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The 3 Things That Made My 85-Pound Weight Loss Possible

Jennifer Niles
By Jennifer Niles
mbg Contributor
Jennifer B. Niles is an author, yogi, vegan and health coach.
Photo by Twenty20

Five years ago, I lost 85 pounds—and I've kept it off. It probably doesn't come as much of a surprise that a lot of people ask me how I did it. So, to use an analogy, the answer is simple: Weight loss is like baking a vegan and gluten-free cake. At first the process may seem daunting. You may seriously doubt the outcome. But when you realize all you have to do is substitute some key ingredients, the end result turns out to be much more delicious than you ever expected.

By swapping a few unhealthy habits for the three healthy practices below, I was able to completely transform my body. More importantly, my mind and entire life were transformed in the process. Losing weight gave me the confidence required to chase after my dreams.

Lasting weight loss is not about going on yet another fad diet. It's about changing your lifestyle. It's not always easy to let go of bad habits (or ingredients) and replace them with good ones. There is always some level of resistance. But it can certainly be done.

Prior to losing all that weight, my life revolved around binge drinking, fast food, and self-destruction. If I can make that change, you can too. Transformation requires determination, persistence, and willpower. Even if you feel like you lack these qualities, don't get discouraged!

If you are someone who has been attempting to lose weight with little or no success, I urge you to begin the process of substituting the key ingredients that fuel your lifestyle and replace them with the ingredients below.

1. Hit the yoga mat.

Many doubt the potent weight loss potential that this ancient spiritual practice has to offer, but I'm here to tell you that not one ounce of my 85-pound weight loss was due to spending time in a gym. All that was required to shed the pounds was a yoga mat and my own body weight.

Power yoga is extremely effective when it comes to torching calories and melting away stubborn fat. The fast-paced nature of this practice enables you to burn up to 600 calories per hour. On top of its calorie-torching potential, this style of yoga is known for increasing lean muscle mass. The more muscle the body contains, the faster the metabolism. The faster the metabolism, the more calories are burned.

Make it a goal to practice power yoga (or at least some type of yoga if you are just starting out) five days a week. No matter how tired you may be after a long day of work, just roll out the mat and get started. Just like baking a healthy cake, all you have to do is substitute one ingredient for another. In this case, swap your TV and couch time with a healthy practice that is also guaranteed to relax the body and mind while burning calories in the process.

2. Opt for a plant-based diet.

Consuming a natural plant-based diet is vital to lasting weight loss. Sure, some chemical-packed foods are convenient and may taste good, but keep in mind that the body was not designed to process these "foreign objects." The key to optimal health and well-being is to nourish the body with natural substances derived from the earth—you know, the type of foods that comes in a gorgeous array of colors, shapes, textures, and grow wild in nature. The types of food that were meant to be food.

Coupling a natural diet with yoga is extremely potent. Not only are you purifying the body and mind by flowing, twisting, and sweating out excess weight, but you are further purifying the body and mind by eating real food that was not created in a laboratory, packaged in a factory, or was once another living being. Make it a goal to consume food that delivers a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals proven to heal instead of created to poison.

Since yoga has a unique way of syncing your mind, body, and soul, you will discover that consuming a natural diet actually feels good. When you feel good, you naturally want to keep that positive feeling alive. As you will discover, the first two ingredients in our healthy cake (yoga and natural food) blend quite nicely together. In fact, on many levels their relationship seems destined. Who needs potato chips when you can savor the actual potato?

3. Eliminate alcohol.

Now that you've combined the first two ingredients and are committed to purifying the body through yoga and a natural diet, why ruin it by adding something silly to the recipe, like vodka? Alcohol contains nothing but empty calories that effectively throw your body out of whack. Even when you consume just one drink, it negatively affects the stomach, liver, and digestive system. Instead of burning food calories, the body immediately begins burning off the alcohol. Booze is akin to liquid poison, and the body wants to get rid of it immediately. The residual effects of just one measly drink can last for up to seven days, thus halting all weight-loss efforts.

There is no point in sticking to a strict regimen all week just to self-sabotage by getting drunk over the weekend. All your hard work will be for naught as soon as you lift that drink to your lips. So, all of those healthy natural meals you've been eating and that yoga you have been practicing? They become null and void once alcohol is consumed. It's just not worth it.

As you can see, weight loss is just like baking a vegan and gluten-free cake. Your desire a delicious outcome, but you have no idea where to start. In order to effectively lose weight and improve your health (or bake a healthy cake), you just need to give up the bad ingredients (white flour and eggs) and replace them with healthy ones (oat flour and bananas). All of these ingredients have the same effect and will cause the cake to rise and become deliciously fluffy. But you will soon realize that the healthy version actually tastes better. You will soon realize that living a healthy lifestyle full of yoga, natural food, and no alcohol actually feels better.

And they say that you can't have your cake and eat it too. I beg to differ!

Jennifer Niles author page.
Jennifer Niles

Jennifer B. Niles is an author, yogi, vegan and health coach. Upon relocating from the United States to a tropical island of her dreams in the South Pacific a few years ago, Niles reinvented her life and began writing and authored several wellness books and cookbooks.