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.
It’s kind of amazing how this small trick can make such a big difference. It’s a principle applied in retail, finance, and weight loss.
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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Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
Yes, those last pounds! They are so hard to shed. It’s even harder when we have good food around all day *sigh*
My mom is kinda like my personal trainer. She makes me lose weight when I’m overweight, and she makes me gain weight when I’m too skinny.
I remember those skinny college days when I could eat whatever and still looked like a stick. Those days are long gone!
Lol that sounds like a very traditional mom x)
Mrs. Groovy says
I swear by number 5. I’m fanatic about my naked weigh in (I’m too vain to allow for the weight of clothing) every morning.
Can you get the mini Reece’s out of the house? Or ask Jared to hide them? I ask Mr. Groovy to do that with chocolate, cookies, and peanut butter. Luckily he only eats sugar on Saturdays so we don’t keep much in the house. That is, when we have a house. Right now we’re living with my in-laws. Fortunately my MIL is a tiny vegetarian and there’s little unhealthy food in this house, too.
I also second the banana breakfast. And small meals. I get hungry every 3-4 hours so there’s no use eating too much at one meal.
Thanks Mrs. Groovy!! Yay you guys are back!!
“I’m too vain to allow for the weight of clothing”
Lol me too. I also deduct half a pound for my long hair.
I’ve told him to hide candy away before but I think I got mad and he didn’t want to do it anymore if I got mad hahahah.
Leo T. Ly says
Oh those care free days where you can eat your heart out and still not gain a single pound. That will no longer be true once you hit 25. I missed those days. Food is my kryptonite. This is why I failed at every attempt to lose weight. The food is just too tempting.
Even though I keep on failing at this, I will still keep on trying until I discover the cure all magic pill. Let me know when you found one.
Preach it Leo 🙁 I keep trying too, if only science can make a magic pill. Or having tapeworms aren’t such a gross thought :p
half life theory says
I use to do personal training on the side, and one of my biggest tips to lose weight and stay on track is, try to push your first meal as late in the day as possible. When I’m trying to lose weight quickly, i use that trick… I might not eat till noon or later. This might be a bit extreme for some, but it simply decreases your eating window, and as such you have less amount of hours to eat during the day… you will tend to eat less.
Also try to throw in a cheat meal at least once a week, it will help keep you sane. If you are restricted for multiple weeks in a row, you will probably end up binging, and blow the whole diet out of the water. Good luck Lily!
Dr. McFrugal says
Intermittent fasting works wonders!!! I do 8:16 intermittent fasting and I have shed some unwanted fat/pounds from my waist!
Listen to him, he’s a doctor!!
Oh cool I didn’t know you PT as a…PT hahaha. OMG part time as a personal trainer = PTPT. I love it!!!
My entire life is a cheat meal 8)
Just wait till you get to my age (late 40s). Body definitely does not spring back like it used to.
Another thing I would recommend is a food scale. I used to pour myself breakfast cereal each morning and eye balled it. When I actually started weighing the recommended portion on the box it turned out I was probably eating 2-3 servings.
I love food too much and when I go out I typically binge eat (although when I eat at home which is majority of time I eat very healthy and decent portion control).
I figure I just really attack the elliptical after going out to eat but the pounds don’t come off like they used to.
Oooh I do have a food scale! We always forget to use it. Ironically it’s in the same cabinet as Reeses cups. Thank you doc!!! Great idea!
Mr. ThreeYear and I have our work cut out for us in NC. We have gotten chuuuuubby during our move! We’re going back to fasting once the craziness is over. I do like the “don’t eat in the mornings” rule and do that a lot.
Have you guys met any local PF bloggers yet?! =)
I’d also suggest slowing down your eating by chewing every bite at least 30x before swallowing. That way, you actually signal your body to digest the food better (more nutrients for your buck) and you enjoy your food longer (more tastebuds for your buck). Put your utensil down while you are chewing–will help you not go all crazy shoving food into your mouth.
Disclaimer: this method sometimes plays with my mind because I go into scarcity mode, “ah, if I don’t eat as fast as my other meal companions, I won’t get enough to eat.” The key is to load up your own small personal plate first (don’t just go Chinese family style) and then relax and take your sweet time chewing your delicious food.
This has really helped my digestion. Helped me eat less (a meal takes me over 20 min now). Savin pounds, savin bucks!!
OHHHI’ve heard of that trick before!! I tried it once and it felt SO weird. I am used to WOLFING down food. It’s such a mind trap! That’s definitely going to work, there are so many good tricks it’s hard to keep everything in mind when there’s….lots of food in front!
Dr. McFrugal says
Interesting that you put increase your protein intake to feel fuller. In general, Americans are a little obsessive with protein intake. (We really don’t need THAT much in our diet unless you’re a high performing athlete.) In fact, we would be just fine with 10-15% of our calories from protein.
Instead, I would suggest that increasing dietary fiber is more important. The Standard American diet is really deficient in dietary fiber. Fiber helps keep people fuller longer, helps blunt the insulin response to dietary “sugars”, helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy, promotes intestinal health as well as fostering good gut health as it is a good prebiotic for our important gut bacteria. Great sources of dietary fiber include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes.
Funny how you mention the banana breakfast diet. Some people even eat bananas exclusively for a month to lose weight. In fact, Freelee the Banana Girl made the 30 bananas a day diet popular (probably because she is so lean and very attractive!).
I do have a bag of Chia seeds in the cabinet (it been there for 2 years haha) I was thinking of busting out. I bought them because they have lots of fiber without the cardboard taste.
That Instagram scares me o_o what’s is going on…
Good tips! Here are two more that work for me (not that I’m that great at it):
1) if you crave sweet, drink a glass of water, because sometimes your body is trying to tell you that you are thirsty
2) try to eat a green salad every day ( a tip from the famous food writer, Mark Bittman) and make sure it has protein if it’s the meal (this I’ve learned from my own experience because otherwise I’m not satisfied)
Good luck to us all as we take care of our bodies!
Thanks Sara! Any salad? (with or without dressing?)
freddy smidlap says
drink a lot of water. i wrote a guest post on 38 years as a runner and i said in it not to cheap out on shoes. it’s a lot harder to turn the metabolism boast around when you get older. wine and eating before bed are my downfalls. we better get it together or we’ll end up with more chins than a chinese phone book.
Lol!! That joke is such a dad joke!!! Hahaha
I better recheck that post. I need a “how to tell if this is a good, frugal running/walking shoe” guide.
freddy smidlap says
it’s coming out next week. it basically says try going to a running store for your workout shoes at least until you find a pair that works really well. they’ll point you to the right ones instead of just guessing with zappos on shoes you’ve never worn before. when i find a model i like i keep buying them until discontinued.
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early says
I’m back on MyFitnessPal because I find it is the ONLY thing that works for me in regards to weight. I’m much better on the exercise thing, but being short like you, I can’t hide an extra 5 or 10 pounds like my much taller husband can.
I can’t tell you’re short from photos! Really!!? I pictured you 5’8 in my head, I really did. Tall and skinny!
All good tips. All in all, it’s a whole lifestyle change. (I haven’t eaten ice cream in 3 years ?)
I would also recommend taking up weightlifting, guys and gals. Building some extra muscle will give you extra leeway for calories. Think Mikey Chen. ?
Yo, Mikey Chen is hugeeee, he has like those king crab arms! Hahahaha.
Wow no ice cream in 3 years?! Sorbert? Shaved ice??!
Yep. Started reducing sugar chocolate, ice cream, soda etc. Nowadays I just have them every so often, or they don’t get eaten anymore. Eventually you can take them or leave them; things like carrots etc. become sweet enough.
For junk food a anyway, I’ve always hit the savoury stuff instead. ?
Seriously build some more muscle! It’s impossible to become hulked out without steroids. Benefits include: increased basal metabolic rate, reduced osteoporosis risk, better posture etc. Tonnes of benefits.
Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies says
Ugh. I’m back on My Fitness Pal now that I’m out of the “new mom” stage…and calories have meaning again. UGH. UGH. I keep telling myself it will be satisfying like budgeting and tracking my expenses. NOPE! I hear you on a few stubborn pounds. Even if other people don’t notice them, I do! (And so do the waistband in my jeans!) What I like most about these tips is that they’re really healthy and smart, even if someone isn’t dieting per se.
Thanks Penny! These are the tried and true tactics that makes a loooot of sense. I notice it too, it’s in the waistband, it’s the fact that I’ve gone up half a ring size on my finger…and I don’t like it. It’s a slippery slope.
Accidental FIRE says
Ha, lots of good stuff here. You’re right, it comes down to calories in vs calories out. For weirdos like me who exercise a TON and race bikes and climb mountains, I have to eat a TON. If I only had a banana for breakfast and half a glass of water I’d collapse on my 40 mile after work bike ride.
So I eat about 4000 calories a day to just stay skinny. Any less and I’d get skinnier. And I’m skinny enough. But I love food, so more exercise = more food = more good!
Lol! That math makes sense! More food = more good!
Great tips!! I try to go for a walk in downtown SF once a week, sometimes twice. It gives me a chance get a workout in.
Haven’t thought of brushing your teeth right dinner, I need to start doing that because I tend to snack an hour or two before I go to bed and brushing my teeth that soon will prevent me from eating snacks.
Thanks Kris 🙂
Mrs. Sweetspot says
Awesome tips! But on the thread up review, didn’t you reveal that you’re a size zero?! How do you have 10 lbs to lose?
I miss college… somehow I did great on a steady diet of french fries and pizza. Not so much in your 30’s 🙁
I have no idea what size I am because that pant size stuff is so not uninformed!! But whatever ThredUP pants are I’m apparently a 0. I have pants going from 0 to 12….which doesn’t sound right. I’m 110 lbs on a bad day so I’m trying to get back to 100 😀 I wish I was 95 instead. I remember being a freshman at 95 lbs and I ate my everything in sight. 🙁 It just gets worst from here it sounds!
Lots of great suggestions:) I am short too and I am struggling with those extra 5 to 8 lbs plus I am now over 50 and it’s even tougher.
I do great for a few days and then just ruin it all by stuffing my face with chocolates. But it is so goood:)
Number 24) Breast Feed!! Haha.. I lost 7 lbs from my prepregnancy weight so am actually skinnier than I was before!! I eat like a madwoman too. Like 1/3 chocolate bar a day and a few chocolate cookies. It’s great.
Also, HIIT exercises in the morning- I would recommend Fitness Blender (free, 30 minute or less videos).
Apparently the Keto diet is really good too. High fat low carb. Lots of veggies less fruit. My colleague lost over 10lbs on this diet and you don’t feel hungry. Her husband lost 20lbs. They look great. Eggs and cream+ coffee for breakfast and less carbs.
Shawn @ ThesmartFi says
Your article is so timely for me. I have been trying to lose those vanity pounds this month in my June Weight Loss Challenge. Currently, I have lost 5 pounds this month by employing many of the tips you covered in your article. I have always been a believer that financial wealth and health are inextricably linked.