Woman Shares 3 Simple Tricks That Helped Her Lose 30 Pounds
After topping the scale at 150, one woman lost 30 pounds by making three simple changes.
Lucy Liang lost 30 pounds after making a few simple life changes. In a new essay for Newsweek, she tells her weight loss story, explaining that after struggling for years to lose weight and hitting her heaviest weight ever, she finally learned the secret to getting and keeping the pounds off.
Liang explains that she started her weight loss journey in 2006 while in high school, but yo-yo'd for a while. "Each time I lost weight I'd regain it more. Each time I tried to lose weight again, it would be slower than before," she said.
After six years, she was at the heaviest she had ever been. "I weighed 150 pounds at 5 foot 3," she said.
This was in 2012. "I started tracking my calories. At first, I lost around one pound a week, but then, I began to lose 0.5 pounds a week, and shortly after, I stopped losing weight completely," she said.
She turned to weight loss forums to figure out what was going on, "and many people suggested I exercise more and raise my daily calories burned," she said. "So, I exercised frantically but, again, after seeing some initial weight loss, it stopped. I was at my wit's end. I thought maybe I was eating too much, so I slashed even more calories."
After seeing "no change," she took to unhealthy measures. "I felt this sense of falling behind, and so in a panicked frenzy, I tried diet teas and fat-burning pills to force my body to change. None of these helped," she said.
After her mom had a health scare in late 2014, she started studying nutrition and metabolism. "Our bodies are adaptation machines and are incredibly sensitive to change. It can freak out when you eat in a big calorie deficit for too long, especially if you have a history of yo-yo dieting as well," she said.
This was when she learned the first big tip: She reversed her diet "back up to maintenance" for a week or two to reset her metabolism. "At first, it was scary when I saw my weight shoot up. In the past, I would have failed, but having learned that this would just be temporary water gain, I decided to trust the process," she said. Instead of just weighing herself she took body measurements. After resetting her metabolism she went back into a deficit, "albeit a more moderate ten to 20 percent this time, and I started losing weight again," she said. "I unbroke my metabolism by using strategic refeeds, taking one week off to eat at maintenance every time I hit a plateau, which was about once every three months."
Liang also noticed she "didn't feel as energetic" as she expected. "It was during further studies that I learned that muscle burns more calories than fat at rest about three times more, according to researchers. I also learned that because of my history of yo-yo dieting, I had lost muscle and gained more fat as a result—further slowing down my metabolism," she said. She battled insomnia, so gave up caffeine, "cold turkey, and started to wake up at the same time every day. The first two to three weeks sucked. I felt like a zombie. But by the end of week three, I was falling asleep and waking up regularly," she said. "That's when something shocking happened. Without changing anything else, my workouts improved, and I started losing fat faster than I did before. I later learned that gaining muscle as a woman is slow. Assuming you really push yourself at each and every training session, the most you can expect to gain in one year is up to ten pounds of muscle. And every year after that, the rate is halved," she continued. "Better sleep itself improves metabolism. When you're sleep-deprived for a long time, a few things happen. Your body is so stressed that it thinks you need to conserve energy, so it hangs onto your fat a lot more than if you had gotten proper sleep."
As for the third trick, "there was one more thing that helped boost my metabolism, and this simple thing I discovered completely by accident," she said. She said that she was still exercising almost every day, "a mix of strength training, HIIT, cardio, and running." When she went to an event that had her on her feet all day, she "was worried because I wouldn't have any time to work out on those days. Plus, I'd be eating a lot of empty calories from food courts," she said. "But after the week was over, I was shocked to discover that even though I ate 200 to 300 more calories per day than before, I actually lost fat." She explained that this was because she had been walking almost 15-20,000 steps every day, "compared to my usual 5-6,000 steps a day. What I had accidentally done was increase my NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis), which are small, often unconscious movements we do throughout the day, like walking around and doing" she said. "Once I saw this happen in practice, I cut back on my HIIT and running, and instead started implementing five to 15 minutes of walking throughout my day by setting timers on my phone. Doing this four to six times a day totaled six to 10,000 steps per day. On top of that, I'd do another 30-minute post-dinner walk with my favorite podcast, which often brought me up to a total of 13,000 steps, all without feeling like I was exerting too much effort."
By early 2016, she lost 30 pounds "and felt like a different person," she said. "Refeeding periodically, getting quality sleep, and prioritizing physical activity throughout the day versus doing formal exercises had the most immediate impact on my metabolism in my journey to lose fat and get fit." Liang is a co-founder of Coach Viva, a down-to-earth weight loss company.