Complete Guide to Weight Loss
From a glance, weight loss is simple. Eat less and move more. But it’s actually a lot more complex than that. First of all, I would like to say that weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise. You can work out for 60 minutes each day, but if you still eat like shit, you will not lose weight. On the other hand, if you don’t exercise at all and eat less, you will lose weight. But to maximize the full potential of your weight loss, and to gain health, fitness, and self confidence, you should incorporate both. Think of it as a lifestyle change. This isn’t some 3-month crash diet so you can fit into the dress for prom, only to regain the weight in a matter of weeks. You want to create healthy habits you can have for LIFE.
I’m not going to lie: weight loss is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life. Which is why if you have a set-back, you have to keep on pushing. You’ll laugh, cry, and will want to give up at times, but I guarantee end result will be worth all the effort.
Setting realistic goals
You are way more likely to succeed in weight loss if you set realistic goals. A perfectly healthy rate of weight loss is 1-3 pounds a week. The heavier you are when you begin, the more weight you’ll lose. Anything more than 3 pounds a week without medical supervision means that you are probably losing muscle mass as well. So no, losing 50 pounds in a month is probably not an attainable goal.
Instead of thinking “Oh my god I have to lose 30 pounds in 4 months how am I ever going to start!”, divide up your goal into mini ones. Aim for 5-10 pounds a month, and soon it will seem less daunting.
Make sure your ultimate goal weight is also something that you body can reach. For example, if you’re 5’8” with a large frame, you’ll probably never be 100 pounds unless you resort to unhealthy methods. Your health is more important than how thin you are!
One pound of fat is 3500 calories. You can eat a certain amount of calories a day without gaining any weight, and this is called the recommended daily intake. Use this to calculate your RDI (it’s the maintenance one). To lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. Let’s say your RDI is 2000 calories a day. If you eat 500 calories less per day, that adds up to 3500 calories less in the whole entire week, which means one pound of weight loss! If you consume 1000 calories less a day (which I don’t recommend unless your RDI is 2200+), that means 7000-calorie deficit throughout the week, which equates to 2 pounds lost. Depending on your current weight and exercise level, you should aim to eat around 250-750 calories below your RDI each day. Never eat below 1000-1200 calories because you won’t be getting the adequate nutrition that you need, you’ll lose your energy, and your metabolism will start slowing down.
You can burn calories from exercise too! I’ll go more into that later. On days where you exercise, eat slightly more to replenish the energy you lose from exercise.
Should you count calories while losing weight? That’s a question I get a lot. I used to count calories religiously, but I found that it didn’t work for me. Try counting calories for 2 weeks. If it’s something you like, continue with it. If you don’t like it, stop. This way you will know what a 1200, 1500, or 1800 (etc.) calorie day looks like.
This site is great for figuring out how much weight you’ll lose depending on your starting weight, exercise, and caloric intake. It’s pretty accurate.
Myfitnesspal is a great site if you want to count calories. It has every single food imaginable and a lot of exercises. It’s also an app! It calculates how many calories you need to eat and how much you need to burn from exercise to reach your goal weight. It’s customized to your height, age, gender, and weight.
The following are some great tips I found while I was losing weight. You can use as many as you like. The bolded ones are the most important
1. Cut out junk/processed food as much as you can.
2. Drink 8 cups of water a day. Water flushes out toxins and keeps you full.
3. No liquid calories! Or cut them down as much as possible. They add up so much without being filling. Water and tea are your new best friends.
4. Eat in moderation. If you want that cookie, have ONE and be done with it. If you eliminate all your favorite foods, you will be more likely to lose self-control and binge.
5. Are you at a restaurant and don’t know how to eat healthy? Here are some good tips.
6. Whole grains instead of white/enriched grains. Why? Because they don’t have the fibre and nutrients completely stripped from them. Fibre fills you up a lot!
7. Eat LOTS of fruits and vegetables. They are full of nutrition and very calorie light.
8. Eat protein. Protein is the most filling of all the macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein). Good sources of protein are chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts. Google for more!
9. Eat slowly. It takes several minutes for the feeling of being full to reach your brain.
10. DO NOT EAT IF YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY. Do not ever feel like you’re obligated to eat anything.
11. Use a smaller plate. It gives the illusion that you’re eating more food.
12. Measure out what you’re eating. You don’t have to do it every single time you eat something, but do it once so you have an idea of what a serving size actually is. For example, chances are you’re pouring more than a recommended serving of one cup of cereal.
13. Limit, if not eliminate all “extras” like butter, mayonnaise, ketchup, dressing, added sugar, added oil, etc.
14. Eat breakfast! There have been so many studies done that show that people who eat breakfast lose more weight. It kickstarts your metabolism for the day and you’re less likely to binge later.
15. Don’t eat mindlessly while watching the TV, on the computer, or doing other activity. Be very aware of what you eat.
16. Keep a food journal so you can be accountable.
17. Don’t eat out of a bottomless bag. Scoop one serving into a bowl and eat from that.
18. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T STARVE YOURSELF. Your body will not live on 200 calories a day just because you told it to. There are so many adverse psychological and physical effects of starvation. You will be more likely to be depressed, get an eating disorder, lose your health, and develop unhealthy habits for the rest of your life. Your body needs energy (food) to survive. Don’t think of food as something you need to eliminate. Food is just food. It’s not your friend, nor is it your enemy.
Healthy Food List
Whole grains- bread, pasta, tortillas, wraps, oatmeal
Meat- skinless chicken and turkey, fish, lean beef, shrimp, seafood, eggs
Vegetables- every single vegetable. I especially like spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, squash, celery, legumes, nuts (in moderation because they’re high calorie despite their nutritional benefits) and sweet potatoes
Fruits- every single fruit. I especially like bananas, apples, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, watermelon, and peaches.
Dairy – skim milk, light cheese, yogurt
Fat - Nuts, tuna, avocado
It is best to exercise at least 4 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time to lose weight. Cardio exercise is what burns fat (anything that gets your heart rate up) and burns calories. That’s where you can subtract calories from your daily intake. Here’s a calories burned calculator. The most effective cardio workouts are running, biking, dancing, and swimming (just to name a few). Aim for at least 15 minutes of cardio each time you work out. You should also do some strength training. This can be lifting weights, doing crunches, lunges, squats, pushups, bicep curls… (google for more workouts). Though they burn less calories, they do build muscle. This is important because one pound of muscle takes up less space than one pound of fat, giving the illusion of even more weight loss! Plus muscle burns more calories than fat when you’re sitting still. And muscles will eliminate the skinny-flabby look.
People who exercise burn more calories simply existing than people who don’t. In essence, working out burns calories, which increases your standing metabolism, burning more calories! SO GET OFF YOUR BUM AND MOVE. If you have time to tumblr you have time to work out!
Remember the times I give are the bare MINIMUM. What I find most effective is 30+ minutes of cardio and 30+ minutes of strength training in one workout, 5 times a week.
So you’ve just binged. What now? First you have to accept that what’s in the past is done. You ate the extra food and now you feel guilty. Let go of the guilt! There is no point in worrying about things you can’t change.
1. Do not purge. This creates a terrible cycle of bingeing/purging and can lead to an eating disorder. Purging is also extremely unhealthy towards your body, causing stomach ulcers, tooth decay, esophagus problems, and a lot more.
2. Do not starve yourself. This also creates a cycle of bingeing/starvation. Remember, just because you eat significantly less the next day does not make it “okay” for you to binge!
3. Eat as healthy as you can. Your body will be in need of nutrients after you binge on unhealthy food. Consume fruits and vegetables because they won’t bloat you as much as carbs. Resume your regular eating pattern!
4. Exercise the next day. You don’t need to overdo it with exercise either, just do some cardio to speed your metabolism up. (Nothing too extreme, remember resume your regular lifestyle)
5. After a binge you can gain anywhere from 1lb-10lbs. Most of this is probably just water weight! Carbs and salty foods make your body retain a lot of water. One pound of fat is 3500 calories, and unless you ate 5000+ calories the day before, you didn’t actually gain a pound!
6. Drink water. As odd as it seems, the more water you drink, the more water weight you’ll lose.
7. Recognize why you binged. Was it because you were sad? Stressed? Bored? Socializing? Once you start identifying these factors you can go towards solving the root problem of the binge.
8. Forgive yourself. Recognize that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you’re just human. Will one binge really matter in the scope of things? No. As long as you don’t make bingeing a habit, the weight will come off in no time.
How to avoid binges
1. Eat enough on a day to day basis. Make sure you’re not restricting your calories too much. Your body will start thinking that it’s in a period of starvation and will do ANYTHING it can to get extra food.
2. Don’t cut off entire food groups/your favourite foods completely. The more forbidden something is, the more you’ll crave it.
3. This goes hand in hand with the previous rule. If you crave a piece of chocolate, have it! A lot of times people will think, “Oh I really want chocolate. But that’ll ruin my diet! So I’ll just have a healthy granola bar… wow I’m still not satisfied. Maybe I’ll have another granola bar. But it’s not sweet enough! I think I’ll have some cereal with that too. And some milk. And some more sugary cereal.” And before they know it, they’ll have consumed MUCH more than if they had just had the piece of chocolate in the first place and squashed that craving! And most people end up having the food they craved by the end of their binge anyway.
4. Avoid emotions that trigger your binge. Call a friend, go for a walk, have a bath… do something that occupies your mind when you feel like bingeing!
Sometimes you’ll want to skip a workout or you’ll want to eat a whole entire pizza. Weight loss is hard. Whenever I lost motivation, I thought of all the reasons why I wanted to lose weight. Create your own list of reasons why you’d like to lose weight and remind yourself of them often. When you’re about to veer off track, just think of how absolutely healthy, slim, fit, and awesome you’ll be once you reach your ultimate goal weight. (Note: these reasons should be motivated by something within yourself like to get healthier, not to impress your friends. It’s much easier to lose motivation when you’re losing weight to prove something to someone else instead of finding happiness for yourself).
Also, awarding yourself for reaching mini-goals is another great way of motivation (clothes, photoshoot, trip, concert, etc).
Have a support group. Studies have shown that people who lose weight with others are more successful than people who don’t. If your family and friends aren’t supportive of your weight loss, that’s where tumblr comes in!
You can also join a fitness class (yoga, dance, swimming, karate, wall climbing… what have you ALWAYS wanted to do?) so you have to work out. If you have some extra cash, invest in a gym membership as well. Or maybe even get a personal trainer?
Don’t give up if you screw up: you will regret it. A slip up is minor in the whole picture of things. Of course there’s going to be failure, but you have to get back up and keep fighting. It’s hard, but the end effort IS worth it. Years from now, will you be healthy and slim or will you have given up and fallen back into your old unhealthy ways? It’s your choice.
It’s best to weigh yourself once a week, but once a day is okay too. Seriously, don’t weigh yourself once every few hours. Weight fluctuations of up to 10lbs throughout the day/week are very normal! Your weight will fluctuate due to your period, water retention from excess carbs/salt, last time you ate, time of day, last time you pooped/peed, being sick, exercise, muscle gain, and so many other factors. You’re less likely to lose motivation when you focus on the overall trend in weight loss, not the individual weigh ins.
Hitting a plateau sucks. It happens to almost everyone when they lose weight. To combat/avoid it, you have to keep your exercise and diet varied. If you get good at one exercise, your body begins to adapt to it and you no longer burn as many calories. Try lengthening the time of your workouts or the intensity of them. Or try a new exercise altogether! For food, you can try calorie cycling, which is basically where you eat different amounts of calories a day, but the weekly average is still the same. It’s supposed to trick your body’s metabolism. I’ve never tried it so I can’t attest to its usefulness but it’s worked for other people. Also try eating new foods! And varying the amount of food you have for breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Jillian Michaels (who is a fabulous fitness guru, if you haven’t heard of her) advises for people to increase the calories they’re eating and take rest from working out for a few days to break plateaus. This reminds tells the body “Oh hey you’re not actually starving so you can lose some fat!” I know it sounds counterintuitive but that’s how I broke through my plateau. It’s worked for a lot of other people too.
You may also be at a point where your body no longer wants to lose weight and it’s doing all it can to keep onto the necessary fat. Yes, fat is necessary for your survival. Keep your goals realistic.
You may also be eating too much. 1700 calories a day may have made you lose weight when you were 200 pounds, but it won’t create a big deficit when you’re at 130 pounds. Try eating a bit less, but don’t starve yourself. Make sure you’re not sneaking calories in by adding extra pats of butter, too much salad dressing, underestimating portion sizes, etc.
Targeting Fat Loss
It is impossible to target fat loss. You can’t decide to lose weight only from your stomach. It is your genetics that determines where the weight comes off first. A combination of cardio and healthy eating will lead to overall fat loss. Strength training will tone the area up though, making it tighter!
Why do it the healthy way?
The healthy way is slow, hard, and painful. You could always just starve yourself and get the same results faster. But you know what? If you lose weight that way, you risk losing your physical and psychological health, self-confidence, relationships, and happiness too. Love your body, treat it right, and the weight will come off. It’s as simple as that.
Feel free to contact me in my ask if you have any more questions. I’ll always respond! Oh and I have some more tips here. Good luck and keep me posted on your progress! :)