There is a saying in the weight loss industry these days that “September is the new January”. The industry sees a real uptick in activity from people joining gyms to weight loss programs and purchasing tools and technologies that support weight loss. I love this time of year for weight loss. It must be something about the start of the school year and my ingrained sense of getting organized and started a-new for so many years of my life as a student. I have 2 children, so the last couple of weeks have been all about preparing them to get back to school. In sending them back I suddenly get my “me” time back and into a grove with work and a schedule that is less erratic than the long lazy summer days of August. I often have a few pounds to lose from summer indulgences and try to get myself started back on track by the second or third week of September. I am in the same boat with the rest of you, interested in losing weight this September. I had a dream trip to Italy this year and brought back 7 pounds to lose. Here is my plan of action for taking them off over the next 4 weeks.
Week 1 – Total Food Rehab – Clean Living 7 Days
On week one back in the grove I do my best to really eat clean. I advise this for anyone getting started back in the weight loss zone. Week 1 is our most motivated week. We are uncomfortable with the weight gain, so we are willing to adhere to stricter food rules than we might be later on down the line. It has also been shown in research that people who have larger weight losses in their first few weeks on the plan stick with their weight loss regimens and have more success than those who don’t. So, I cut out processed foods. If it has a label or comes in a package, I don’t eat it. I eat things that have one ingredient like eggs, chicken, apples, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and butter. No more bites of my son’s goldfish or Teddy Grahams. Back to clean living basics for me. Eating clean gives me a great bit of energy and weight loss in the first week so I am motivated to do more the following week. If I struggle in week one I can clearly remember how abundant my food choices were just a few days ago and feel alright about reigning it in. I limit the hard core clean eating to just the focus of one week because, let’s face it, anyone can do it for a week!
An Example of a Day of Clean Meals
Breakfast: 2 egg omelet with ¼ avocado, tomato, spinach and ¼ cup organic ricotta cheese. 1 cup strawberries
Lunch: 2 cups Romaine Hearts chopped with 1 cup grilled shrimp, 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds, chopped cucumber, tomato, mini bell peppers, homemade olive oil and vinegar dressing
Dinner: Grilled chicken breast seasoned with fresh lemon, herbs basil and rosemary rubbed with sea salt and pepper
Baked sweet potato with 2 tsp. butter and salt
Week 2 – Add Exercise
I like to take the first week to focus on my food intake. Get back in the groove with what it means to eat healthy. Then I layer on the 1-2 punch of adding movement or exercise. I advise you to begin exercise slowly. Ramp it up and don’t hurt yourself. I even love walking as the main exercise you do for this 28-day challenge. It is easy to do in the cooler weather, requires no equipment and is basically free. I additionally advise that you get a buddy. During the first week of the challenge, when you don’t have to exercise, spend your time setting up walking or exercise dates with friends for the rest of the challenge. Aim for at least 4 Thirty minute sessions. Get the accountability and fun that doing it together provides. Continue healthy, clean eating, but perhaps this week you can layer in a few slightly more “exotic” foods like flavorful salsas or dressings.
Week 3 – Recipe Round Up
As we enter week three we may begin to feel motivation wane and temptation flare. This week is all about finding and preparing at least three new recipes. Use fabulous websites like Cooking Light to search for new staple healthy recipes that will become a part of the fabric of your meal plans going forward. With the chance to Google search anything at this point just think about your favorite food and search for a “lightened-up version”. You can be creative. If you are craving pizza find lightened up recipes and make it at home. Meatloaf? Meatballs? Lasagna? Just search and you will find endless varieties. I like sites that have review capabilities so you can read user comments and made their suggested tweaks. My favorite new find lately was a lightened up version of meatballs that incorporated veggies as filler instead of breadcrumbs.
Week 4 – New Technology
Now that you have food and activity up and running it is time to play with a new toy! The world of technology is changing the way we lose weight. I challenge each of you to challenge yourself to get involved with at least one new technological advance in the weight loss world this week. That could mean that you simply download and play with one of the hundreds of free apps available like Spark People or My Fitness Pal to track calories, search recipes, read articles or even get real time advice from a coach. Perhaps you are interested in purchasing a wearable device that counts steps or tracks your sleep. This is your week to jump in and stop making excuses. Again, I recommend going to the app store and simply searching for the thing you are interested in right now. Bored with your exercise? There’s an app for that. Today I saw an exercise app that leads you through daily 8 minute, equipment-free circuits right on your phone. Other thoughts about involving technology could be to get a session with an online nutritionist for more meal plans or even an online personal trainer.
I am deep in this challenge with you all. I will update you as I lose my weight. Post here your thoughts on recipes, meals and technologies to share!