10 Simple Steps to Successful Weight Loss
Step 1- Find your WHY
For some, losing weight can be a lengthy, arduous process. You’re going to have difficult weeks & stressful days where distraction & temptation seem to face you wherever you turn. Staying consistent throughout requires more than your weekly dose of motivation from Monday evenings Spin class (however inspiring your Spin coach might be!). Your greatest source of motivation & strength is rooted in the reason you want to lose weight. Your WHY.
Maybe it’s for a health reason. Maybe it’s to do with body image & self confidence. Perhaps it’s linked with a sport or activity you want to be able to do.
Whatever the reason, spend some time thinking about why it’s important to you. What you think will be different in your life if you are able to achieve the loss you want. What your future holds if you don’t change your ways & achieve that goal.
Once you are clear on your WHY. Remind yourself of it regularly. It’s the most powerful fuel you have to move forward.
Step 2- Take Responsibility
Simply put, body fat is just an accumulation of unused energy. To have gained weight & for that accumulation of energy to have gathered, you MUST at some point, have consumed more energy than you’ve burned.
Now, this imbalance doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating way more than you should be at every meal. It could be that you’re more inactive than you should really be- perhaps you have a desk based job & use the car a lot. Or it could be that you overindulge just 1 or 2 days a week & don’t realise the impact even a few days of mindless eating & drinking can have on your weight.
Taking responsibility means accepting that YOUR choices, habits & behaviours have lead you to where you currently are. You are in control & although others can play a part in encouraging & supporting you, it is ultimately down to you, & you alone.
Step 3- Keep a Food Diary
One of the early steps in successful weight loss is becoming more SELF AWARE, of your eating habits & of your activity levels.
Something I have all of my weight loss clients do (often, before I even give them any advice) is complete a food diary. Usually over a 7 day period, detailing everything they eat & drink. This helps identify things they weren’t fully aware of (perhaps the extent of their evening snacking) & allows them to make conscious decisions to change. It shows us where they might be going wrong & where we could look to make improvements. It also has the added benefit of being a great deterrent. There’s something about having to write it down (& own up to it), that results in people being stricter with themselves.
Food diaries can be done with pen & paper or using one of the various smart phone apps (I tend to recommend using ‘myfitnesspal’)
Step 4- Track your Steps
Another thing I have clients do is record their activity levels. This is where step counters are very useful! Whether it’s a basic pedometer, a phone app or a Fitbit, recording the amount of steps you take is another brilliant way of increasing your awareness & identifying areas for change. It’s often the people who think they are very active that get the biggest shock. If there was one bit of ‘fitness tech’ I would recommend investing in, it would be a step counter.
Step 5- Make the obvious changes
For a lot of people, especially those who have a substantial amount of weight to lose, simply keeping a food diary, logging their step count & implementing a few basic changes can be enough to see decent progress with their weight loss goals. Examples of simple but effective changes might be:
- limiting alcohol intake
- making a conscious effort to cut down on unnecessary snacking
- reducing the portion sizes of main meals
- cutting down on the amount of take outs/fast food that you eat
- walking instead of driving when possible
- parking further from the entrances to buildings
- choosing to take longer walking routes or opting for the stairs instead of escalator/lift
There’s no need to overcomplicate things too early. It’s these sort of basic changes that can yield the biggest results.
Once you have a good level of awareness around your eating & activity habits & you’ve made a series a basic changes, you can begin making smaller adjustments & refining your diet & exercise plan.
Step 6- Eat more protein rich foods
Protein rich foods are arguably one of the most important types of foods to eat when aiming to lose weight. Not only are they very filling, helping prevent you from unplanned snacking, they also have a higher ‘thermic effect’ than other types of foods (meaning more energy is burned in the process of digesting them- a nice little bonus!) & they play a large role in ensuring the weight you lose, comes from fat & not from muscle. Minimising muscle loss is extremely important if you wish to maintain your weight loss long term. I recommend trying to include a high protein food in every one of your meals.
Heres a few examples of protein rich foods:
- lean meats & fish
- eggs & low fat dairy
- beans, legumes & pulses
- tofu & Quorn products
- protein powders & bars
Step 7- Eat more high fibre foods
Fibre is an indigestible form of carbohydrate & amongst other things, plays an important role in keeping our digestive system running smoothly. One of the added benefits of fibre is, like protein it helps keep us fuller for longer, which in turn can result in you eating less overall. Aiming to include at least 1 high fibre food in every meal can be a good idea.
Examples of high fibre foods
- vegetables & fruits
- wholemeal breads & wholewheat pastas
- porridge oats & certain cereals
- nuts & seeds
- high fibre snack bars
Step 8- Aim to drink more water
Whether it’s plain water or in the form of tea’s, coffees (be conscious of the caffeine content of these drinks), no sugar squash or even water flavoured with sliced fruits or mint. Drinking more will help support your body with the weight loss process & keep you feeling full, energised & focused. I would suggest aiming for a minimum of 2 litres a day.
Step 9- Train with weights
A high step count is one of the best ways you have of burning more energy through the week & for most people, far more effective than hours spent in the gym on the cross trainer or bike. If your gym time is limited (3 hours or less a week) I would look to dedicate that precious time toward training with weights in place of cardio machines. Not only does weight training burn a lot of energy while you do it, it makes your body far more efficient at burning energy outside of the gym by protecting muscle & directing your weight loss toward body fat.
Step 10- Be prepared to alter your plan
Making positive changes to your diet, activity & exercise habits unfortunately does not guarantee you will reach your goal without any problems along the way.
Your body is in a constant state of change & so you will need to adapt your approach over time. What works for you at the beginning might not work 6 months down the line. Try using the scale, body measurements & even pictures to assess your progress, & when you begin to plateau, be open to making further changes.
Successful weight loss is a result of continued trial & error. Don’t be afraid to try something different!
I would wish you luck as you embark upon your weight loss journey- but if you implement these 10 steps, you shouldn’t need it! 😉
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November 26, 2018