Losing weight is tough. Most people have had a feeling of dread when stepping on the scale at some point in their lives, and I am no different. The summer following my wedding, I gained about 20 pounds. I have no idea why, exactly, as I’ve never gained weight like that in my life. The only time I ever gained weight was because I was growing, never because I was growing. So you can imagine it was a shock to suddenly find myself struggling to fit into my clothes.
Having never gained weight before, I had no idea how to lose it. Yes, there is a lot of information out in the world on superfoods, detox smoothies, and popular exercise programs. It’s so overwhelming! I had no idea what to believe and what to discount as nonsense. Of course, there’s the good ol’ “diet and exercise” notion that you hear everyone spouting on about, but that is HARD. I mean, if you have always eaten like a teenager and never broken a sweat beyond playing Rockband, the transition to a granola eating fitness queen is daunting.
I’m still not sure if I gained the weight because of a hormonal change, stress, inactivity, or I just hit the end of the road of having a metabolism that can handle anything. Whatever the cause, I needed to fix it. I simply didn’t have the funds to completely update my wardrobe, and I didn’t want to out of sheer principle anyway. So I sat down with my bullet journal and came up with a plan.
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I opened up a fresh page in my Ecosystem journal and titled it “Weight Loss Plan”. I then wrote out my current weight and the weight I want to be. Please know that I am 5’ tall, so 115 is a normal weight for someone my size. Obviously this will vary with you, so consult a medical website for a good weight to aim for based on your height, age, etc. Speaking to your doctor is best, of course.
Under the header, I made a very basic plan on how to accomplish my goal. Nothing fancy here, just me and some gym equipment. I decided on cardio, using an elliptical or a treadmill, and then one of three categories to choose from each visit to the gym:
This way I can simply use the machines and work out certain muscle groups while allowing the others to rest. Simple is good, simple works.
Originally, I tried to do four days per week, but that wasn’t going to happen. I need to build up the habit instead of imposing it on my life. When I would miss one of my four days, I would feel like a failure and not show up for the others (great logic, I know). This meant that I was starting over again and again. Once I brought it down to just two, it feels better if I don’t succeed and I don’t get quite so disheartened. It helps if you make it fun, too! I was happy to get my armband for Christmas, which makes it so much easier to jam out to the best music and play Zombies, Run!. I also bought these resistance bands from Gold’s Gym, which have helped me stretch really well at home and do some light exercises on my off days here at home.
Another big factor for me is music. If I have the right playlist, exercising is much easier. And having no disruption to my focus is a must. That’s why I prefer to use Amazon Music. I am an Amazon Prime member, so I can have an enormous library of music at my fingertips with absolutely no ads, and I love it. I used to use other radio services, but I’ve found that the commercial breaks really interrupt my flow, and I need as much focus as I can get. If you aren’t already a Prime member, I would suggest you check it out. There are loads of other benefits besides the music, so you really get a bang for your buck. Try it free for 30 days or 6 months if you’re a student and see how it suits you. I know it is perfect for me!
I also made a concise effort to make these habits permanent by tracking them in my habit tracker. This allows me to think about my goals each and every day as I fill it out. Seeing your habits have a whole host of benefits, one of which being that you can’t keep telling yourself that “I only exercised a day or two ago,” when in reality you haven’t worked out in a week and a half. I know I’m guilty of that if I don’t watch myself.
You’ll also notice in my habit tracker that I monitor my water intake, how often I eat at home, and how often I abstain from soda (my kryptonite). This allows me to check, at a glance, how my overall health goals are going at any time when I carry my bullet journal, which is all the time. It’s also immensely satisfying to fill in those boxes when I’ve accomplished a day of hard work. I like using bright colors to make the page pretty and interesting. I use Sharpie highlighters in this spread, but I upgraded to Staedtler Triplus Fineliners after this tracker was completed (see my next month’s set up here) and I prefer the variety of vibrant colors. If you prefer a more minimalist look, I’d suggest getting a set of Micron Pens so you can have a bold, black line in several widths.
An additional trick that I started just yesterday is weighing myself once a week on the same day and writing that number in my bullet journal calendar so I can track the ups and downs. I decided to start doing it because we need to track the puppy’s growth, so it seemed natural to keep those two data points together!
Also, I started keeping track of my daily meals and water intake on my daily spreads, right next to all my tasks. I try to drink three of my Contigo water bottles each day, equaling out to 72 ounces. And writing down your meals is more helpful than you might realize. It’s amazing how quickly you can forget what you’ve consumed in the last few days, let alone last few weeks. And if you are a mindless snacker, it’s great at forcing you to own up to what you have been eating. Knowing that you have to log your food can also help you steer clear of poor choices because you will have to write it down in a place you will see it again and again.
Another way to help steer yourself in the right direction is through rewarding yourself through a simple system. This method helps create a more concrete reward than just “get healthier”, which helps me push myself to the next level. Meal planning is yet another simple way to help watch your waistline. Getting prepared for a week’s worth of dinners so you aren’t stuck with fast food every other night can create enormous change over time.
Above all, remember that you need to encourage yourself. Don’t berate yourself for slipping up, don’t talk about how much you hate your body. You receive the vibes you put out in the world, so be optimistic and remember that you are working so hard because you love your body, not because you hate it. Using this mindset and the techniques listed above, I have lost five pounds, a whole quarter of the way to my goal. And if I can do it, you certainly can, too. Love yourself and do this for yourself, and use your bullet journal to be your constant companion and encouraging friend along the way.
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