The kids are back in school, you're waking up extra early to make sure their lunches are packed, book bags are good to go, you've got what you need for work. Life is good... except for the whole getting in shape thing.
Losing weight has been an ongoing source of stress. Life is good. Everything is good. Except you don't love how you look. But you've been doing all right with hiding your body in flowy blouses and leggings.
You WANT to lose weight, but you don't know where to begin.
You've tried keto, it worked. You lost 35lbs, but then gained back 50lbs. You've tried the 24-day challenge, and are sipping on your spark right now as you read this. It worked, you lost 6 inches and 8lbs, but the weight came back also. You've done the 80 Day Beachbody challenge, you quit after 22 days, you didn't have time. You ask your friends for help, and one suggests Plexus. You drop $175 on supplements, you feel more energetic, but the scale isn't budging.
You've tried everything! But nothing seems to work. What the hell?
When it comes to weight loss, what works for me may not work for you. What works for your friend, may not work for you. What worked for your sister-in-laws best friend's cousin may not work for you.
There is no correct way to lose weight, the right way is the way that works best for you! But if you feel you are really struggling with getting started, I highly recommend my 1-on-1 services for wellness coaching which incorporates both exercise, nutrition and weekly check-ins for accountability. I've been told, "I'm annoying." That's how much I'll check in on you.
But moving forward, let's start to figure out what's been keeping you from reaching your goals:
First things first, the overall goal is to lose weight. Got it, check it off, understood.
What have you done previously in your gym, nutrition and lifestyle experience that has helped you lose weight? Why did you not succeed in keeping the weight off?
Great job! You've already narrowed down several methods that DO NOT work for you in weight loss. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, because we're switching gears and games altogether.
If you cut out carbs, drank the green juice, detoxed for 10 days, restricted your calories to 1200 only while spinning your wheels on a treadmill, do not return to that method to lose weight. It didn't work the first 8 times, and it's not going to work again. Even Einstein thinks doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insane.
See-- Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
So how do you approach weight loss to achieve success?
Your overall goal is weight loss, but I'm telling you that's not good enough. You need to make this overall goal into a smart goal.
Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely
Be specific about weight loss. A smart goal for weight loss would be "I want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months." It's specific, 15 pounds. It's measurable because the scale will indicate if you achieved weight loss. It's attainable to lose 15 pounds in 3 months because that's 5 pounds per month. It's also realistic depending on your current weight and if you have 15 pounds to lose. And 3 months gives the specific goal a time period to lose the 15 pounds.
2.) Find an activity you enjoy and can be improved upon
Running sucks and most people hate running because they're not good at it. But for this example, I'm using running. When you first decide to run, you might find yourself going between walking and running. The next time you go out for a run, you might end up doing more running than walking.
Then you go out a few more times for a run, and you can consistently run without walking for 20 minutes. Soon that 20 minutes turns into 30 minutes, and then 30 minutes becomes 1 hour, then an hour becomes holy smokes you just did a half marathon!?
Finding an exercise, you can see measurable progress is an excellent way to self-motivate and see overall improvements away from the scale. Plus when you find an activity you enjoy, whether it's running, cycling, dancing, lifting, swimming, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, etc. do that activity over and over again, and you will see the pounds melt off of you.
3.) Edit your diet
If you are gaining weight and are wondering why, the first thought that enters your head should not be "I need to do more cardio," instead it needs to be "I should fix my diet."
Here are little insiders secret: when I first meet with a new client who wants to lose weight, I ask them is there something in your diet you know is bad for you and can you live without it? 9 out of 10 times the answer is yes.
Look hard at your current diet, and think about something that's regularly in your week to week diet and could you survive if you had to sacrifice it? Once upon a time, I had a morning bagel every single morning. Then one day I decided I would no longer have bagels in my diet. I lost 12lbs in a month. The first client I ever worked with, she decided to cut fast food out of her diet, and in less than a year she dropped from 41% body fat to 27%. Wow.
So now it's your turn, evaluate your diet and look to remove just one thing from it and see what happens in a month. If there's no change, well then add it back in. But if the scale moves in the direction you want it to, you need to keep it out and look to perhaps add to that list. After I got rid of bagels, I cut out beer and cookies. Wings were trimmed back to once a week.
4.) What is your WHY?
Knowing what your why is, is such a trendy thing right now. But truthfully, knowing and figuring out what inspires you to lose weight will actually help keep you focused when you hit a bump in the road.
Maybe your why for wanting to lose weight is so you can go trick or treating with your kids without being tired and winded. Perhaps your why is because you want to impress some cute guy at work. Your why can be wanting to look hot to trot at your 10th or 20th high school reunion. Or perhaps your last doctor's visit didn't go as planned and you need to lose weight because you're borderline diabetic. Whatever you WHY is, write it down and put it somewhere visible and you can see it weekly or daily.
5.) Track your progress
Tracking your progress can sometimes be a double-edged sword because if you feel you aren't making progress fast enough, you might give up. And if that's the case, you need a backup goal to your specific goal.
If your specific goal is to lose 15 pounds in 3 months, there needs to be a backup plan in place with the activity you have found to be most enjoyable. Say you have found tranquility in running. A great support goal to the 15 pounds in 3 months would be to also train for a 5k run.
The 5k race will give you a way to track your running progress. The month of August you ran 11 total miles. September you ran 17 total miles. October 27th is race day, and just a week into October you've run 12 miles and are running 3 miles in 10-minute mile splits. GREAT JOB, you're tracking your progress, and you've been consistent with your exercises for nearly 3 months. As your progress improves, the likelihood is the scale will go down too.
6.) Track your calories
So you've edited your diet, you've decided to cut out french fries. Now it's time to start tracking your food to keep your diet on track to compliment your exercise. Just because you ran a few miles doesn't give you full access to eat whatever the heck you want. Cardio merely is an easy way to create a calorie deficit.
To gain weight, you have to consistently be in a calorie surplus and to lose weight you have to always be in a calorie deficit. By tracking your calories as you begin to incorporate more exercise, this will keep your diet in check and know what you are putting into your body.
7.) Be consistent
You can't do a diet and exercise plan for only 21 days or 24 days and expect to see rapid results. That's not realistic. Consistency will determine how quickly you'll reach your goal, and if you can maintain your goal long term. If you do some detox for 9 days and lose 7 pounds, do you really think in those 9 days you have successfully burned fat? Hell no. You are probably starving your body, too restrictive of calories, messing your metabolism so when it's time to reintroduce normal foods into your diet, your metabolism is programmed to go into "restoration mode" because you decided to do a juice cleanse for 9 damn days. So now your body is holding on to nutrients because it doesn't know when you'll do some juice cleanse foolishness again.
Don't be a fool. Stay consistent with exercises and eating mindfully. If you mess up on your diet, don't sweat it. Use the extra calories as fuel for your next workout and get back on track. When you are consistent, your body will work for you.
8.) Organize your time
One of the biggest excuses for not adopting a healthier lifestyle is "I don't have time." When I hear this, it makes me wince because I know not every waking part of the day is dedicated to work and home life. I know this. You know this. Everybody knows this.
When I hear the excuse, "I don't have time," it's code for "my health isn't a priority right now." Pull out a sheet of paper and start to block off times you know are already occupied. If you have work from 8a-5p. You know the hours between 7a to 6p are not ideal for working out. How can you organize your time to fit working out in? Perhaps 2 days a week you wake up at 5am to hit the gym between 5:30-6:30a and then use a Saturday to when you have more free time to get your third day in. If you want it, you'll find a way. If it's not a priority, well, that's a whole other issue.
9.) Prioritize your health
This goes beyond organizing your time to create a workout routine that fits into your schedule. This also includes the need to prepare, especially when it comes to going out to eat and socializing with friends and family.
When I hear the words "meal prep," all I think about is leftovers. But that's what meal prep is. So if you are concerned that you don't have enough time in the week to work out and make dinner and still have a life, this is where meal prepping comes in. Most people I know who meal prep spend a good portion of their Sunday meal prepping for the week. They go grocery shopping, buy tons of veggies, fruits, meat, snacks, and then come home and prepare it.
When my husband was deployed last summer, I did a ton of meal prepping because I was really not in the mood to cook during the week. So I broke out my slow cooker every Sunday and made TONS of shredded chicken, beef, pork, turkey, etc. and that's what I ate for the week. I didn't need to think about it because when I opened my fridge, there it was. When I had to grab and go to meet a client, I always had food ready. No joke, I lost weight without really trying.
If you have a big event or a birthday party, you'll be attending. You don't have to sacrifice your diet. Input your food early on in the day and continue to track as you normally would. If you plan to have some margaritas, track it in your calorie tracker app. Make those margaritas work within your diet, rather than over-consuming and being frustrated the next day.
10.) Get quality sleep to help your body recover
Sleep is so essential for your health and especially when it comes to weight loss. I will be writing a future post about this, but here are the crib notes on it:
Your sleep helps your body recover from stress-- whether that's emotional, physical or mental stress. When you don't get enough sleep, your body is put under even more stress which then leads to hormonal imbalance. We've all heard of the stress hormone cortisol, and cortisol is a significant contributor to individuals holding on to fat. But another hormone that needs to be discussed in the hunger hormone.
When you don't get enough sleep, the hunger hormone (ghrelin) is all out of sorts. Ghrelin is a critical hormone because it signals to us when we're hungry. This also contributes to why people feel hungrier more often when they begin to lose weight. The less fat you have, the more ghrelin you release. It's a way for your body to get back to balance, especially if you've been overweight for a length of time.
There's a link between lack of sleep and an increased amount of ghrelin, which means if you don't get enough sleep you're more likely to overeat.