Simple tips for natural weight loss. Not easy.
At my highest weight, I weighed 245 pounds. I was 14-years-old. I lost down to 170 by senior year.
Then I regained a lot of weight during my first few years of college and went back up to 235-lbs just 10 pounds shy of my heaviest.
These are the steps I took to get into “onederland” at around 198 until I lost even more weight down to 170.
They’re simple steps, but might not be as easy to work them at first.
But before I get into the steps, I’ve got to share what I learned about weight gain you might find helpful.
What causes weight gain and why do we get fat
I’ve tried plenty of times to lose weight, but in retrospect I didn’t really lose the weight until I learned why we get fat to begin with.
I read a book called “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Toubes. In that book, I learned what causes weight gain and how fat storage actually worked.
Well children, it’s not because we eat too much and don’t do enough exercising. Those so aren’t the reasons and are actually symptoms of the root causes of weight gain.
According to Toubes’ years of journalistic investigation into the food industry and the science that dictates government regulated nutrition advice, the reason we get fat is because the foods are shit.
Ok, he didn’t say it like that, but that’s basically how I summed it up. lol The foods we’ve been led to believe are safe are actually making us sick AND fat.
It is these foods that make us too “lazy” to workout and it is these foods that cause us to overeat them.
They make us “lazy” because they don’t have sufficient nutrients and they cause us to overeat them because they’re actually manufactured for over-consumption and lack nutrients.
Even when you line up the timeline of the increasing popularity of highly processed foods with the timeline of the increasing percentage of obese and diabetic people, they directly correlate.
As companies started manufacturing more foods, and Americans started depending more upon these manufactured foods, people started to get sicker and fatter.
Check out his full lecture here where he details how these foods have damaged our health.
So why do these foods make us too “lazy” to workout and hungrier than we’re supposed to be?
They’re manufactured to be over consumed and aren’t really “life” giving foods.
Evolutionarily, humans are supposed to store fat.
Fat is a good thing to store and it is why we’ve been able to survive for hundreds of thousands of years without refrigerating our foods. It is what our bodies (intelligently) do in case of starvation. And before food was readily available, humans did in fact experience periods of famine.
But today, we don’t experience any famine. Our bodies are hit with cues to feast and store all the time. Without the famine, we don’t learn to burn what’s on us and we get fatter.
And did you know a person that is morbidly obese is actually experiencing starvation at the nutritional level?
Food that is stored is food that isn’t being utilized for nutrients.
Again, check out Gary Toubes’ ‘Why We Get Fat’. That’s your homework if you haven’t read/listened to it already. Check out the lecture on YouTube as well.
Once I learned why we humans get fat and which foods cause weight gain, it was pretty easy to figure out which foods to run away from if I wanted to start seeing substantial weight loss.
Those foods are highly processed, factory manufactured foods, sugars and flours included.
So now that we’ve went over why we gain weight and get fat, let’s jump into the first thing I did to really start losing weight.
Start with a mindset shift
This is something I wish I did FIRST.
I gained weight I lost because I didn’t change my mindset and fell back into old habits and beliefs that attributed to my weight gain.
Although highly processed, manufactured foods cause weight gain, it is still our mindsets that are at the root of why we consume those foods and have other unhealthy habits that attribute to weight gain and other health issues.
Our mindsets (self-images) dictate everything from how much we weigh to if we get pissed off when we get cut off in traffic. It’s deep.
For example, let’s break down my mindset that attributed to me weighing 245-lbs.
I’ve been raised on these foods like many other Americans. My parents thought they were spoiling me with these foods. My little brother and I were rewarded with fast food weekly and ate breakfast at a restaurant every weekend.
I grew up with all the latest snacks and when the kids wanted ice cream sandwiches or those fancy ice cream cones, they knew to ask my parents and that we had it all.
And when family celebrated, we ate and ate A LOT. We came together to eat all types of tasty foods. Terrible for our health, but super delicious.
Those unhealthy foods, to my mindset, are associated with reward, good times, celebration, and self-spoiling.
Although I had the knowledge to do better, I was still carrying the mindset that I could “spoil” and “treat” myself with foods that were damaging and I later discovered were addictive to me.
Because of this mindset, I was hindering, slowing, and in many cases reversing my work every time a party happened, I went out with friends, or was invited to travel.
Add all that up, and I wasn’t eating healthy but a couple of weeks or so out of the month. Which isn’t enough time to really see the weight loss results I wanted. And I actually gained weight.
Our mindsets are many times why we don’t stick to our diets and why we’re not losing weight. We know what the do, but we don’t know why we’re not doing it.
That’s our mindset.
Changing your mindset to one that is more conducive to having a healthy weight is how you begin to develop a pattern of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that will support weight loss and make healthy choices easier to make.
After you’ve taken care of your mindset, the next steps will be much easier to implement and stick to for lasting results.
Begin by eliminating highly processed foods
Now that I’ve laid the foundation, let’s get into the grit shall we?
Eliminate all highly processed foods from your diet. All. Of. Them.
For my weight loss journey from 245 pounds, this was the simplest to implement to start seeing some serious weight move. It wasn’t the easiest, but definitely the simplest in getting results.
Some would argue that you don’t have to remove these foods from your diet to see weight loss. They’ll say just watch your calories, treat yourself only occasionally and in moderation, and workout harder.
But from experience, and from what I’ve been learning about the weight gain highly processed foods cause, I know it’s actually best to eliminate these foods completely.
Especially if you’re prone to binge eating behaviors, compulsive eating, emotional eating, and addictive behaviors around food.
These foods are manufactured to be over consumed and addictive. Trying to lose weight by simply eating them in moderation and watching your calories is an uphill battle and introduces more struggle than it’s worth.
I’ve seen people lose weight doing that, but in knowing what these foods do and have done, I tell people it’s better to remove them completely.
It might take a mindset shift to not feel restricted and as if there’s “nothing” you can eat now, but once you stop eating those foods you’ll start to learn how to eat real foods.
When I was forced to learn how to eat and cook real foods, I learned about all types of bomb, super tasty healthy meal combinations I could use to actually lose weight.
To begin eliminating highly processed foods, start with your house. (Duh right?)
Then during your next grocery store trip, shop the parameter of the grocery store and skip the aisles. That means getting groceries from the real foods sections of the shop.
If it wasn’t grown or raised on something that was grown, don’t buy it. Minus the flours and sugars. Those were technically grown too, but the refinement process makes them yucky for weight loss. Trust me.
Quit Drinking Your Calories
It is highly likely if you’ve removed all highly processed foods, you’ve also removed sugary sodas, juice and drinks.
But if not, do that!
Quit drinking anything that has more than 0 to 1 calories.
The only exception to this rule is homemade smoothies and juices and maybe healthy juices or smoothies you’ve purchased that you KNOW are natural, whole, and without sugar.
Drinking your calories is a super easy way to gain weight because you don’t get full in the same way as if you were to eat those calories. You actually might be consuming way more calories in liquid than you’re aware of because it’s so easy to drink a lot.
I remember one time I sat and had 8 full glasses of Coco Cola. That was likely 200+ calories a glass. On top of those 8 glasses, I had a full meal at the restaurant and dessert.
Girl, I probably easily consumed close to 5,000 calories with hell of those calories coming from the coke.
I just kept drinking and it was so easy for me to do that as it is usually easy for anyone to drink lots of sugary soda or juices.
Mind you we live in a society that makes big gulps and soda cups big enough to double as garbage cans. We’ve definitely got a thing with drinking lots of calories.
I definitely say give up the sugary drinks from where ever you get them.
Drink water, sparkling water, sugarless, flavored sparkling water, teas, and homemade (or natural, no sugar added) juices and smoothies instead.
That’ll remove plenty of extra calories and sugars from your diet.
Start eating 3 meals a day and practicing meal prep
You’ve might have heard that eating 6 small meals a day will keep your metabolism high and help you lose more weight. That 3 meals and 3 snacks a day will keep you from experiencing starvation and holding on to weight.
Yea, I’ve heard that too and the struggle to stick to that was real. Not only was I always feeling hungry, but carrying around 3 meals and 3 snacks was a hassle I later learned wasn’t necessary and was actually counterproductive to weight loss.
Why counterproductive? Because fat isn’t utilized when insulin is being raised. Everytime you eat, your insulin is raised. So 6 times a day, I was raising my insulin to where I couldn’t really burn body fat.
It was also counterproductive because it never got me to a point to where I didn’t feel hunger and cravings. I looked forward to each and every meal and by the end of my 6th meal, I was hoping I had more to eat. That was rough and a fight with will power.
Then I learned the beauty and benefits of eating nutrient dense, whole, real foods. Better yet, I experienced the beauty and benefits of focusing on eating real foods.
See, when I started focusing on eating real, nutrient dense foods and getting enough protein and fat for my needs, I stopped needing as much food. I stopped being as hungry and cravings started being manageable enough for me to ignore them.
I went from barely being able to go a couple of hours without eating to forgetting to eat sometimes. Like, I actually forget to eat sometimes and have to ask myself why am I starting to feel hungry. I start feeling hungry and think “wait, did I eat today?”
That’s a trip for someone like me that used to think about food so often that I’d have to eat something just so I can get back to focusing on the task at hand. It was that deep.
Once I locked in the real foods, I started getting serious about the meal prep.
Meal prep is like automating healthy eating. It’s like making healthy eating so easy throughout the week, you’re only excuse for not eating healthy is because you didn’t eat what you prepped.
And I DEDICATED myself to meal prep each and every week with no weeks off.
To start eating 3 meals a day and meal prepping, don’t fuss over the specifics of macros and calories just yet. Focus on eating real, nutrient dense foods until you’re satisfied.
What I did when I first implemented this practice, was eat all real foods I enjoy and kept it to eating a serving of eat food. Like, I’d have a sweet potato, a chicken thigh, quinoa and then some steamed broccoli with butter. If it wasn’t enough food, I’d add more to take with me.
The goal is to get into the habit of eat real foods and allowing those foods to regulate your cravings and appetite. Stick to real foods and they will help and make weight loss much easier than if you’re eating 6, low-fat meals a day.
Stick to 3 meals a day, cut out snacking, and meal prep weekly and your appetite can get so regulated that you actually start to naturally skip meals because you’re simply not hungry. Lowering your calories comes naturally because your body is learning to have a healthy appetite and burn the fat it’s already stored.
Trust the process.
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve heard that night eating causes weight gain.
I tried eating at night because a lot of intermittent fasting peeps speak on skipping breakfast and eating late. I tried that and my stomach was in pain each morning and the weight loss wasn’t that great either.
Before paying these intermittent fasting gurus any mind, I was not eating past 4pm. This made implementing intermittent fasting super easy and the weight seemed to fall off in my sleep.
The way I understand it, while we sleep our bodies are rejuvenating and healing. If we go to bed with food in our tummies, our bodies have to use the energy it’ll take to heal and rejuvenate in order to digest food.
Going to bed fed lowers the quality of sleep, screws with the circadian rhythm, lowers the quality of digestion, and causes digestive issues.
When I started going to bed on an empty stomach, my stomach felt much better and I woke up feeling better rested.
To give this tip a try, don’t eat any food after 4 pm and make sure to only drink water, fruitless herbal tea, and decaffeinated teas. Don’t consume any calories after 4 pm.
Or, if you go to bed later than most, make sure to give yourself 2+ hours to digest food before bed.
Once your body gets used to eating 3 meals a day, not eating at night will get easier.
Try to eliminate cheat days, but if you do, cheat monthly instead of weekly
Cheat days had me messed up. Maybe they’ll be “nicer” to you, but they were not my friend and frankly still aren’t.
If I have a cheat day, my mind can easily slip into justifying having a cheat weekend which has snowballed into cheat weeks and months on several occasions. And because I know this about myself, I practice no-cheats as much as possible.
Also, cheat days does slow down the healing from irregular appetite and crazy cravings. When you remove all highly processed foods for an extended period of time, you stop introducing the foods that created the increased hunger and crazy appetite to begin with.
You give the body time to detox from all the sugars and addictive foods.
And if you’re prone to food addiction, binge eating, or any other eating disorder that causes you to feel out of control with food, it’s actually better to cut out cheat days completely unless these cheat days are real foods that are just off of what you prepared.
I had to accept this myself and yes, it was a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard to have to learn to live without what I’ve spent a good chunk of my life depending upon. I had to learn how to eat and how to recognize how these foods hindered my health instead of focusing on how these foods tasted.
I also had to learn to understand that these foods are manufactured to taste good, be over consumed, and addictive. So my attachment to these foods are also manufactured and since that attachment is harmful to my health, it’s time to let them go.
Consider eliminating cheat days to give your body time to detox and get over the effects of highly processed foods. If you think you can handle a cheat day, cheat monthly instead of weekly to give your body the time to heal.
I hope you find these tips helpful as they are strategies I’ve noticed worked the best for weight loss into “onederland.”
Remember that weight gain is caused by foods that cause laziness and over-consumption thus making you fat. You ARE NOT fat because you’re lazy and don’t workout enough. The foods ARE the root cause.
Secondly, start with a mindset shift especially if you’ve tried to lose weight before. Sometimes, it isn’t the diet that’s not working, it’s our mindsets that are causing us to backslide and fall off the wagon. Work daily to align with health, wellness, and your natural well-being.
Lastly, remove all highly processed foods, including sugary drinks, focus on eating 3 meals a day without snacking, prep your meals faithfully every week, give up the night eating, and try to eliminate all cheat days from your routines.
After trying all types of things to lose weight, it was these practices that really helped me lose the weight.