Happy New Year Everyone! It’s a new year, which means many of us are setting resolutions and goals to make this the best year yet. A common January goal is to lose weight, this is a great goal; however, it is important to have a plan on how you are going to get to this goal. Below I share some of my top tips for successful weight loss, but remember, the first step is actually TAKING THE FIRST STEP! Set a plan, commit to yourself, and put your plan in place! No one is going to do it for you, if you struggle with unwanted weight and negative body image – take the step today to decided it’s time to do something for YOU!
1.) CHOOSE A REALISTIC LONG TERM GOAL AS WELL AS SUBSEQUENT SHORT TERM GOALS TO MONITOR PROGRESS AND STAY MOTIVATED. When people set out on a weight loss mission they tend to choose a large number and a large timeframe (lose 50lbs in a year), but I have found that even though this is a great goal, setting smaller goals and mapping out a plan to get to that 50lbs weight loss is the way to go. Setting small goals (lose 10lbs in 5 weeks) is the way to go to ensure you get to the end goal a year from now. Also, try to not make all of your goals related to weight loss. Try setting goals for how far you are going to run, how fast you are going to run, how many workouts you are going to build up to doing per week, or how many pounds you can bench press; this will help keep you motivated without focusing all of your attention on the numbers on the scale.
2.) IDENTIFY A SUPPORT SYSTEM. Whether finding support in a workout buddy/group, a personal trainer, family, friends, classmates, or co-workers; it is important to identify a support system that will be there through the weight loss journey and do what they can to provide support. These are the people to turn to at times of weakness to help stay motivated and prevent “falling off the wagon”.
3.) DO NOT OBSESS OVER YOUR CURRENT OR DESIRED WEIGHT. In my experience as a personal trainer, I have found it is very common for people to become overly obsessed with their workouts, eating, and weight; however, this can sometimes be more of a negative than a positive. When people obsess they begin to weigh themselves everyday and then lose motivation and confidence when they don’t see changes on a regular basis. Chose 1 day per week that you will weigh yourself and stay away from the scale the rest of the week! Remember lifting weights increases muscle mass and muscle weighs more than fat; therefore, occasionally the number on the scale might not move, but that doesn’t mean the inches aren’t dropping off and body shape isn’t changing.
4.) DON’T BE AFRAID TO LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS. This is most commonly a myth associated with women, but some men are also guilty of the “I don’t want to bulk up” excuse. In order to change body shape, speed up the metabolism, and get that lean/toned look everyone strives for; the muscles have to be challenged by lifting weights they are not used to lifting on a regular basis! Females do not have enough testosterone to really “bulk up” and “look like a man” from lifting heavy weights. It is a waste of time to use 5lbs dumbbells for every exercise and perform 3 sets of 30 reps. If a “burn” is not felt at the end of a workout, the muscles were not challenged enough and the full potential of the workout was not reached.
5.) SWITCH IT UP FREQUENTLY. It is important to continuously challenge the body in different ways through different exercises and activities. Our bodies have the ability to adapt to stress placed on it after a certain period of time; therefore, performing the same workout routine and lifting the same weights for a long time will slow down progress because the body is no longer being challenged. Keep the body guessing! Try and change it up every 4 to 5 weeks in order to reduce boredom and avoid plateau.
6.) ALLOW AT LEAST 1 CHEAT MEAL/DAY PER WEEK. Although it is very important to be strict with the diet when looking to shed a few pounds, it is also important to enjoy life and not be completely miserable. This is especially important in the initial stages of a lifestyle change, which is exactly what successful weight loss should be-A LIFESTYLE CHANGE! This means the ability to still enjoy favourite foods in moderation and learning what needs to be done to “earn” these foods. Choose 1 day per week to eat (within reason) anything and then as the body becomes more adapted to the new eating regimen, knock it down to 1 meal per week.
7.) FOCUS ON EATING 3 SMALL MEALS AND 2 SNACKS PER DAY. Many seem to think that the key to losing weight is eating less often sending the body into starvation mode. There are many problems with this, the main being-THIS IS NO FUN! Feeling hungry all the time and lacking energy throughout the day is not a good way to live and is not a realistic lifestyle for any “sane” human being. Eventually people will break down and cheat, and normally cheat for more than 1 day or 1 meal. Eating small healthy meals and snacks throughout the day keeps the metabolism revved up because the body is always working to break down the food. This helps to keep energy levels high and decrease hunger and cravings throughout the entire day.
8.) DO NOT EAT ANYTHING AT LEAST 2-3 HOURS BEFORE GOING TO BED. Eating 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed allows the body to begin to burn off some calories before lying in bed for the night. Every time a person eats the body’s metabolism increases slightly, but the effect is minimized at night and the same metabolism-boosting benefits do not occur. Once in a sleeping state the only calories used are those needed to keep the heart beating, lungs breathing, and eyes moving in REM sleep. Eating a large meal late a night can also affect calorie-burning potential the next day because the stomach will still be full in the morning causing breakfast to be skipped, which in turn, results in a loss of metabolism-boosting benefits of eating a morning meal.
9.) MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE CHANGE. There are many “crash” diets on the market and in the media right now and even though many of them have proven to work-they only work temporarily! These diets are not a realistic way to live and eat on a long-term basis. Many people who may lose weight on one of these diets usually end up gaining the weight back and occasionally a few extra pounds once they begin to eat “normally” again. I do not believe in the word “diet”. I feel there is a stigma placed around the word and I don’t think anyone trying to lose weight should have to “diet”. Successful weight loss is about eating healthy and exercising regularly. It is important for each individual to find a healthy balance that works for them and stick to it. This method may take a little longer to lose the pounds, but it will be the more permanent and healthy way to do it than “crash dieting”.
10.) DO NOT DRINK YOUR CALORIES. Drink lots of water throughout the day, the average person must drink at least 8 glasses of water/day; however, those who drink coffee or tea require more because caffeinated beverages act as diuretics. Just think why drink calories when you can enjoy them in food? Avoid sugar filled juices; they may say on the label they are healthy, but they are often filled with at the sugar and artificial flavoring.
For more information about weight loss and getting started on an exercise regimen email Michelle@CORE-Condition.com
Michelle Roots BA Kin, CSCS, PES