The need for weight loss is a fairly contemporary problem. We’re a mostly overweight, largely obese country with no signs of retreat. Our typical M.O. to shed a few pounds is to count calories and diet. But if I needed to lose 10 pounds, I would absolutely steer clear of the scale and counting calories.
Personally, counting calories and weighing myself everyday drives me kind of crazy, AND it never works - for me or my the people I'm working with.
Lose 10 Pounds Without Dieting
In this post, I lay the groundwork for what you can do, starting today, to lose 10 pounds (or more) without dieting, reading labels or paying attention to what's a protein, carb or fat. It's important to know what's in your food, but let's focus on what will work right now.
Here's what you're about to read:
- The Four (4) ways to help you lose 10 pounds
- Bad habits...and how to break them
- A downloadable food journal
- A way to keep in touch with me for accountability (info below)
OK - let's get down to the 4 tactics that will help you lose 10 pounds.
I promise, it's painless and you will be so much happier!
You're about to say 'buh-bye 10 pounds'
Finally, here are the 4 steps I would be laser focused on if I wanted to shed a few pounds. Despite the fact that I love fitness, this is 100% nutrition based. If you're struggling with weight loss, get your nutrition house in order first, then focus on getting tight and toned.
I went with the first three because they are highly likely to get you in tune with bad habits, and the last is a brand new habit you should create. But it's simple - so should be no problem.
1 - Keep a food journal for three (3) non-consecutive days, and include a weekend day.
For example, a Tuesday, Thursday and a Saturday would be great.
Then for accountability, email it to me! I’ll read it, and when I have time, I’ll give you my two cents. Include “My Food Journal” in the subject so I know to keep an eye out for it.
Download the food journal here or just track it in an Google sheet, Word doc or email format.
You’ll have a chance to see where your flaws may be. Often times, we grab for an extra cookie, piece of chocolate or even an innocent pretzel. All of those small bites of food can add up to a lot. Over a couple months, that can accumulate to a pound or two of additional weight.
A pound or two every couple months may not sounds like a lot, but that, by definition, is called creeping obesity.
Becoming conscious of the small things makes big changes in the long run.
2 - Cut out 1 sweet food or drink a day.
Take a minute right now to do a mental check of what you typically eat in a day. Are any of those foods sweet?
Even for those of us who don’t have sweet tooths or eat indulgent desserts, we’re probably taking in too much sugar.
Cutting out just one sweet food or drink a day can cut out unnecessary calories that have a compounding effect day after day. Foods to keep an eye out for include:
- Sugar-sweetened coffee or tea drinks
- Sports drinks
- Energy bars
- Nearly all breakfast cereal
- Yogurt (unless it’s plain)
- Granola bars
- Jam or honey on toast
- Dried fruit
- Cookies or candy
You’ll probably notice most of these are healthy-sounding foods. Most have been “health washed” and don’t really benefit our body any greater than many other refined food products.
PRO TIP: Don't add in some other food because you're cutting out a sweet thing. For example, don't eat an extra bowl of grapes because you cut out a granola bar. Grapes are great and everything, but you're probably getting enough nutrition in your diet from other foods.
3 - Cut out 1 starchy carbohydrate a day.
Carbs aren’t bad, but when a majority of the carbohydrates we eat come from the starchy variety, we can expect weight gain to be close behind.
Most people, at least those with whom I’ve worked, would eat one starchy carbohydrate with every meal, which is not uncommon. After getting them to make a few easy swaps, weight loss started happening.
Here a examples of the starchy carbs you can cut out from your diet starting today:
- Bread or toast (including gluten free)
- Cereal or oatmeal
- Potatoes (including sweet potatoes)
If you’re eating toast for breakfast, pizza for lunch and potatoes with dinner, you’re OD’ing on starchy carbs. It’s time to cut it back.
I know that a lot of people consider carrots, popcorn and even tomatoes as very starchy, but their glycemic load is very low. A food with a low glycemic load simply means it’s not dense enough to affect your blood sugar levels - at least in healthy people. So eat carrots and snack on popcorn. But cut out on the breads, pizzas and pastas.
In lieu of those starchy carbs, add back in some healthy alternatives, including:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Butternut, Acorn or Spaghetti Squash
4 - Take a probiotic.
Of the dozens of reasons we should all take a probiotic, one of the most important when it comes to taking this supplement is that it can aid in weight loss (and reducing inflammation, and improving nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and boosting immune function…)
Probiotics change the way fat is stored, and slow the absorption of fat, forcing it to be excreted instead. Essentially, probiotics put our bodies’ digestive system on autopilot, regulating which fats should stay and which should go.
We all need different types and different amounts of bacteria. Personally, I find that taking a probiotic in the morning and in the evening before bed works best for me.
I highlighted the supplements we should all take, including probiotics in this guide. If you didn’t read it and want to know which probiotics to take, read it now.
An alternative - and arguably better way to get more healthy gut bacteria - is to ferment your own foods. Here is how I make my own yogurt, and how I make my own pickles. Both have loads of beneficial bacteria.
It's also important to note that most of our bodies' neurotransmitters are made in our gut and with the aid of beneficial bacteria. These handy little neurotransmitters, like serotonin, help us feel good. When we feel good, we make better decisions.
What are your worst diet habits?
Weight gain is more than the accumulation of unneeded foods, it's the accumulation of unneeded habits. These habits become ingrained so deeply that we don't even realize how destructive they to our desire to be healthy.
A lot of clients that I've worked with know quite a bit about healthy eating. They know all about the latest foods that are good for them, and they keep up with books and blogs authored by leaders in dieting or nutrition. They're on it!
One big thing that separates the people constantly on the prowl for insight to help them make positive changes from those who simply hope change comes to them is motivation. Motivation is good. It's often fleeting. When you've got it, hold onto it. Healthy food or healthy living connoisseurs are motivated, which is half the battle.
This is where you are right now. You're motivated. If you weren't, you wouldn't be reading this.
But motivation only takes you so far. There is another side to this equation.
The other half comes down to personally addressing and taking accountability of bad habits. Part of the problem is these bad habits are not catastrophic on their own. But they accumulate.
When you layer one small bad habit onto another small bad habit onto another small bad habit, you've got a big cluster of habits that are not serving you.
Bad diet habits = slow, creeping weight gain
Bad diet habits that seem unbreakable to someone are tough to over come. It's really important to have the mindset that you CAN overcome your cravings for sugar, or your need for French fries (<<this was my worst habit when I was younger). Eventually, those bad habits mean that you're going to gain weight. Sometimes little by little. And sometimes all at once.
Not everyone wants to see what their bad habits really are, so they deny, rationalize, hide or ignore them, hoping they can muscle through whatever challenge they have, no matter how small or large, that act as roadblocks.
Denying, rationalizing, hiding or ignoring a problem may allow you to make some progress, but it's a temporary fix and will never work permanently. The only way to achieve success in weight loss or many other areas of life is to address bad habits.
Those habits tend to be as unique as you are. Some are emotional and some are physical - with all sorts of different triggers - and can show up in different ways.
Again, your bad habits are unique to you. They don't have to be big. In fact, they can even be small or trivial. Nonetheless, they're holding you back in some way.
Bad habits that lead to weight gain
When it comes to weight loss, a few of the more common bad habits I've observed with my clients include:
- Stress or anxiety-triggered eating
- Opting for high sugar breakfast (bagels, pancakes, pastries) in lieu of something with less sugar
- Snacking after work, but before dinner
- Snacking on dinner as you prepare dinner, but before you sit down to eat dinner
- Ordering dessert when eating out
- Noshing on the bread bowl when eating out
- Nighttime eating after dinner, but before bed
- Grabbing an extra spoonful of something despite a very full belly of food
- The habitual morning sugar-laden coffee drink
- Everyday soda or energy drink consumption
- Parental eating of kid food
- Nocturnal eating*
Do any of those sound familiar to you?
I could have said "mindless eating," but so many of these bullets fall into the mindless category. These bullets are habits my clients have actually had to work through.
Very rarely is it necessary for most people to eat in these situations, yet because food is available at all times just about anywhere we go, it's easy to make exceptions.
To be clear, I'm honing in on habits, not the exception. If you never normally order dessert when going out for dinner, but today is your birthday, order dessert! There is nothing wrong with that. But if you end up eating something off the dessert menu most of the time, you've got yourself a habit in need of breaking.
Breaking bad habits
Some habits are easier to break than others. For example, snacking on dinner as you prepare dinner and eating your kids' leftovers off their plate - both of those which can easily pack on 300 - 500 useless calories - are habits, but easy to acknowledge and let go of.
In this case, simply becoming more conscious of what you're eating is enough the break the habit.
An example of a harder habit to break is nocturnal eating*. Admittedly, this is not as common, but incredibly hard to break and illustrates how challenging (and personal) some habits can become. This particular client was in a twilight sleep most nights when she found herself in her kitchen eating anything that was available.
It wasn't about hunger and it wasn't about sneaking a sleeve of cookies from the cabinet. It was a behavior she started long before that quickly became a very serious habit.
- Don’t compare yourself to what anyone else eats. Your body has its own unique metabolism and may process certain types of foods differently.
- As long as your bad habits are in the past, stay away from the scale. There should be no need to jump on the scale everyday. You can get on the scale at the beginning of this journey, then again about six weeks later.
- Don't forget to email me the food journal in any format that is most convenient to you. If you're sending me a Google sheet or doc, make sure I can access it.
- Don't aim for a size 0. The size of your clothes doesn't dictate your health. The food your eat (and the crap you choose to avoid) does.
- Drink water.
- Keep moving!