Whilst my clients have many different goals and motivations, the overriding preoccupation of many is to lose weight in a sustainable way. Fad diets and deprivation will not work, but will only result in increased weight gain in the long run. As somebody who reduced his weight from 85kgs to 64kgs over a period of a couple of years (that’s a 20% loss of body weight), here are my top tips:
1. Banish the idea that losing weight is going to be a struggle involving deprivation and willpower. It’s not about this at all, it’s about rediscovering what your body really craves and that is proper nourishment.
2. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a healthy body. Focus on making small adjustments to your diet, day by day, week by week. This way your body and emotions will adapt better to the changes and the feedback you get from them and from other people will encourage you to further progress.
3. Eat when you are hungry only and stop when you feel full.
4. Move around as much as possible. Walk instead of drive, stand instead of sit and look for extra excuses to move. People like waiters and waitresses burn a lot more calories in a day than those who workout hard in the gym for an hour each day and do little else. Avoid sitting for long periods. You don’t need to be running marathons (unless you want to), constant low intensity exercise will burn a lot of calories, will take your mind off eating and improve the way you feel, especially if outdoors. It will also make you more aware of your body, its needs and the sheer joy of movement. Wear a fitbit monitor or similar to measure your movement – these are great motivators, especially for beginner exercisers. Aim for 10000 steps a day to start with, then try to get to 15000 or more eventually – it’s not that difficult if you move.
5. Drink plenty of water – it will make you feel fuller, so you don’t eat so much, as well as eliminating toxins.
6. Massively reduce sugar intake, in all its forms, including starchy carbohydrates, fizzy drinks, etc. Protein and fat take much longer for the body to process so make you feel fuller for longer.
7. Eat mostly real foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
8. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables especially – raw or lightly cooked preferably.
9. Eat plenty of good protein and moderate amounts of fat ( sugar is what causes us to store fat, not dietary fat which actually helps absorption and digestion of food). Nuts and fish are excellent choices and possibly a small amount of red meat if that’s what you want (personally I’m pescatarian).
10. Building more muscle will help you to burn more fat, therefore include some resistance training to increase muscle mass. Ladies, this doesn’t mean you will look like a bodybuilder, just firmer and better toned.
11. Instead of plodding along at a steady state on the treadmill for long periods, try some interval training instead to improve your metabolism.
12. Try to reduce stress by all means available. Emotional disturbance is often at the root of many weight problems so addressing these should be a priority. Ensure proper sleep (this will be the subject of another post). Be aware that hormonal disturbances, whether in the form of too much insulin being released because of diet or too much adrenaline because of constant stress, are often a root cause of weight gain.
13. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, don’t be perfectionist about any of this. It will not happen overnight and you will fall back from time to time. It’s ok to have a cake or a glass of wine now and again, as long as you get it right 85-90% of the time. Just focus on making progress overall, not instant perfection. This way your body and mind will accept the changes and you will end up slimmer, fitter, healthier and happier.
Note: I am not a qualified nutritionist or dietician, although I have studied basic nutrition as a personal trainer and also completed a course in Advanced Nutrition for Weight Management. However, I have a real interest in this area and have experimented a lot with diet to improve both quality of life and athletic performance.
If you would like to discuss this further please ask me for a free consultation. Many of my clients combine some form of resistance training with high intensity intervals and a nutrition plan (not a diet) to achieve great results.