It’s funny how it’s the little things that seem to make clear what you have known all along, but refused to acknowledge. On March 20, 2011, I bent down to tie a shoelace that had come loose — and I couldn’t. I literally stood there stunned. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoe. It was at that moment that I realized that I had to do something about my growing weight problem. I thought to myself, why not combine my financial goals with my weight loss goals?
Here’s how I did it…
1. I Replaced My Dishes
OK, I know this sounds like a lousy way to save money. Anyone that has priced dishes lately knows that throwing away all your dishes and getting new ones can be quite expensive, but that’s not exactly what I did. Instead, I only got rid of the big dinner plate sized dishes (I donated them to a local thrift shop) and replaced using those with all the smaller plates that came with my set. I know it sounds stupid, but this one thing did wonders for me losing weight.
One of the biggest problems that I always have when it comes to food is that no matter how big a dish I had, I always filled it with food and then I would always eat everything on my plate. The portions I was eating were enormous and it really was ridiculous.
By switching to smaller plates, all of a sudden I could only put a certain amount of food on it (it works out to be about 1/4 of what can go on the bigger plates) and this has had a tremendous amount with helping me control my portions. I don’t know how much is psychological (that whole “a larger number means more” mentality), but I feel fuller when I eat two plates of food off of the smaller plates than I did a single of the larger plates even though the food portion is half as much.
2. I Drink More Water
I have one exception to my rule about pouring my drinks into small glasses. I am allowed to drink as much water as I want and I have a large water bottle that I carry around with me everywhere I go. This is my main form of hydration today as opposed to the vast quantities of sweet drinks that I used to consume before. By always having a water bottle with me, I can quench my thirst without having to go to the refrigerator to get something that is sweet. If I’m really craving something sweet, I can get it and pour it into the small glass. Simply by having the water bottle and getting into the habit of drinking water most of the time, I have greatly reduced the number of calories I take it through liquids and saved a lot of money.
3. I Kicked My Coke Habit
I had a terrible coke habit. No, not the type that could land you in prison for decades, but the soft drink. I was drinking close to a six-pack a day (I know, I don’t even like to think about it today). I now don’t drink Coke at all. I’m not exactly sure what the entire process was to achieve this. I think it started with the smaller glasses. It was a pain to have to fill up 5 glasses to drink a single can, so this initially cut down the amount I was drinking. At some point, I realized that I was drinking colored corn syrup and eventually eliminated it from my diet. Now not only do I feel a lot healthier, my wallet feels a lot that healthier too.
4. I Prepare Healthy Snacks
I snack. It is something that no matter how hard I try not to do, I still haven’t been able to overcome. Knowing this, I have to have healthy snacks prepared for when these cravings hit. If I don’t have healthy snacks that I can eat, I will be out the door to buy unhealthy snacks in a second. This is one of the most important parts of me being able to lose the weight I have so far.
The biggest challenge I have is finding a variety of healthy snacks that are easy for me to make (I’m not a great cook) so that I don’t get bored with my regular fruit and vegetable snacks. If anyone has a good resource for me on this, I would be extremely thankful as this is one area that is a constant struggle.
5. I Plan My Meals
Part of the trouble I had was that I never thought about what I was going to eat until the minute I became hungry. The result was that I chose a lot of unhealthy premade food because it was easy and I could quickly get it into my stomach to fill it up. It’s difficult to lose weight when you are constantly eating premade food.
When I realized this, I learned to plan my meals ahead. I’m not a very good planner, so I’m still working on this one, but I am getting better. By having meals planned ahead of time, I’m never left at the last minute without something that allows me to make the excuse I can go out to eat or grab a quick bite somewhere. I make my meals the night before so that they are ready in the morning so I’m not rushed to get out the door and not have time to make them. I plan my meals for the week ahead so I know what I’m having each night (the slow cooker crockpot has been heaven sent for this) so I’m not sitting there thinking what am I going to have to eat each night. By putting a little planning into it, I’ve learned to eat much healthier than when I had to decide what to eat on the fly.
6. I Park Farther Away
One of my biggest challenges with losing the weight is that I’m not a person that enjoys exercise. I had to figure out ways that would make me move around that didn’t seem like exercise to me. One of the most effective ways that I found was to park at the far end of all parking lots so that I had to walk farther whenever I needed to go someplace. It may not seem like it would make a huge difference, but it has definitely helped me get a lot more exercise than I would have done so otherwise.
7. I Take The Stairs
Another one of those small additions I used to increase my exercise is that I stopped taking elevators. Instead, I now take the stairs. This, again, is a small step to get me to move around, but it has made a huge difference in helping me to lose the weight and get exercise that I wouldn’t otherwise get.
8. I Sleep When I’m Tired
This probably sounds like a weird one to have on my losing weight list, but it’s another one that I discovered as I began to pay more attention to the triggers that make me eat. I have learned that when I start to get tired, it’s time for me to go to bed. If I remain awake when I am tired, I start consuming food to try to help me stay awake. Once I learned that being tired was one of my eating triggers, I have learned to go to bed a few hours earlier than I used to go to bed. I now usually sleep eight hours a night (I used to sleep less) which allows me to get a good night’s sleep so that I don’t get tired during the day. This has made another huge difference when it comes to me consuming food.
9. I Practice Stress Relief
Another food trigger that I discovered within myself is stress. When I get stressed out, I start to eat. I have learned to spot when stress is coming on and try to relieve it in different ways. One of those is to get outside and breathe fresh air. A short walk is even better. When this isn’t possible, I also have stress balls at my desk that I can squeeze. I am in the process of learning some breathing techniques that I have high hopes will be another effective tool in my stress relief arsenal. I still have a way to go to work on this trigger because I’m not always successful in reducing my stress, but I’m getting much better at it. As I do get better, I find that I can tell when the stress is coming and I can deactivate it before I start eating.
10. I’m Aware This Is A Life Change, Not A Diet
This is something that I have slowly come to terms with. I realize that what I am doing today is something that I am going to have to do for a lifetime, not just until the weight is gone. If I want to continue to lose weight and then keep that weight off, I am going to have to continue these changes in my lifestyle. This has been more difficult to come to terms with than I thought because there are so many commercials out there that peddle quick and easy fixes. Losing weight is neither quick or easy, and I have come to realize that a lifestyle change is the only way for me to ultimately succeed.
In addition to losing the weight, a huge financial benefit is that I have cut my costs by about $500 a month making these changes. I have no idea if any of the above methods that have worked for me will work for you. As I said before, I am not an expert in weight reduction and these are just some of the changes that I have made that happened to work for me through trial and error. I hope that even a couple may help if you are struggling to lose weight. If you are also on a journey like myself, I would love to hear any other lifestyle changes that you have adopted that have helped you that I can also try.
David had been a long time-Saving Advice reader that felt sharing his story might help others struggling with similar weight issues. He is considering starting a blog about his daily struggles with weight and money.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver)