Looking for ways to lose weight. These are the best tips and tricks I have found to make that goal a reality.
I have a lot of weight to lose. After having two kids and dedicating a year of my life to growing this blog into a business, I really paid the toll in my health.
I started setting the foundation for healthy habits last year. I declared 2016 the “year of fitness” for me. It’s my ultimate goal this year to reach my pre-baby weight with the same drive and dedication that I used to shovel us out of over $40,000 worth of debt.
As I’ve barreled through more than 30 pounds of weight loss in the last year, I’ve started to figure out what works.
My goal is for slow weight loss. While that’s not quite as eye-catching as “lose 30 pounds in a week!”, I’m looking for long-term results and a lifestyle that supports me never having to worry about my weight again. Quick weight loss results have been shown to only be short term: you’re more likely to regain the weight later.
As I’ve tried pretty much everything out there, there were a few tools that stood out from the crowd as being exceptional.
This app is nothing short of amazing.
It has the largest database of foods available to count calories, nutrition, and macro-nutrients. If you eat a lot of purchased or processed foods, it’s even easier, since you can scan bar codes to enter meals. You can also team up with friends through the app to support each other, which I love!
On top of that, it’s very user-friendly. I didn’t have any issues getting started using it, even though I’m not exactly technically inclined.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of counting calories at first, I quickly started to see the benefits. I was able to more consistently lose weight, and I didn’t have to wonder whether I was doing the right thing.
One of my favorite fitness books explains calorie counting like the gauge on a gas tank. Food is fuel for your body. If I take away your gas gauge and tell you to drive to Reno but don’t tell you how much gas you have, could you do it? Maybe… but if you aren’t tracking how much fuel is going in and how much is being used, how do you know?
MyFitnessPal is completely free and should be a no-brainer for anyone trying to lose weight.
If you absolutely hate using your phone to count calories (I did too), this is the next best thing.
It’s a 6-week workbook to guide you through healthy weight loss. It includes goal setting, meal planning, exercise tracking, and even a way to track your measurements. There are helpful bubbles that you can fill in to make sure you’re hitting your nutrient goals.
Personally, I started with this book, and then once tracking calories became second nature to me, I switched to using MyFitnessPal. It was a great way to start my weight-loss journey!
As a budget blogger, I hesitate to even mention this $99 fitness tracker, but it was one of the best motivators that I’ve found. I have a Fitbit One and my husband has a Fitbit Charge. We’ve had them for a year and we both love them.
The sleep tracking function alone was worth the money for me because it helped me prioritize sleep. If this function appeals to you (and you aren’t penny pinching), then choose a wrist model like the Alta, on which you have to turn sleep mode on manually. It’s not a huge deal, but the convenience may be worth the extra $25 on a device you can use for years.
This isn’t a perfect fit for everyone, but if you have an office or you work from home, this is one of the best investments you can make. In fact, I’d put this purchase above every single other on this page. The benefits are INSANE.
This is a bike that has a lapboard with a drawer on the handle bars. It’s oddly comfortable, even more than the expensive cardio bikes at the gym. Your wrists rest on the foam massaging rollers when you type on your laptop, and the seat is huge and comfy. Even for me, who is still 30 pounds overweight.
The best part? I hate cardio. Absolutely detest it. I struggle to get through 30 minutes of cardio at the gym. On this thing, however, I happily bike for 1-2 hours a day, because I’m more focused more on my work than just getting through the workout.
It also has tension control, so you can adjust the intensity as needed, and overall it just offers a great workout. Want to know more, check out the Fitdesk here.
As an unexpected bonus, my focus and productivity increase dramatically when I use this!
While we were getting out of debt, I canceled my gym membership to save money. While I still don’t recommend a gym membership for people who are trying to get out of debt (you can do the same things at home for free), I ended up adding this back in as I got into weightlifting.
Weightlifting has helped reshape my body, it ups my metabolism so that I burn more calories all the time. I prefer being at the gym because I like having people around if I need it (not gonna lie – weightlifting still intimidates me).
Also, the initial cost to set up our own gym doesn’t make sense at this point in the game. At $30/month for the gym, I would need to use a $1,000 home gym for almost 3 years to make the cost worth it. Plus, I wouldn’t have access to a pool or $2 an hour childcare while I work out.
Fit2B is an amazing resource for moms struggling to get rid of the mommy tummy. They have tummy-safe workouts and motivational home workouts for every body type, and they really know what they’re doing.
While I’m usually really disappointed with at-home workouts because they tend to be geared towards people who are already fit, Fit2B was the total opposite. I credit them entirely for finally feeling like I’m making good progress on my core.
They have tons of free videos and a few premium courses that are reasonably priced when you’re ready to upgrade.
P.S. If you struggle with a stomach that sticks out after childbirth, start with foundational 5. It was my favorite and it made the biggest impact.
There are actually companies that will deliver fresh food to your door, handmade and perfectly portioned out for you to lose weight.
We actually did Diet-To-Go years ago for a few weeks, but it was way too expensive for us (like over $1,200 a month for 2 people). It was definitely effective, though, and the food was delicious. One thing I like about it is that you can change the menu to make sure that you like each meal.
I recommend that you don’t use this as a long term crutch, as you’ll gain the weight back again when you go back to having to rely on making your own food. It’s much better used as a jumpstart to a healthier lifestyle because it will allow you more time to learn to meal plan more efficiently and improve your cooking skills.
While my focus is typically on frugal living, I wanted this to be a complete resource no matter what your current budget is. Personally, I think it’s unnecessary unless you have a lot of expendable income and no time to cook.
This is another no-brainer, particularly if you’re also struggling with time and money management. You can create 74 meals in 3 hours of whole foods, which are correctly portioned and in disposable freezer containers.
It also has the added bonuses of being extremely frugal, easy to count calories, and saves a ridiculous amount of time and effort. No kitchen clean ups, no dishes, and no cooking at all for two weeks. It’s amazing.
This was tied with the Fitdesk for having the biggest effect on our weight loss.
Another free app, but this is one of my favorites.
It tracks everything about your health (It can even get really detailed with blood oxygenation levels and things like that), but it presents the information in an easy to read way.
It also gives you feedback on how your current health affects your long-term health risks. Like if you start getting less sleep for a few days, your sleep bubble turns red and it lets you know that your sleep is now affecting your cognition, as well as detailing the longer term consequences of not fixing your sleep.
If you’re into group runs, like 5k races, Tough Mudder, and the like, then make sure to get a Groupon account and monitor it for good deals. You can usually snap those runs up for 50% off the ticket price using Groupon.
If you aren’t looking to have super healthy, pre-portioned freezer meals, but you do need to break the habit of eating out so much, FreezEasy is the best option out there.
We’ve used this for months (and years before that when they were $5 dinners). Freezeasy takes all the stress out of meal prep by creating healthy freezer meals that use simple, cost-effective ingredients. Also, you can swap out recipes as needed, and, best of all, you can prep 10 meals in an hour.
We focus on the freezer to slow cooker meals for weekdays when we’re busier and have more elaborate meals during the weekends. Using Freezeasy this way has eliminated our fast food and pizza trips, which is great for not only our health but also our wallet.
This is so campy, but it’s also extremely motivating.
It’s a post-apocalyptic interactive game that has you run in order to fight missions against zombies. It’s so much fun that, even though I hate running, this made me get back into it.
It’s a $2.99 app and well worth it (if you’re interested, I have a full review here.)
This is pretty new and I’m not super into it, but while we played it on vacation, my husband was logging 20 miles a day. Pretty impressive for a free app. Plus, it’s a way for adults to get their teens and younger kids more into walking.
For the price, If it motivates you, go for it. (It’s certainly cheaper than the FitBit!)
I’ve read a lot on diet, exercise, and nutrition this year, but this book resonated with me the most. He focuses on body building while you reduce fat, and has a strong emphasis on nutrition. It was the most helpful book I read and had the biggest impact on my weight loss.
It was also a fairly easy read and didn’t have a lot of hype or gimmicks. I highly recommend it.
If you aren’t into freezer cooking, then Eat This Much is a fantastic tool! It pretty much puts your diet on autopilot.
You start by telling them about yourself so that they can calculate the nutrients and calories that you need to eat, then you click the foods that you won’t eat (fish, asparagus, whatever), and it creates simple menu plans for you along with easy recipes. If you don’t like a meal, all you have to do is swipe left to get a new one.
It creates shopping lists for you, and if you want to unlock the ability to plan meals in advance, you can upgrade to pro for a very reasonable price.
You can even try the pro version for free by using the gift code busybudgeter (no credit card needed, and it won’t auto bill you if you use that gift code).
While this is free, it’s one of the hardest to change, and it’s so important. Having a sleep deficit will actually make it harder for you to lose weight.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, make it a priority! If you’re not sure where to start, I used this 5 step system for better sleep and it made a huge difference in my life.
Finding workouts that you actually like.
I knew that I didn’t have the personality to sacrifice for hours a day in order to lose weight. I realized that I would need to make this fun if it was going to work, so I spent my first six months of working out everything under the sun.
Try it all! Badminton, volleyball, walking around town, ice skating, swimming, kickball, yoga and even gymnastics.
As it turns out, I love ice skating and swimming, They don’t even seem like a workout to me. When I weave those into my life as a treat, I burn extra calories and have fun doing it.
Taking progress photos isn’t fun in the beginning, but it really helps you stay motivated. When you aren’t crash dieting to lose weight, the weight will come off slowly, and you need a way to be able to see the changes in your body.
This can be as complicated as a journal with printed photos, or you can just keep a few dated pictures in your camera roll so that you can come back later and compare them. If you have MyFitnessPal, it has a place for you to include progress photos.
I use the Strong app to keep track of my weightlifting workouts and love it.
It makes my gym routine a breeze since I can know instantly how much weight to use. It also lets me know at the end of every workout how I did and where I had gains. It’s user-friendly (compared to its competitors, anyway – expect it to still take a day or so to get used to).
You can use it for free, but in order to track more than 5 workouts, you need to upgrade to pro. I upgraded and think it’s worth it if you start weightlifting.
So, that’s everything that’s worked in the last year of my weight loss journey. Are there any to add or that you want me to try? I’m a human guinea pig over here folks, bring it on! 🙂