A friend of mine recently asked me the question anyone who is losing weight will inevitably get: How are you doing it?
It's harder to answer than you might think. I mean, there's the obvious answer -- diet and exercise, duh.
Melynda Findlay, 49, Arlington HeightsStarting weight: 226
Current weight: 205
Weight lost this week: 5 pounds
Total weight lost: 21 pounds
Total percentage lost: 9.3 percent
But because I've asked that question plenty of times, I know that's not what people want to hear. Of course, there are always a few people who want you to share the supersecret spell you learned at Hogwarts Summer Camp for Weight Loss and tell them you pretty much just ate doughnuts the whole time.
But most people actually want useful tips -- you know, the little things that really helped. Those things are different for everyone. But I'm going to share three things that really help me, and I hope maybe they'll help somebody else.
Spoiler alert: None of them involve magic or doughnuts.
Eat your vegetables
The Push Fitness eating plan is pretty simple: Eat whole foods, including lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables -- until you're satisfied but not overstuffed -- and skip the processed junk.
For me, it absolutely works; it isn't just about calories in and calories out. I get results and feel best when I pay attention to the quality of those calories and eat things like chicken and vegetables.
I'm sure I'd eventually lose weight eating the same number of calories worth of french fries and ice cream, but I'd feel like garbage (trust me, I've tried).
Be Brian's parents
My boyfriend's parents are some of the most active people I know. They're both in their 60s and retired, and they are just.always.moving.
I'm trying to emulate that. I now work out daily, but I sometimes fall back on bad habits. A workout is plenty of moving around for one day, so for the rest of it I can just read or sit at my desk and work, right?
Ehhhhh … No.
So I stay active between workouts. On weekends, I run lots of errands. When I'm home -- or working from home -- I put on my headphones, turn up the music and walk the hallways every so often (I'm sure my neighbors don't think it's weird at all).
When I'm in the office, I make sure I get up from my desk at least once every hour and take a few laps around the newsroom.
Every day, between workouts and other activities, I make sure to get in at least 10,000 steps (roughly 4.5 to 5 miles).
Have a great playlist
Honesty time: Working out isn't always my favorite. There are days when I'd rather do math problems (please note that I'm very bad at math) than work out with my trainer, Push Fitness owner Josh Steckler, or hop on the treadmill at home for more than 23 seconds.
So sometimes I have to bribe myself (with something not in the cookie or cream-filling categories). I usually choose music, and I have some great Spotify playlists for when I'm in the car or on the treadmill.
In fact, I'll share one with you -- give it a follow! It's called Treadmill Tunes and, yes, that's Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the cover (because why the heck not. He's running, OK?) It's eclectic (maybe the only time you'll ever find Black 47 and Twenty One Pilots on the same playlist?) but these songs get me past those "EXERCISE IS TORTURE!!!" moments.
Those are the things that have proved most valuable during this challenge. Try them, or find some that work for you.
Because while getting fit and losing weight both take a lot of work, there always are things you can do that'll make the whole process a little easier and definitely much more fun.
• Melynda Findlay is a multiplatform editor at the Daily Herald, where she's worked for 19 years. Check out her Treadmill Tunes playlist on Spotify!