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Losing weight is a complex issue but that doesn’t mean there needs to be a complex solution. In the simplest form, weight loss is equivalent to energy expended > energy consumed. If you can master and enforce this equation, you are already most of the way there! Of course, there are always hiccups along the road. Check out these posts on How To Stop Boredom Eating, How To Stop Over – Eating For Good and Can Stress Make You Gain Weight? The abundance of information about how to lose weight can be pretty overwhelming. However, there are some main points to keep in mind when trying to lose weight. If you make sure that you aren’t getting stuck in any common weight loss issues, then implementing these core changes will help you to see a big change in your health and send you well on your way to losing excess weight.
Change Your Lifestyle
This is the first part of the equation. You should expend more energy than you consume, so you will need to change your lifestyle accordingly. Sign up at your local gym, join a soccer or swimming team or start taking the dog out for longer walks each day. Start out small and work your way up. For example, challenge yourself to walk for 20 minutes a day in the first week and slowly extend this as you feel stronger. You can even increase the amount of energy you expend every day just by tweaking small routine activities that you do. How many hours a day do you spend sitting down? Why not switch to a standing desk? If that’s not possible, why not include a brisk walk around the block during your lunch break? Why not walk to and from walk or park further away / hop off the bus early to extend the amount of walking you have to do to get to work?
The recommended daily amount of exercise is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity. So, ideally if you can do some sort of exercise, even if it’s just walking, for 30 minutes a day, you will see some results. Like anything, weight loss is about getting out what you put in. For example, if you extend your walk to work for 5 days a week and then go out and play soccer or go to the gym for one day on the weekend, your overall health and wellbeing will really thank you. Of course, adapting to a healthier lifestyle alone won’t help you lose weight. Whenever you change one side of an equation, you need to balance the other side in your favour too.
Count Your Calories
This is the other half of the equation, and it is arguably the more important half when it comes to weight loss. Even if you’re exercising intensely every day, you can’t expect to see many results without cutting down on your calories. To start with, count the calories that you consume on a regular day. I find that the app Cronometer is a great way to do this as it really simplifies the calorie counting process. For example, if you eat an apple for breakfast you can search ‘Apple’ in the app and it will tell you how many calories you have consumed depending on the portion size (e.g. small or large sized apple). Next, use a calorie calculator like this one here from freedieting.com to figure out how many calories you should be eating to lose weight.
Once you have this information, you can start taking action. If you’re currently eating more calories than recommended, you can slowly reduce your caloric intake. You can do this by removing certain foods from your diet and replacing them with healthier and lower calorie alternatives. For example, if you have a chocolate muffin (690 calories) for breakfast, it might be time to swap this for some yoghurt (60 calories per 100g). You may notice that you feel better if you steer clear from packaged and high calorie foods. This will also decrease your caloric intake and help you reach your weight loss goals.
Not carrying out portion control is a silent killer to your weight loss goals. If you are replacing that chocolate muffin with a big bowl of oats, covered with maple syrup AND four apples AND honey, you may end up in a worse situation than before. It’s important to know how many calories are present in how many grams of food. If you haven’t already, you might find it really helpful to purchase a food weight scale (like this one here) so that you know exactly how many calories you are consuming and leaving no room for error.
Coupling the use of a food weight scale with the app Cronometer has really helped me lose weight and is a great way to keep yourself accountable. Alternatively you could use a diary and pencil in what you eat each day. The key is to be responsible and honest with yourself about what you’re eating. If you cheat on your diet and have a snack, make sure you record it so that you can figure out what went wrong in the future. No one loses more than you if you aren’t honestly recording what you eat.
Don’t Starve Yourself
On the flip side, make sure you are eating enough. It’s equally as common for people not to be able to lose weight because they are eating such a low amount of food that your body enters starvation mode. You want to balance the equation in your favour so that energy expended > energy consumed. But this equation has its limits. The ‘>’ amount is really important. You want this amount to be moderately aggressive so that you see results. If you make it too aggressive, your body will rebel against your efforts and you won’t lose any more weight. That’s why calculating and knowing exactly how much you are and how much you should be eating is so important. It’s the only way to know where you’re going wrong.
Are high levels of stress sabotaging your weight loss efforts? While counting calories and changing your lifestyle are undoubtedly the top two factors in weight loss, they are not the only important factors by a long shot. One major factor that impacts weight loss (and is often neglected) is stress. Stress has a big impact on weight loss. If you’re stressed, you could be at a disadvantage for losing weight. By reducing stress, you place yourself in a stronger position to lose more weight faster and more effectively.
A lot of people don’t believe that they are stressed and don’t realize what’s gone wrong when they suddenly stop losing weight. They’ve had a lot of success for a month or so, but then it’s just stopped. They try to push themselves to exercise more and eat even less food and this in turn just stresses the body out even more, leading to more stubborn fat. This throws our weight loss equation out completely with the ‘>’ representing a huge deficit in energy that causes your body to shut down and enter survival mode. Nobody wants that. If you think this could be affecting you, check out this post on Can Stress Stop You From Losing Weight?
Take Time Out
What’s the best way to avoid this? . If you haven’t already tried meditation, you might want to give it a try. Meditation can really aid your weight loss goals by reducing stress and it usually creates a host of other helpful weight loss benefits. These can include physical intuition, which helps you to know your body better and understand when you’re actually hungry and when you’re full. This can help you to instinctively control portion sizes. Exercise is another great way to reduce stress as long as you are not over-exercising. Great ideas to de-stress include taking bubble baths, reading a good book or creating a relaxing bed – time ritual. Another great way to reduce stress and lose weight is to find other comforts aside from food.
Find Comforts Outside of Food
For a lot of people, food is a comfort and a luxury. You sit down to watch TV at night and grab a box of chocolates, popcorn or hot chocolate to treat yourself while you wind down after a busy day. Maybe you need your coffee first thing in the morning so that you are motivated enough to actually go to work every day. For a lot of us, food can be a bit of a crutch. Like alcohol or cigarettes, it can be the first thing you reach for during times of stress. You may not even be consciously aware that you’re overeating. If you’re subconsciously stressed, your body might be encouraging you to eat more because it perceives a threat (stress) and wants you to eat as much of the available food sources as you can, while you can.
Upgrade Your Snacks
When you’re looking to wind down after work or need a boost to get up in the morning, it’s important to slowly replace the food you use with healthier alternatives. It can be as simple as replacing the full cream milk in your coffee to almond milk. Or replacing conventional chocolate bars with organic alternatives that contain less calories, sugar and preservatives. This is a great way to ensure that you don’t feel like you’re missing out. But you’re still cutting calories and making positive changes for your body.
Swap Food For Play
Ideally though, you want to replace comfort food with healthy activities. Try yoga, light exercise, painting, cooking, writing, meditation, reading or catching up with friends. When you’re feeling stressed, take the time to sit down with a good book and let the feeling pass. This can leave you with a more prolonged and deeper relief from stress. It is also a much healthier alternative to eating comfort food. Over time you will find that you have conditioned yourself to reach for a book or a paintbrush during times of trouble and you won’t be held hostage by comfort food any longer. Personally, meditation works the best for me. Every time I feel stressed I look forward to the peace of sitting quietly. If my mind is too busy, I’ll choose to read a book or paint instead.
These are the basic factors for successful weight loss. Focus on these points to ensure that you get the best out of your weight loss program. Check out the Why Can’t I Lose Weight? Quiz to zero in on any problems you may be having. What do you think about these points? Have you had any issues getting results from your weight loss regimen? I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below.
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