I know calling this blog post the best weight loss advice sounds a little arrogant. I mean there’s plenty of advice out there so what makes this advice “the best”. Well, I’ve been on my weight loss journey since 2010 and this is the one thing that has made the BIGGEST difference in my life. Actually, in all areas of my life. So yes, in my own humble opinion, I consider this the best weight loss advice. Let’s get to it…
We all know how to lose weight, right? In fact, I’m sure most of us have become experts in at least 3-5 weight loss programs over the years. South Beach? Yep, got that! Paleo? Sure! Weight Watchers? Yup yup! We’ve tried IT ALL and then, most likely, tried it again.
But here’s the thing….
If we are weight loss program experts then why do we STILL struggle to lose weight? Why can’t we stick to a healthy lifestyle long enough to see results? Why do go back to old habits even though we know it’s not what we want. Or is it?
Basically, what’s our deal?
Here are my thoughts.
As simple as weight loss is, it’s actually a very complicated thing. Sure if we eat less and move more we will lose weight. So in that sense, it’s easy. But, here’s the thing, losing weight goes way beyond pizza and treadmills. Yes, we won’t lose weight without changing our eating habits but it’s more about the why and not the how. Why can’t we change our eating habits not how do we change our eating habits? Remember, we know the how. Now let’s focus on the why.
I started my weight loss journey way back in October 2010. At that time, I was working full-time outside the home, my kids were little, and life was very chaotic. Like chaotic x 100.
Every day was a hamster wheel of trying to balance motherhood, work, and home. It wasn’t easy and even though I thought about losing weight daily I could never make it work. I barely had time to shower in the morning much less run for an hour and make healthy lunches. To be honest, it sucked.
This went on for YEARS until something totally clicked. As vain as it sounds, seeing pictures of myself pop up on Facebook was enough to motivate me to take weight loss seriously. That was me back then. I couldn’t believe the person I became. I was so embarrassed.
At that point, I started to track portions and calories. After the first couple of days it was clear I had no one to blame but myself for the extra 60lbs I was carrying around. You can read more about my weight loss a-ha moments here.
From there I started to meal plan, meal prep, freezer cook, and organize my life. It was clear that if I wanted to eat healthier foods, exercise, and ultimately lose weight then I needed to make that happen. In 2010, I guess, is when I found out that the weight loss fairy does not exist.
Since then I’ve learned a lot about losing weight. Over the years, I’ve shared lessons and some advice in these posts.
- 10 Lessons I’ve Learned 4+ Years Into My Weight Loss Journey
- 6 Lessons I Learned From Losing 40lbs
- 6 Things I Learned About Food Since Losing Weight
This one is my personal favorite.
Like I said I’ve learned a lot over the years. However, as I go through these blog posts I realize I haven’t given you some of my best weight loss advice. It’s funny because I didn’t even realize I was doing this until later on. But now I know and that’s why I want to share my best weight loss advice with you. This is the advice that’ll help you focus on the why so you can finally stick to the how.
By the way, this is me now. I’m on the left…my sister is on the right.
The Best Weight Loss Advice You’ll Wish You Got Years Ago.
If I can give one piece of advice to someone who’s struggling with weight loss it’s this…
Control your hot zones. That’s right! Controlling your hot zones is the best weight loss advice I can give you.
Ummm…what does that even mean?
First, let me first explain what a hot zone is. Hot zones are moments when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, and like you’re barely keeping afloat.
For example, when you get home after a long day at work and kids are SCREAMING for dinner. You have nothing made, and no clue what to make, so you order a pizza. Or you wake up in the morning already late for work and can’t find anything to wear because laundry is piled up all over your bedroom. You finally find something but then have zero time to exercise or make a healthy lunch. Yep, you know the deal.
Think about a moment when you felt stressed and your heart was racing. At that moment, you were probably not concerned about preparing a healthy dinner so you can get bikini ready 3 months from now. No, you were thinking I need to get my kids fed and I’ll worry about eating healthier tomorrow. That’s your hot zone moment.
Unfortunately, for many of us, tomorrow turns into next week, next year, and before you know it decades have gone by and you’re still trying to lose weight. Trust me, I get it. Hot zones keep us stuck in our old ways, whether we want to be there or not.
This is key….
Decisions made in the hot zone are more about survival and less about long-term healthy habits and weight loss goals. This is why it’s so difficult for people to stick to a healthy lifestyle when their life is full of hot zone moments. It’s nearly impossible to make healthy choices when surviving in the hot zone.
Here’s the thing, if you spend a lot of time in the hot zone, then you’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to create new healthy habits and routines. The hot zone keeps you dependent on old habits because that’s what helps you survive.
So it doesn’t matter what diet program or eating style you want to try if you’re hot zones are not under control you’ll always fall back to old habits.
Think about it. Let’s say you purchase a bunch of groceries to prepare healthy meals all week. However, instead of getting your week set up for success you simply jump into Monday headfirst like you usually do. All your other routines (or lack of routines) have stayed the same. You are still surrounded by chaos when you get home and other than the healthy food in the fridge your days have remained the same.
Before you know it you’re ordering pizza or heading through the drive-thru, because you have zero time to make dinner. You have zero energy to exercise which doesn’t matter because you don’t know where your workout gear is anyway. Finally, at the end of the day, you crash with a bowl of ice cream because what’s the point… Repeat.
Is a lightbulb going off yet? I know when it did for me I felt completely liberated.
The only way to change this situation is to get control over your hot zones. Don’t try to jam new habits into a lifestyle that’s still so dependent on old bad habits. That’s setting you up for failure, and we don’t want that.
Change does not happen in the hot zone. Also, change only happens with change. You can’t expect to do the same things over and over again with new results. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.
The good news is hot zones are under our control.
How to Control Your Hot Zones <—The Best Weight Loss Advice!
- The first step is to identify your hot zones. When do you feel the most stressed or overwhelmed? Which moments cause you to make unhealthy choices? When do you feel the most dependent on bad habits?
- Work on solutions. Of course, I don’t expect you to overcome all your hot zone moments at once. These moments are the results of your current habits and that’ll take time to change. My advice is to focus on a hot zone at a time.
Let me give some examples.
Every morning you wake up late and go into instant panic mode. You need to get the kids and yourself ready and can’t find anything to wear. Laundry is in the washer, dryer, and all over the floor. Within 20 minutes, you’re yelling, and the kids are crying. Now you’re 20-30 minutes behind schedule, on top of being late, so there’s zero time to make breakfast. You grab a Poptart that you know shouldn’t even be in the pantry…yet there it is. Or maybe you’ll go to the drive-thru, cause what the heck, you’re already late. That stress trickles throughout the rest of the day, so of course, you grabbed a donut a coworker brought in because WHAT A MORNING.
Does this sound familiar? Yep, been there, done that.
Here are some solutions.
First and foremost, I truly believe that if you can master your morning, you can master the day. So, starting the day strong is important. In this example, my advice would be to get clothes, and anything else needed ready the night before. This is where the hot zone gets triggered. At first, I would say wake up earlier, but even if you do and your clothes are not ready, you’ll still find yourself behind schedule. Make sure all outfits are ready for the day.
My second piece of advice would be to have breakfast ready the night before or have healthy options available. You could prepare breakfast burritos or baked oatmeal cups on the weekend to eat during the week. Or have KIND bars or other quick healthy cereals in the pantry.
Next, wake up earlier. This might mean going to bed earlier, too; if you have the habit of staying up late, then looking at how your night habits affect the morning. The first few days will be the hardest, but your internal clock will reset after that, and waking up earlier gets easier.
Here’s another common example.
Because of after-school activities, there are 2 nights a week you don’t get home until after 6:00 pm. Before you even walk in the door the kids are begging for food cause “they’re starving” Even though you purchased a bunch of groceries there’s zero time to cook something healthy. This is frustrating because you know, once again, you’ll throw out a bunch of food that should’ve been prepared and enjoyed for dinner. Ugh! Instead of eating a healthy dinner you head to the drive-thru or whip up some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This hot zone causes you to feel defeated, frustrated and stressed.
Here are some solutions.
Keep a calendar. Does this sound basic? Yes. However, you’d be surprised by the number of people who still “wing it”. Looking at your schedule is the best way to start the week. This way you can prepare ahead of time for late nights or any other scheduled events.
Second, bring snacks. Most kids eat lunch between 10:30 am – 1:00 pm so it’s no wonder they are starving once 6:00 pm rolls around. The first thing I do is give my girls a snack when I pick them up. That can be anything from a KIND bar or a slice of homemade banana bread – I just make sure it has some substance. Typically, the snack holds them over until dinner is ready.
Last, have dinner ready as soon as you walk in the door. If I know we won’t get home until after 6:00 pm then I make sure all we need to do is heat and eat when we walk in the door. I do this by making dinner on Sunday or in the morning.
These are just examples of solutions to a few of the popular hot zones.
My best weight loss advice is to focus on everything that led up to that hot zone – so the hot zone triggers. What solution needs to be put in place to remove that trigger?
Now I’m not saying removing hot zones is easy, obviously, it takes time and effort. However, if your hot zones are keeping you from creating healthy habits, and losing weight, then it’s time to refocus your energy to getting hot zones under control before worrying about overhauling your eating habits and training for 5K.
Getting your hot zones under control helps to create an environment that supports your weight loss efforts not sabotages them.
More tips to control your hot zones.
Remove the clutter
People kind of look at me cross-eyed when I talk about the correlation between clutter and weight loss. But I strongly believe both are related and here’s why. Clutter causes chaos and chaos cause hot zones. I haven’t met one person who says “yes, clutter makes me feel calm and relaxed”. I’m not saying those people aren’t out there but most people feel stressed by clutter. Stress causes hot zones.
Think about the way YOU feel when surrounded by clutter. Most likely, you feel overwhelmed, confused, and out of control. You don’t even know where to start with anything because all you see every day is a cluttered mess.
This keeps you from moving forward on weight loss goals and probably many other ones. My advice is to start removing the clutter.
Please note, by no means am I judging. Trust me, I’ve been there too. I didn’t realize how much clutter negatively affected my life until I started to remove it. Once that happened I found a sense of peace and was able to focus on other areas of my life, including my weight loss goals.
Here are some things I recommend to keep clutter under control:
- Have a cleaning routine. Doing one little thing daily is so much easier than trying to deep clean once or twice a month. Plus this keeps your home consistently clean..
- Have a laundry routine. It’s so easy for laundry to take over the house if not kept up with. Put together a routine so it doesn’t become overwhelming.
- Donate or throw stuff out. Do this at least once a month.
- Have a filing system. Kitchen counters and tables can quickly fill up with mail and papers causing lots of unnecessary clutter. File or throw it out.
Organization keeps life in order. It helps you know where things are when you need to be somewhere, and what to do next. Without organization, it’s very easy to fall into hot zones.
By no means am I saying you need to color code or label everything but I do think a little organization can go a long way.
- Keep a calendar.
- Use time-blocking.
- Have a system for mail, papers from school, or anything that needs to be filed.
- Write out weekly and daily to-do lists.
- Set reminders.
Prepare ahead of time for everything.
Gone are the days of flying by the seat of our pants. That might have worked during my teenage years (or even into my twenties) but as a grown adult it doesn’t – not even a little. If I don’t want to be a stressed-out hot zone mess then I need to be prepared ahead of time. This is especially important when trying to eat healthier and lose weight.
- Planning out my meals so I know what I’m eating for the week.
- Meal prep so my food is ready to eat.
- Having exercise gear ready to eliminate excuses.
In my opinion, a prepared person is a happy person.
Looking back, controlling my hot zones was essential to my weight loss journey. This is the reason I think it’s the best weight loss advice ever. If I was still living in a state of chaos I’d never be able to keep up with eating healthier or exercising.
Keep in mind, a lot of the strategies that I use to lose weight actually work to keep my hot zones under control as well. So it’s a winning situation all around. For example, meal prep helps me eat healthier BUT it also helps me have food ready during my busy weeks.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, or don’t have slip-ups, but I have put in place many routines that help keep my hot zones moments to a minimum. This has not only made me a happy person but a healthier person too.
So, if you’re on the weight loss hamster wheel and can’t seem to make any good habit stick then I strongly encourage you to look at whether or not you live too much in the hot zone. Getting your hot zones under control could likely be the weight loss solution you need to finally get on track with your goals.