A while ago, I started posting a challenge every week. I have compiled them into an article, so they are easier to follow for the new readers. These challenges are meant to help you change your life, in order to lose weight. Because diets sometimes are hard to follow, and most of us fail, I decided to start creating my own way of losing weight. It is not a diet, it is a way of life, and I am very happy with it. I have lost 23 kg following these steps, 2 kg away from my weight goal, but some people say that I am very thin already and I feel great, so for now I am keeping this weight.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about summer, sea, sand and sun, bathing suits and tanned skin, so I thought to launch a series of challenges to make us look better when summer comes.
Monday is that time of the week when you start planning something and imagine how your week will go. The transition to a healthier life (which, by default, helps us lose weight, to look and feel great) is long and it requires small steps. The weekly challenges I will launch will help to make this transition unnoticeable. There are small but effective steps, and remember that you are doing it for yourself. Imagine how good you’ll feel in a bathing suit once you lose a few pounds, and the overwhelming sensation of pride. Imagine how your whole family and all of your friends will admire you and will congratulate you for doing this and for your ambition. That’s the key to success when you want to lose weight, you set some goals and you try to imagine the feelings you have when you achieve them. Motivation is the best coach. Because summer will soon be here, and we want to look great at the beach, we will start this week with a challenge.
This week, we promise ourselves not to eat fast food and not to drink sodas.
Try to choose wisely when you go out. Fast-food and sodas are full of calories and do not bring any benefit to your body. Choose to cook your own food, and if you eat out or if you order, avoid fried foods, bread, any kind of fast food (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fries etc.). Eat more salads, vegetables cooked in any way, eggs, dairy products, fish, chicken or turkey meat. You can eat pasta, rice, potatoes if you find it difficult to remove them from your diet, as long as you eat no more than 100 grams per meal. You can find inspiration from what I eat as snacks to make healthy choices between meals and here you can find some inspiration to create your own healthy menu.
This week we are not drinking sodas or any other juices. The only exceptions are: freshly squeezed juices, but no more than one glass per day.
No cheating! If you cheat nobody else has anything to lose. You will be the only one who loses.
The reward of the weekend, on Sunday, if you manage to finish the challenge: a meal with anything you want to eat (if you were craving something on weekdays, even fast food, you can eat it). Try to eat healthy for the rest of the day.
If you want to live healthy and lose weight starting as of this week, you can find first week’s chalenge here.
I am still thinking about summer. I’m starting to think where I will spend the holidays, but most likely it will be somewhere at the seaside. Last year I didn’t go to the seaside, we have been going for some time to the mountains, and I miss sitting on the beach and getting tanned. This motivates me even more to lose the remaining 4 kg to reach my ideal weight.
This week, we promise ourselves that we will eat one medium plate of vegetables and one fruit every day.
After this week, you will realize that vegetables and fruits are the best choices when you do not want to starve and still lose weight. They are rich in vitamins and fiber, which will make you feel full longer and energized. They have very few calories, so they can be eaten in large quantities; therefore, they are the first choice of those who do not want to change the amount of food ingested but want to lose weight. It is the best way to trick your body that you are full with fewer calories.
They are highly recommended by doctors during this period, because the body lacks vitamins and nutrients after the winter season.
I recommend the salads, cold or hot, as many side dishes with steamed, boiled, grilled, etc., vegetables, and the plates to look like this: 25% meat, 75% vegetables. Also, many vegetable soups are a fun way to introduce vegetables into the diet.
Regarding fruits, I recommend grapefruit because last week I experimented what I read somewhere (that if you eat a grapefruit a day you lose a pound per week without changes in diet) and it appears to be true. I ate as I usually eat (healthy) + 1 small grapefruit per day and the results were seen after only 4 days. I was experiencing a weight loss plateau where the scale didn’t want to go down at all, eventhough I was careful about what I was eating. But, thanks to the miracle fruit, I managed to exceed the plateau.
At least one meal a day should contain a lot of vegetables.
You can eat fruits at breakfast with yogurt and cereals, for example, or whenever you get cravings for something sweet during the day.
You can find inspiration in my articles 20 zero calorie foods amazing for weight loss, Super foods for weight loss and if you want to create a personalized menu you can read this: Healthy weight loss meal suggestions.
This week we eliminate bad carbohydrates from our diet.
The main energy source of our body is made up of carbohydrates. They are found in almost all foods (vegetables, fruit, bread, pasta, rice, nuts, donuts etc.). All contain sugars, mono or disaccharides, better known under names such as: fructose, lactose, sucrose, sucrose, maltose.
Carbohydrates are divided in two categories: simple and complex. The simple ones are the bad ones, because they are small sugar molecules that are quickly digested in our body. The resulting energy is stored as glycogen in our cells, and if not used immediately, it turns into fat.
The bad carbs are generally found in harmful, processed foods that have been deprived of nutrients and natural fibers to make them more tasty.
They are bad for the body because:
- They are poor in fiber and nutrients
- They have a high glycemic index
- They are empty calories that turn into fat
- High blood glucose = fatigue
Foods with high glycemic index are digested and absorbed quickly. This rapid fluctuation of blood sugar levels makes you feel tired and hungry faster.
List of bad carbs:
- White bread, white rice, and white pasta
- Soft drinks
- Refined sugars
The good carbs are the complex ones. Their chemical structure and fiber causes more our body to work harder to digest them, and the energy is released over a longer period of time.
For the most part, these carbohydrates are found in their natural state – or very close to it (including bread, whole grain pasta).
They are good for the body because:
- They are rich in fiber and nutrients
- They have a low glycemic index
- They make you feel full with fewer calories
- It stimulates the metabolism in a natural way
Foods with low glycemic index are digested and absorbed more slowly, which causes a gradual increase in blood sugar levels. They are good for weight control because they decrease appetite and delay the sensation of hunger.
List of good carbs:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain pasta and bread
- Most fruits and vegetables
An increased intake of sugar can cause numerous problems; it can affect your teeth, heart, it can cause diabetes, not to mention that it causes weight gain. Although we know most of the foods that contain a high quantity of sugar, such as sodas, cakes, biscuits, candy, etc., there are many other hidden sources in foods that do not even taste sweet (eg, ketchup, mayonnaise, spices, milk). In this article I will not refer to foods that naturally contain sugar, but to processed ones with added sugar. In general, beware of sweets and juices, and regarding to other foods you buy, read the label and watch out for the added sugar.
This week we promise ourselves that we will minimize the daily intake of sugar.
The sugar added to processed foods does not compare to the natural sugar contained in fruit, so when we are craving for something sweet best choice would be eating a fruit. Other choices for when we were craving sweets: dark chocolate (1-2 squares), yogurt with fruit (best would be to buy plain yogurt in which you add fruit at home, the ready to go ones contain sugar), honey, chocolate pudding with skim milk.
Once a week we can have dessert, but if you eat sweets daily, your caloric intake increases greatly, making us gain weight. Some researchers say that sugar causes addiction; the more you eat it, the more you want it, and it’s elimination from the diet is not easy.
That was one of the hardest steps that I had to take in order to lose weight, but gradually I began to stop craving sweets. From time to time I eat a square of chocolate, a chocolate pudding and today, for the first time since February, I ate a slice of cake. It’s hard, but it can be done. You must believe in yourself and keep yourself motivated.
The last challenge has arrived, one that can help us lose weight in a healthy way. Because it is the 5th step of this series, this one is a bit hard, given that we occasionally dream of some french fries. Also, fried foods are everywhere and are quick to prepare, thus increasing the temptation.
This week we promise ourselves that we won’t eat fried foods.
Fried foods are full of fat and calories. Numerous studies have shown that, in addition to the fact that fried foods are our enemy when it comes to weight loss, they affect our health (most often – heart disease). Some oils (such as olive oil) are good for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss, as long as they are used unprocessed and in small quantities – in salads.
For comparison purpose, just one example: 100g grilled chicken breast has about 135 calories; the same amount of chicken, fried in oil has around 180 calories.
Less caloric and healthier options are: cooking in the oven, on the grill, or boiling.
Following these five challenges, you can make the transition to a healthier lifestyle easier and gradually. You’ll notice that you’ll lose weight gradually, without feeling that you are punishing yourself. Also, you will feel more energized and happier because you are doing this for yourself.