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Stop the Confusion – 12 Straight-Forward, No-Nonsense Steps to Permanent Weight Loss
Are you tired of trying to figure out the perfect combination to lose weight? Overwhelmed and confused by conflicting information and the never-ending parade of fad diets and magic pills that are going to help you lose 10 pounds in 3 days? With all the information out there, it is nearly impossible to sort through it all and figure out what actually works.
That’s where I come in. I am going to give you 12 straightforward tips that will help you lose weight and get rid of that extra fat. I will simplify all the information that took me over a decade to learn, so that you can make your goals a reality for once and for all.
However, before you even start this journey, you have to WANT it! I am a personal trainer and in my business I have heard every feasible excuse as to why my client CAN’T lose weight. They can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong which usually comes under the heading “making excuses”. I’ve heard every one ranging from “it was the weekend” to “I can’t control myself in the late afternoon” to “I HAVE to have a snack before bed”. I’ve heard them all and the bottom line is you are either committed to losing fat and getting fit or not! Let’s face it-every week there is a weekend and if you blow it during the weekend, that is HALF of your week. Do you realize that? Still wondering why you can’t lose weight? I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is anyone can find a reason NOT to do something and somehow, justify it. You must come to terms with the fact that the only effective way to lose body fat is to put in the effort, nothing else.
That being said, I am gong to give you no nonsense, realistic tips on how to do this.
1) Set realistic goals
First and foremost, you need to set realistic, attainable goals. I’m not talking about planning to lose 20 pounds for the wedding in three weeks. That’s not going to happen, atleast not in a healthy capacity that will result in true weight loss. You need to set specific goals with a set time frame and continue to change them as you accomplish each one. For example, plan to lose 1-2 pounds a week for the next month. That means by the end of the month you should have accomplished a weight loss of approximately 8 pounds. Make that your goal and then next month modify it or just continue on that path.
Whatever your goal is, the most important thing is that your goal is attainable so you don’t set yourself up for failure right from the start.
2) Gradual Changes get BIG results
I believe making changes over time is the key to achieving your weight loss goals. If you decide one day you’re going to change everything, you will fail! You may be motivated for a little while, but within a short time, you will feel miserable and deprived and eventually give up. This is the problem with going on a “diet”. It is short lived and whatever you lost, you will ultimately gain back.
It is about a lifestyle change that can be accomplished by making small changes over time. These small changes will bring on big results, as well as become a way of life.
Week 1: Try cutting out anything “white”, meaning white flour product, white rice and white sugar. Replace white flour products with whole-wheat flour products. Include whole grains and lots of vegetables with meals.
Week 2: Modify your behavior at one specific time, that is particularly difficult for you. For example, if you know you always blow it at dinner, make some changes. I know when I’m sitting at the table with my family, I often grab for seconds just simply because the food is there. So what I try to do now is measure out what I’m going to eat and stop when my plate is empty. I even go as far as clearing my plate from the table. Believe me, it’s difficult to eat when I don’t have a plate or silverware (although my 10 year old son might disagree!). My point is, identify your biggest challenge and make a change that will enable you to gain control over it.
Week 3: Cut out all sugary/high caloric beverages. These are empty calories that add up. Try water, green tea, etc.
Get the picture? This way by the end of a couple weeks you’ve cut out 10 things without even realizing it. Now you are on your way to eating healthier and losing weight with out feeling deprived because nothing was drastic.
3) DON’T Starve Yourself
The worst thing you could do is decide you want to lose weight and stop eating. You cannot starve yourself and expect to melt the pounds away. I don’t care what common sense says, it does not work! Your body adapts to circumstances and the bottom line is if you suddenly reduce calories, your body goes into starvation mode and hoards the excess calories you’ve already stored in your fat cells. It also slows down your metabolism, which means that when you go off the diet, you will likely gain back all the weight, plus excess weight you wouldn’t have gained had you not gone on the diet in the first place.
4) Eat More to Weigh Less
How can eating more help you lose weight? It’s simple. Our bodies perform much better on a more frequent feeding schedule. Instead of spreading your daily intake over three meals, I am going to tell you to eat 4-6 small meals a day, every 3-4 1/2 hours, which will keep your metabolism charged and help you burn off more calories. The key being SMALL meals. I often hesitate telling people to eat this often, because if you don’t understand portions, eating this often can backfire when you’re trying to lose weight.
A good gauge of how much a portion is, is as follows:
- meat or fish — size of your fist or a deck of cards
- cheese — size of thumb to first joint
- whole grains (rice, oatmeal, pasta, etc) — ½ cup cooked
- cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. – ½ cup
- Vegetables — ½ cup cooked, 1 cup raw
- Fruit — 1 whole fruit or 1 cup berries/melon chunks
- Dried fruit — ¼ cup
- Smart fats (olive oil, nut butters, etc) – 1 tbsp
The easiest way I know to follow the 4-6 meals a day plan is to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and then have a mid morning snack and mid afternoon snack. The meals should be small and packed with high quality, nutrient dense food, including lean protein, fruits and vegetables. I don’t suggest eating before you go to bed, but if you must, try to keep it healthy and try to have it at least two hours before you go to bed.
5) Never Skip Breakfast
The biggest consequence to skipping breakfast or any meal is your metabolism slows down. Your body needs calories to function efficiently and it functions best when it is refueled first thing in the morning. If you don’t, your body will downshift and your metabolism will slow down, as previously mentioned. So, if you are trying to lose weight or even maintain, the last thing you want is a slower metabolism!
6) Write Down EVERYTHING You Eat
At some point in time, I have told most, if not all of my clients, to write down EVERYTHING they put in their mouth. Many of them tried it for a little while, while some couldn’t be bothered. I am now here to tell you, in the struggle to lose weight, picking up a pen might be just as useful as putting down the fork. In fact, a recent study was done showing that people who kept daily food diaries lost twice as much weight or more as those who didn’t keep a tally of their meals.
The reasons for the success are as follows:
- You are held accountable for everything you eat and that goes a long way. When you have to write down EVERYTHING you put in your mouth, that alone discourages people from eating something they know they should not eat.
- Another effect of keeping a food diary is it can help people realize when they are just eating out of boredom or stress. Very often people do mindless eating, under stress, at their desks, because they’re bored, without thinking about it. Believe me, these calories add up quickly and can be the sole reason you can’t lose weight.
A free website, I highly recommend, is FitDay.com. I find it extremely user friendly and very eye opening. Each day you must enter exactly what you eat and it actually determines calories, as well as percentage of protein, carbs and fat you’ve consumed during the day. It is not only very interesting to see what you ACTUALLY eat in a day, but also very educational. I think it gives people a real understanding of how they eat, as opposed to how they think they eat. It makes it easy to see where changes need to be made in order to get results.
7) Eat Enough Quality Protein
What I mean by quality protein, is lean protein; chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, eggs, egg whites, etc. Not only does it burn more calories digesting it than carbs or fat, but it also creates satiety so your hunger is satisfied longer.
In addition, protein is a building block for maintaining and building lean muscle and it is important to understand that the more lean muscle you carry, the more calories you burn even while you sleep.
8) Consume Fiber
It is important to consume fiber, as there are numerous benefits, which include lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease and improved absorption of minerals and other nutrients. In addition, fiber also slows down the digestion process, which helps you control your appetite and cravings, as well as it helps you feel more full delaying hunger from one meal to the next.
9) Cut out processed foods
You need to get rid of processed or junk foods, period. In a nutshell, processed food lacks nutrients, causes fat gain and cellulite, weakens the immune system, weakens organ function, raises your risk of cancer, etc. Need I say more?
Be weary of the foods that are labeled, “diet”, “healthy”, “low-fat”, or “fat-free.” If you look at the ingredients you will likely find many that you can’t even pronounce, not to mention, in order to make all those foods “low-fat” or “fat-free”, they must replace the fat with something. That something is SUGAR! The truth is, you’re better of eating some fat, as opposed to all the chemicals and sugar in processed low-fat or fat-free food.
Sugar is poison! Aside from it depressing your immune system, contributing to hyperactivity, depression and anxiety, reducing HDL’s (good cholesterol) and elevating LDL’s (bad cholesterol), as well as numerous other problems, it also contributes to weight gain and obesity. So, if you’re going to do anything today, focus on cutting out sugar. Start paying attention to labels and steer clear of the “fat-free” processed foods.
10) Drink Water
Water is the most important element to total health and fitness. After all, your body is 65-70% water and your muscles are over 70% water. But the best thing about water when it comes to weight loss is its ability to curb your appetite and hunger. I suggest 6-8 8 oz. glasses for the average person, but if you’re trying to lose fat and maximize body leanness, I would consider doubling that. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty, to drink. It means you’ve waited too long.
11) Exercise: Cardio
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get some form of cardio in. If you are currently sedentary or have not exercised in some time, it is important to start off slow. Talk to your doctor and figure out a program that will work for you and try to perform it 3-5 days a week. Walking is a great way to get yourself up and moving so you can start seeing results.
However, if you are already in some sort of exercise routine, I suggest “interval training” which is the most effective way to burn calories and lose fat. Interval training is defined as short, high intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. An example on a treadmill (individual in good shape) would be as follows: warm up at 3.2 (3-5 minutes); run at 6.0 (45 seconds); walk at 3.2 (90 seconds) and repeat for 6-7 intervals; cool down at 3.2 (2-3 minutes) for a total workout lasting 20 minutes. The key to losing weight is intensity. So based on your individual fitness level, push yourself on the high intervals to a subjective 8-9 out of a level of 10.
12) Exercise: Strength Training
Incorporating some form of resistance training is not only an extremely important factor for weight loss, it has numerous other benefits which include: reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol, strengthens bones, as well as it increases calories burned which promotes weight loss. As mentioned above, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn. Even while you sleep, muscles are responsible for more than 25% of one’s calorie use. So, in short, an increase in muscle tissue will in turn increase your metabolic rate.
I hope these tips were helpful. If you would like additional information on “interval training” or “resistance training” check out my website and feel free to contact me anytime. Good luck and keep in mind that I am always here to help!
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