It’s almost summer! For us Californians, that means daylong barbecues, laying on the beach, and slipping on your favorite pair of Rainbows and short shorts. However, it also signals the start of that terrifying time all food-loving Californians dread: bikini season.
Whether you’re skinny, average, or overweight, most of us are self-conscious about the way we look. Unfortunately, that’s just how it is. For many of us, our weight-loss journeys include a process of self-acceptance as well as pound loss. And that’s great. However, you can also be completely happy with where you are weight-wise while still being completely unhealthy. And that’s not good, either.
Because our bodies are all SO very different, some diets work better for some than others. But today, I’m here to present a method for weight loss that is completely natural and is good for everyone 一 no matter your body type.
Now, I know not everyone likes to exercise. I personally LOVE it 一 especially cardio and going for runs. I love the endorphin rush and runner’s high that comes with it. I also love being in nature, so running alongside trees and greenery makes me happy (apart from the positive vibes that endorphins produce). Plus, exercise builds muscle (and helps you live longer), which burns fat, helping you lose weight a little quicker. And you feel like a badass.
Don’t get me wrong 一 exercise is absolutely important. But it’s not absolutely necessary to lose weight. I know people that have gone on diets and literally sit around all day and still lose the poundage. So if you really do have a deep-seated hatred for going to the gym, have no fear because you can still lose weight 一 AND you don’t even have to go on a diet. You just have to alter the way you approach food.
Our days are filled with choices, and choosing to monitor what to put in your body is one of the most important decisions you can make in the long-run. The important phrase to remember is “everything in moderation.” You can still have all the delicious, sugar- and carb-laden foods you love, but those should be treats, not your daily diet. Living a healthy lifestyle is the only way to enjoy your favorite foods and not gain weight 一 trust me, I know #thestruggleisreal.
But where do you start? Below, I listed out small ways you can adjust your eating habits and live a healthier lifestyle, all stemming from the choices you make every single day. If you follow these, you’ll slim down to the natural weight range your body wants to be in, and I promise you’ll feel reinvigorated, strong, and refreshed.
It starts at the store.
Are you tempted by all the unhealthy snacks in your pantry? THEN STOP BUYING THEM. First of all, do not go shopping when you’re hungry because that’s when you’ll be tempted to buy all the fatty things that your eyes (not your body) will be craving. Second, go in with a shopping list, and only buy what’s on it. “Alright, got the zucchini, bell peppers, and onions. Oh are those Oreos on sale? I’ll just slip them into my cart for later because I’ll need a treat after I eat all these vegetables. One Oreo won’t hurt…”
Stop right there. That decision to place temptation inside of your house will ruin you. Who ever eats just one Oreo?? Your decisions at the grocery store, just like this one, will define your daily diet for the rest of the week. If you can resist, with each decision you make, you’ll build up the willpower to stick to healthy foods and not give in so easily.
Cut out sugar.
Most people don’t know just how much sugar they put in their bodies. Even a granola bar 一 a seemingly healthy snack 一 can be laden with brown sugar. “But, Diane, brown sugar is healthy for you.” Okay, but it’s STILL SUGAR. Eating it will make you crave even more sugar, which will eventually make you gain more weight.
One easy way to do this is to cut out soda completely. Coca-Cola is literally crack to the tastebuds and OH so delicious, but just one can has 39 grams of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the max amount of added sugar we should have in a day is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Basically, that one can of Coke wrecked your day. The next time you want to reach for a soda, watch this. This is how much sugar you’re putting into your body.
Always, ALWAYS read the labels.
You’ll be surprised at how many products contain sugar and extra additives. Take those little Chobani Greek Yogurt cups with fruit on the bottom. Those have 19 grams of sugar. The plain one without the fruit has 9 grams of sugar. Even though it’s fruit, it’s a fruit jam, which is literally made by melting together fruit and sugar. I’m not saying this little yogurt is a terrible thing to eat, but it just goes to show that sugar is lurking everywhere. So always check the nutrition facts before you buy anything.
Be on the lookout for ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, glucose, maltose, dextrose, malt sugar, and so much more 一 basically anything ending in “-ose.” Manufacturers try to trick you by disguising them and dividing them up into six different names you can’t pronounce. But don’t be fooled because these aren’t just preservatives; they’re just plain-old sugar 一 which brings me to my next point.
If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.
Just like the “ose” sugars, unpronounceable ingredients are nothing but chemicals 一 preservatives 一 put into food to make them last longer. But guess what? Food IS SUPPOSED to decompose. The fact that these foods won’t go bad even after being exposed to air is a bad sign. Unless you’re a scientist and know exactly what monocalcium phosphate is, just to be safe, do your body a favor by sticking to natural ingredients and ones that you actually know.
Eat fruit with every breakfast.
I know a lot of people don’t eat breakfast at all. But I’ll let you in on a secret 一 you eat breakfast to BREAK your FAST. Let’s say you eat dinner at 8pm. If you skip breakfast the next morning and wait until noon to eat lunch, your body will have gone 16 hours without nourishment 一 that’s more than half a day. Food gives you energy and kick-starts your brain, giving you cognitive function. You’re literally starving your brain without breakfast. If you commute to work and don’t have time in the mornings (aka you love your snooze button), eat fruit in the morning. Cut up fruit the night before, and make yourself a little fruit bowl. Or grab an apple and banana, and bring them with you to work. With fruit, there is little to no preparation involved, so you have no excuse. Also, starting out your day with a healthy decision will carry through to lunch and dinner.
Eat vegetables with lunch and dinner.
Veggies, veggies, veggies. It’s the thing that TV has taught little children to hate even before they realized they hated it. Vegetables are amazing sources of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and more. I’m not saying you have to eat them caveman-style, biting into it raw. But incorporating it into your diet is so, so important. Your body thrives on this 一 plus, vegetables make you full faster, leaving less room for unhealthy foods.
If you’d rather die than eat a salad, there are myriad veggie recipes that don’t require iceberg lettuce, such as stir fry, ratatouille, roasted garlic potatoes with asparagus, stuffed bell peppers, pesto zoodles, roasted chicken and veggies, zucchini boats, hearty vegetable-heavy soups, turmeric chicken stew, meat and veggie kabobs 一 the possibilities are endless.
I will never stop emphasizing this. Hydrate yo self. When we think we’re hungry, half the time it’s just our bodies crying out for water. If it’s the middle of the day, you just ate, and you’re still hungry, drink a glass of water before you reach for that second portion. An average adult is about 50%-65% water, so do your cells and tissues a favor by not letting them shrivel up like little raisins. Trust me, your skin will look healthier and your teeth will be whiter.
You’ve probably noticed by now, but the only way to lose weight without dieting is changing your lifestyle and exercising self-control and discipline. If you truly, truly want to be healthy 一 and perhaps lose a few pounds in the process 一 it starts with what you put in your body.
As someone who is not naturally skinny, I understand how hard it is to lose weight. I had to literally work my butt off and change up my entire lifestyle to get to a healthy weight. And it took years. If you want it, you can absolutely do it 一 but it will take work. If you want to lose a few pounds but aren’t willing to do the actual work, then with all due respect, stop complaining. Like the wise old sage Nike used to say, “Just do it.” Try this list out for a week and see how you feel. Trust me, these are seven small things you can do to improve your life. And if you can do these, I guarantee living a healthy lifestyle will only get easier.
Good luck, and don’t give up!
Just a disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or dietician by any means, and I have not had any professional training. I’m just speaking from personal experience and am basing this on my own weight-loss and wellness journey. So please take this all with a grain of salt, and I encourage you to do research on your own, as well! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to comment or send me a message. :)