Lately, a lot of people have been asking me a lot of questions regarding loss. “How did you do it” always comes up, so I wanted to put together a list of the “Top 10 things I’ve learned” during my weight loss process. Which has  actually turned into 12 because I couldn't cram everything into 10.

While I am certainly no expert, this is what worked for me, and it’s the way I look at things, now. Most of what I have learned, has been with the help of my coach, Sheryl Isler with Ideal You Weight Loss & Wellness.  I am putting all this out there with the best of intentions, feel free to pick and choose from everything as you see fit and I hope some of it works for you and helps in any small way. Maybe you’ll like all of it, maybe none of it. But my hope is that you can at the very least pull a few nuggets out of this that are of actual value to you.

As always if you have any further specific questions, please let me know and I will be happy to do whatever I can to help out.

So here it is:

Top 12 Weight loss tips from a 65-pound loser…

1. Get your head right

Accept that you are what you are…for now. This is probably the hardest part of the entire process for most people because it involves a lot of pride swallowing and acceptance of facts that are less than pleasant. And it can be a tough pill to swallow. As a matter of fact, it downright sucks.

But even though it may suck, the fact remains that: yes, you are overweight, heavier than you want to be, and that is not going to change unless you do something about it. There’s no sense beating yourself up about it too much. What’s done is done and after all, you recognize the fact that where you’re at now isn’t where you want to be and you’re doing something about it. The simple fact that you recognize this is substantial, and insanely beneficial. You’re not ignoring anything or just hoping things will change, you’re stepping up and taking action.

So, “it is what it is” for now, but not forever. Everybody has to start somewhere. Where you are right now is your starting line, the place that you move forward from.

2. Be honest

This is another thing that sounds simple but is really hard to do. This is especially true when you have less than stellar eating habits the way I did. “Less than stellar” what I really mean is that I would stuff my face with pretty much anything wanted and didn't really pay attention the consequences...meaning the fact that over a period of 20 years and 3 kids, I managed to pack on and extra 65 pounds!

Since the only person you’re really answering to is yourself, it takes a lot of dedication and honesty to accept and log that you had a candy bar instead of a healthy snack to make the calories look better (or ate two healthy snacks and not just logging one, etc.) In the end, if you’re not being honest, then you’re lying. And the only person that you’re really lying to is yourself. And really, what good comes of that? If you’re going to do this, you may as well do it. Otherwise you are wasting time and nothing will change.

If you’re lying to yourself, it may work for a while and you actually might lose some weight in the beginning. But even if you do lose some, odds are that without making any real changes, you will retain your old poor eating habits, and with the poor habits still in place, the weight will come back. So don’t be a liar. You’re better than that.

3. Be driven

I’ll be the first to admit, this entire process is kind of a tough pill to swallow. It is so, SO much easier to sit on the couch and munch on junk food with my boys than it is to get up and make something healthy. It takes you having something in it to keep you on point and get you moving. I can tell you first hand, temptation (and laziness, and sickness, and unforeseen problems, real life, and parties etc.) is absolutely everywhere. It’s  just waiting there for you to open the door just a little so it can creep in and derail you. It’s happened to me and it will most likely happen to you too. It really is all about having the willpower to keep pushing, stay focused and not lose sight of the end goal. I can tell you first hand it IS worth it.

4. Be accountable

This ties in with being honest and being driven (actually, most of these points tie in to one another) but for me, the act of putting myself out there for everybody to see was absolutely key to the process- and my coach Sheryl Iszler from Ideal You Weight Loss & Wellness was the key to my success!

The fact that I was on the radio discussing my weight loss on a weekly basis certainly helped as well.   But you can also do this through social media, or simply by teaming up with a group of friends and/or family and losing weight together.  Hold each other accountable.  I personally am very competitive as well..so a reward at the end can certainly help.

The unforeseen benefit of being so publicly accountable is the overwhelming outpouring of love and support that came (and continues to come) from everyone on a daily basis. Putting it all out there is a risk for sure, you can’t hide behind anything and the possibility of coming out of this failing and looking like a fool is always there, but the fact to not lose sight of is that people out there, especially your friends and family, want nothing more than to see you succeed.

One more unexpected benefit that I honesty never saw coming is that I have been inspiring others to do the same as me now. I definitely get it, how do you think I got the idea to lose weight in the first place? My co-worker, Donovan Short lost an amazing 145 pounds!  He is truly an inspiration! Read his success story Here

But like I said, I never initially set out to inspire others, I really was just sick and tired of being overweight and tired.  But unforeseen or not, I have been talking to more and more people who have told me that my story has inspired them and looking for more info about what I did and how I did it.   I have to admit, it feels fantastic.

I haven’t felt this good about something that I’ve done and how it affected others in a really long time. I was sincerely motivated so much by all the support that came to me as I was pushing to lose that it doesn’t make any sense to me to not put that support back out there for everybody else.

All that being said, you don’t have to go as far as I did and put yourself on the radio and/or tv in order to be accountable. Putting things on facebook or twitter, or just talking to those who you really care about accomplishes the same thing.

5. Write it down/Log it

In my opinion, if you are looking to lose weight, this is one of the single most powerful things you can do. It only works if you are honest with yourself, of course. (See “Be Honest” above)

Nobody is judging you (except you), so just write it down. If you have never done this before, I can guarantee you will be surprised to see what goes into your mouth over the course of a day or a week. If you choose to lose weight through Ideal You Weightloss and Wellness, it can also help your coach find out why you might hit a plateau and where to change things up.

You can learn a lot, I know I did. I learned a lot about food, about calories, (and what foods are higher/ lower in calories than you may have thought)- and in turn, what foods are “worth it” and which aren’t.

I also learned a lot about myself and my eating habits. All very essential pieces of information if you are looking to change habits and adopt a healthier eating lifestyle. If you don’t know where you are starting from, how are you going to change?

To clarify, what I mean by “I learned a lot” means that I learned about what foods I was eating that were really (surprisingly) high in calories, which were good lower-calorie substitutes, and just as important as calories is portion size (one thing you will realize is that the portion sizes that we are all accustomed to are pretty much all jacked up). When you see what “one serving” of chicken or steak really is, you may think that you are going to wither away to nothing -although that is a very loose interpretation of what we are trying to do here, right?

The other thing I wanted to mention - because I’ve been down this road too many times - is not only write it down/log your food, but do it now. I mean immediately. As it’s going into your mouth. As you’re making/ ordering it if possible. Seriously, don’t wait until after you have dished out the plate and eaten everything to go back after the fact and be like “well, it was about a 6 oz steak I think,” because you will probably be wrong.

I know for a fact I messed it up every time I did that. So just do it. Yes it’s a pain to weigh and measure your food. It takes the time to pull out a little food scale or a measuring cup and dish out your delicious dinner in measured, sensible portions. But you learn what 4 or 6 or 8 ounces of chicken is.

You learn how to recognize what a cup of rice looks like. And let’s face it, if you knew this stuff already, you probably would not be reading this post in the first place,even if it does take extra time, I can guarantee you that when you are fitting into clothes that are multiple sizes smaller than the ones you are wearing now, you will realize that time was worth it!

6. Establish routines

I look at this one two ways, because I had to establish routines of both when I ate, as well as what I ate.

For me, this was easier because I had the help of my coach, Sherly Iszler with Ideal You Weight Loss & Wellness to tell me what to eat and when to eat it.   I had always been a breakast eater, but what I ate was not always good.  I also incorporated some healthy snacks into my routine. It’s been said that this maximizes the chances of success, and God knows I needed all the help I could get. So I started eating a healthy breakfast every day. (I’ll talk about what in a second) and I scheduled in a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. It has helped to keep me full and satisfied all day and has worked out well for me thus far, so I’m sticking to it.

And as for the “what,” well, I am self-admitted creature of habit. Especially in situations like this where I am making changes and trying to achieve specific goals while eating. I find a few solutions that accomplish what I am trying to do and ride them out as long as I can.

For a specific example: Breakfast. I am not a big fan of getting any less sleep than I already do, so it had to be quick and easy, and preferably able to be eaten  and prepared quickly.  Even if eat it on the drive to work. Say what you want, this is real life, folks. I needed it to be as low-impact, time-wise as humanly possible.  Things like smoothies and meal replacement shakes and or bars work great for me.

7. Exercise

Although at first, I was not able to do strenuous exercise on the Ideal You Weight Loss & Wellness Program , I actually began to crave it.  If you really want to get serious and see results faster, you’re going to have to move that body. I am not saying you cannot lose weight through diet alone. You certainly can...I did it!  That being said the amount of calories you can burn through exercise can give you a great boost on the scale, not to mention the impact it has on your fitness level.

For me it’s great stress relief and gives me a chance to just “unplug” for a little bit. It has really helped me in a number of ways. I burned a ton of calories, it helped me on the scale, and I generally felt better about myself. Especially when I started to see some actual progress in my body and overall fitness level. It made me feel like I was doing good things and making actual forward motion. It’s amazingly motivating to know that all the sweat and pain are going towards some real tangible benefits.

Do the elliptical, ride a bike, walk, go swimming…whatever. Just get yourself active and go burn some calories. Build up your cardiovascular and you’ll feel better about yourself and what you can do. Again, it is great for you on a couple different levels, and insanely motivating once you start making some gradual progress.

8. Have a plan, and then re-assess as needed

This one could also be titled “Don’t be too proud to change.”

I am a huge proponent of setting out a plan. It’s the way I work best, gives me a goal to work towards, and makes commitments I need to live up to. It gives everything a more formal feeling and forces me to do enough research to actually formulate the plan in the first place. It requires me to think ahead and I feel like it keeps me on track. So here’s where my advice gets contradictory. I’m sitting here telling you to set a plan and stick to it. Be dedicated and don’t waver.

I am now also going to tell you to not be so proud or set in your ways that you can’t change the plan once it’s set. Things are going to happen. It’s just the way it is. The best laid plans are completely doomed to be blown into bits, for any number of reasons.

So be structured, stick to it, but don’t be so structured that you can’t mix it up.

9. Eat more often

This sounds counter-productive. I should clarify. Plan your meals to include some small, responsible snacks to help get you through.

I touched on this before but it’s important enough to bear repeating. Some people can go “all in” and split things up evenly so they are eating 6 equal, smaller meals a day. I tried it once or twice, but I am more of a “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” kind of gal. It just feels more normal to me.

I’ll eat breakfast on the way into work , then around 10 I’ll have an apple or protein bar or something like that, just to hold me over until lunch. Around noon/12:30-ish I’ll do lunch, and then another piece of fruit or a handful of nuts like Pistachios and some cheese around 3 p.m.

Again, nothing crazy, just something to hold me over until dinner. Dinner in the evening and then some sort of dessert at night. It may not seem like a huge difference, but the extra snacks in the day that may take a little away from the size of the “big” meals go a long way in terms keeping you full. That, and it makes you think ahead. I really believe the more you are thinking ahead, the more planning you are doing (whether you want to or not), and the better your chances of success.

10. Drink a lot of water

A lot. I mean a ton of water. It will help you stay hydrated, and to feel full. If I am ever feeling like I want to eat a little something, often times I can knock back a bottle of water and next thing you know I’m feeling full again. I’m not suggesting that you go chugging water for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not telling you this alone is a full-time weight loss strategy.

But, as a part of a reasonably planned daily regiment, it's good and it worked for me. There are many studies out there, however, that verify that this is a very important step in the weight loss process. So do it.  Get those 8 glasses in. Yes, you’ll be running to the restroom a lot; but I’ll take the trade off of increased potty breaks for losing pounds and inches any day.

11. Celebrate the victories

(Not with food, you’re not a dog)

The road you are heading down is a big deal. You are going to be working hard at it and it’s not one of those things where you can work on for a couple of hours a day and then forget about it. Oh no, this is a 24/7 effort you are going to be putting forth, please remember to reward yourself when you hit the milestones. It’s important.

But, don’t do it with food. One of my hurdles that I learned to overcome was that the way we celebrated anything and everything was with food. A dinner date with my hubby, the family all together at a restaurant, friends over to watch the game,  it all revolved around food. When I hit 60 pounds, I got myself a new pair of 'Miss Me' jeans. I wasn’t quite at my goal, but close enough that those last few pounds were going to seem more worth it!

You do the same for yourself, it will help to keep you going when times get tough, make you appreciate the milestones a little more, and also give you a tangible reminder to the milestone itself. .

12. Prepare. It’s all about preparation.

So here’s the deal. Eating crappy foods is easy, and it’s cheap. But it’s also what put the fat on my body in the first place. I like to think that this is the universe’s cruel trick. I’m not sure why it is so much more labor intensive and expensive to eat healthy choices, but that is the way it is and I don’t make the rules. I just find ways to make the best of the situation at hand. I would rather pay more for good, healthy food and have to make it myself than get the cheap unhealthy stuff that can come in volume. For example, who really needs a container of cheese puffs as big as a bongo drum?

With all this purchased, healthy food, you have to take the time to prep it all. But again, doing this is making you plan things out, and be cognizant of what you are putting in your mouth. Now I’m not a planner by nature but it’s really good to know the “what” and “when” I am going to be eating so I can take a calculated approach and plan out my day accordingly.

I am all about making things easier on myself, because the more I plan it out and then get it prepped, the less time I have to think about it when it’s time to go and the more likely I am to stay on track. It’s a way to stay in control and focused. If you are preparing things in advance, both mentally with a plan and physically with the actual food itself, you are taking control of things and leaving less up to chance. The less you leave up to chance, the more unknown variables you can cut out, then the better off you will be and the less likely you will be to go off track. I can generally tell you on any given night what I will have for breakfast and lunch (and often dinner as well) the following day. It’s the stuff like that that keeps me on track.

Now I know all this represents a major change in both mindset and day-to-day actions. Do I think that if you need to drop 10 pounds you need to adopt all of this and make radical changes to your lifestyle? No. But, bear in mind all I can do is convey the experiences that I went through and I’m coming from the perspective of someone who had to drop more than 60 pounds.

For me, it was a scenario of drastic times calling for drastic measures. I knew I had to change things up, because continuing to do what I had always done was not an option, since doing that is what got me fat in the first place.

I am not claiming to be an expert, a doctor, a nutritionist, or anything else (see below), other than a gal who has been through the process and wants to share my story and help others as they try to do the same thing. If you're interested in the Ideal You Weight Loss & Wellness Program, keep in mind they do an informational seminar every Tuesday so you can get your questions answered before you try it.

(Disclaimer: I want to say that I am in no way a professional, expert, or any other form of authority on the matters of food, exercise, and weight loss. I can only relay my experiences and opinions. I know -and stress- that these are my personal opinions and experiences and realize that in all likelihood they are unique to me and me alone. Since everyone is different, everyone can and probably will have a different experience and have success using what works for their unique circumstance. Do not take my words as a replacement for a doctor’s opinion)

I hope any or all of this helps, in any way possible. Best of luck to you!