Holy cow, how have I never heard of this term before? Hahaha! That’s exactly these last stubborn few pounds are, they refuse to go yet so close!
I know I’m within the healthy weight range but I would be more presentable if I stop wearing a developing double chin in almost every photo. Due to my face shape and small stature, if I gain even 5 lbs, it will very much show on my frame. I’ve been trying to lose an extra 10 pounds since, uh, last Christmas. It’s been more or less 2 steps forward, 2 steps back.
When I was in college I never had to worry about my weight so my habits were never great. I skipped breakfast. I ate sandwiches and fries for lunch at the university café. And for dinner, I usually have a grilled steak, another taco salad and double the desserts from the university dining hall. I was one of those girls that could eat anything and still be a rail. I could eat the sun and still be around 100 to 105 pounds. Sadly, those days are starting to slip away.
My 27th birthday is coming up in about a month and I’ve already started wailing on my husband for comfort.
“I don’t want to get any older!”
“Do you want me to kill you?”
“Go lie down in the driveway because there are only two ways of going about this: You die at 26 or you march into 27 breathing.”
“……..so that’s the joke I’m going to get from you every time I whine about my age?”
“Pretty much ?”
Actually, I was making fair progress! But my mom stopped by last month to visit us. I knew it was game over when she told me she was coming to visit for 2 weeks. No one loses weight with their mom around and I was not about to miss out on some real home cooking for vanity pounds.
By the time she left, I had regained the pounds I shed and that number hasn’t moved much since. When she left, she also left a fridge and freezer of food and told us to eat it soon. That’s like the good mommy signature everywhere, huh?
Despite this, I’m still determined to shed those 10 pounds slowly…and stealthfully and with these 23 guidelines. I opted for more budget-friendly choices than the $60/hour personal trainer and $20 dieting tapes as you can see 🙂 Here are 23 inexpensive weight loss tricks to rid those last few vanity pounds.
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1. Small Incremental Changes
I read this article from a skinny Korean woman that she keeps her figure by eating a banana in the morning and half a glass of water1. For the rest of the day, she eats traditional meals and drinks a full day more of water. That’s how she keeps her awesome figure.
Although the morning banana diet is controversial due to its sugar content, it’s still better than a 900 calorie breakfast burrito or eating nothing at all until late noon. Very often, we all just need something inexpensive to fill our tummy in the morning quick. I thought bananas would be the easiest food to replicate without meal prep, disturbing the rest of my day, or a hard hit to the wallet.
2. No Drastic Overhauls
I try not to do fad diets even though they’re so tempting. I tried the Paleo one, the lemonade one, the Rachel Ray, and the morning banana one in the past because they sounded easier without giving up food I love for vanity. Losing weight is mostly calories in, calories out so responsible weight loss is about making long-term incremental life changes, not fad diets. In fact, I’ve lost interest in most of these diets as they get older and less “hip.”
The hard part is changing your routine every day as you get older. That’s a problem of mine. I’m so set in my ways after a lifetime of not having to worry about weight, now I have to cram bananas in the bedroom so I remember to reach for them instead of a plate of pot stickers with a side of spicy mayo sauce…. ah, ah, out of my mind pot stickers! 🙁
Drastic overhauls are not for vanity pounds, in one form or another, it could backfire.
3. Out of Sight Is Out of Mind
…and vice versa.
My entire bedroom smells like bananas. I have a bunch of bananas next to my bed because that’s the only way I would reach for it. If they’re right next to me when I wake up, I would have no choice but to grab it for breakfast. The banana and water thing next to my nightstand and another bunch of bananas on the computer desk makes me grab them instead of going all the way downstairs to rummage in the kitchen cabinets for my miniature Reese’s cups.
The principle of out of sight out of mind is a super easy thing to understand. If we see something our brain processes in the background, it comes up with a reaction to that something, even subconsciously.
If a person like me wants a successful weight loss, they can’t just cut back on food, they have to reorganize their home and kitchen. They have to design it in such a way that snack foods would be up high and healthier foods within grasps.
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4. Stop Drinking Your Calories
Everyone knows this one but I’m going to hammer it home: sugary drinks don’t make you feel full! The sugar is turned into fat by the human liver, it’s addictive, increases belly fat, and increases the risk for other illnesses such as cancer and type 2 diabetes2.
5. Track Weight Every Morning
My weight fluctuates 3 to 5 pounds throughout the day. I’ve seen it with my own 2 eyeballs. I never made a huge habit of weighing myself in the morning around the same time since I always forget. Therefore, I end up with the craziest, pointless readings.
If dieters don’t make a habit of weighing themselves at the same time the whole weight thing is pretty meaningless as data points3.
6. Use MyFitnessPal to Measure Intake
I used the MyFitnessPal app on my phone to look up every nutrition information available. They have an online website too. In terms of nutritional information, it was like a huge calorie dictionary. I would eat the most obscure snacks and still be able to find at least comparable calories and nutritional information within the app. It’s very helpful for weight loss since it boils down to calories intake and calories burned. It’s also completely free to use.
7. It’s Going to Be Slow Goings
I’m trying to lose some vanity pounds on a budget, it’s not a gastric bypass amount of progress. The progress is still slow. If anyone has lost 30 or more pounds, you have my respect because it’s sooooo annoyingly long. But the most rewarding thing is when momentum builds in weight loss. Changing small habits make for a big difference in a year (ie. eating just 100 calories less a day means 36,400 fewer calories a year.) Losing 1 pound in caloric terms is about 3,500 calories; 36,400 calories divided by 3,500 means BYE BYE ~10 vanity pounds! 4
8. Snack Healthier
Most people don’t get enough fruit and vegetables and changing snack habits is the best way to inject those missing essential vitamins and minerals into your system. This isn’t just about vanity pounds. Think about the cost per ounce of fruit vs chips. The chips will be more expensive. A lot of things that are good for your health is good for your wallet. Repeat after me: flavored water, ants on a log, and air-popped popcorn 🙂
9. Find Any Chance to Go for a Walk
Every 1 mile walked burns 90 calories for a person weighing in at 150 pounds5. Similarly, running will burn 112 calories per 1 mile. Depending on your speed, it’s easier to think about it after each minute. If you can jog a mile under 15 minutes, that’s 6.00 calories burned per minute. The world is a gym, if you’re on a budget, you don’t need a gym membership to shed those vanity pounds.
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10. Don’t Eat 3 Hours Before Bed
This is an iffy one. Does it work? Technically, yes. By not eating a few hours before bed, you essentially eat less overall. However, it’s important to not starve yourself because you will have trouble falling asleep. I break this rule constantly because I have a very hard time sleeping on an empty stomach. Hence the banana populated nightstand…
If some fellow bloggers out there get messages or comments from me at 3 AM Pacific Standard Time…I was hungry while doing so.
11. Brush Your Teeth 30 Minutes After Dinner
You can brush your teeth after dinner to refrain from snacking. There’s no real magic to it just like not eating 3 hours before bed. It’s merely a strategy to avoid contact with food out of impulses. Also, remember if you had anything acidic like lemon or grapefruit, avoid brushing your teeth for 30+ minutes because it might damage your enamel6.
12. No Alchohol
I’m such a good girl, I didn’t know alcohol had calories in it until I was half done with college. I thought it was like water…? Apparently, a 12 oz can of beer has 150 calories. 1 fluid oz of vodka has 60 calories and 5 oz glass of wine has 123 calories. Vanity pounds doesn’t vote well with any sort of alcohol. Skipping out on the alcohol will definitely save you money!
13. Don’t Underestimate or Overestimate
They say “muscle is built in the gym, weight is shed in the kitchen”7 but it goes in this order: we underestimate the number of calories consumed and we overestimate the calories burned. When I was using MyFitnessPal, I was underestimating my calories burned and overestimating my calories consumed by rounding down respectively. I do the exact same thing with our finances and round down at the bottom line.
14. Spices Over Sauces
Oh, this is a new one. It never occurred to me like that before. I took a look in my fridge and all of my sauces are around 30 to 80 calories PER serving. My favorite BBQ sauce of all time is 60 calories per serving and don’t get me started on the sesame oil I put on everything. Geez, what a sneak attack. Maybe that spinach and candied walnut salad weren’t so healthy after all.
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15. Go for the Lite Option
Speaking of salads, if there is a lite version of dressing, definitely reach for that instead. I know most dietary versions of full-fat foods just don’t taste as good. Like most people can taste a difference between a can of diet cokes vs non-diet cokes. I can too. Diet Coke and diet Pepsi is disgusting-tasting compare to the full-sugar version! By then I rather drink tap water.
But oddly, lighter versions of most dressings and sauces taste very comparable to me. I can save off half the calories for something that tastes almost as good, that’s a good trade-off.
16. Keep Idle Hands Busy
I can definitely say it’s a mixture of frizzy drinks, constant (unhealthy) snacking, and my aging metabolism that is wrecking havoc on my vain self. When my hands aren’t busy I reach for snacks – and given I run an Airbnb – I have tons of snacks in bulk purchased at clearance prices to tempt me. Keeping busy comes in the form of cleaning and tidying up various areas of your life. If I keep my hands busy at the computer, I end up not reaching for them by habit. I remember I sat around idle, waiting or my husband to walk in the door any minute. By the time he got home, I had an unwrapped peanut butter cup in my hand. — “How did that get here!!! Who took this peanut butter cup out of its wrapper!!! I was possessed!”
17. Invest in Your Shoes
I read this interview that Oprah gave to college graduates and there was one thing I couldn’t get out of my mind: “don’t cheap out on your shoes.” I wish someone gave me the logic on that on my graduation day. How much time does the average person spend in their shoes? 10 hours? Invest in the quality and comfort of your feet. I’ve had this issue before last year where I was experiencing minor foot and knee pain as a result of ill-fitting shoes. It turns out…arch support is kind of important. If your feet’s comfortable, you will be more inclined to move and walk which converts to calories burned.
18. Read The Labels
Be prepared for some shocks. I just went to read the kitchen labels tonight. I thought my healthy, fancy-schmancy brand of olive oil would be better calorie-wise – and maybe it is – but good golly, 1 tablespoon of our olive oil was already 160 calories!! 1 tablespoon being 1 serving at 160 per spoon and the container had 70 servings of olive oil! Are you kidding me! I doused you in my salad! Then I started reading all the labels in my kitchen: potato hash browns are 690 calories each, meatballs are 500 calories per serving, my potato salad…it’s a bit of a miracle I’m not 180 pounds then. No wonder I’m having trouble losing these last few vanity pounds.
19. Increase Protein to Feel Fuller Longer
Generally, it’s more important to eat until you are not hungry anymore. Not until you’re already feeling full. I thought that was a bit mindblowing because in my household, you shouldn’t leave the table until you’re full.
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20. Don’t Watch TV While Eating
Watching TV could distract and lull you into eating more8. I’ve tested this theory on myself. Without anything streaming in front of me, I finish eating in half the time (20 minutes) because my brain is focused on receiving those “stop eating now” signals from my brain. While streaming food shows on YouTube, I end up eating for the entire duration of the videos (40+ minutes). I don’t notice until my tummy starts to get painful…and only then do I stop. Once again, it’s a small miracle I only have vanity pounds for now with my trashy eating habits.
21. Use Dinner Plates Strategically
Larger plates of food make our perception underestimate the amount of food on the plate. It also makes us more likely to underestimate those calories. This “optical” illusion is powerful and can even trick you into thinking you’ve consumed less food overall. To take advantage of this mental trick, put vegetables and healthier foods on larger plates and unhealthy foods on smaller plates. This same trick is employed in many all-you-can-eat buffets to help their financial bottom line. The customers think they ate plenty on small plates (since people count by plates) and the restaurant comes off generous with their portions.9
22. Carry Gum & Tic Tacs
Ugh, I love frizzy sodas, don’t get me started. It’s my weakness. That and hot Cheetos because apparently…I have the palate of a teenie bop. Whenever I get a snack craving while out now, I grab a tic tac from my purse instead of going to the food court. That’s mainly because most food court foods are unhealthy and it doesn’t even taste that good for the amount of grease you’re ingesting. A single tic tac is much better for your wallet than a $3.99 spring roll. I will always want to spring roll, not going to lie, but humming gum and tic tac make the temptation easier to curb.
23. A Little Depressed
Shouldn’t be hard…comes with dieting…(grumble grumble). Aha, no, it’s not really a joke. Being depressed could make you lose weight really fast. Depression makes me lose weight scarily quick whereas stress makes me gain weight and stress eat the other way. None of the two avenues is healthy and there’s a near-guaranteed the weight will be gained back. I don’t recommend it. But it works well. Post breakups, feeling shaken after fighting with a friend, coming under new pressure at work etc. decreases a person’s overall appetite for food.
Losing the last of those stubborn vanity pounds doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It’s persistence, time, and a little while longer. Even though the motivation for vanity pounds doesn’t come unless there’s a high school reunion or wedding date looming, picking up these 23 really good diet habits above can mean you never have to worry about vanity pounds or unnecessary weight gain. It’s good for the wallet, good for your body, good for lifestyle and good for your health.
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