to your goal.
In this case, we want to track our weight and caloric intake.
If you have a smart phone or fancy tablet, get the MyNetDiary app. It’s awesome. If you have a computer, you can use their planning tool online.
2. Low Friction
Make it easy for yourself to do the activities needed to reach your weight loss goal. Create as little friction for yourself as possible, and you will more likely get it done.
If you plan to do the slow-carb diet, prepare your meals the night before. Cook for several days in one session. I put all my pre-measured food into small plastic containers or Ziploc bags. Then I can easily and quickly put meals together by pulling out 3 bags/containers from each food categories.
I plan out what food items I will bring to work the next day in advance. I line them up in my fridge so in the morning, I can quickly toss them into a bag and I’m out the door.
Drinking a lot of water can be hard, so I make it as simple as possible for myself. I use one of those large clear Starbucks plastic water cups with a cover and a straw (Go to Starbucks and ask for a “Venti Iced Water” – they’ll give it to you for free. The cup is 16oz, which is 2 glasses).
I find that it’s a lot easier to drink from a straw than a bottle–where you have to open the top, tilt your head and dump water. A straw is lower friction because it requires less movement.
I like the clear cup so I can see my progress. Seeing progress encourages me to keep going and creates a cycle of momentum and encouragement.
I carry a cup with me at all times, so I see the bottle everywhere I go. When I see it, I will drink from it. I also fill up a cup the night before and stick it in the fridge, so I have water all ready to go first thing in the morning. I drink the first cup during my commute to the office.
If I plan to go to the gym (which still isn’t too often), I make sure the gym clothes are lined up next to my bed before I sleep, or pack them in a bag all ready to go.
The point is to make things convenient for yourself, so you can easily eat right, exercise or drink plenty of water. This requires a bit of planning and discipline on your part, but the trade-offs are worth it. If you don’t make things easy, it’ll be too easy to slip and fall back to old habits.
3. Be Nice to Yourself
Change is uncomfortable, for all of us.
During your first few weeks, you may experience some episodes of crankiness or frustration. Do your best to weather it, and to forgive yourself for feeling cranky.
The change is frustrating, because you’ll realize how many things you can’t eat and you will crave them. And if you do end up eating them, you’ll feel guilt.
Do your best to let go of the drama: guilt, frustration, regret (if any).
I consider myself to be a very disciplined person, even I broke down a few times in my first few weeks.
One day when I was feeding apple wedges dipped in peanut butter to my son and he refused, I looked at the apple and took a bite. I couldn’t stop myself fast enough before the apple slice landed in my stomach.
Another day, I broke down and ate an entire box of strawberry covered pocky.
When this happens, don’t beat yourself up over it. Relax. Be kind to yourself. Even though you may take a few steps back, overall, you’re still moving forward and making great progress.
4. Conscious Eating
The point of this exercise isn’t so that we end up feeling hungry. The point is to be conscious of what we eat, particularly the quantity and quality of the calories.
The first few days you will find that you’re hungry all the time. It’s actually more psychological. Just do your best to eat dense caloric food–food from the 3 categories. Some low fat protein bars are also good snack options (I love Luna Bars).
If you have cravings and can’t help yourself, you can (obviously) break the rules, but do so consciously. Know how many calories you can afford to play with.
I was craving the sweet Starbucks Grande White Mocha I normally get. So I went through the Starbucks drink menu online and found that a Cafe Latte is a nice lower calorie option. So I got myself a Short Latté to satisfy that craving (110 Calories).
Yesterday, I was craving something sweet, so I had a small cup of sweet Chai Tea (170 Calories).
The point is not to suffer. The point is to bring conscious awareness into the food and drink we consume.
5. Self Image & Self Dialog
Instead of saying “I can’t have that”, say “I don’t want to have that”. By saying you don’t want to have something instead of you can’t have something you take the power and responsibility into your own hands. You have the choice.
The language that we use with ourselves and with others about ourselves affects our self image and will unconsciously affect our external result.
Start paying attention to your internal dialogue with yourself. Catch yourself in the action of name calling or putting yourself down, and then turn it around—rephrase whatever sentence into a positive or encouraging one.
Replace “I’m fat” with “I used to be fat, but I’m losing weight fast!” or “I take care of my body and eat consciously.” The point: stop calling yourself fat.
Replace “I’ve tried every diet and nothing works for me” with “I am committed to lose weight and to take care of myself. I deserve to live a good life. I am committed.”
Even though I wrote this article on the premise of how to lose weight, the motivation behind this article was based on the power of self image: how we see ourselves and what we believe to be true about ourselves. And this belief colors our perception and bleeds into our external reality.
Because I repeatedly saw myself as “fat” for a prolonged period, I felt myself slipping down a negative spiral and it transpired in everything that I did. Before I knew it, my physical reality became such that I would put on more weight, and with it came a loss of self-esteem and self-worth. The cycle then repeats.
If we want change, in any area of our life, the steps are simple. First we must change how we see ourselves by changing our internal dialog. Second, because our beliefs have changed, so will our actions. Commit to taking action in the direction you want to go. Third, because we are taking different actions, we will see different results.
Every change starts in the mind. It starts with a decision.
So what will you decide?
It is these moments of decision that changes and shapes our destiny.
* What’s your story? Share your stories of personal goals, weight loss, and motivation with us in the comment section. See you there!
About the Author:
Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.
* Click here to read all articles written by Tina.
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