You’re standing in your closet with every item you own strewn on the floor around you, discarded because nothing fits right or looks good. It’s the moment you decide you need to lose weight.
But you have been here before; why would this diet be any different, any more successful?
Before resigning yourself to stretchy pants with elastic waists forever, figure out where you’ve gone wrong and how you can succeed in weight loss now.
There are three main reasons you have not been able to lose weight and keep it off in the past:
1) trying to change too much too fast,
2) not having a good exercise program design,
and 3) not being a good accountant for your calorie intake.
All of these problems are solvable, and once overcome, lead to serious weight-loss success.
1) Changing Too Much Too Fast
You’re eager, fed up with the way your body looks and how you feel, and you’re ready to change your life completely.
Your intentions are good, but you have just set yourself up for failure with this plan.
Change takes time and lots and lots of effort. If you want your changes to be meaningful (to be life changes), you have to proceed slowly.
How to Make Lifestyle Changes
Rather than changing everything about your diet, then modify just one part of it.
For example, start eating a healthy breakfast every day.
That may seem an easy task, but what you are asking yourself to do is to understand what healthy food choices are, routinely shop for those healthy foods, and then prepare those healthy foods.
Even this “small” change of eating a healthy breakfast can involve a lot of effort.
If eating a healthy breakfast is too much to change all at once, just get yourself used to eat something for breakfast.
In fact according to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases “You don’t have to give up all your favorite foods when you’re trying to lose weight. Small amounts of your favorite high-calorie foods may be part of your weight-loss plan.“ (1)
Once this is routine and takes no effort to think about, you are ready to make another small change.
Try making a list of healthy food choices for breakfast and using that list to eat a healthy breakfast once a week, and on the other days, just eat anything for breakfast.
Slowly get to the point where you can use your list to eat a healthy breakfast daily.
And eventually, you won’t need a list at all!
Lifestyle changes happen when you take a large goal and break it into teeny tiny goals that are easy to accomplish.
Those small successes keep you motivated, and mastering something to the point where it takes no effort provides you with the energy needed to keep going.
2) Not Designing an Exercise Program
According to the review article published in the Journal of Obesity, “physical activity plays an important role in body weight regulation. The vast majority of scientific evidence supports a beneficial role of exercise in achieving body weight stability and overall health.”(2)
You realize how important dietary choices are for weight loss success, but what about training options?
Isn’t all fitness the same?
Unfortunately, this is what most people think; however, exercise program design is critical if you want to lose weight.
For weight loss, all cardio (stair climber, elliptical, step aerobics) or all heavy weight lifting is not going to get you the results you are hoping to see.
A properly designed program incorporates cardio and strength endurance training on alternating days.
In a 2012 study, published in BMC Public Health,”combination exercise gave greater benefits for weight loss, fat loss and cardio-respiratory fitness…“ (3)
Cardio effort should be moderate (you should be able to speak while exercising) and limited to under an hour at a time to ensure that you are burning a maximum amount of fat.
Strength endurance is where the real magic happens. These exercises use moderate weights or resistance bands and burn tons of calories.
What activities should you choose?
Compound exercises that use lots of different body parts burn the most calories.
- Squat, bicep curl to overhead press
- Deadlift, shoulder shrug, calf raise
- Step-up, bicep curl to overhead press
- Sumo squat, single-arm bicep curl
- Step-up, bicep curl, step down to curtsy squat
Other than compound exercises, supersets offer a large calorie burn as well.
This is when you pair two exercises for a given body part back-to-back. It’s easier than it sounds. For example, one set (8 – 12 repetitions) of bench press and immediately after, perform one set of push-ups.
Or, one set of deadlifts and then one set of single-leg squats.
If you are unsure about designing an exercise weight loss program on your own, it would be worth investing in a personal trainer to get you started.
3) Not Accounting for Calories
The third component of successful weight loss is learning to be a good accountant.
Most people fall into two camps when it comes to managing calorie intake: they either try to count every calorie, or they don’t count at all.
But to be successful in weight loss, you should fall somewhere in between. Nutrition.gov suggests keeping in mind that calories, portions and nutrition counts! (4)
You don’t need to count every calorie; it’s just a waste of your time and energy.
But you should gain a concept of portion sizes, and you should be able to identify foods that are higher in calories.
Some concepts to learn:
- A serving of carbohydrates is the size of your cupped hand.
- A serving size of meat looks like a deck of cards.
- Healthy cooking methods include baking, steaming, grilling, and sautéing.
- Healthy oil choices include olive and canola.
- Aim to eat whole foods closest to their natural form.
This time around you truly can be successful in weight loss. Take your time, plan, and educate yourself.
You can do this!