We give you a lot of diet advice. But recently, we turned the tables, and asked you to share your most creative weight loss strategies. Some of you plan ahead, others rely on high-tech diet solutions — and a few of you offered some really unique advice, like keeping your jeans and a swimsuit in the refrigerator! Here are our favorites.
Your advice: I always panic when I am eating at a restaurant. I don't know what to order! Even if it looks healthy, that's not always the case! So I have done my homework. I went on line and researched all the restaurants that I frequent, sit-down and fast food. I made a list of healthy, lower-fat options from each establishment. If I know I am eating at a new restaurant, I always look it up first if I have the opportunity. Good luck everyone! — Billie Ann Marshall- Thompson
Joy's take: So many dieters eat perfectly when they’re eating at home, but get into trouble once they leave the safety of their own kitchen and enter the “unknown” of the restaurant world. There are plenty of dishes that sound totally reasonable on the menu, but are loaded with hidden calories and fat. I love that Billie Ann researches her favorite restaurants in advance so she’s always prepared for dining out. She doesn’t have to guess at calories; she has a list ready to go so she always knows what’s safe and reasonable to order and how it fits within her daily plan or calorie goal. This is a great tip for dieters who eat out a lot. Ideally, you should try to keep your total restaurant meal under 600 calories.
Ready, set — go!
Your advice: I workout with my kids — running, Wii fit, hiking, biking, skiing — really anything active. We also always have a race on the calendar that we are working towards. It keeps us motivated and we look forward to the sense of achievement that comes with finishing something we set out for. By involving my kids in my fitness routine, it makes me accountable and gives me the opportunity to model healthy behaviors! — Paige Kling Brown
Joy's take: I love that they always have a race on the calendar. Most people are incredibly goal-oriented, so having a big event to work towards definitely helps keep you motivated with your workouts. As soon as you accomplish one race, sign up for another! If you aren’t fit enough to do a long race, sign up for 5Ks in your area throughout the year to keep you on track. And, since many 5Ks benefit charities, it’s a great way to give to a great cause.
And of course, as Paige said, working out with your kids helps you serve as a healthy role model so your kids grow up healthy, strong and active. YOU stay fit and so do your kids. Win-win!
Salad plate swap
Your advice: Switch plates! I use a dinner plate for my salad and veggies, and my salad plate for a serving of protein and whole grain carbs. — Kathryne Nunley
Joy's take: You may have heard of the “buy smaller dinner plates” trick to keep portions under control, but this is a different variation. Kathryne uses her large dinner plate for salad and non-starchy veggies (like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, spinach, zucchini, etc.) so she’s eating more of these low-cal, high-volume foods that fill her up. Then, she serves her protein and whole grains on a smaller salad plate to keep a lid on portions. Make sure starchy vegetables (like sweet or white potatoes, corn and peas) go on the smaller plate since they’re higher in calories than non-starchy types.
Your advice: I put 10 stretchy bracelets on my right wrist in the morning. I move one bracelet to my left wrist for each serving of fruit or vegetable that I eat. On this eating plan I get lots of antioxidants plus I'm too full to eat the "bad stuff." — Christine Fredrickson Guerra
Joy's take: I love any tip that encourages more jewelry! This is the perfect strategy for people who don’t pay much attention to what they eat and need to really focus on eating more healthy foods like vegetables and fruits. If you’re filling up on 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day, you’re displacing less healthy foods like snacks, sweets, and refined carbs. Remember that, in general, one piece of fruit or ½ cup fruit or vegetables counts as one serving (lettuce and leafy greens are an exception; one cup counts a serving of these vegetables).
Your advice: What I do is I always keep myself prepared — I always have homemade meals that I have made frozen in the freezer so there is never a reason that I cannot have a healthy meal. Running late from work or appointments, do not have time to cook — no worries. Go to the freezer, take out meal, pop in the microwave, ready in minutes. And I have lost a total of 145 pounds, no surgery. — Renay Haflin Stafford
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Joy's take: We tend to make poor food choices when we’re exhausted or run down after a long day. If Renee knows she has these easy, back-up meals in her freezer, she’ll be less likely to resort to unhealthy options like takeout Chinese, pizza, or fast food burger and fries for those times when she doesn’t have the energy to cook. If freezing your own homemade meals isn’t for you, I do think it’s a good idea to stock up on some healthy store-bought frozen meals so you always have a healthy, low-calorie Plan B. Look for frozen dinners that are 500 calories or less and under 600mg sodium — and if the portions seem measly, add a vegetable on the side (frozen vegetables are fine — just as nutritious as fresh).
Your advice: I "rev" up my metabolism at least three times a day. Setting my phone alarm, I get up from my desk to march in place, do wall push ups, or dance for 5 minutes. This keeps me energetic and focused, while increasing my calorie burn! — Lisa Hautly
Joy's take: Getting up and moving does give your metabolism a mini jolt, but it also allows you to stretch your muscles, use your joints, and get the blood flowing. This is really important for people who have a sedentary desk job. If you work in a very public space and can’t just hop up and exercise on the spot, when your alarm goes off, just get up out of your chair and take a walk to the bathroom or break room and walk around for a few minutes — or head into an empty conference room (or outdoors) for a few minutes of stretching/walking. Anything helps!
Your advice: My tip would be to recruit a friend and be accountable to each other. For example, When a friend and I decided to lose baby weight, we shared a Google doc (a spreadsheet) that we used to track our food, water intake, exercise, and weekly weigh-ins. We would leave each other little notes of encouragement, or tips on meals that we tried that were healthy and delicious. Being accountable to another person really helped and we were both able to lose 30 pounds together. It was a rewarding experience. — Jennifer Shuler
Joy's take: Here’s a tech-savvy way to build yourself a strong support system. Jennifer and her friend shared a Google doc—which means they could both login to the document online, update their progress daily, and leave personal, motivational notes for each other. Or, you could simply email your weight loss buddy daily or a few times a week with updates. This is a great strategy if most of your girlfriends live far away — even though you can’t physically see each other or work out together, you can still keep each other motivated and share what’s working for you. Starting your morning with a supportive email from a friend can literally be the thing that keeps you on the straight and narrow with food and exercise all day long.
Your advice: Hi Joy I have my favorite bathing suit and jeans INSIDE MY REFRIGERATOR To remind me that my journey is important and I'm WORTH IT!! Thank you!! — Lynn Pavell Ondo
Joy's take: This one was too funny not to include! I always encourage people to leave daily reminders or motivational quotes/photos in their house, car, or office to help them stick with their weight loss plan, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before! I imagine it inspires some interesting conversation with house guests. Keep going Lynn — that swimsuit will be out of the fridge and on YOU before you know it!
Your advice: What really worked for me is buying "goal clothing." I had no willpower or inspiration to lose weight UNTIL I made an online order and the dress was TINY! That was my wake-up call. So every week instead of weighing myself I would see how much closer I was to fitting in it. This worked for me because I hated the scale so I could tell I was losing weight but not have to see that scary number. Now, the dress is too big and I am working on a new "goal dress." — Zara Rivka Padden
Joy's take: Nothing keeps you motivated like the thought of looking smashing in a gorgeous new dress! Here’s a powerful, visual way to keep yourself focused on your journey and an awesome reward for meeting your goal. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you can use a stepwise approach. Start with one dress two sizes too small, and once you comfortably fit in it, order another piece of goal clothing to work towards.
Sounds like a plan
Your advice: I find it easiest to set routines and plan ahead. Every evening I set up the crock pot with steel cut oats so it's ready to eat when I wake up. Easy peasy! I also like to experiment making soups by adding different beans and lentils as well as a variety of vegetables. I make a big pot of healthy soup on the weekend, and then freeze in individual portions. Makes for a quick and healthy supper! — DeAnna Leyendecker Chiasson
Joy's take: Planning ahead is crucial, whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply make healthier food choices. If you’re squashed for time in the morning, make sure you have something ready to go, like DeAnna’s crock pot oats, or choose a quick and easy breakfast (like whole grain cereal with skim milk and a banana). If you don’t have time to prep elaborate meals on weeknights, get a head start on the weekends and stock your fridge and freezer with healthy meal options.
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