Published November 9, 2022

How to Start with Weight Loss

by Helen M. Ryan
Woman standing by very long stairs up at Temple in Chiang Mai

If you’ve been reading this blog or listened to my podcast, you know I’m a fan of taking small steps to improve pretty much any area of your life. Small steps do indeed lead to big results.

You don’t have to make huge leaps; just start by making small changes to what you eat and how consistently you exercise. Every single change adds up, helping you lose weight and improve your overall health.

It’s like how a few raindrops together over time lead to a bigger body of water (and how my consistent eating of Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups mini did the same to my butt).

Eat More Vegetables – This Way

Eating more vegetables is one of the easiest ways to start losing weight. When I began my accidental weight loss journey, I was a vegetarian who did not eat vegetables. Once I started swapping out some of the junk food I ate with veggies, my body started to change pretty quickly. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, so they fill you up without adding too much fat or sugar. Plus, they contain vitamins A, C, K, and E, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. Whew! And if you cook your vegetables in an air fryer, they have all the amazing flavor and crispiness without all the fat.

Drink More Water

It's also important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will help keep your body hydrated, which aids with digestion and keeps your skin looking healthy. You can get one of those big water containers that has measurements on it, or you can use this tip I learned from one of my friends: Bring a glass of water to your desk (or the sofa table). Every time you get up, refill the glass. Every time. And finish each one. Of course, you need to keep reminding yourself to get up, but that’s another story for another day.

Exercise Regularly

If you're trying to lose weight, exercising regularly is one of the best ways to do it. You'll burn calories while building muscle, and exercise makes you feel better and more energetic. You don’t have to exercise in one long session, though. Break up your workouts throughout the day. Exercise 10 minutes in the morning, walk during lunch or on breaks (or hit the gym), and do fifteen minutes after work. Or, get up from your desk every hour and walk up and down stairs, do pushups, squats, stretching, or brisk walking it place. Does that sound doable?

Sleep Better

Well, that’s harder than it sounds. Getting eight hours of solid sleep at night is not the easiest for most of us. The best advice I have (being an insomniac myself), is to create better sleep habits that work for you. Make them simple: Don’t look at your phone while in bed, try to have a somewhat consistent bedtime, and find something that helps you fall asleep. Personally, I listen to sleep stories on Calm, Headspace, or YouTube. They really help me get to sleep because my mind isn't going 100 miles an hour.

Want some help to sleep better? Grab your copy of my free sleep challenge guide.

Reduce Stress

Stress can actually make you gain weight, which is why it’s so important to try to reduce your stress levels while trying to lose weight. When you’re under pressure, the levels of your “stress hormone” (cortisol) increase, which can lead you to comfort eating (yes, I know this one well), higher insulin levels, and blood sugar drops, which lead you right to the sugar. (Sugar... ah, honey honey.)

Make a list of the things you know stress you out (being late, watching the news, confrontation, work pressures) and see what you can do to reduce some of those stress levels. Try to:

  • Get better organized
  • Cut some things out
  • Ask for help
  • Meditate
  • Go for a walk

While reducing the stress you know about is key, the stress you don’t know about can be even worse. I call that “invisible stress.” Check out episode 23 of the Walking & Talking with Helen podcast for tips on how to fix your invisible stress so you're less tired and more able to stick with a healthier lifestyle.

The most important thing is to start small, be consistent, and don’t give up. As I like to say, if you just lose one pound per week, that’s 52 pounds in a year. And yes… one pound a week is super doable.