By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Losing weight can be one of the most difficult tasks of your life. Imagine eating well, counting your calories, and staying away from unhealthy foods. Then you weigh yourself and nothing changes. Or imagine exercising hard every day and spending money on a gym membership or personal trainer. Then when you look in the mirror, your body just doesn’t seem to have lost any weight. Many people struggle with meeting their weight loss goals even if they try and eat well and exercise more. As a personal trainer, I know how satisfying it can be when my clients reach weight loss success and feel great about how they look and feel.
While it’s easy to just pass along a few fat loss tips, a proper weight loss journey means you are able to sustain and maintain a healthy lifestyle for years to come. I want you to know that weight loss is so much more than just shedding a few pounds off your waistline. Elements like positive self-talk and a new, healthy mindset about your ability to change your body are just as effective weight loss strategies as advice about how to eat and exercise better.
Positive self-talk? Where does that fit in the equation of weight loss? Actually, one of the most effective fat loss tips is to learn how to verbalize your goals and justify how you’re eating.
Many people approach weight loss with an attitude that’s all or nothing. They make promises to themselves, but if they fall short, they just give up and feel like they will never achieve their weight loss goal.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a story where a person promises themselves they will eat healthy food. Then if they slip up and eat an unhealthy snack, they begin to beat themselves up mentally over their choice. Or they just decide that sticking to a diet plan is worthless for the day now, so they indulge in whatever they want for the rest of the day. Often, this way of thinking becomes a pattern that just inhibits long-lasting weight loss success.
Instead of trying to run away from the negative self-talk, you’ll want to identify it and then replace the statement with a positive, true one. Resolve to weather a slip up with a positive attitude. For example, you might tell yourself that “one piece of candy will not ruin all my hard work so far; it’s worth it to stick with my weight loss plan.” This message transforms a black-and-white, defeatist mindset to one of victory and adaptation.
One of the best diets to lose weight might not be the type of eating plan you’re thinking of. As I work with a wide variety of people on how to lose weight and keep the pounds off for the long term, I’ve found traditional diet plans not very effective. Many times, they’re too restrictive for the actual benefits they bring.
Instead, the 80/20 eating plan is much more fruitful. In this plan, 80% of your diet should focus on eating nutritious foods like whole grains, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats. These foods are nutritious and should always be consumed with lots of water, not soda or fruit juices.
Then the other 20% of your diet can consist of your favorite foods, like sweets or high-carb foods. Just make sure to eat these in moderation. You wouldn’t want to have a piece of cake and enjoy a glass of wine at the same time. But each item on a different day? That’s totally fine!
The 80/20 rule might seem a bit unorthodox, but it’s an eating plan that’s much easier to follow for weight loss success than a strict diet. Having a bit of flexibility with what you eat decreases the risk of falling into negative self-talk about your diet.
Proper portion control of your foods while following this rule will allow you to measure your weight loss and still enjoy some of your favorite treats!
A critical part of long-term weight loss success and a positive self-image is the ability to monitor yourself as you adapt eating habits and lifestyle choices. Yes, it’s difficult to record your exercise routines and eating choices with exercise logs and food diaries, but doing so is not a punishment. Rather, it can be a testimony to all the great work you’ve been doing each day to improve your life!
There’s a variety of apps and programs for you to track your eating. Some, like MyFitnessPal, make it super easy to see the calorie counts in the items you are eating. And if tracking on your phone isn’t your style, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a pen and paper handy to write down what you eat.
Don’t forget to also note your feelings and thoughts about what you are eating and if you have any specific emotions. The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to identify and track patterns to help further optimize your life.
Keeping track of your exercise through a log follows similar logic. You should try to note the type of exercise you completed and the time, along with the level of perceived exertion you reached. Why? Because different types of exercise will burn more calories and fat than others, and you want to be working your way up to vigorous exercise to reap the most benefit for your body.
Don’t be afraid to start out exercising by just taking a brisk walk or swimming at a slow pace, or even dancing or following along with an exercise video. Be sure to get out and do something active each day for at least 30 minutes (if possible) to get the habit ingrained in your mind. A lifestyle of exercise will give you a plethora of benefits that go far beyond just losing weight.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be an impossible task. If you choose to make the process part of your lifestyle and are willing to change your mind along with your body, you will find success in shedding pounds for good.
Your ideal body is in reach—it’s up to you to put in the work and maintain a flexible attitude as you change and achieve lasting weight loss success!