How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way

But have your cake and eat it, too.

Ah- losing weight. One of the most searched topics on the internet. The weight-loss business has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with everything from diet pills to self-help books on the market. And who doesn't want to look like the perfectly toned celebrities we see plastered all over the magazines now days? But with all kinds of innovative weight loss techniques including cleanses, diets, crazy work-out routines, and even surgery, sometimes shedding those extra pounds can seem extremely daunting. This is especially true for those of us who have tried and failed to lose weight in the past. 

I admit- I'm quite the foodie. Much of my focus centers on goodies of the dessert variety, and clearly my love of sweets does nothing for my weight loss aspirations. Still, is it worth it to have a six pack in lieu of those brownies? When you're surrounded by the aroma of freshly baked chocolate, brownies win every time. Each time I'd try to start a diet, I'd encounter a cookie or piece of cake calling my name. How do you turn that down? Is my goal weight really that important?

Maybe just one brownie... or two... alright five but that's IT. 

My weakness and my distaste of most physical activities obviously did not help me achieve the perfect body. And I've always been frustrated- until recently. Good news! I've discovered a weight loss strategy that can work for everyone- even those of us partial to all things sugary. I'm not suggesting that pounds will just melt away, and I'm not saying that it's easy. If you're looking for a fast-acting, "lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks" kind of plan, this isn't for you.

But for people who want to lose the weight and learn ways to keep it off, I can help. It's a series of steps that I've followed that are strangely common sense. My way isn't a diet. It doesn't involve miracle pills, a cleanse, a crazy exercise routine, or meal replacements. It's healthy, safe, and most of all effective.

There are 5 main components:

1. Establish your will power. Only you can decide whether or not you really want to lose the weight. Decide, for yourself, what your goal weight is. And seriously, make it realistic and healthy! Decide that you're really going to do this! Give yourself a pep talk. You'll feel like an idiot (I know I did), but it helped. Trust me- just do it.

2. Learn to eat right. Duh, right? Well, yeah, it may seem obvious, but you actually have to do it. Cut back on the carbs, the sugar, the dairy, and the fats. Sorry guys, you're just going to have to do it! It takes discipline, but no worries, your newly found will power will be a good weapon in fighting off those cravings. And remember, the internet IS a good resource for finding healthy but tasty foods. I've found so many good replacements for some of the things that I used to over-indulge in. I'll give you some examples that you can look up:

Gina's Skinny Recipes: One of my favorite websites for finding foods I can cook and eat and not feel guilty about. There are so many different recipes and kinds of food that you can make- yes, even skinny desserts! 

Skinny Batches: Desserts that are designed to make dieters forget their dieting. I.e. you won't remember that these desserts are extremely low cal and often good for you. If you're not close enough to the store, you can order yourself a "Batchin' Care Package"- YUM. 

Cooking Light: Again, a really great resource for recipes that are not only good for you, but taste really good too. This website will actually give you nutrition information for those of you who are so inclined to count calories, fat, or whatever. 

3. EXERCISE! I know, I know I hated it too. It's so hard to get motivated. That's why establishing your will power is so critically important. But you know what? I've found that I actually really like how I feel right after I work out. Ideally, you should work to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day. I think as long as you're getting out and doing SOMETHING as much as you can, it will help motivate you. I've found that working out makes me want healthy food... Which is really weird for me. Also, do what you love. Don't force yourself to run if you hate it, because working out will become more of a chore than anything. Walk, do  yoga, swim, play tennis, soccer, or basketball.... There are so many options. Get out there.

4. Educate yourself on nutritional information. The more you know about what you're putting into your body, the more you'll think before you eat something deep fried or soaked in oil. I'll give you something to start with: a pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. You can easily cut 3,500 calories out of your diet each week, which will make you lose a pound a week. Pair that with some exercise each day, and you'll see a difference soon. 

5. Indulge. No, don't over do it. But don't deny yourself... This will only lead to late night bingeing and uncontrollable cravings. This is where the whole sweet-tooth thing comes in; occasionally indulging in your favorite desserts actually helps. If you want to come up with a weight loss plan that will help you keep the pounds off you have to come up with something sustainable. I'm not advocating a "cheat day" (I don't think these work); rather, I'm suggesting that if you see something that you simply MUST have, eat it! You still have to keep in mind portion control and everything. Actually try to have just 1 or 2 cookies, or one piece of cake. If you've educated yourself about nutrition, you'll think long and hard before eating those 5 brownies. But if you're anything like me, cutting sweets out of your diet is just not a possibility. Ever been in this situation? "Tonight is really my last pig-out night. Really! That's why it's okay to have 10 Frango chocolates, 3 cupcakes, and a huge bowl of ice cream. Because, tomorrow, my diet starts." Then tomorrow it starts all over again. This is why indulging is alright. Don't have a "last day" of eating sweets... Just eat them in moderation in conjunction with your new healthy lifestyle! Plus, if you are open to finding healthy alternatives, I can offer you some good ideas.

Banana ice cream: Slice up one or two bananas. Freeze them. Put them in a blender, run it until they're smooth. Taste it... be amazed. Top with whatever you want (healthier options include fruit and nuts, while more tempting choices range from chocolate chips to cookie pieces.)

Skinny cows: I HATE artificial sweeteners. With a passion. They give me headaches and have a horrible aftertaste. Skinny cows don't have any artificial sweeteners, and I think they're delicious. And they're all around 100 calories. 

Fruit! Put a little chocolate, add a smidgen of ice cream... delicious.

Frozen Yogurt- IN MODERATION of course. It's delicious, probiotic, often fat-free, and significantly lower in calories.

Other tips:

Track your progress. Weigh yourself, but don't become a scale junkie. But once you see progress, you'll try to keep it up

Follow "Eat this Not That" on Twitter- great advice and very educational

Drink green tea! For one, it cleanses your digestive system. It's great for your metabolism. Also, it really helps keep my appetite in check. For some reason, hot beverages fill me up! If I'm craving something, Sometimes I'll make a quick cup of tea and it helps!

Stay hydrated!

Hopefully this helps. I wish you the best of luck! Stay healthy and happy, and remember to indulge sometimes.