You’re probably thinking right now that you’ve heard it all when it comes to the subject of losing weight. I don’t want to suggest that I have all of the answers, or that I am going to recount to you a method of losing weight that is entirely unique, but I do think that my story is interesting. Pull up a chair, and let’s begin…

1. It Began With Catastrophe

Back in 2009 I had to deal with the extremely nerve-wracking incident that was my father’s heart attack. Surgeons performed a quintuple bypass to get his heart working properly again, and still it was unclear if he was going to live. Luckily (to say the least), he survived, but his heart continues to be a problem he deals with on a daily basis. Around the time of the heart attack, I was dealing with weight issues of my own. Though I had worked myself down from a near-obese 200 pounds to a more manageable 175, I was still far too heavy for my height. After seeing my dad nearly struck down by the combined forces of an unhealthy diet and unfortunate heart-related genetics, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

2. Baby Steps…

The first thing to understand when you’re trying to lose weight is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t be able to starve yourself for a day or two, do a couple pushups, and label yourself a healthy individual. To use an analogy, I liken it to saving money. Sure, saving up $1,000 sounds daunting, but if you look at it as putting away $10 a day until you reach that mark, that’s something that is much easier to take on. In a mere 100 days, you’ll have your $1,000, and all it will have cost you is your daily trip to Starbucks! Losing weight is similar. It will take about three to four months for you to really get where you want to be, but it’s quite easy to get there if you look at each day as fulfilling a small part of that goal. Or in other words, losing weight is as much a mental process as it is a physical one. It will be hard for you to visualize where you might be 100 days from now, but you just need to remind yourself that if you do that one exercise today, and stay consistent, you’ll eventually get there.

This is basically what I did. It didn’t seem like I was making much progress at all, but I kept pushing. I kept doing little workouts every day, running a mile here and there, staying consistent. Four months in, I was an entirely different person.

3. It’s About More Than Exercise

Exercise can only get you so far, especially if you aren’t a spry teenager or twenty-something year old. You’ll also need to regulate your diet, which is probably the most difficult aspect of losing weight for most people. If you’re smart, however, you’ll be able to cut calories in such a discrete manner that you won’t even know they’re gone. My main trick that I’ll suggest to you is cutting sweet drinks from your daily routine. This includes soda, especially, and also artificial fruit punches and the like. I went from 200 pounds to 175 pounds primarily by only drinking water and iced tea instead of sweetened liquids. That’s with basically zero exercise done on my end! The best part about this is that, after about a month of staying away from the sweet stuff, you won’t even want to go back to it. It’ll taste so horrifically sweet to you that you’ll literally crave a nice glass of ice water.

My next piece of dietary related advice is to cut out the desserts. This one is much harder than cutting out soda, but worth it in the end. Plus, wouldn’t you rather cut out soda and sweets than your other portions (not to mention that cutting out the former will please your dentist)? Here’s the best part: if you’re exercising and staying away from blatantly unhealthy things, you don’t have to regulate what you’re eating for lunch and dinner as much as you’d think you’d have to. Back when I was at my lowest weight of 140 pounds, I practically ate everything in sight around dinner time without ever gaining a pound. How is that possible? I maintained my exercises and stayed away from superfluous calories.

4. Breakfast Is Overrated

Notice how I said “lunch and dinner” above. I purposefully left out breakfast because, in my opinion, it’s almost as superfluous as soda and dessert. Now, mind you, I’m not saying you should starve yourself every morning. What I am saying is that there’s absolutely zero need for anything more than say a piece of fruit and a cup of coffee. Or, my favorite, a protein bar and three cups of coffee. I don’t know how your digestive system works, but I don’t really get hungry until about 12:00pm anyways so eating a bunch of eggs, bacon, and pancakes sounds entirely unappealing to me. But even if you crave a large breakfast, I’d say to just wait it out. Eat something small to tide you over, and then pig out with an early-ish lunch. Why is this effective? Because most people eat a ton of calories for dinner, and so having a massive breakfast usually means those calories go to producing fat cells. By skipping or severely reducing what you’re eating for breakfast, you’re giving your body a chance to use calories gained later in the day for good (as opposed to evil, of course)! What more can you ask for?

5. Turns Out Slow And Steady Does Win The Race

My main argument with this article is that losing weight doesn’t have to be a tremendous undertaking. It should be something that you can easily plug into your life without even noticing that it’s there. Continuing on with that theme, I have my last tip for you: eat your food slowly, and take big gulps of water in between bites of food. The issue many people have is that they wolf down their food without drinking anything, which is problematic in two ways. One, you’re not giving your brain enough time to process the food that’s in your stomach, making it more likely you’ll get up for seconds when you’re already technically full. Two, by not drinking any liquids in between your bites of food, you’re taking in unnecessary calories. By eating slowly and drinking water between bites, your stomach will fill up much faster, and you’ll be giving it time to tell your brain that you don’t need anything else in your system. The water sort of acts like a filler, tricking your stomach into thinking that it’s fuller than it is. The beauty of this is that you get to feel like you just ate a feast, when in reality you ate the optimal amount of calories.

Final Thoughts

The primary thing people miss when it comes to weight loss is that they look at it as a monumental change to their lifestyles. It’s really not. As you can see above, I told you about several small changes you can make that, when combined, have an incredibly potent effect on your health. Losing weight isn’t about fad diets or pushing yourself beyond the breaking point. It’s about finding a way to live the life you want to live in a manner that results in a healthier you. By following what I suggested above, you’ll lose weight at your own pace, without feeling like you’re punishing yourself or trying to accomplish some impossible task. I’m a person who loves eating and being sedentary. If I can take the points above and turn myself into a fit individual, so can you!