Losing weight can be hard, but I know you know this already!
Many of us (most of us?) have tried to lose weight at some point in our lives and have failed. It’s not easy to stick to a diet and exercise plan, and sometimes our motivation can waver.
But with the right strategies and tools, you can make weight loss easier and more successful. Below I'll share with you why weight loss can be challenging, the benefits of weight loss, and different strategies to help you succeed.
Why weight loss is hard
Weight loss is hard because it requires dedication, effort, and self-discipline. We all have cravings and temptations that can be hard to resist. We’re also busy with work and other commitments, and it can be difficult to find the time to exercise or prepare healthy meals.
Another obstacle to weight loss is our environment. Our culture encourages us to overindulge in unhealthy foods and drinks, and it’s hard to resist when everyone around us is indulging. We also live in a world of convenience, which means we’re more likely to reach for packaged, processed foods than to cook from scratch.
Finally, our biology can make it difficult to lose weight. We all have a set point, or a weight that our body is comfortable at. Our bodies will try to resist any changes to that weight, so it can be hard to shed those extra pounds.
Benefits of weight loss
The benefits of weight loss are numerous. Losing weight can improve your overall health, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and even boost your mental health. It can also help you look and feel better.
Weight loss can also help you manage other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Losing weight can help reduce your risk of developing these conditions in the first place.
Finally, weight loss can give you more energy and help improve your overall quality of life. You’ll be able to do more activities and enjoy life more.
Different weight loss strategies
Whilst it's not as simple as calories in vs calories out, the clear first way to lose weight is restrict your calorie intake. This means eating fewer calories than your body needs. However, it’s important to do this in a healthy way, so as much as possible eat nutrient-dense foods and avoid processed or refined foods.
Another strategy is to increase your physical activity. Exercise can help you burn more calories and build muscle. What exercise doesn't matter as long as you do it, so find find an activity that you enjoy so you'll actually want to do it!
Finally, you can change your lifestyle. In addition to eat less and moving more, it means getting better sleep, managing stress, connecting with others, and adopting new positive habits. These changes can help to prevent weight gain in the first place, increase the success of maintaining weight loss, and be supportive of a happier life.
The importance of nutrition
As you would know, nutrition is an important part of any weight loss plan.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, can help you feel fuller for longer and provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
As mentioned above, look to avoid processed and refined foods as they're usually high in calories and low in nutrients. Unfortunately, these are convenient foods that often tempt you into choosing these over better choices. The secret is to stay committed to your goals and make the healthier choice easier than takeaway.
Don't forget to watch your portion sizes. Eating too much is eating too much, even if the food is healthier. A trick here is to have smaller plates, and more contrast between the food you're eating and the colour of the plate. With smaller plates you'll serve less food, and with greater contrast (ie green food on a white plate) you can easily see how much you're serving and you'll serve less (compared to green food on a green plate for example).
Exercise and weight loss
Of course, exercise and physical movement is essential to sustained weight loss. But have you heard "you can't outrun your fork", meaning a poor diet will not be undone no matter how much you exercise. Another way to look at this is "you lose the weight in the the kitchen, you keep it off in the gym".
Apart from finding what exercise you love (this will help with that), its useful to know what the two most popular types of exercise will do for you.
Imagine your muscles are a furnace, food is the fuel, and your heart is the guy putting the fuel into the furnace. Cardio exercise (running, cycling, swimming, etc) will shovel more fuel into the furnace, whilst strength exercise (lifting weights, heavy gardening, etc) will increase the size of the furnace. Both result in more fuel being burnt but through different means, and the best results come from doing both.
So yes do something you love, but ideally find a cardio activity and a strength acitivity to maxmise your weight loss and weight maintenance.
Weight loss tools and resources
There are a number of tools and resources available to help you with your weight loss journey. Apps such as MyFitnessPal and EatThisMuch can help you track your calories and exercise. There are also online support groups and forums where you can find motivation and advice.
If you’re having difficulty sticking to your diet and exercise plan, a personal trainer or health coach can help. They can provide support, guidance, and advice on how to reach your goals.
Keep in mind that all the different websites and books that provide tips and tricks around weight loss may not actually be safe or appropriate for you. Before you make any major changes be sure to check in with your doctor or care team.
Staying motivated is key to long-term weight loss success. You can do this by keeping your goals in mind and to focus on the positive changes that you’re making.
It’s also important to celebrate your successes. Losing 5kg might not feel like much, but losing 5% of your total body weight is clinically significant. Your risk of heart conditions is less, your insulin sensitivity is better, your body is really thanking you internally! So make sure you celebrate every little win in a way that doesn't set your progress back.
Finally, kind to yourself and don't sweat the small stuff. If you have a bad day or slip up, minimise the impact and get back on track as soon as possible. Too often a bad meal slides in a bad day, which sets you up for a bad week. Remind yourself of your goals and reset as soon as you can, at the next meal if possible!
You CAN do it
Weight loss can be hard and challenging, but with the right strategies and tools, you can make it easier and more successful. It’s important to focus on nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes, and to use tools and resources to help you stay motivated. With dedication and effort, you can reach your weight loss goals and enjoy the many benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle.