Here are a few good tips to help you in your weight loss journey. This list may not encompass everything, but it should be enough to help most in losing weight initially, getting over a plateau and then maintaining.
Decide your “WHY”
If you are in need of shedding a few pounds off of your glorious body, then one of the first things you need to do is to have a solid reason “WHY” you are doing so. Is it strictly a vanity issue, or is it more a health and wellness problem which needs addressed in order for you to be the best you possible for your family and friends. The best thing for you to plan is that your “Why” is for a solid reason, a reason which is of the upmost importance for you. A reason(s) which truly has a deep and profound meaning to you. The more your “Why” means to you, the more apt you are going to be in achieving and keeping your goals once you have arrived there. You can have many “Why’s” just ensure that you have one identified in your heart which will never lose significance during your battle with the scale. One that will always be your constant, because as your body changes, your mind is likely to begin changing some too.
Set long term goals for yourself!
Unless you only have 5 or 10 pounds to lose, make sure to set yourself a long term goal of where you think you want to be. Once you have set your goal, develop several short term goals to be reached in order to meet your long term. Never completely forget the end point, but if you only concentrate on a few pounds at a time instead of 50 to 100 pounds for example, there is less stress in worrying about lets say 5 pound increments. Remember, you did not gain all of your weight over night, and it is certainly not healthy to try to lose it all over night.
As a part of the short term weight loss goals, while I would advise to weigh yourself once a week, do not, DO NOT, get all hung up on the numbers each week as you will retain some water weight on some weeks and then not retain it on others which accounts for rapid up and down swings in either direction on the scale. What you want to watch for is a trend for each month where you can take your end of month loss and divide it by the number of weeks and determine if you are actually meeting your weekly goals, If you lose 4 to 8 pounds in a month, then you are on a healthy trajectory with your loss even if you had a week where the number did not budge or may have actually went up. The human body will fluctuate naturally every week even once you have reached your goal. Just getting real here, a few cups of coffee and lack of bowel movement in the morning can make it appear you did not lose any weight. Your monthly trend matters far more than your weekly and for heavens sake, do not think you need to jump onto the scale every morning.
Some people can weigh themselves every morning, yet it seems there are far too many who only cause themselves undo stress every day when they do not see the numbers drop daily. News flash, you should not see a daily drop once you lose that initial weight in your first few days or weeks which are mostly water weight anyhow. That first big weight loss in the first week or two is almost entirely water weight which comes from your body not holding onto it as a result taking in fewer carbohydrates.
Figure out your body fat percentage
You can easily figure your body fat percentage by having a family member or friend take measurements of your body around the neck and belly, then entering those figures and your gender, height and weight into easily accessible military body fat calculators online. If you are female, then you will need to take a measurement around the hips too.
I personally believe most people would be better off concentrating on trying to reach a set body fat percentage over a number on the scale as this can help to keep you from stressing over a number on the scale. Too much stress only increases your cortisol levels which contribute to you retaining body fat. What ever your body fat percentage may be, the scale number can fluctuate a few pounds without changing your percentage. For instance, if you are female, you are at an athletic level of body fat if yours is between 14 to 20 percent. Ladies, if your body fat falls anywhere between those percentages, then you are going to not only look good, you will feel good too, no matter what your weight is. Men, this is true if your body fat falls between 6 and 13 percent. And remember, these figures are for an athletic build. You can be perfectly healthy at a higher percentage. Ladies, a healthy acceptable body fat percentage is between 25 to 32 percent. Men are considered healthy acceptable between 18 to 24 percent.
Educate yourself! This is a biggie. Educate yourself on the healthiest manner to reach your weight loss goals and then formulate a plan. The worst thing you can do is blindly follow some fad diet plan which may cause you to rapidly lose weight, only to regain those pounds and possibly more than you lost to begin with. Know the ins and outs of your body’s nutritional needs and then develop a plan to meet those needs every day. Seriously, if there is one thing I would contribute to folks not being able to lose weight besides building a personal discipline to do so, it is a lack of nutritional knowledge. If you want that sweet treat every now and then, you owe it to yourself to know how to meet all of your body’s nutritional needs first so you can work the junk in. Going at weight loss all willy nilly without a shred of nutritional knowledge is about as dangerous to your well being as sending your teen age kid out to drive a car all by themselves for the very first time. This kind of action is highly likely to end with a crash….
Remember that even with a well laid out diet program, good people fail to meet their goals every day because they have no concept of nutrition. Even the best of nutrition programs require some basic knowledge.
Move your body!
If you are new to exercise or have not done so in a long time, first get your doctors clearance. You do not want to find out the hard way that you should have made that visit first.
Next, and this is speaking specifically to exercise newbies, pick an exercise which you are going to not only enjoy, but one that will be sustainable for you. Pick an activity that you can slowly build into in order that you avoid hurting yourself by advancing your body before it is ready. You also want to avoid pushing yourself harder than you can adjust to which will only serve to cause you to burn out.
If you are interesting in running, there are apps out there such as Couch to 5k which will have you begin with walking and then progressing to being able to run a full 5k, or 3 miles. Know that if you progress too fast, you will end up with joint issues in your ankles, knees and hips. And you can stand the risk of developing shin splints which are quite painful and will sideline you from running.
If you are interested in strength training, then by all means begin using light weights, Lighter than you might even feel necessary and also begin an established program based on linear progression where you are able to see and track progress from session to session and week to week. You can remain on a linear progression program for a year or better as you build yourself to an intermediate level of strength.
What is an intermediate level? Probably not what you think. An intermediate level lifter is not based on how much weight they can lift, but this level is based on how well your body can recuperate between sessions and your gains have slowed. IE, you are no longer able to put more weight on your barbell from session to session.
A couple things about most exercise, while most activities you can engage in are not rocket science, there will be many things you do not know that you do not know. Some of these things you do not know will hurt you. For example, you can attack some killer sets and reps with weight training on some random bro advice you picked up from some Schmoe in the gym. You might assume that because this guy has really swole and pumped arms, he must know what he is talking about. You try to follow his lead because it looks easy and you learn the hard lesson that sometimes your muscles gain strength faster than your tendons and connective tissues. Next thing you know, you are sidelined with some sort of tendonitis. You may go out and run in cheap shoes that do not fit your feet properly, which do not provide proper arch support, and next thing you know, you have shin splints or plantar fasciitis.
Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on your new activity first. And by all means, do not bite off more than you can chew at first. You want to enjoy your workouts and to know that you can remain at it for the long run Ensure your activity is sustainable. Make sure it is something you can do year round or at least for half the year and then have a secondary activity that you can pick up on during months of cold and inclement weather.
Be kind to yourself
Being kind to yourself kind of fits in with what has been addressed already with nutrition knowledge and exercise. But, what I really mean is to not beat yourself up with every set back. We all have them. WE ALL HAVE SET BACKS! No exceptions, we will all fall short of our plans from time to time, yet it is the ones who are kind to themselves that will be forgiving of their shortcoming and move on.
One way to be kind to yourself is to know your caloric needs for the day in order to lose, maintain, or to even gain weight depending on your goals. For instance, it takes a 500 calorie a day deficit over 7 days in order to lose 1 pound of body fat. One day of over consumption is not going to hurt you as long as you do not exceed the total you would need in a week to lose a pound. If you have a need of 2000 calories a day to maintain, then you will consume 14,000 calories in a seven day period. As long as you do not exceed that 14,000, your body fat will remain unchanged. Lets say you are going to aim to lose 1 pound per week and you need 1500 calories in a day to do so, then you will have 10,500 for the week. You can eat over your 1500 calories in a day as long as you do not exceed your 10,500 for the week and still lose.
Forgive yourself if you have an over indulgence one day, just move on. It is long term trends which matter.
Do not eat SUGAR
Do not eat sugar, nor processed foods which usually contain added sugars. If you do, you will quite possibly never kick your cravings for sweet foods and will always struggle to lose and keep your weight off. I will not tell you what to eat, only what not to eat. Sugar. I would advise that you eat a higher protein diet with low glycemic index foods during your weight loss phase as the added protein will serve to keep you satiated longer. Once you have met your goal or are closing in on it, then I would advise to add in more complex carbohydrates to your diet as our body’s need them as much as we need protein. I will also advise you to eat fats such as olive and coconut oils, nuts, oily fish, avocados etc.. Our bodies need fats to properly process our vitamins and minerals.
As for the percentages of protein, carbs and fats you need, that is really individual to the amount of vigorous exercise you do. For instance, I strength train quite heavy 4 days per week and try to get in 4 hours of cardio per week. Therefor, my body requires more protein than that of a sedentary man who is only counting calories to lose weight. Know that the percentages of each macronutrient you need can and will change over the course of time as your body composition changes. It is folly to try to make up a set percentage of macronutrients and try to make that fit everyone across the board. You will need to experiment and while doing so, you still must ensure that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs for a healthy body and mind. A problem you will occasionally see with vegans is folks who go at that life style not fully informed will end up unhealthy as a result of not consuming all the essential amino acids the body needs. There are 20 amino acids of which your body produces 11. There are 9 essential amino acids your body has to have which only come from food sources. Your body builds it’s own protein with these amino acids and if some are missing, then some of the proteins your body needs to produce are not going to be produced, replaced or repaired. This can and will have an impact on your health at some point.
Eat a well rounded diet where you fulfill all of your nutritional requirements and you will find that by doing this and eliminating sugar and processed foods, your body and soul will all that much healthier for doing so.
God bless and thank you to all my new readers and a most humble and sincere thank you to my faithful readers who have catapulted David’s Way to Health and Fitness to having been read in 160 countries now.
Much love to all,