I feel confident saying that everyone who starts the weight loss process does so with the best of intentions. Meaning, they want to change their life and are serious about losing weight. Maybe they had a weight loss “a-ha” moment which resulted in a burst of motivation. Or it’s possible they just wanted to lose a few pounds and/or simply live a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of the reason, most people don’t start the weight loss process with failure in mind.
However, losing weight can be hard and quickly gets frustrating. Soon all your best intentions go out the window because you’re not seeing the results you hoped for. Trust me, I get it.
In my former life, I was an expert in starting a diet and then giving up 1-2 days later. I started each diet motivated thinking “this was finally the time I was going to get serious about losing weight” only to fail shortly after starting. It was so discouraging.
During that time, I thought I was serious about losing weight. Just like you, I thought about it every day – in fact, it often consumed me. I didn’t realize some of my “well-intentioned” efforts were actually sabotaging my weight loss goals.
In October 2010, I started the weight loss journey that lead me to where I am today. I did things very different and completely changed my life. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Unfortunately, I still have weeks where I get off track and gain weight. Hey, I’m human. However, I’m definitely not the girl I was when I started – I’ve learned A LOT since that time. I’ve talked before about the lessons I learned throughout my weight loss journey. I shared the 6 things I’ve learned about food, 10 things I learned after being on my journey 4 years, and I even gave my heavier self 4 pieces of advice that I feel are pretty powerful.
Now I want to share 7 tips that I think are very important if you’re serious about losing weight – it’s not as simple as eating less and moving more – well it is but there’s much more to it.
In the 10+ years on my weight loss journey, I’ve learned that if I don’t take all 7 of these tips seriously then I won’t lose weight, or worse I’ll gain. I’ve experienced this time after time so to help you get serious about losing weight I wanted to share these tips.
You can’t exercise away a bad diet
Unfortunately, no matter how you cut, slice, or dice it you can’t exercise away a bad diet. So, if you start the weight loss process with this mindset then you’re setting yourself up for failure. It will become very frustrating to exercise only to experience zero results on the scale or with clothes.
The first 30lbs I lost was the result of tracking calories and portion control – I didn’t exercise at all. Don’t get me wrong, if I could go back in time I would’ve made exercise a priority along with changing my eating habits. Once I finally did another 10 lbs came off. However, the truth is, the bulk of my weight came off because I ate less…period. The lesson is that food matters more than exercise when it comes to losing weight.
I learned this lesson the hard way. 4-5 years into my weight loss journey I got lazy with tracking. I was still exercising but not tracking as I should, the food I ate. I wouldn’t say I went back to old eating habits. The problem at that point in my journey was with the little extra bites, licks, and sips I didn’t pay attention to. Those little bites added up and it showed on the scale and also in my pant size. No matter how long I ran on the treadmill it didn’t undo all the extra calories I was consuming.
It’s been stated many times that weight loss is 80% food and 20% exercise. Have you ever heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”? This is very true and shouldn’t be ignored if you’re serious about losing weight.
Today I look at exercise very differently. The benefits of exercise go far beyond looking good in skinny jeans. Of course, it’s awesome to slip on a pair of jeans or wear a bathing suit with confidence but the emotional and psychological benefits, in opinion, far outweigh the physical. When I get in a solid workout I feel focused, less stressed, and simply happier. Life just seems easier when I exercise on a regular basis. This is why I exercise. Not so I can eat a donut.
Exercise to feel good and take care of your body – not so you can eat junk. Exercise is not a means to more food.
Cardio isn’t going to cut it
Here’s another lesson I learned the hard way. Some people would call me a cardio queen, and they’d be right. For the reasons I stated above, I love to run. However, over time running just didn’t cut it anymore. Yes, I still got all the emotional and psychological benefits but I wasn’t seeing results on the scale. Of course, some of that had to do with the extra calories I was consuming too and like I said we can’t exercise our way out of a bad diet.
Anyway, when I started doing strength-training is when I saw really changes in my weight and body. I didn’t do anything crazy, it’s not like I was training for body-building competitions. Nope, I was doing simple resistant band exercises, basic squats and crunches, along with modified push-ups. My entire toning routing took about 15 minutes.
Building lean muscle burns more calories all day, cardio burns calories while you’re doing it. If you’re serious about losing weight and changing the way your body looks then strength-training exercising is a must.
Not all Foods Are Created Equal
If you want to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you eat. Truthfully, those calories can consist of whatever food you want. Seriously, I’ve read a study years ago that a man ate 1500 calories in twinkies for a month and lost like 20lbs. Now, of course, I don’t condone a twinkie diet but the point is as long as you stay within your daily caloric limit you’ll lose weight.
The thing is, food is not created equal and what you eat does matter. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will provide much more nutrition and satisfy you longer than processed foods. Think about it. If you ate an apple with almond butter you’re going to feel full longer than if you wasted those calories on a twinkie. Sure both foods have around the same calories but each one affects your body much differently.
Once I started to eat cleaner foods I felt much better than when I would try to survive off lean cuisines and other processed meals. I felt satisfied, less bloated, healthier, more focused, and the list goes on and on. I notice a difference immediately with the way my body responded to whole foods compared to junk.
Changing your eating habits isn’t just eating less junk it’s about eating more nutritious clean wholesome foods. That’s what will help to create longterm sustainable healthy eating habits.
Here are some posts about clean eating to get you started.
If You Don’t Remember What You Ate, Then You Ate too Much
When I first started on my weight loss journey I was a meal tracking ninja. Everything that went into my mouth I paid attention too. Then, a few years into my journey, I got complacent. I didn’t track like I should and slowly started to eat more calories. Eventually, those extra licks, bites, and sips brought some weight back on. I learned the only way to stay honest with food is to track it.
Some people don’t like to track, and I’ll admit it’s annoying at times to plug everything into My Fitness Pal. However, one thing I learned is that if I don’t remember what I ate then I most likely ate too much. And if I’m serious about losing weight, or even just maintaining it, then I need to pay attention to the food I eat.
Consistency is Key
This one is HUGE. You won’t lose weight by tracking foods when you feel like it, meal planning once in a while, or preparing food and exercising when you have time. In order to create sustainable weight loss, you need to implement these habits into your lifestyle and do them consistently. That’s the only way you’ll see long-term results and experience the benefits from any of these habits.
Willpower will only take you so far – self-discipline is a must!
If you are serious about losing weight then you MUST set your environment up for success right from the start. You must practice self-discipline. This means removing trigger foods from your home and ensuring there’s portion-control healthy options available. It also means putting in place habits and routines that will control stress and chaos so you’re not drowning in the hot zone – remember healthy choices are rarely made in the hot zone. It means taking the time to make exercise a priority instead of leaving it up to the schedule gods. It’s being prepared ahead of time so you’re in better control to make healthier choices.
Willpower is not a long-term sustainable weight loss strategy. You should never have to dip into willpower reserves when you’re in an environment you can control. Think about it, if you love Doritos and keep Doritos in the house it’s only a matter of time before you give in and have a few…then another few. Before you know it the bag is gone and you feel horrible. Trust me, I get it. Cheez-it’s can’t be within 10 ft of my house. If you are surrounded by foods you need the willpower to resist then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Don’t torture yourself, create an environment that supports your weight loss efforts, this means having the self-discipline to keep trigger foods out.
Willpower should be reserved for environments you don’t have control over. For example, a holiday party, a dinner party at a friend’s, a work party, break room snacks, a movie theatre, and other places like that. Those are the times you need to pull out the willpower card.
If it’s not in your schedule then it’s not a priority – manage your time
Not having the time is one of the top reasons people don’t exercise, meal prep, meal plan, organize their hot zones, among other habits that would make their life better. Listen, I understand busy. We are all busy. But here’s the thing – if you want to change your life, get healthier, and lose weight you are going to have to make it a priority. This means managing your time. It also means taking a hard look at where your time is going. Whether we like it or not, we all have time suckers. Maybe we sleep in too late, spend too much time on Facebook, play videos games, or watch too many shows. I’m not saying we can’t have downtime, we all need to relax. However, if there are things that take up too much time when you could be doing something more productive I’m simply suggesting taking a look at that.
Also, habits like meal planning and meal prep do take time up front but they actually save you so much time during the week. Exercise will give you more energy to do the things you want to do. And who doesn’t like organization? I’m not saying we need to be OCD but getting control over the clutter and chaos will ultimately save time during the week.
Remember this quote “If it’s a priority, you’ll find the time. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse”
Learn to cope with stress in healthy ways
There’s no way around it – stress is going to happen. Some of it we have control over and some we don’t. But what we do have control over is the way we react to the stress that’s brought into our life. I always say, you can get bitter or you get better. You can choose anger or you can choose forgiveness. You can harbor resentment or you can learn to let go. This is your choice. Regardless of the circumstance, YOU choose how to react. That’s on you.
You are the one who will have to carry around the way you cope with stress. Therefore, if you fall into a downward spiral every time you’re faced with a stressful situation it’s going to be very difficult to work on eating healthier and other habits. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to lose weight when you don’t cope with stress in a healthy way. So, if stress keeps you from achieving goals then I recommend working on your coping skills prior to focusing on losing weight.
You must step out of your comfort zone
You can’t expect results by continuing to live life the way you are living it – change never happens in your comfort zone. I know our comfort zones are…well…comfortable. Many of our habits we’ve depended on our entire life so it can be extremely difficult to walk away from them But, if you want life to be different then you are going to have to do differently. You have to be open to trying new things and getting rid of the old habits that have held you back. Once you can do this then you’ll be ready for big life changes to happen.
Losing weight goes beyond eating less and moving more. Of course, those are the basics. But if you’re serious about losing weight then change needs to go much deeper. Once I recognize this is when I experienced weight loss and my life completely changed.