Here’s my list of the most important things to know in order to lose weight.
#1: Nutrition is 80% of the game
If you want to lose weight and change the way you look and feel, modifying your nutrition ranks up at the top of the list of things to do. I would put it ahead of exercise in terms of overall impact to how much you weigh and how you look and feel.
Many of our clients will tell me, “I know what I need to do, the challenge is getting myself to do it.” Yep! We’ve all been there. I know I have (and am).
Here’s what you need to know…
Changing what you eat is the simple part. The tough part is changing how you eat and why you eat what you do. This is what gets lost for many people. And it’s where the long term success resides.
- Fill your grocery cart and meals with whole foods, less processed foods, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, slow digesting carbs, and healthy fats.
- Take care in the beverages you drink. It’s easy to over indulge calorie-wise in beverages. Switch out high calorie beverages with zero calorie beverages like water, unsweetened tea, sparkling water, and black coffee or espresso.
- Develop your meal planning and prep rituals.
- Fill your fridge and kitchen pantry with healthy foods. And while you are at it, throw away any unhealthy food. Get it out of the house!
And once you do all that, here are 3 nutrition changing and body transforming habits. (These are three of the key skills we teach our personal training clients at Strand Fitness.)
- Eat Slowly
- Eat to 80% Full
- Notice and name why you eat what you do.
Changing your nutrition is not about forbidden food and strict rules. That leads to failure. Over time focus on bringing more healthy food into your diet – it will eventually crowd out the less healthy choices.
Think about how you can improve your nutrition little by little. Don’t try to get it “perfect or else.” Changing your nutrition is not about forbidden food and strict rules. That leads to failure. Over time focus on bringing more healthy food into your diet – it will eventually crowd out the less healthy choices.
#2: Exercise is essential
My recommendation is to increase the level of activity in your daily life… Also add three to four sessions of strenuous and purposeful exercise.
Building your muscles and raising your heart rate through cardiovascular exercise is part of the formula as well. You don’t need to become an exercise ninja (unless you want to and would like to).
My recommendation is to increase the level of activity in your daily life. Walking more, riding your bike to work, cleaning your house, gardening – anything that gets you moving and out of your chair and off the couch.
Also add three to four sessions of strenuous and purposeful exercise. These sessions would include strength and cardiovascular training. You want to sweat and get your heart rate up. The level of intensity and type of exercise needs be scaled to your current level of fitness and to any health issues or restrictions you may have. If you are unsure how to do this, consider hiring a personal trainer, fitness coach, or fitness instructor who can tailor a fitness program to your needs.
#3: Prepare yourself – you will have to work at it
But isn’t that true about anything worthwhile in life?
Too often I see people give up when the going gets tough. It is almost like they are surprised it takes work to lose weight.
So prepare yourself.
Losing weight takes work. Your job will get in the way, personal responsibilities will take up time, and you will lose motivation and inspiration.
Losing weight takes work. Your job will get in the way, personal responsibilities will take up time, and you will lose motivation and inspiration. You will have to negotiate new ways of being with friends and family, and you will have to say “no” at times.
It takes grit and determination to keep moving towards your goal. It’s not always pretty. Put forth the effort, work on your commitment, tap your creativity, and keep claiming the small, yet real, victories along the way. You will get there as long as you keep moving and keep improving.
#4: Be on the look out to learn and try new things
New knowledge and new skills will support your weight loss effort. Some of the knowledge will be more academic such as learning about different fruits and vegetables and how to read a food label. You might be learning new kitchen skills (aka chopping veggies and using the blender). And new recipes and food prep may be in store.
And count on is learning a great deal about yourself. Stay diligent in observing what works and what doesn’t work for you. And do more of what works.
Experiment! Try different workout times until you find the one that works for you. Challenge your taste buds, and eat a new healthy food each week. See what you like and what you don’t.
#5: Your beliefs about yourself will be challenged and may need to shift in order to lose weight.
If you believe you (or your body) hate exercise, guess what? You probably won’t be exercising regularly… If you believe that you never have time to take care of yourself and that everyone else must come first, then you probably will never have time nor the energy to do what it takes to lose weight.
The most eye-opening experience in my own weight loss journey has been the impact my beliefs have had on my weight and its fluctuations. I am not talking about how confident or committed you believe you are (or aren’t). I am talking about what you truly believe about yourself and your ability to get what you want in life. If you struggle with weight loss, this is an important area to pay attention to.
If you believe you (or your body) hate exercise, guess what? You probably won’t be exercising regularly. You may find that your fitness history is littered with abandoned gym memberships, never used exercise DVD’s, or a book shelf filled with how to lose weight books.
If you believe that you never have time to take care of yourself and that everyone else must come first, then you probably will never have time nor the energy to do what it takes to lose weight.
Losing weight is about being aware of your beliefs and challenging them. They are your beliefs, so you can change them if you want.
Here are two examples from my journey:
I love to exercise and move my body. I love to hear my breathing and feel my muscles burn. And I love the feeling of reaching a physical goal. Exercise and athletic pursuits are a core part of my identity. As a result, I rarely cancel or miss a chance to exercise. My psyche won’t let me. I can always create the time to workout without giving it a second thought.
My identity as an overweight person becomes the default belief when I am under stress… I find it EXTREMELY difficult, almost IMPOSSIBLE to manage healthy nutrition during stressful times… This is why stress management is a weight loss strategy for me as I work on shifting my “overweight person” belief.
On the other end of the scale (pun intended), I live with the belief that I am an overweight person. That has been part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I continue to work on shifting that belief. I am making progress, little by little, but it is there for me. Here’s how it plays out in my weight loss journey.
My identity as an overweight person becomes the default belief when I am under stress. And if I am not careful, I find it EXTREMELY difficult, almost IMPOSSIBLE to manage healthy nutrition during stressful times. I do what I believe overweight people do in times of stress, I over eat and make poor food choices – many times without even realizing what I am doing. I am on auto-pilot, almost not realizing what I am doing. And up goes the scale. This is why stress management is a weight loss strategy for me as I work on shifting my “overweight person” belief.