With the new year finally here, lots of folks are thinking about their renewed healthy goals for 2013. Having been relatively successful at losing weight, I am constantly asked what I did (and continue to do). People are curious about what I eat, and whether or not I have chocolate. Enough people have asked that I figured I would give a tell all.

First of all, I eat what I want. But I will qualify that by saying that the foods I want are slightly different than they used to be. I still eat cookies, cake, ice cream, and chocolate. I just don’t eat them every single day. More like one of those once a week or so. I also stick to just one serving.

I once read somewhere that one of the keys to successful weight loss was drinking water, and I could not agree more. In the beginning, I had to force myself to drink a glass. I hated it! Oh how I hated it. After a while though, I started to notice a difference in how I felt. My skin was softer, I was snacking MUCH less, and I was sleeping better. I can now tell when I haven’t had my water. I drink anywhere from 4 to 6 quarts a day. That is a lot of water. Think of it this way though, excess fat leaves your body in your urine. The more you pee, the more chances that fat has to get out!

Another key to my success is portion control. I measure and weigh just about everything that I put into my mouth. It is quite shocking how quickly that second handful of chips can add up. Right along with portion control is keeping a food diary. Studies show that people who keep a food diary are more successful at losing weight. For me, it was eye opening. When I decided to be honest with myself and write down every single bite I took, it was easy to see where my extra calories came from. My meals and snacks were fine, but sneaking that bite of dinner while it was cooking, or the bite of the kids cookies, all add up throughout the day. My motto became, “If you bite it, you write it.” Sticking to that made me very aware of what I was doing.

Luckily there are lots of diary options for you to choose from. You can go the traditional paper and pen method. For me, it was hard to figure out the calories, fat, sodium, etc for food that way. I felt like I was always running to my computer to look something up. Because of that, I prefer to use a digital diary on my smart phone. There are tons of choices out there, but I use MyFitnessPal. Mostly because it was free. I love that database of foods is absolutely huge! It makes tracking my food so stinking easy. It even has nutritional information for several restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, that is another dying question. How do I eat out? Right now in my stage of life, my husband and I don’t go out to eat very often. Honestly we go maybe once every two months. Because of that, I don’t freak about it. I go, enjoy the food I order, and eat until I feel satisfied. I do, however, make sure to drink two glasses of water before my food arrives. I do the best I can to keep what I eat in my food journal as well. Once you look at it on paper that way, your desire to go out to eat becomes less. At least it did for me. And I can tell you that we never eat fast food. With the exception of In N Out. Lucky for me, I no longer live within driving distance of an In N Out, so I’m safe.

And the last step in my success, has been…. You guessed it, exercise. Having three kids at home, going to the gym wasn’t practical for me. Instead I scoured Craigslist for elliptical machines until I found one I could afford. It set me back $50 and it might have been the best money I have ever spent. When I started using that machine, I could only go for about a minute without thinking I was going to die. Now, I have trained for a 10k and half marathon on it. (Do a google search to see how to train on an elliptical). I used an app for that too. the first one I used was 10k Runner. It was a start from nothing to run a 10k.

Now that my endurance is longer than one minute, I have added in strength training as well. I like the GAIN Fitness app for that, as well as a collection of Jillian Michaels DVDs.

My final tip, is to set lots of mini goals instead of one huge one. Looking at your overall weight loss might be overwhelming, but if you set a goal to just lose one or two pounds this week you are more likely to be successful. I love this method. I have a calendar in my room that I write my husband’s schedule on, plan my workouts, and set my weekly goals. Doing it this way is far more realistic for me. I can look at the week and say, “okay, I have a birthday to celebrate this week, that means cake and ice cream. Maybe I will only lose 1 pound this week instead of 2”. Then I can set that as my goal instead. Some weeks my goal is to just not gain. For me, this is just more realistic than saying, I need to lose 60 pounds by whenever.

And that is it. Just remember that you only fail if you stop trying.

-Stephanie Wright

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