Losing weight is simple, but it’s not always easy.
We have many barriers in our lives that can make it challenging. From working long hours to having kids it sometimes can feel like losing weight is the hardest thing on the planet to do.
You might even know HOW to do it- perhaps you’ve tried before and succeeded. So now you’re at a point where you’ve gained the weight and want to get it off again. Here are the steps I have my clients take to begin losing weight AND to help them keep the weight off long term.
First, write down the top five reasons that losing weight has been challenging in the past.
Do you have food/snacks at work that are easily available, delicious, and comforting? Are there always donuts in the break room? This might be one reason for the weight loss problems. Do you have young kids at home that are exceptionally picky and you end up eating their food? Are you overwhelmed and often use food to manage stress? These could all be reasons. Write them down. If your list is larger than 5, it’s okay, you can write down however many you want. We will address the biggest barriers and that will make the biggest difference.
Once you have written down your barriers, let’s brainstorm the ways you might be able to manage them.
I always recommend my clients eat regularly (every 3 to 4 hours), and I find that helps create a defense against the foods that might end up being tempting. If you can’t avoid the break room but have eaten a healthy snack at the right time of day, you will be less likely to eat the donuts. Check this list out of awesome healthy snacks that are satiating and help fight the battle of the bulge.
If you are a stress eater (which most of us are) then you will need to attack this in two ways. While you’re learning alternative ways to manage your stress (a great article HERE), you will want to have foods available that allow you to process your stress without adding to the weight problem.
I know this might seem counter-intuitive, but let’s be real, you CAN make a behavior change in a day, but most of us with ingrained habits take a few tries to break it completely.
Set yourself up for success, not perfection. Find foods that are low in calories, like air-popped popcorn, and put yourself in a place where you are aware of your eating. Stress eating in front of the TV or computer just encourages semiconscious binge eating.
The other common barrier that I find effects people’s weight struggles is sleep.
This is a barrier that I address almost immediately when working with clients because of how great the impact is on our weight. Check out this article to learn more about the specifics of sleep deprivation and weight management.
If you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis, you will find it very challenging to not only lose weight but to make healthy food choices and to avoid unhealthy ones. This is not permission to give up now. In fact, it’s all the more reason to keep trying. Address your sleep issues so you can lose the weight you want.
You will need to take the time to build a plan to manage your eating habits.
This is probably the hardest part, but work this part now and it sets you up not only for weight loss success but helping to keep the weight off permanently. That’s why this article wasn’t labeled “lose ten pounds in 5 weeks”. That doesn’t set you up for what you really want, which is to STAY at the weight you’re working towards.
After you have determined your major barriers and your plan to address those barriers (and written them down) now we get going on the actual weight loss, which as it turns out IS the easiest part.
The average person can and will lose between 1 and 2 pounds of fat per week.
How much do you need or want to lose? Don’t expect to lose 20 pounds in a month. This is unrealistic and sets you up to fail. Even if it were possible, the changes you made are not sustainable and you create a situation where your body is so shocked as soon as you lose the weight it will do whatever it takes to put it back on (the evils of homeostasis!). So shoot for 4 to 8 pounds every month.
The easiest way for you to lose the weight is to:
- Find an eating style that is right for you, and works with your life. Do you want to eat Paleo and avoid bread and grains? Do you want to go vegetarian or vegan? It’s okay to try different styles. There is not just one right way. It’s what’s right for you.
- Set yourself up for success. Make sure you have the foods you need with you- stocked in your fridge, at your desk at work, in the glove box of your car. You don’t want to end up in a spot where you default to eating in a way that goes against your plan (if you can avoid it).
- Know that this is not about perfection. You will end up eating out- just try to choose at least 50 percent of the meal as healthy. Have a salad if you know you will have dessert. Choose the grilled version instead of the fried.
- Eat 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. This could be another game changer for you. It boosts metabolism, manages cravings, and if you’re trying to get your sleep under control will help with the effects of sleep deprivation. I recommend either making a protein shake or cooking some eggs. Plan ahead to set yourself up for success!
- Eat every 3 to 4 hours. This is not permission to eat huge meals, this is a way to avoid being voraciously hungry and to keep your blood sugar levels even. I recommend eating your 30 grams of protein, then 3 hours later eating a small meal (breakfast style), then a snack, lunch, snack, then dinner.
Believe it or not if you stick with your plan on managing your barriers and follow the steps I have mentioned above, the weight will come off. You change your behaviors and set yourself up for success and you end up cutting out thousands of calories in your week just by choosing the apple over the potato chips, or by avoiding the junk in the break room.
We didn’t talk about exercise, but you will want to consider adding that in at some point.
While diet is the key to losing weight, exercise will boost your resting metabolism (the calories you burn just standing still) and will help you feel good. Plus exercise helps manage stress. Studies demonstrate that individuals who participate in regular exercise have an easier time managing their weight.
Helping people lose weight is one of my most favorite parts of my work because of what it does for people.
Feeling good about your body, having energy, sleeping well, less joint pain, breathing easier, are all things that come from eating FOR your body and maintaining a weight that is comfortable. Please feel free to comment below or email me if I can help you in any way. You are not alone in this journey. Remember that and keep up the good work!