The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Tips to Help You Lose Weight

Fashion and the figure go hand in hand. Not because of rail-thin models, starved celebs or any myriad of body-conscious images that permeate the (oftentimes) shallow world of fashion, but because fashion is dependent, nay, inextricably linked to the body, the human form. Yes, fashion is physically as well as visually expressive, from the fit to the movement to the tactile pleasure that it stirs.

This is not to suggest that fashion and one particular type of figure are married in a sartorial alliance, rather, that everyone should happily consider how their unique shape, weight, build and gait informs the clothes they wear.

Which brings us to fashion and fitness. At the start of every New Year, millions of Americans resolve to lose weight in order to feel healthier, boost their energy, live longer and above all, fit into their favorite pair of jeans. If you count yourself among their noble ranks, then read on for some tried-and-true tips on how to lose weight—and keep it off.

Tips to Help You Lose Weight, Feel Great in 2008

Never skip meals. This doesn't mean you have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, but once you set up the routine that works for you (4 small meals, 2 medium sized meals, etc.) stick to it. Personally, I have coffee in the morning, plus a healthy lunch, afternoon snack (yogurt and green tea) and dinner. If you're too busy to follow this simple rule, then stop reading now because you're clearly not committed to taking care of yourself.

Eat slowly. Two tricks for accomplishing this: eat all your food with chopsticks (at least this slows me down!) and never eat alone. When I'm enjoying good food and good conversation, I always eat slowly.

Never eat past the point of feeling "full." This follows the Japanese cultural habit called hara hachi bu, which means you eat only until you are 80 percent full, and goes a long way towards staying slender. Eating slowly will help you accomplish this and train you to listen to your body. Also, don't worry about licking your plate clean. I am VERY opposed to wasting food, so just take what you can eat and save the rest for later. Don't be a martyr for the starving children in Africa. (Sadly, we learned as we got older that you can't ship them your leftovers...but you can always donate to charity!)

It's not what you eat, it's how much you eat. Some nutritionists will balk at my message, but honestly, for MOST people I think calorie intake is a bigger problem than the types of foods they're choosing. Once you get portion sizes under control, then you can start movin' on up to healthier foods.

Split entrees or only eat half when you eat out. Sure, you'll look cheap, but it's your thighs we're talking about, not the waiter's. If you hit a major food chain like Applebee's or Chili's, eat only 1/3 of the food served, and take the rest to go. (Ask your waiter to box half or two-thirds before bringing you your entree—I've waited tables, and we did it all the time.)

Forget about food. Let me explain: While it's important to plan healthy meals, fueling your body with food energy should be a natural, instinctual process—NOT an obsession that takes over your life. Personally, I've found that the less I think about my food, diet, and exercise regimen, the healthier I've been. Get some good habits going, and then forget about it. If you find yourself obsessing about food during the day, you probably need to find a more interesting job. If you catch yourself obsessing about grub in the evenings after work, get a hobby. Start knitting, read a book, join a yoga class—anything to get your mind off food. Cancel your subscription to Shape magazine and the Victoria's Secret catalog—these will only make you feel worse about your body.

Learn to cook. I love to cook. Can't say I do it every day, but when I do, I find it to be a creative, contemplative and sensory-stimulating experience. Not to mention it's cheaper than eating out all the time. I recommend getting a subscription to Martha's Everyday Food magazine. It's small enough to fit in your purse, and the recipes are amazing. Grazing while cooking is fine, as are small appetizers - it curbs your appetite so when you finally sit down to eat, you'll take less.

Make water and unsweetened tea your top beverages. Ok, I'll admit I love a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of red wine with dinner, BUT aside from that, all I drink is water and unsweetened tea that I brew myself (black, green, herbal, etc.) I think you can safely eliminate soda, juice, energy drinks, milk, etc. You'll save money and stay healthier. Oh, and skip the bottled water, it's bad for the environment and they still can't seem to decide whether plastic leaches into the water or not. So drink filtered tap water from a glass container instead.

Forget about eating sugar substitutes and fat-free crap. Studies have shown they don't help people lose weight. Consider how many obese people you've seen that drink diet soda. Clearly, something's not working.

Always take the stairs and park in the farthest spot from your destination. Except late at night in dimly lit areas, or if you work past the 8th floor (I once lived in an apartment in Barcelona that was on the 8th floor with no elevator, so if I can do it, you can too!) Amazing what these two things alone can do for heart health.

Get enough sleep and try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. During my not-too-distant clubbing days, I always carried an extra 10-15 pounds that I simply could not drop. Drinking and late nights were probably (ok, definitely) to blame. If you think (as I did) that dancing burns off those 4 a.m. burritos, you are mistaken. But I digress: Simply getting an extra hour of sleep each night can help you lose weight over the course of a year. Maintaining a regular schedule is difficult with our busy lives, but biorhythms formed over eons of evolution and won't "turn off" just because we modern humans are always on the go. Also, be sure to sleep in complete darkness, it's supposedly healthiest.

Share your personal weight-loss struggles, triumphs, tips and tricks in the comments.

**DISCLAIMER: The Budget Babe is NOT a medical doctor, nutritionist or health professional of any kind. These tips are meant for entertainment purposes only. Consult a doctor before starting any diet or fitness plan.**
Good common sense article Budget Babe!! A good metabolism and routine exercise helps too!!
#1 Val on 2008-01-12 12:00 (Reply)
You're absolutely right! How DID we forget to mention the "e" word? Hehe :-)
#1.1 The Budget Babe on 2008-01-16 12:03 (Reply)
watched oprah yesterday and bob greene said to not eat at least 2 1/2 hrs b4 bedtime. also 6 glasses of water a day. they also said that eating is NOT the problem, but what's causing you to eat. so it's a total process, not just cutting back and exercising. they also said that the closer you get to your goal, you will tend to feel physical pain and discomfort because, i guess, the negative refuses to let go and wants to encourage you to go back to bad habits. i had never heard that before but it makes sense. everyone i know who has lost weight successfully and kept it off has said it's a lifestyle change, not an eating change. in the u.s. we obsess about food - can't help it - it's everywhere. everyone you see has a bottle of something or a pack of something in their hands either eating or drinking. even when going for a 1/2 hr walk they can't be without their water bottles. come on people, you don't dehydrate if you don't drink water for one hour!!!!! even if you live in the mojave desert it ain't gonna happen. leave the food at home.
#2 maggie z on 2008-01-15 15:53 (Reply)
Excellent advice! As an adult, I probably learned most of what I know about diet and weight loss from Oprah, Bob and Dr. Oz! However, the real credit goes to my parents who instilled healthy habits in me when I was growing up. We were always involved in sports, and our idea of a snack was a banana.

As you mentioned, dealing with the underlying emotional or psychological element is central to losing weight - but there's a lot of research that suggests you can start implementing healthy behaviors FIRST and the mind will follow. I think Bob would agree that if you work on both at the same time, you'll begin to see and feel big changes sooner :-)
#2.1 The Budget Babe on 2008-01-16 12:00 (Reply)
i totally agree. can't have one without the other. did you ever see on 'extreme makeover' how when people lose huge amounts of weight they have all this skin that just hangs? well, those ARE extreme cases, and more often than not need surgery because there's just too saggy skin (i know, gross - they can't help it), but after you lose 10-20 lbs, if you don't exercise, you will still have flab. there's no instant fixes and it really is a lifelong process. the earlier you start, the better.
#3 maggie z on 2008-01-16 13:58 (Reply)
Some good tips. I would add:
1. Exercise.
2. Find what works for you.

Two applies to one, too. I happen to love the gym, some people enjoy running, etc. If you don't like it, you won't stay with it. Try various things and find out what it is you enjoy and you can fit into your schedule.

Likewise for foods. I find calorie counting and capping works great, but a lot of people get really annoyed with that, just as I'd go batty if I tried the weighing all of my food trick.

Ultimately it's a matter of fuel intake versus fuel burned.

Figure out what is good for you and what is bad for you, and then what you love versus dislike to eat.
1. You love it and it's good for you - make it a staple, explore additional ways to prepare it, enjoy it like mad.
2. You love it and it's bad for you - enjoy it, but in small amounts and rare occassions, and when you do appreciate it extra.
3. You dislike it and it's good for you - see if there aren't alternative ways of preparation that you will enjoy. If not, don't bother with it, focus on 1.
4. You dislike it and it's bad for you - cut it out entirely.

In general, avoid processed foods. I've found the more I stick to a primarily vegetable, non-processed diet, the more processed foods I used to love now repulse me. Your body really does adjust - and it feels so much better when you eat healthily and exercise regularly.
#4 LM on 2008-03-31 23:48 (Reply)
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