NOTE: this is a long post full of “a-ha” tips and powerful techniques that will skyrocket your weight loss and fitness results. Click here to download the PDF version + the delicious 16-min recipe that helped me lose my first 14 pounds.
9 years ago, I was having a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend (now husband). He was in Austin while I was in New York. With 5 hours of flying distance in-between, we could only meet each other once a month.
Having 50 pounds to lose, I realized my dating trip schedule was to a large extent dictating my lifestyle. Even though I still ate about 1300 calories during most of the days, I’d switch to the “cleansing” mode at least 1-2 weeks before getting onto the plane for Austin, and “cleansing” could mean anything from 0-carb eating, meal replacement shakes, 600 calories a day, to fasting.
I was willing to give up all pleasure for one thing: becoming that skinny, lean and confident girl who’d be comfortable in her own skin and feel no less of a person when hanging out with her boyfriend’s handsome, beautiful, and athletic friends.
If you are familiar with that mindset, you are probably familiar with the outcome too. My willpower turned me into a yo-yo dieter, wasting a whole year of life losing and gaining the same 30 pounds, mourning short-lived results and feeling like a failure.
My MISTAKE, in retrospect (after losing 50 pounds and maintaining it naturally for 9 years), was that even though I pushed myself to the very limit, I was focusing on things that’d only deliver failures – the ultra-aggressive calorie limitation, macro tracking, food group elimination etc. Instead of making me the healthy, happy and bubbly 20 something woman who I dreamed of becoming, they harmed my well-being and made my world smaller.
What I didn’t know then was that I could shed the pounds EASILY through just making some simple, small and POWERFUL tweaks that would entirely reprogram my body.
I had to learn them the hard way, but you don’t because today, I’m sharing with you the BEST tips from 24 of the internet’s highly wanted health and fitness gurus, so that you can ninja crack the challenges and reclaim full command of your body and confidence.
Stop reading the weight loss magazines and forums because you’ve got all the REAL stuff here.
Table of Content
- #1 simple food tips for an immediate change
- nail meal planning when you are busy
- start intuitive eating
- beat craving
- mute the “all-or-nothing” thought
- overcome the desire to binge
- beat the gym anxiety
- be consistent without committing more time
- maximize the result
Want to go back to someone’s quotes later? Click on the names.
Abbey Sharp | Amelia Winslow | Brittany Dixon | Brittany Mullins | Brittany Watkins | Carly Rowena | Courtney Horan | Genevieve Malone | Jennipher Walters | Kelli Shallal | Kristen Seymour | Kristina LaRue | Lindsay Livingston | Liz Della Croce | Madeline Berky | Maria Litchy | Monica Olivas | Nagina Abdullah | Nia Shanks | Rachita Reddy MD MPH | Sean Flanagan | Sonali Ruder MD | Teresa Howes | Tina Haupert
What are some really simple but powerful changes you can make to instantly eat healthy?
How can you eat healthy meals everyday as a time-poor workaholic?
Don’t know how to stop counting calories while keeping the weight off?
Here we go.
Brittany Mullins, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Author @ Eating Bird Food
“One of my biggest tips for those learning to embrace a healthy diet is to eat more vegetables (especially leafy greens). Adding in one BIG salad a day is an easy way to do this. It’s also a great way to implement the crowding out approach, which focuses on increasing healthy food rather than avoiding unhealthy foods. With this, you fill your body with nutrient-rich foods (like salads) and there’s simply less room for the not so healthy stuff.”
More about how to build a healthy meal-sized salad
Tina Haupert, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, Author @ CarrotsNCake
“Eat vegetables with breakfast! It’s such a small thing to do, but it sets a healthy tone for your whole day. Plus, veggies are low in calories and good for you!”
Try Tina’s Frittata recipe for a delicious veggie breakfast.
Kristina LaRue, Sports Dietitian, Author @ Love & Zest
“Keep it simple. Start out with adding a few baby spinach leaves to a fruit smoothie and increase your intake to 1-2 cups as your taste buds begins to enjoy it. You really can’t taste the spinach! If you’re trying to up your game in the kitchen but don’t want the kitchen clean up that usually comes along with it, try making dinner on a sheet pan or meals in the slow cooker! Browse Pinterest for inspiration and recipes. “
“Make one change a week, you’re far more likely to stick to it, let it become a habit and keep it. First, start with upping your water intake, then think about reducing your processed food, next add in a 20-minute walk before breakfast, before you know it your body will have changed without the need for feeling overwhelmed.”
Nagina Abdullah, Health Coach for Ambitious Women, Founder @ Masala Body
“Use fat-burning spices to flavor your food and drinks. It takes only a moment to sprinkle a pinch of spice, and not only do you get incredible flavor, but you also lose weight WHILE you’re eating delicious foods! Here are 3 fat-burnings spices and how to use + 1 recipe:
Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee or morning smoothie to reduce fat storage, and you start to naturally need less sugar too.
Add a pinch of red chili flakes to double your metabolism AND curb your appetite! You can add red chili flakes to meat, fish eggs, and tofu for a quick flavor explosion. Add less if you don’t like spicy food, and more if you do.
Black pepper burns as many calories as a 20-minute walk, so bust your calories easily by adding a 1/2 teaspoon to vegetables, eggs and everything else!”
Nagina also offers a tasty recipe that helped her lose her first 10 pounds and can do the same for you. Curried Garbanzo Beans recipe + cooking video
Maria Litchy, Author @ Two Peas and Their Pod
Sonali Ruder, MD, Physician, Author @ The Foodie Physician
“When transitioning to healthy cooking, my number one tip is actually two tips in one – keep it simple and plan your meals.
I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they don’t cook because they’re not good at it or they’re too intimidated to try a lot of dishes. To that, I say, keep it simple! Cooking does not have to be complicated and you don’t have to try to cook the fancy dishes you see at restaurants or on TV. Start with simple, approachable recipes that have short ingredient lists and can be made in a reasonable amount of time, say 30 minutes or less. Once you get a few of these recipes under your belt, your confidence will be boosted and then you can start experimenting with more exotic recipes.
My other tip is to plan your meals. I’m a big menu planner! One of the best ways to maintain a healthy eating pattern is to take a little time at the beginning of the week to plan all of your meals for the rest of week. Choose simple, nutritious recipes and make one big grocery list. If you go to the supermarket with an organized list, you’ll get all of your shopping done in one day and you’ll buy less impulse snacks at the store. Menu planning will end up saving you lots of time and money and it will also reduce last-minute runs to the fast-food restaurant during the week. When you plan your meals, I recommend making enough portions to ensure leftovers. That way you know you’ll have a healthy meal waiting at home for you even on those long days when you get home and you’re tired and starving! “
Monica Olivas, Author @ Run Eat Repeat
“Since weight loss is 80% what you eat – I suggest busy people meal plan. When you cook – make extra and pack it for grab-and-go lunches or dinners. Make some time each week to prep veggies and snacks. It doesn’t have to be on Sunday (a traditional meal prep day), just do it when you have time. “
Lindsay Livingston, Registered Dietitian, Author @ The Lean Green Bean
“To make your food and prep sessions efficient, you need to multitask and learn to use multiple areas of the kitchen at once! You could be baking muffins in the oven, cooking Quinoa on the stove, letting Pulled pork cook in the crockpot and be chopping veggies on the counter all at once! “
Jennipher Walters, Editor @ FitBottomedGirls
“The slow cooker saves me so much time! As a working mom, dinnertime can be a little chaotic, but if I set aside 5 minutes in the morning to throw some chicken, beans, veggies, salsa, spices and broth in the slow cooker, I’m guaranteed a healthy meal that is ready as soon as tummies start growling!”
Kristen Seymour, Editor @ FitBottomedEats
“Half the work of making a salad is getting everything out of the fridge and prepped, so when I got to make a salad I make two or even three of them at once. It seriously saves me time and when there’s another salad in the fridge for me just waiting later, I’m way more apt to go for that instead of something less healthy!”
Healthy eating sounds all great, but how about the calorie counting part? I know some of us can’t wait to break free from it, yet is there a way to do it while still keeping the weight off?
Abbey Sharp, Registered Dietitian, TV & Radio Personality, Author @ Abbey’s Kitchen
“Yes! It’s called mindful or intuitive eating and it’s the only way to manage your weight (if that’s your goal) without slipping into diet mentality.
The point of mindful eating is to nourish your body exactly as it needs to be nourished – not more and not less. It starts by stopping the good food / bad food judgment and diet mentality because when we label foods as bad we tend to obsessively desire them. When we label food as good, we tend to eat them in excess thinking they “don’t count”, or we “treat” ourselves later for something “healthy” we did. Stop the labeling and learn to appreciate a wide range of foods and how they make you feel- chances are you’ll start craving naturally nourishing foods.
Then we tune into our body’s hunger and satiety signals. If we measure this on a scale like a gas tank, I suggest we start eating when we are 1/4 full and stop when we’re 3/4 full. This requires us to eat slower than normal and to truly pay attention to each sensation – when we eat slowly we may actually find we are satisfied with less. Mindful eating is designed to help us improve our relationship with food but weight management is a common side effect.”
You say:” I get it, it’s all about taking small and easy steps towards eating healthier. It sounds great, but what if I have cravings outside of the meals? And how do I make sure I don’t fall victim of the “all-or-nothing” mentality when eating one chocolate bar is turned into eating 7 of them?
To treat emotional eating, you need mindset hacks.
Sean Flanagan, Coach, Personal Trainer, Author @ Sean Flanagan Fitness
“My #1 tip for overcoming the ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking would be to stop thinking about nutrition as a set of rules to obey, and instead, think of it as a set of skills to practice. When you view it as skills to practice, saying ‘F it!’ and binging because you ate a piece of chocolate makes no more sense than it would to light your basketball on fire because you missed a shot. Just keep practicing. I should also note that no food is inherently ‘fattening’, but behaviors are. A chocolate bar won’t make you gain weight. Continuing to ignore your body’s fullness signals will.”
Beyond what Sean has just said, I would love to add a mind hack from him that helps to combat the frustration of “getting off the track.”
Here’s the truth: there’s no track, and you are not on the train that makes no stop between 2 locations.
Here’s more on how to break free from cravings:
Amelia Winslow, Nutritionist, Author @ Eating Made Easy
“My #1 tip for overcoming a craving is to distract yourself with something enjoyable. First make a list of ~5 activities that are fun or relaxing for you, that you can reference when a craving strikes. The list could be things like dance around the house to your favorite song, read a few pages of a magazine, practice a new make-up look you’ve been wanting to try, sort through a pile of papers (not fun but feels great after!), etc. By the time you’re done with the activity, you will probably have forgotten about the craving!”
Rachita Reddy, MD, MPH, Physician, Author @ Reddy4HealthyBalance
“My #1 snack to reduce cravings is a quenching glass of water with something crunchy, usually celery with peanut butter or a handful of almonds. The combination of water with crunch satisfies any craving on a deeper level. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Drinking a glass of water will eliminate that confusion while filling your stomach and promoting weight loss. Crunchy foods require more chewing, triggering your brain to suppress your hunger craving, as shown in this study. A snack rich in fiber, healthy fats and protein will satisfy your craving much longer than one packed with carbs or sugar. (For those with nut allergies, a delicious option is carrots with hummus or guacamole.)”
Madeline Berky, Holistic Nutritionist, Writer @ Maddie Berky
“Don’t make them wrong. Cravings tell us what we’re hungry for. They are the language of the body. We become much more adept in interpreting them when we stop stifling or judging them and actually start listening to them.Am I hungry? If the answer is yes, then seek out something nourishing and eat it. Don’t apologize for that. But so often the answer isn’t yes. Our hunger might rest in sadness. Or anxiety. Or loneliness. In any of these cases, we must also seek out the thing that will nourish us. Be it touch. Or movement. Or connection. We have the capacity to change everything when we stop fighting ‘why am I hungry?!’ and start asking ‘what am I hungry for…?'”
Brittany Watkins, Weight Loss Coach, Author & Founder @ Brittany Watkins
“Binge Eating is a response to a negative memory. Often, these memories are unconscious. By asking yourself a series of questions, and using EFT (a technique to balance the left and right sides of your brain), you can re-wire this pattern and eliminate the desire to binge.”
For those of you who are interested, Brittany provides a guide and 33 exercises to help stop binge eating here.
“Ohh, my body’s sayin’ let’s go…Ohh, but my heart is sayin’ no.”
I don’t know about you girls, but I literally sing this when debating if I should find an excuse to skip the gym.
Mainly what’s holding me back is my own inertia — you know, the laziness. I also wonder if I do make the effort of going to the gym, how can I get the most of it. In addition, I know some people who aren’t gym regulars are facing a problem called “gym anxiety” – the fear of being judged, not following instructions well, or feeling clumsy.
Let’s talk about all three here: the anxiety, and inertia, and the result.
Question 1: what should you do if you don’t feel comfortable in the gym in the first place?
Genevieve Malone, Founder @ The Inertia Project
“I get it – it’s not fun to work out when you feel clueless. You’re positive those dudes benching twice your bodyweight are silently snickering at your shaky push-ups and giving you elevator eyes when you do cardio on the elliptical. So, you “solve” this problem by never going to the gym. Except we all know that’s not really a solution – right? RIGHT?? So what’s the best way to conquer gymtimidation? Here are some ideas to help!
First, get comfortable with the moves at home first. Nothing is worse than feeling like Bambi on icewhen you fall over doing walking lunges on Day 1. Skip the public humiliation and practice the moves at home for 2 or 3 weeks before you sign up for your gym membership. Your brain takes some time to learn the movement patterns (like how running feels smoother after a week or so). Take advantage of a home-based program to get those first few shaky workouts done with only your dining room table as the audience. I promise you’ll feel less awkward when you actually DO get into the gym.
Second, talk to a trainer or gym employee. Get familiar with the layout, the equipment, the staff… it’s their JOB to make sure you’re comfortable there. You’re not imposing on them or being weird. Plus, once you’ve interacted with them, they’ll usually go out of their way to smile and greet you. Who doesn’t like a friendly face at the gym?
Then, find a plan that works with your schedule. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hardly ever spend more than 40 minutes working out. I have plenty of other things I want to do instead of working out – so why does it look like I live in the gym? It’s because I have well-structured workouts that maximize my effort in minimum time. If you can spend 2 hours at the gym each day, GREAT! If you can spend 15 minutes at the gym each day, GREAT! Just make sure your workouts (and your expectations) match your plan. “
Question 2: how do I break free from inertia and maximize my results?
Courtney Horan, #FitFluential Ambassador, Author & Founder @ SweetToothSweetLife
“For me, creating smaller goals and keeping them attainable is key. I know my days are busy, and as much as I’d love to be able to devote 60 minutes to a workout 4-5 days a week, it’s just not going to happen. So keeping my goals within reach helps keep me on track and excited to do more. These days, workouts aren’t much more than about 30-40 minutes max, but it doesn’t mean they are effective! Quality vs quantity.”
Kelli Shallal, Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, Founder @ HungryHobby
“My number one tip is to schedule the workouts that you won’t skip. For instance, when I was in graduate school and had a full-time job, that left little time for workouts. I made sure to get them in by scheduling workouts that seemed doable so I wouldn’t skip them. I didn’t plan on going to a full hour class when I knew I would get stressed out time wise and skip it. I planned 10-20 minute runs, at home workouts, cardio while studying, or if I had time, a class I loved. Remember, longer workouts are not always better, make whatever time you have count!”
Teresa Howes, Nutrition & Wellness Coach, Author @ Eat Drink & Be Skinny
“The first thing I see that trips the most women up is the all-or-nothing mentality. Keep in mind that small bouts of exercise everyday will be more effective over time than large, infrequent attempts at perfection. If you don’t have an hour or 30 minutes, try to do 21+ minutes everyday. Never let perfection steal your progress and know that every minute counts!”
Question 3: what can I do to maximize fat-burning when exercising?
Brittany Dixon, Life & Weight Management Consultant, Health Coach, Author @ A Healthy Slice of Life
“My #1 tip for optimizing the result for a workout session happens before I even step foot in the gym. For me, properly fueling for my Burn Bootcamp workout makes all the difference in the world. Nothing fancy, simply a banana (for quick energy) and a small scoop of peanut butter (for lasting fuel) gives me the stamina I need to bring my A-game and get the most out of my workout, rather than just halfheartedly going through the motions.”
Nia Shanks, Coach, Author @ Nia Shanks
“Rather than focus on burning maximum fat I prefer to strive for consistent, gradual improvements in performance. Doing better than a previous workout, in some small way, is mandatory if you want to transform your body. “
There are so many simple, interesting, and powerful tips around on how to get your sexy back. But underneath these tips, what are the 24 internet’s highly wanted experts really saying?
- Real, healthy weight loss is about taking simple actions to organize your life better. It’s not about willpower or dieting as many think.
- In the weight loss sphere, most challenges come with a simple solution.
Liz Della Croce, Creator & Author @ The Lemon Bowl
“The Number One thing I did was stop making excuses. Once I got out of my own head, I was well on the road to success.”
Now it’s your turn to take actions, and here’s the homework for you which generally guarantees 50% of your success: make a list of 5 small changes, implement ONE a week. Tell me what they are in the comment area.