As a certified personal trainer and fitness coach as well as a nutrition specialist, what I am about to tell you I’ve seen consistently proven over and over again with my clients and even those who weren’t; the people that came determined to make a lifestyle change were successful, it was and remains as simple as that. Their success was proven when their eating habits changed – everyone that did this effectively lost weight. However, those that reinforced it with solid resistance training lost a lot more weight, lost it faster, and got that athletic look they were trying to achieve. Simply put, they changed their way of thinking. So, here are 14 things that you need to know and can do that will assist you in losing weight and reaching your goals:
1. Know that losing weight requires 100% Dedication, and nothing short of it
There is no 50/50 percentage split or 80/20 rule. The only rule that’s always true is that if you give 100% in eating better, your body will be better equipped through proper nourishment to handle not only the rigors of your fitness training but also the unavoidable and often unrecognized stressors placed on you from everyday life.
2. You don’t need a lot of room or a big box gym to make a change in your lifestyle, you just need creativity
One great thing about working out from home is you don’t have to share the space with anyone as you do at a gym or fitness studio – you don’t have to wait on any machines and there are no special days when a certain area is unavailable due to it being annexed for a new class. If you know what you want goal wise and have a plan to reach it, follow your plan so that you can get that great workout you’re looking for. Be creative and be safe in your workouts; try new exercises and challenge yourself. If you need help or guidance, seek it out.
3. Write Down Your Goals
Make your intention real. Don’t just say I want to lose X number of pounds, be as specific as you want or need to be. Write down how much you want to lose, when you want to lose it by, and how you are going to do it, even if you’re unsure exactly how. You can always find help; try breaking down your goals into parts so that you can see what they’ll look like.
There is an acronym that is often used when setting goals, it’s being S.M.A.R.T.; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Breakdown your goals in that fashion and that will allow you to benchmark your progress making them clearer and enabling you to reach them quicker. You could say that you want to lose 30 lbs. in 12 weeks for the military ball, or summer trip to the beach by doing resistance training minimally three times per week. When your plan is broken down in that fashion your chances of succeeding increase exponentially.
4. Meditate on Your Reasons for Your Habits
Think about the type of person you are, after all, change requires honesty. If you know that after dealing with children, school, or a rough day at work, you’ll likely crawl exhaustively to your couch, grab a beer and some chips or other comfort food; or you’ll watch your favorite movie, grab the phone and vent about things you really do need to get off your chest, tame it with a little discipline; get small bowls or a container that will help you measure portion size, or self-examine what things you’d like to vent about. Most importantly, examine why you’re eating the foods you’re eating.
Think about your need for food, is it out of actual hunger, or is it comfort you’re seeking. There’s nothing wrong with either situation, but if it is comfort think of some alternatives that will help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself. A person may be unaware that they are thirsty and often recognize it as hunger. Whenever you feel hungry, drink a little water first to see if that helps. Think of constructive ways that you can physically release what you may be feeling, you’ll feel better after and will have gotten closer to your goal.
5. Start a List of Healthy Foods You Enjoy
Consider what things you enjoy eating that are healthy; list them and let that be the starting focus of any eating habits you’re trying to change. To give yourself the best chance of success you’ll need to provide yourself with the best options. Don’t waste time getting a list of all the healthy foods that you have heard will help you lose weight – if you don’t like them you probably won’t eat them. If you try to force yourself to eat foods you don’t enjoy, your chances of success drop; you need to enjoy this for it to last.
Hopefully, it will be fun, consider some different ways in which you can try cooking the foods you do enjoy. The key is to not think about healthy food you must eat, but rather the food you want to eat which are healthy. Then just keep adding to the list as you learn what foods you enjoy eating and are healthy as well.
6. Drink More Water
We’ve all been told that we need to drink more water and here’s how you do it – if you’re one of those people that loves water and your body is quick to let you know when you don’t have enough, then you are ahead of the game; keep doing what you have been doing. If on the other hand you’re not one of those folks and you know you need more and can keep track of how much you intake, try to have half a cup every half hour or a cup every hour on the hour. You can even try having just a cup or two before or during every meal. This will also help you feel full and help you consume fewer calories. If the lack of taste gets to you, add a little flavor to it from your favorite fruit.
7. Minimize Fruit Juices and Soft Drinks
Juice in and of itself is not bad; the juice that you buy at the store is bad – it’s processed and loaded with sugars and additives. Instead of drinking the juice eat the fruit instead, the natural fibers within fruit serve as a good fibrous counterbalance against the sugars. As a snack fruit will help you feel full and give you a good boost of energy. Avoid soft drinks as well, some soft drinks have been shown to have upwards of 154% recommended daily sugar intake.
8. Add Vegetables to Every Meal
Some people love vegetables – some people hate them, but you should try to have some vegetables with every meal. Start with some of your favorites and think about different ways in which you can prepare or cook them. The fiber in them will help keep you full and will supply you with consistent energy throughout the day; the relatively low sugar content won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Adding more vegetables to your meals doesn’t have to complex or difficult, you could simply chop up some of your favorite vegetables and add it to whatever it is that you’re already cooking; for instance, I love adding onions, tomatoes and celery with my eggs cooked in any way.
9. Don’t Forget the Protein
Don’t cheat yourself on your protein, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting enough throughout the day anyway. Most of our diet is carb-dense instead of protein, carb, and fat balanced. Choose a few protein-dense foods that you enjoy eating, e.g. chicken, beef, venison or fish, things that you enjoy and have it as a part of your meals. Proteins are the building blocks of humans so make sure you build with good materials.
10. You Need Fat
You want some fats within your meal; they are essential, they help with digestion, and let’s be honest that’s where the flavor is. The fats you want to take in are from sources like vegetable oils or fish, you just don’t want to overdo it. Don’t drench your food in oils or cook them in a way where you’ll ingest more oil and fat than any other nutrient.
If the daily recommended allowance for fat in your meal is 20-35% you don’t want to push past that recommendation by eating the entire fat source when you only need a portion of it. You want to have fats in your diet with moderation; for example, olives or a bag of nuts have not only healthy fat but also various other health benefits like fiber. However, you don’t need to eat an entire jar of olives or a whole bag of nuts to get the healthy fat you need, only a small portion of it will get you your 20 or 35%.
11. Keep Your Meals Balanced and Non-Restrictive
Keep it balanced, don’t omit foods or food types simply because somebody told you it was bad or that you shouldn’t have it. Most people don’t have restrictions on foods so they can eat from all groups which will optimize their chances of getting a variety of nutrients and vitamins. Folks that do have restrictions and may need to remove certain foods from their diet should seek the advice of a registered dietitian or speak with their doctor before proceeding. Removing a whole group from your diet could wind up doing more harm than good because it could remove essential nutrients that your body needs and eventually cause you to gain weight in an unhealthy way or create other more serious complications.
12. Live Life and Have Fun
Do things you enjoy doing that’s physical; if you like to dance, clean, cook or even garden, now is a perfect time. There is no time like the present to start doing something you enjoy. Being active doesn’t mean only to simply go to the gym or having a stringent exercise routine, it doesn’t exclude those things either but make this a fun and enjoyable part of your life.
13. Get Your Rest
Understand this – everything that you do won’t make a difference if you’re not getting the proper amount of rest. When you’re working out, you’re tearing your body down by putting it through stressors that it can meet, but it’s going to need rest to recover and rebuild a better version to meet those stressors the next time. I came across an image some time ago about the six best doctors in the world – Sunshine, Water, Rest, Air, Exercise, and Diet; it is a fact that by far those are the best things anyone can do for themselves, each one of them is essential.
14. This Is Not a Quick Overnight Fix
Studies have shown that, generally, the best way to lose weight consistently is to lose one to two pounds per week which provides optimal weight loss while preventing loss of lean muscle mass, and helps to facilitate fat burn. One to two pounds per week equals out to 52-104 pounds per year. This is not drastic or major and the look and feel of losing the pounds and keeping it off are wonderful things. If you’re looking for anything faster than that you can possibly cause yourself a lot of harm – if not in the short-term, definitely in the long-term for a short-lived feeling. What you need to understand is that the process will take time – based on the work you put in yes, but no matter what, it will still take time. So, enjoy the process so that you can enjoy the rewards that much more.
Those are the 14 things everyone ought to know about losing weight. Use them well – live, learn, enjoy.
ISSA-CPT, CNS, AAHF-CWC, Owner of One Way Fitness Personal Training