Last week I talked about the biggest catalyst that helped me lose over 60lbs this year: the right motivation. I’ve struggled most of my life with weight. It wasn’t until I got to the root of those issues and framed losing weight in a larger context than just a goal to meet that I was actually able to lose the weight I wanted and keep it off.

Today I’d like to share what I did to lose the weight once I decided on what story I wanted to tell:

1. I started counting my calories.
Like most people, my problem was that I was eating too much food. So my first step was to figure out what my ideal weight was and how many calories I need to eat per day to get there. I used to help me out with this. I told the website my height, build, current weight, etc. and where I wanted to go and it told me how many calories I need to cut back to get there. The first part of this step was simple, easy, and free.

Once I got clarity about this I was able to track my calorie intake each day with the Live Strong app for my iPhone. The app is pretty cheap and easy to use. It has most foods and restaurant menus already in it, so there wasn’t a lot of manual data entry I needed to do here. I would just type in what I ate during the day and it told me how many calories it would cost me.

This was a HUGE eye-opener for me. I quickly realized I was eating over twice the recommended amount of calories I was supposed to on a daily basis. Seeing this visual really helped me make better choices for meals and snacks each day. At first it was really hard, but after a while my body acclimated to having a healthy amount of calories each day. Now I don’t have to think about it so much, but I still track my food every day so I don’t fall back into those old habits.

2. I drank 64 oz of water every day.
While I was having twice the amount of food I was supposed to have, I discovered I was drinking less than half the amount of water my body needed to stay hydrated. So I started carrying around a water bottle with me everywhere I went. I measure out that I would need to drink three full bottles worth every day to give my body the water it needed. The downside of drinking this much water is that I had to go to the bathroom much more frequently. A LOT more frequently. The upside was I started having more energy, I wasn’t as hungry throughout the day, and I was getting a bit more exercise (because of all the trips to the bathroom).

3. I began exercising every other day.
A good friend of mine turned me on to using burst training for my every other day work out. Basically, burst training is a 10 minutes a day, every other day, high-intense workout. It’s tough to do, but it only takes 10 minutes, three or four times a week. You can do this in a gym, on a track, or at home on a treadmill or running around your neighborhood. I did this at home, just running in place in my living room. Here’s the video I watched to help me get started:

4. I evaluated my progress on a daily and weekly basis.
Like I said in #1 I tracked my calories and water intake every day. After each burst training session I weigh in and recorded my progress on the Live Strong app. This helps me see what progress I am making and if I needed to work harder or simply continue at the pace I’m going at.

5. I didn’t go it alone.
The biggest mistake I made in the past while trying to lose weight was doing it on my own. I think some people can do that just fine, but I’m not one of them. My wife and I decided to work this plan together. We’re doing the same exercises, using the same app, and are committed to drinking the same amount of water and tracking our calorie intake every day. She has been the biggest factor in my weight-loss success (she has lost over 35lbs). I couldn’t have done it alone.

The secret I’ve found to losing weight is having the right motivation and coming up with a plan that will help you eat a healthy amount of the right foods, stay hydrated throughout the day, and give your body a good workout a few times a week. However you decide to do it, these are the crucial ingredients that will help anyone get in the right shape.

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