Charleston Grill Inside Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston South Carolina by Luxury Travel Writer and Photographer Annie Fairfax

15 Habits That Helped Me Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks

I wanted to get healthier and stronger, so part of my fitness journey began in November. My husband and I began waking up an hour earlier than usual to exercise before we started our day and did so every single day without fail until February. I’d gotten stronger, could lift heavier, hold a wall sit longer, and do far more reps and sets than when I’d begun. My body was stronger than ever, but I hadn’t lost a single pound. Though my clothes were slightly loose, I also wanted to lose weight. Unfortunately, I’ve been turned down or scorned by fashion collaborations in the past years for being an American size 4. You read that right. Brands have told me they “don’t pay fat people” or told me they “don’t work with anyone over a size 0”. I’ve never been “fat,” but even if I was, that’s not a bad thing. I firmly believe people should be able to look however they want. Since it affected my income, I wanted to see if I could do it. Borderline bullying aside, I’ve wanted to get healthier, exercise more, become stronger, and eat better for a while anyway. So, I began in February, incorporating these 15 habits that helped me lose 15 pounds in six weeks.

I won’t tell you to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, or things like that because I’m not a nutritionist. That’s obvious, and plenty of resources are out there to learn how to eat healthy. Speaking of, I recommend working with a nutritionist, doctor, and/or physical therapist to ensure you exercise and eat correctly for your unique needs.

How I Lost 15 Pounds in Six Weeks by Annie Fairfax

1. Tracking Calories

When I began working out more, I also ate more. At first, I tried tracking my protein intake, and that helped, but what led to me shedding pounds was sticking around 1,200 calories per day. I use the LoseIt! App (premium version) and a food scale to track everything I eat religiously. I ensure I get enough protein and fiber and do not overeat salt, sugar, or calories. This was the #1 most helpful of the 15 habits that helped me lose 15 pounds! If you only do one thing to lose weight, let it be this!

Sticking to a hard limit forced me to select healthier foods, which improved my overall diet. My hair became shinier, I had more energy, and though I’ve always had clear skin, it looked brighter. When I hit my calories for the day, I switched to herbal adaptogenic tea and water, which helped me stay hydrated, reduced fine lines, and made my skin firmer. This made the most significant difference and helped me lose 5″ from my waist over the last couple of months.

One of my favorite features is that the premium version of the app helps you identify positive daily patterns to help accelerate your weight. Here are some of my healthy patterns.

15 Things That Helped Me Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks by Annie Fairfax

2. Exercising Daily

I began exercising daily with my husband in November because we both work very sedentary jobs unless we’re traveling. We could spend an entire day sitting at our desks without moving, which is very unhealthy. For me, waking up earlier to exercise before work was challenging the first week, but I quickly got into the swing of it and found I had far more energy throughout the day.

We mainly did Darebee exercises. They’re free, with hundreds to choose from, so we were never bored. We also did Alexis Ren workouts, hiked 4-6 miles per day when the weather was nice, and weightlifted at home or Equinox. We used these weights for heavier workouts and these for lightweight, high-rep workouts. I also used these ankle and wrist weights when hiking or walking. This was one of the most helpful of the 15 habits that helped me lose 15 pounds.

3. Stretching Daily

We did a two-minute warm-up and cool-down at the end of each workout to prevent injuries. I also started doing yoga at night before bed to help with my flexibility. I don’t have back pain, or any pain actually, but I wanted to ensure that as we pushed ourselves harder and exercised longer, we didn’t hurt ourselves. Doing yoga daily helped me become more flexible, ensured we didn’t get injured, and helped me sleep better, making it easier to wake up early.

This 23-minute stretch with Alexis Ren and this entire channel by Jessica Richburg were my favorites. Caitlin Kelli also has great yoga videos, as does Yoga with Adriene. I liked these channels the best because they were distraction-free, they had calming voices, and if they used music, it was quiet and relaxing. Please let me know if you have other yoga channels you’d recommend! I’m always looking for new channels to try.

I use this non-toxic cork yoga mat, this organic cotton mat cushion, and this stretching strap. I also really like this pretty yoga mat bag, which I take when I travel or visit family. I plan to exercise and stretch outdoors when the weather improves, too!

4. Stop Buying Junk Food

This was another one that did wonders for us. If we don’t buy junk food, we can’t eat junk food. So, we stopped buying things like chips, ice cream, and other sugary snacks and either cut them out if we didn’t miss them or began making healthier versions at home to control the ingredients. Below are some of my favorite snacks and healthy substitutions we started making. I also recommend learning how to use herbs and spices to make whatever you eat that much more satisfying!

Cereal –> Homemade granola or oatmeal with fruit and nuts
Cheese –> Nutritional Yeast
Chips –> Kale chips
Cookies –> Almond Butter-Stuffed Dates
Ice Cream –> Nelly’s Whole Food Bars or Clio Yogurt Bars
Rice or GF Bread –> More vegetables
Soda/Alcohol –> Kombucha, Tea, or Water
Storebought sauces & condiments –> Homemade with healthier ingredients
Tortillas (e.g., tacos, etc.) –> Lettuce wraps, seaweed sheets

15 Things That Helped Me Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks by Annie Fairfax

5. Make a Meal Plan

This was a major game-changer for me. By creating a weekly meal plan, we were able to:
a. ensure we had a plan so we didn’t get hangry and order takeaway
b. ensure we ate what we bought from the grocery store and helped us cut down on food waste
c. have a plan so we could know where to fit in snacks, dining out, or meals out with friends.

Having a meal plan made everything simpler and definitely contributed to me losing 15 pounds in only six weeks. I’ve found it difficult to come up with healthy meals on the fly, so making a plan and sticking it to it reduced uncertainty, reduced food waste, forced us to eat at home more often, and ensured I could plan meals that were light, healthy, and nutritious.

6. Wisely Integrate Pre-Packaged Foods

Another thing that surprised me was the many healthy pre-packaged foods at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and our local health food markets. Brands like Amy’s and Saffron Road sell premade meals that give all nutrition information on the back of the box. With the LoseIt! I just scanned the barcode, and the data populated in my app. I’d always stayed away from pre-packaged foods, but these made sticking to my calorie goal much simpler because they allowed me to eat foods that would’ve otherwise taken hours to prepare without the mess. They also reduced my desire to go out to eat or order takeaway with major amounts of salt and calories. For example, Saffron Roads’ Indian meals are around 400 calories each vs. takeaway that can be 1,200+!

Planning these meals into our meal plan allowed us to take a break from cooking, reduce the number of dishes we had to do, and know exactly what we were eating (I checked these to ensure they were accurate by weighing the meals). They were flat-out convenient and tasty! $4-8 frozen meals are 1/3 the cost of dining out, and I don’t have to try to guess the ingredients or nutrition information.

7. Cooking at Home More & Trying New Recipes

As stated above, cooking at home gives us far more control over what’s on our plates. We don’t have to wonder, guess, and get it wrong. It allows us to be more accurate in tracking, and I could be certain nothing I ate had gluten in it.

15 Things That Helped Me Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks by Annie Fairfax

8. Having a Workout Partner

This made a massive difference for me. Working out with my husband every morning and then exercising with a friend every other evening helped me stay on track and have fun. Losing weight isn’t difficult when it’s fun, and I stayed consistent.

9. Goal Setting With Rewards

I set goals for myself, stuck to them, and rewarded myself when I met them. Below are my goals and corresponding rewards. I recommend setting realistic, data-backed goals and some softer goals that can be easily tracked. Then, reward yourself with something non-food related, like a new workout set, new workout equipment, a massage or spa day, something that makes you feel good and helps you celebrate getting healthier. Also, ensure your rewards are something you’d love to have or do so you can keep working toward them. It’s so satisfying!

-5 lbs: New Annmarie Skincare Products (Body Butter, Shampoo & Conditioner, Eye Serum & Organic Lip Balm)
-7 lbs: Date Night in New York City
-10 lbs: Mate the Label Workout Set, On Sneakers, Ilia Eye Liner & Kjaer Weis mascara, Glass Water Bottle
-15 lbs: Spa Day (Massage, Facial, Manicure & Pedicure) & Chawanmushi Cups

Able to Run a 5k without Stopping: Paint Easel, Serena & Lily Stool & Paint Set


10. Measure, Weigh & Track Everything 

We measured and weighed ourselves when we started and each week as we progressed. It was exciting to watch ourselves move along and hit our goals one by one. This was also helpful because it allowed us to see that our measurements changed even when we didn’t lose much weight.

We measured bicep, bust, neck, waist, hips, thigh & calf.

15 Things That Helped Me Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks by Annie Fairfax

11. Keeping a Fitness Journal

I wrote down every exercise I did every single day, and watching that journal fill up was super satisfying. I wrote what I did when I did it, and for how long. It helped me mix up my workouts and gave me a frame of reference as I progressed. I struggled to do 50 reps with a 5-pound weight when I started. Now, I can do 100 with a 15 lb weight for a few exercises! It’s not a lot in the scheme of things, but it was a huge increase for me and shows how much I’ve gotten stronger. I also tracked this within the LoseIt! App, but I liked writing it down, too.

12. Distracting Myself From Food with Healthier, More Enjoyable Things

I found myself obsessing over food, particularly when I was super hungry. By doing something I enjoyed, like writing, painting, tending to my houseplants, reading, or spending time with my husband, I was able to distract myself, which helped keep me on track.

13. Cut Out Alcohol Completely

I’ve never been much of a drinker, but we stopped completely around the New Year, and I don’t miss it at all. It’s saved us money that we now spend on vitamins, new exercise equipment, or fitness rewards. Also, alcohol is a significant contributor to numerous health issues like colorectal cancer and cancer in general. It’s safe to say cutting out alcohol is a significant first step for anyone looking to get healthier!

The same can be said for soda and sugary juice. Choose healthier “Sodas” like Olipop or kombucha and cut fruit juice with water.

15 Things That Helped Me Lose 15 Pounds in Six Weeks by Annie Fairfax

14. Remember Your Goals

I looked at my goals every day. I logged my meals before I ate them to ensure I didn’t go over. I visualized my goal and made it a reality!

15. Have Fun and Be Positive!

Working out and drastically reducing how much I was eating would’ve been difficult and frustrating if I hadn’t done my best to make it fun. Robin and I spent more time together exercising and cooking together (which we continue to do daily). I discovered new recipes, brands, foods, and workouts, all of which I enjoyed more than I was doing before. I feel better and look better, plus people are nicer to me now that I’m slimmer. Pretty privilege, sadly, is a very real thing in our world, and I’ve noticed people treat me better now than they did two months ago. Isn’t that crazy?!

Stay positive, stick to your goal, and you can do it too, using these 15 habits that helped me lose 15 pounds!

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  1. First, congratulations on losing weight. Second, thanks so much for your tips! I’ve tried My Fitness Pal and hated the interface, but I signed up for Lose It and I’ve already logged two straight days. It is fun, haha. I’ve also begun drinking way more water and like you said, I feel fuller. Hopefully i can lose weight too!

  2. Congratulations! You were pretty before, now I’m sure you’re stunning!

  3. Rose Walters says:

    This is the motivation I needed to try again, thank you!