We’re well into the New Year now. If your New Year resolution was to lose weight and it’s not going too well, you may not be doing everything required. Losing weight isn’t easy; there are many things you need to get right. If just one of them isn’t on point, it can derail your efforts. Or you may not even get off the starting block. In this post, we’ll help you fix that. We give you our top ten tips for losing weight. If you can tick all these boxes, you’ll be well on the way to successful weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight.
Our top ten tips for losing weight
Find a reason
Make sure the reason you are doing it really matters to you. It needs to be a reason that drives you every day to pursue your goals doggedly. This sort of intrinsic motivation will greatly improve your chances of success. How do you develop that motivation? That isn’t easy. Normally it’s not something you develop. Often it comes from something that happens in your life. Perhaps you’ve had a health scare. Maybe someone close to you died as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle or being overweight. Often we see clients who are very self-conscious and feel they are being judged. Others want to look good in clothes again. There are so many reasons, and your reason will be very personal to you. But that reason will almost always be getting you down, and you’ll be driven to make it right. In a recent article, we explored the reasons why people feel down about themselves.
Be accountable to someone
Having that fire in your belly helps enormously. But even if you don’t, you can still achieve success with other techniques. Having someone to whom you are accountable will improve your chances of success. This could be a coach, friends and family, or a training buddy. For example, if you make a cash investment in a coach, you won’t want to squander that investment. And you’ll have appointments with that coach that you’ll need to keep. If you agree on a transformation programme with your training buddy, you won’t want to let that person down. Imagine your buddy standing waiting for you when, in fact, you’re not going to turn up. You wouldn’t do that; not unless you want to lose a friend.
Create a calorie deficit
That means you need to burn more calories than you consume. Simple eh? In principle, yes. In practice, how do you know you are in calorie deficit? And how do you ensure you only lose fat weight and not muscle weight? Here are some good practices and rules of thumb:
Get an activity tracker
This will help you track your calories. Even if it’s not super accurate, it should at least be in error in a consistent way so that you can track changes in your activity. At the point where you start losing weight, you’ll know where your calorie expenditure should be.
Log your food
Not only is this a good way to track your calorie intake, but it’s also a great learning activity. You’ll gradually modify your eating patterns for the better, becoming healthier over time.
Do the right exercise
A mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise is ideal for health and body composition change. It will hone your physiology to get rid of fat and hold on to muscle.
If you have been sedentary for a while and overweight, then there’s a good chance your blood sugar physiology is poor. A good way to restore that function is by doing early morning fasted cardio. This will re-train your body to oxidise fat. Even if you have good blood sugar control, this is an excellent way to optimise fat oxidation, burn a decent number of calories and kick start your efforts to lose weight.
Choose nutrient-dense, calorie sparse foods
Here’s the recipe for success: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, pulses, lean protein and plenty of water. This combination will deliver loads of fibre and slow-digesting protein. It will fill you up and keep you full for longer. As a result, you are less likely to overeat and won’t get hunger pangs before the next feed.
Weight training has benefits for strength, function, posture, metabolism, hormones, fat loss and much more. It’s critical if you want your weight loss to be mostly fat. The research says that if you don’t weight train, between one fifth and one-third of your lost weight could be muscle. That’s going to make you weak and more susceptible to weight regain. For more information on weight training, take a closer look at the benefits.
Educate your palate
You are exposed to sweetness, intense flavours and instant gratification from a young age. Sweetness triggers a reward response in your brain, so you crave the same again and become addicted. You can carry on like this all your life, losing the ability to discern variety and subtlety in healthier, less refined foods. All you have to do is reeducate your taste buds. Do this, and you will develop better eating behaviours which will help you lose weight.
Keep a food diary
The research says that people who log their foods tend to have more success with weight loss. By doing this, not only do you become more aware of what you are eating, but you learn about what’s in your food and understand portion sizes better. But, critically, you find out how many calories you are eating. Once you align this with your energy expenditure, you have a quantifiable way to change your body weight. You’ll be able to keep on top of weight loss, or else have a better idea of what to do when you get stuck.
Making time for healthy activities will only happen if weight loss has a high priority. You’ll need to prioritise both exercise and food preparation. To do this, remove something else from your 24 hours to make room. For example, do you spend a long time watching TV? That’s a fairly sedentary – you might say – ‘unhealthy’ activity. Could you lose an hour of that, shift your day’s timings around and put that hour back in at some other time that’s convenient for doing some exercise? I’m sure you can, especially if it’s a high enough priority.
Make health a lifestyle choice
Weight loss is not a project with an endpoint, after which you go back to ‘normal’. Normal was what made you overweight in the first place. To maintain your new healthy weight, your new habits should become part of your psyche; something you do unfailingly because it’s part of who you are. As a result, healthy activities become part of your daily routine and remain so for as long as possible.
Losing weight, on the radio
Here’s an audio clip from the archives. It’s me being quizzed on weight loss by Helen Blaby on BBC Radio Northampton. You’ll note some overlap with our top ten tips for losing weight.
Weight loss won’t just happen without some effort on your part. You’ll need to be structured, consistent, organised and doggedly determined. Our top ten tips for losing weight provide a checklist that you can use to ensure you stay on the right track. Go forward, make some positive changes and smash those goals!