The #1 Thing You MUST DO To Lose Weight and Keep it off

The #1 Thing You MUST DO To Lose Weight and Keep it Off

In the 4 + years since I started my weight loss journey I learned quite a bit about what it takes to lose weight and keep it off. Some lessons I recognized quickly while others took me a little bit longer to see. And, even though, I have a lot of knowledge in my weight loss arsenal I am positive there is still much more I can learn.

So far, these are my top weight loss lessons.

  • Tracking food. This has been the cornerstone to my weight loss. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my daily calories, nutrition, exercise, and weight loss goals. Read here if you are curious why I don’t use Weight Watchers.
  • Meal Planning. Taking the time to meal plan provides me with the road map and structure I need to stay on track with my food. However, meal planning is not always easy. So, instead of struggling I use Plan to Eat to streamline the process. Now meal planning is not an issue. The lesson learned here is don’t try to do things alone all the time. There are plenty of affordable services that can help.
  • Make ahead meals. Preparing my foods ahead of time makes it easier to eat healthy during the week. Simple yet powerful concept. I am more likely to eat the foods I plan when I take the time to food prep.
  • Clean(er) eating. Eating clean(er) foods makes me feel good, especially green smoothies. My body feels nourished and I feel focused.
  • Strength training makes all the difference. A flat tummy and defined arms are not going to be the result of running 3-4 miles a day. However, I love to run – it keeps me focused and sane – so I keep it a part of my exercise routine.
  • Keeping an exercise schedule that works. Exercising in the morning is the way to go for me. If I don’t exercise in the morning it won’t happen.

Each strategy plays a huge role in my weight loss journey. There are many more but there is one thing that trumps them all. Something that only occurred to me recently. Want to know what it is?

Consistency. Yep, I need to stay consistent. Consistency is the #1 thing you ABSOLUTELY MUST do to lose weight and keep it off.

Simple? Yes. Common sense? Probably. Is it the reason I did not get results years ago? I am going to go with YES. I now know that all of those weight loss strategies work but only when I am consistently using them.

To lose weight and keep it off I can’t meal plan sometimes, track food when I feel like it, eat clean food on occasion, or work out when time allows. No I need to consistently make all those strategies a part of my everyday lifestyle. That is the only way to change habits, lose weight, and keep it off.

Looking back, I can’t tell you the number of times I would start and stop an exercising routine. It seems like I was on a bi-monthly rotation. Some months it was like I was training for an iron man marathon while other months I was training more for a Keeping Up With the Kardashians marathon on E. Ha! Don’t judge we all have our guilty pleasures. It was the same with food. I would throw myself into salads and grilled chicken for a week or so only to binge on pizza and pasta the next. Basically, my lack of consistency is the #1 reason I never experienced weight loss.

I remember having thoughts like “If I only kept exercising I would feel comfortable in my summer clothes” or “If I kept up with running and eating healthy I would be able to wear that dress” or “If I stopped eating so much junk all the time I would feel better going on vacation” and I am sure many other thoughts like this entered my mind.

Now I can say “you know what Tammy, you were right”. If you stayed consistent with healthy eating habits and exercise yes you would be comfortable in summer clothes, be able to wear that dress, and feel better going on vacation. And I can say that now because I have lost the weight and know exactly what it feels like to be confident and happy in my own skin. I lost the weight by staying consistent with my weight loss efforts. I kept going!

Consistency is key!

Staying consistent is important because it provides you with the time you need to build new habits and see the results of your hard work. It takes about 3-4 weeks to implement a new habit. Sometimes this can take even longer when you are trying to replace bad ones. You are not going to change habits or see results overnight. One day of drinking smoothies, tracking food, running, squats, and sit-ups will not get you bikini ready. Not even one week of doing those things every single day will do the trick. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. In most cases, it takes a few weeks to see any physical results. That’s just the way it is and the reason it is so important to stay consistent with your efforts. Don’t get me wrong you will feel better and see some changes but if you are looking to drop 50 pounds and 4 dresses sizes in a week that won’t happen.

Inconsistency can be very frustrating when trying to lose weight. It can feel like you are “giving up” causing you to feel defeated with the entire weight loss process. I often here people say “that didn’t work for me”. Well, first of all that can’t make you lose weight. Only YOU can make you lose weight.

Second, you have to give yourself enough time and stay consistent. Weight loss is a process filled with many hills, valleys, curves, and even ditches. If you keep going despite all of these challenges you will build and sustain new healthier habits and see the results of your hard work.

What does consistency look like?

Consistency means stability, regularity, and dependability. It means you know what to do and expect day after day.

Here are some tasks you can do every week to stay consistent with creating a healthier lifestyle and losing weight.

  • Plan your meals. I recommend setting time aside during the week to create a meal plan and grocery list so when you have time to shop you are ready to go. Make sure to plan for all meals and snacks. If you eat 5 times a days you need to know what those meals will be. You can view all my meal plans here.
  • Weekend food prep. I have said this a million times but I will say it again. It is so much easier to eat healthy when healthy food is available. You don’t need to spend an entire weekend prepping food but it will be in your best interest to set some time aside. Even a little food prep will make a difference. Here is a beginners guide to food prep I wrote if you are looking for more information.
  • Exercise 3 to 4 times a week. You don’t need to exercise every day nor do your routines need to be trainings for the Tough Mudder or marathons. However, to lose weight you will need to incorporate exercise in some fashion. I think it is important to get in the habit of exercising 3-4 times a week. Don’t feel like you need to join a gym. You can easily exercise in the comfort of your own living room. The key is to create a schedule that works for you. There are tons of home exercise routine posted here. If you need some tips on starting a morning exercise routine then check here.
  • Track your food every day. Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by tracking food. I know it can seem tedious – and sometimes it is – but it will work to hold you accountable. To make it 100 times easier use a website and/or app like My Fitness Pal. I am telling ya that website was a game changer for me. Here is a post to help you get the most out of my fitness pal.
  • Get and stay organized. I truly believe that an organized life is a happier life – at least it is for me. Trust me, I am not OCD organized in any way shape or form. However, I will say when I take the time to write a to do list, keep my calendar updated, and my house from looking like a bomb went off I feel better, happier, and much more focused. Staying organized keeps you out of the “hot zones” and frees up time and mental energy to keep you moving forward on all your goals, including weight loss goals. Here is one of my favorite posts I put together on this topic called 7 Things You Can Do to Lose Weight that Don’t Include Food or Exercise.

The best way to stay consistent week after week is to be intentional and plan, plan, and plan. Don’t expect to create and stick with new habits if you are flying by the seat of your pants every day. Take time every day to think about what you want to accomplish. Then write it down and keep it visible. Take time to review it every morning and night. This helps to reflect, make adjustments, and see progress. Personally, one of the most important things I do daily is write out a to do list. Without that list I am lost soul trying to figure out what to do next.

The biggest challenge to staying consistent is life happens. There is always something getting in the way of eating healthy, working out, cleaning, or doing anything we need to do. For this reason, it is important to focus consistently on habits and lifestyle instead of quick fixes and unrealistic diets. When you do this it is easier to get back on track (instead of starting over) with your goals when life gets in the way.

Again, weight loss is a journey and a process. It never ends – even when you reach your goal weight. It is about creating healthier habits, routines, and staying consistent with them. Consistency makes all the difference between results and regret. So keep going!

If you want to learn more about the strategies I use to lose weight and keep it off then check out my ebook Organize Yourself Skinny: 5 Strategies to Help Busy People Create a Healthier Lifestyle and Lose Weight.

Other posts you might like:

4 pieces of advice I would give my 40lb heavier self

6 Things I Have Learned About Food Since Losing Weight

15 Habits of People Who Have Lost 20 -30lbs and Kept it Off weight loss motivation weight loss advice

 

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Comments

  1. Chelsey Crouch says:

    You’re so right. I started counting calories for the first time in 2012 after having my second son. I fell off the wagon after losing about 20 pounds and ever since then have hovered around the same weight, although I still have weight to lose. Since January I’ve been working out 3-5 times a week, with at least 2 days of strength training. Since the beginning of this month I’ve been focused on cleaner eating and used some of your meal prep ideas as well as Plan to Eat. We are waiting for a new scale to come in from Amazon, because our old one died, so I actually haven’t weighed myself in about 3 weeks, but this morning I looked in the full-length mirror in our bathroom and could SEE A DIFFERENCE. My arms are more toned, my pants are looser, and I just feel good. I don’t think I’ve done any one big thing that has done this — it’s just been doing many small things day after day after day. 🙂 You are an inspiration, so thank you for your blog!

    • Thank you so much for this comment. I agree little things every day. So often we think we need to make drastic overnight changes and in reality that is probably the worse thing to do. Congrats!!! Keep going girl!

  2. These are GREAT tips! For me, tracking my food was the key to the whole thing. It helped encourage me to exercise more, because when I burned more calories, I could eat more on days I exercised 🙂 Again, I use LiveStrong, just because I have loads of data in there. I track my weight, my exercise, and my calories. It also helps me eat from a set group of meals I’ve already entered. If I make something new, then I have to enter it in. Plus I feel GUILTY if I end up with a 800-calorie dinner! And I love looking back at my historical data. If I see a spike in my weight, I wonder, well, what happened that week? And it’s interesting to overlay the number of calories on the weight chart. There’s never a question of where an extra pound came from, since the spike in calories always occurs before the spike in my weight!

  3. I wanted to add that I am a bit OCD, so charts and graphs with lots of data points really appeal to me, so I actually enjoy weighing myself every day and watching the trends over time. 🙂 One thing that helps me is to plan out what I’m going to eat for the week before shopping on Sunday, and then I enter my food for the day first thing in the morning. I enter my exercise if I do it, and add any additional foods I eat. I think the important thing when tracking your food is to try your best to always put in what you eat, even if the news is bad. The information will help you later on. If you feel like you blew it, don’t skip tracking your food that day! If you have a mysterious weight gain down the road, you can refer back and see where you went wrong. Another tip: whenever I add nuts to my oatmeal or butter to my carrots, I measure it. I always add a measuring tablespoon to my place setting. It helps to get an accurate idea of what you’re really eating. It’s easy to underestimate when you don’t know for sure. So easy for extra calories to sneak in that way!

  4. Thank you for this post! Yes it seems easy, but we know it’s not. If it were easy we’d all be thin. I look forward to applying this to my life and finding the thin me that’s hiding beneath all this fat.

  5. This is the most comprehensive post of “tips” that I have ever read. I am just reading it for the first time. But I intend to come back, read it thru all again and visit all of the links. I have never seen a post that gives you the complete roadmap like this one does. I am very thankful to have this. It feels like exactly what I have been needing! Thank you so much for taking the time to pour into your readers so much truly helpful, useful info.

  6. I do track daily. On Spark People. My problem is I’m 61 and just can’t seem to lose. I find if I go lower Carb I feel like there’s too much fat in my Diet and if I do WW I don’t seem to lose. I have been a dieter my whole life and feel like this new body my older body is rebelling. If I’m very rigid with lower Carb I can lose 3 lbs and then a slip up day and that 3 is right back! I know clean real food eating is the way to go! Last year I felt like this and was 10 lbs lighter cannot go on like this! I exercise (walking) daily . Any thoughts on older woman dieting? I know you do your homework so I’m hoping you might have an idea. I weigh myself daily only because I’m afraid what could happen in a week. Thanks! Don’t mean to sound like I’m Whining!!!!! Lol

Trackbacks

  1. […] week, I wrote a post about staying consistent with your weight loss efforts. So on a positive note while I have not lost my final 15 pounds I still have lost over 30 pounds. […]

  2. […] 7:00pm and I tracked some of my food but…obviously not enough. I talked a month or so about the importance of consistency in weight loss. I think I need to go back and read that because it is so very true. To lose weight and keep it off […]

  3. […] know if I want to FINALLY break through this weight loss plateau I need to shake things up and stay consistent. I saw a quote the other day that said “This month’s choices will be next month’s body”. […]

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