Everybody is different. What worked for me, won't necessarily work for somebody else. But here are things that I found helpful and things that my body responded to.
1.) Healthier eating! Here's a no-brainer, right? Eat less junk, more healthy items. I try to stick with lots of salads, lean protein (chicken, fish, shrimp) and fruit. Limiting carbs also seems to help. When I do eat carbs, I try to make sure they are whole-grain or whole-wheat versions, like with pasta for example.
2.) Calorie counting. I am a calorie counter. Not 100% of the time, but I do find if I need a little push or am stuck, counting calories (I use Myfitness Pal) really helps myself to get back on track. I try to look more at weekly average rather than day to day totals. One day I might be at 1400, and the next 1100, and the next 1500, and the next 1000. I don't worry about always eating exactly 1200. I just eat when I'm hungry, taking quality of food into consideration. Some days I'm hungrier, some days not as much. As long as it all evens out to be a decent calorie intake (and adjusted higher for times when I am more active, of course)...then I am happy.
3.) Allowing "treats". I never told myself "You can't have that". Instead, I consciously figured out how I could fit it into my calories in an acceptable way. Normally I would work it in on the weekend, when I had more time to be more active. I would indulge in pizza, the night before I knew I had a long run scheduled. I would order dessert if I had already been eating super clean the rest of the day. But telling myself I "can't" have something only makes me want it more. As long as I allow myself some freedom now and then, and be confident I will get right back on track, I don't see the harm in having some pizza or cookies here and there! In fact, I think it keeps me sane and able to stick to my routine the rest of the time.
4.) Exercise. So, exercise alone doesn't do crap for me. It has to be paired with healthier eating. And honestly I could probably lose plenty of weight just by diet alone. However, when you pair BOTH diet and exercise together, something amazing happens! At least for me. I lose weight more efficiently - plus, I FEEL good. I feel more energetic, happier, and fitter. It is important to find what you like. I like to run. Some people hate to run. But there are tons of other options. Biking, swimming, sports, hiking...there are so many things to try. You are bound to find something you like sooner or later. It is important to mix things up here and there, and for that I like to incorporate light hand weights, floor exercises (like crunches, pushups, etc), or even just simple Wii Fit exercises. I just discovered Zumba. There are tons of other group fitness classes to try, if you are brave (if you are scared, trust me, it's totally worth it to suck it up and get over your fear!). My point is, anyone can find SOMETHING they like to do and a routine that works for them.
5.) Knowing and remembering WHY you are doing this. All reasons are important, whether they are life altering or shallow. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be around as long as possible for my kids. I wanted to be able to be active with my kids. I wanted to feel happier and fitter. I wanted to show people that I could do things they never imagined me to do. I wanted to fit into smaller clothes. I wanted to look better. I wanted my family to be proud. I wanted to inspire others. I wanted to go up stairs without breathing heavily. There are tons of reasons, and all of them make a difference.
6.) Accountability to yourself. I like to weigh in often and keep track on Myfitness Pal, this blog, and one other app I have on my phone. Some people prefer to weigh in once a week or
month. Whatever works for you, as long as it keeps you accountable and
engaged, then go with it. By having it in writing, I am always able to see where I am at, where I have come from, and how far I have to go. I also like to tell myself "I will go for a run tomorrow morning"...and then do it. Even if I don't want to because I am tired. I just try to get out there and DO it. When I promise myself something, I need to keep the promise. Not keeping promises to myself was one reason I was fat in the first place. "I promise I will do better in the new year". I promise I will get healthy some day". "This will be the last cookie"... the promises go on and on, always broken. But not anymore. It is important to keep my word to myself and do what I say I will do.
7.) Accountability to others. It was hard at first. I didn't want to share all this personal stuff with other people. Strangers, friends, or family. It is embarrassing! Especially the details like my weight or clothing sizes. But I got over it, started this blog, and slowly started being more open about everything. Now, I pretty much have no cares about sharing anything and everything. Even the most humiliating. Because it keeps me accountable! I started this blog...and who wants to share with readers each week that you failed? Nobody. Who wants to have shared this journey and all this success only to let it go down the drain? Not me!
8.)Staying positive. Not that I never had negative moments. Or days. Or weeks or even months. But ultimately it is important to believe that you CAN do this. Plenty of people have done it before, and there is no reason you can't do it too. You can be successful. You WILL be successful. Just because you mess up for a meal or even a weekend or a whole season, doesn't mean you can't get on track. Making a mistake does not mean it's a lost cause. Just move on and keep working to your goals!
9.)Set smaller goals. I tried to go by 5 or 10 lb increments, or special numbers with meaning (like 199 to be under 200, or the weight I was when I got married, or the weight it took to put me at a "normal" BMI). It is much more manageable and seems less daunting when you tell yourself yourself you have 5 lbs to go for your mini goal rather than always thinking "I have 80 lbs to go...how will I ever do it...."
I also liked to always have a cute pair of pants that are one size too small as my "goal" pants. My mom once helped me with this by buying an expensive pair of jeans for Christmas that were a couple of sizes too small. I was so excited...and within a few months, I was wearing them!
10.) Throw away all of your fat clothes!! Save one or two items for "after" picture purposes and to remind yourself how far you've come, but otherwise, get rid of stuff. As soon as it is 2 sizes or more too big, get rid of it. GET RID OF IT!!! You will never be that big again. If you start to gain, and realize you have nothing to wear, it might be motivation to get back on track knowing it's either that or spend money on a new wardrobe. Yet again.
11.) Be honest with yourself and stop making excuses...this is extremely important an way too often overlooked. I am very passionate about this. I know it is hard and sometimes people don't even realize that they aren't being honest. I am not saying this is easy. And I'm also not trying to be mean. But too often, people (myself included) place blame everywhere but on themselves or they make excuses. They say "My spouse eats X. My spouse does the grocery shopping. I love McDonalds and it's right on my way to work. I have no time/money to eat healthy. I have no time to work out. Being fat is in my genes. I have tried everything".
I am here to tell you that this is all BULLSHIT. You need to stop fooling yourself. If you want to lose weight/get healthy, you need to take responsibility for what you do. What you put in your own mouth. What your priorities are. This is ALL ON YOU. It is not on anybody else. When I first started my journey, I was working 60-70 hours a week, plus I have 2 kids and a husband who also worked overtime. I have done this while working 50 hours a week, plus my 2 kids, plus Grad School. Yes, it is HARD to find the time to work out when you have so much else going on. But what I had to do what make it a priority, no matter what that meant. Sometimes that meant waking up at 3:30 am to work out! So people often say they "can't" because there isn't enough time...but trust me, there is a way to make time. There is a way to figure it out. It's just a matter of if you feel it is important enough to be making some sacrifices in order to do it. To me, it WAS worth the sacrifice, knowing I was changing my life. And guess what else? Obesity runs in my family. Yet look...I put in the effort, made the sacrifices and adjusted my priorities...and I have broken the chain. Obesity being in the family is just another excuse. Same thing with "your husband or kids or whoever" eat X. So what? Who says you have to eat that, too? Make your own healthy options! Try to be a good influence on them. Just say NO. Again, I realize it's not easy. But that is what needs to happen, and again it's a matter of priorities and sacrifices.
I have realized that nothing worthwhile is EASY. Marriage? Takes work! Kids? They require so much time, patience, energy... Losing weight? Changing your life and getting healthy? Holy crap, it is HARD. You need to be prepared for that. The reason I was fat and unhealthy is because it seemed too hard to get healthy.
Only once I decided that it was worth the battle, did I finally start to succeed. You can, too!!! There is NO REASON why not. Every obstacle can be overcome some way or another.