10 Ways I Lost 18 Pounds (#3 was the most important!)

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Ten easy, painless ways to loose weight and be happy, all tried and true.  There are no secrets to losing the weight, just little reminders and tips to keep you motivated.

Meal Prep

Let me break this down for you...

Breakfast:  I used to get an iced coffee and a toasted everything bagel with butter or a breakfast sandwich...every. single. day.  YUCK.  Seriously, what was I thinking?!  The amount of sodium in just my breakfast was enough for the whole day!  These days I have toasted rye bread with light cream cheese and everything bagel spice mix to get my bagel fix, or an open faced egg and egg white sandwich on rye, oatmeal or organic cereal - all made at home.  I also bought a coffee maker with a preset timer so in the morning when I'm too tired to make coffee, it's instead already made for me.  Easy peezy.

Lunch & Snacks:  It's so important to go in to each day with a plan.  It sounds like micro-managing, but when it's 3pm and you're ready for a snack, chances are you'll reach for something you'll regret if you didn't plan ahead.  Or when everyone decides to order takeout for lunch, you can be happy saying "No thanks I brought something!".  Every weekend when I head to the grocery store, I plan out what I want for lunch that week and make a big batch of something like Peanut Chicken Salad or cook up some lean ground turkey with black beans and salsa to build taco salads.  If you're the type that gets sick of things quickly, buy enough to have leftovers from dinner or make smaller batches of chicken salad in different varieties (greek chicken salad, peanut chicken, cranberry walnut chicken salad).

Dinner:  This wasn't really the problem, except now instead of having pasta or rice, we have spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, extra veggies and more protein.

Looking at labels

This is important because you should know every ingredient you put in to your body.  Labels not only help you with ingredients but also take the guessing out of what a serving should be and how much nutrition you're actually getting.  What changed for me was when I realized that what I thought was "healthy" really wasn't - just crafty marketing.

portion control

This is a biggie.  A real biggie.  If you can get this step covered, you're good.  Mindless eating was my biggest problem along with eating the same amount of food as Ryan was eating.  So let me just say this now...you and your significant other probably don't need the same amount of food.  If you're a girl - start with half what you give him.  If it looks like you're eating two green peas, try using a smaller plate.  You'll be surprised when you're full after that amount.  The mindless eating part was fixed by actually starting to listen to my body.  I used to keep eating until I felt like crap, then complain about how I felt, then repeat that same process the next day.  Today, I eat slower, drink water and understand what my body needs versus what it wants.

Cook every single meal

This was important to me because with all the hidden ingredients in restaurant foods, it's hard to make good decisions.  Restaurants now offer nutritional information on their entrees, but reports have shown that some aren't as true as they say.  Cooking at home helps portion sizes, helps you keep track of the ingredients you are using and of course saves you money.  If you do go out, plan ahead.  I always have a handful of nuts, berries, a slice of cheese or some veggies before I leave so that I don't go starving.  This is kind of like that golden rule you always hear about not going to the grocery store hungry, same thing.  Of course have a piece of bread and stop beating yourself up about it and order something sensible - going out to dinner in't a free for all - the smothered cheese fries are not a necessary appetizer before your cheddar cheese burger with fries.

water is your best friend

I drink water before I have my coffee.  I drink about 24 ounces during my workout.  I drink water as I sit here blogging right now.  I love water.  Infuse it with lemon or berries, cucumber and mint or just plain old water.  Hydration is what your body really needs and the more you can drink of it and the less you can drink of those sugary sodas and juices, the better you'll feel, guaranteed.


I'm a big fan of HIIT workouts which is generally what you see on the blog.  High intensity workouts are proven to work your body just as well if not better than an hour of exercise, and I'm happy to report it's true.  It makes life easier too when I can't get to the gym or when I'm super busy.

fresh fruits and veggies

When you open your fridge or cabinets, chances are the first thing you see will end up being what you eat.  I always keep fresh berries, carrot sticks or sharp cheddar cheese slices right in plain view so that's the first thing I reach for.  I never buy cookies, chips or anything I know I will over-indulge in and I'm realistic in knowing that a 1/2 cup serving size of ice cream for only 150 calories is only the beginning of what would go in to my bowl.  Just remember, if you don't keep it around, you won't eat it!  Pay a little more and get things that are nutritious.

carbs proteins fats

I used to obsess over calories, carbs, protein, fats and fiber.  It would drive me crazy having to log everything and then get angry at myself if I went over my carbs for the day.  My solution?  I have most of my carbs in the morning, whether it is from the rye bread I use with my egg sandwich or the fresh fruit I have at my morning snack.  Carbs give me fuel for the day and I know I am eating healthy carb sources rather than carbs from processed ingredients.  Protein I have all day, and I usually get about 90-100 grams of protein.  This amount keeps me full for longer periods of time so I actually end up eating less.  Fats in my diet come from nuts and healthy oils (coconut or olive).  Fiber comes from the fruits and vegetables I consume all day.  The veggies are freebies in my book - eat as much as you like and don't bother logging it, just eat more veggies!

Here is a sample of a well balanced day of food in my world (about 1400 calories and 90g protein with very low sodium intake):

Breakfast:  Two slices of thin rye bread, toasted with one egg and two egg whites fried over-easy in 1 tsp light smart balance butter.

AM Snack:  1/2 cup blueberries with three to four strawberries

Lunch:  Spinach & Romaine salad with tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli-slaw or rainbow salad mix and 1/2 cup shredded chicken or sliced beef with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 TBS red wine vinegar.  If you have leftover roasted veggies from the night before, throw those in too.

PM Snack:  Handful of trail mix, 6oz greek yogurt topped with a drizzle of honey and cinnamon and a hot tea with skim milk.

Dinner:  A lean protein with a heaping side of roasted veggies - usually cauliflower, brussels or asparagus.

Dessert:  2 pieces of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises with Almonds.

walk after dinner

I make it my goal to walk 8000 steps every day thanks to my Fitbit, and this sure makes the Fitbit proud.  I have a very active job riding and teaching horseback riding, but even I find myself sitting on the couch too many hours at night, so I try to limit myself to no more than two hours on the couch each night (unless I'm blogging), and the rest of the time is spent walking, cooking, playing with the cat, cleaning, whatever.  After I started walking more often a few years back, it was the first change I noticed in myself.  The more I walked, the better I felt and the better I looked.  Bottom line, unless the polar vortex is waiting outside your door, step outside and get moving!

love youself

This could be just as if not more important than number three.  If you're down on yourself and beat yourself up in front of the mirror every night and stress over what you eat every day and work so hard at the gym that you literally can't move the next day, it's time to take a new approach, because that won't help anything.

I'll be very honest with you, I used to stand in front of the mirror and pick myself apart every night and get almost depressed because I ate a mini-cupcake or finished off three pieces of pizza in one sitting.  I would sit in front of my computer and look at those "thinspiration" pictures on Pinterest and hope that someday that could be me.  After all that stress and pressure on myself, absolutely nothing changed.

What finally changed was the way I viewed everything.  Treat yourself with respect and love yourself for who you are, because all the negative thoughts won't change a damn thing.

And that's how I lost 18 pounds (in a nutshell).


Lauren Collins

I'm a health coach and plant-based recipe creator from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In a few short words, I love to cook, eat, travel, play around with food photography and most of all, I love to help people live healthier and happier lives. A lot of the recipes you see here are adapted from my Mom, or from just throwing a few ingredients together until something magical happens.

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