The holiday season is over. Typically, a time to get together and celebrate with friends and family. Our lives in 2020 looked a lot different, and many of us fell out of the good habits that we may have. Many of us were home way more than usual, our gyms closed, and our day-to-day lives are much different. Unfortunately, weight gain was common due to quarantine, and weight loss is likely to be a common goal for 2021. Many of these people will fail, but they don’t have to. I’d like to take a look at a few of the main reasons why weight loss is so challenging and what you can try to do to keep yourself on track.
Tip #1: Don’t dive in headfirst.
This sounds counterintuitive but I promise, it’s probably the #1 reason why people fail. It’s January 1st and you’re going to cut back on eating carbs, not eat out on weeknights and go to the gym three times per week. That sounds great and is a formula for successfully losing weight, especially a lot of weight in the first 2-4 weeks, but is it sustainable? Too many changes all at once is a lot of new stress, both mentally and physically. So much so that usually we can’t keep up and will backslide with either our diet, our exercise routine, or both.
Suggestion: Change one thing, do it consistently for 2 weeks, then change another thing.
Instead of jumping all in, make one change. That’s it. Just one. It can be the “low hanging fruit” as we like to say. Something as easy as not having a Diet Coke in the afternoon at work. Or deciding to go for a 30-minute walk every day, regardless of the weather. Find something in your routine that you can change to make a step in the right direction, then do that one action consistently (>90%) for 2 weeks. Once you’ve made that new action into a part of your routine, then pick something else and go again. The combination of small action steps done consistently over time gives us the greatest opportunity for long-term success, meaning we lose weight and keep that weight off!
Tip #2: Don’t expect to lose 10+ pounds per week.
Don’t even expect to lose a pound per day. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m saying it’s probably not sustainable and you’re going to end up frustrated/disappointed when your weight loss seems to level off after the initial 1-2 weeks of rapid weight loss. There are two very important things to remember when trying to lose weight:
- Weight loss isn’t linear. Meaning that just because you weigh 205 on Monday, doesn’t mean you won’t weigh 208 on Thursday and then be 204 on Sunday. Track weight loss changes from week to week and look for trends downward, don’t get caught up in the day-to-day numbers because they will fluctuate. Take two steps back and try to look at the big picture.
- A reasonable rate of fat loss is about 0.5-1% each week. That works out to 1-2lbs per week if you are about 200lbs. The human body isn’t comfortable losing weight and will actively work to prevent it from happening. Having a realistic mindset makes it far less likely that we get frustrated and give up when we can’t sustain our initial rate of weight loss.
Suggestion: Strategically track your weight.
If you’re going to measure your weight every single day, make sure to pick one day of each week to compare to the previous weeks. That way you can see if things are trending in the right direction overall. Then do this again for a month. An example would be to compare each Sunday and the 15th of every month. The more consistent you are, the more progress you make. The combination of small action steps done consistently over time gives us the greatest opportunity for long-term success.
Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When we want to make changes in life and try to become healthier versions of ourselves, it can be overwhelming not knowing where to start. Should I eat this or that instead? Should I do cardio to lose weight or can I lift weights instead? How can I lose weight and eat better when my family is full of picky eaters? How do I know this will even work?
Change is hard. Especially when we’re trying to navigate uncharted territory with our own health. Having someone with a knowledge base that we can lean on week to week and month to month to help guide us is invaluable.
Suggestion: Hire a coach.
This seems like an obvious selling point, but I’d like to expound on why it matters more so than try to sell you my services. My good friend, and boss for the past 6 years, Craig, always says that you can tell what people care about simply by looking at their bank account. Where people put their time and resources (money) can paint a detailed picture of what they value. More simply put, you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable and succeed when you have a little skin in the game. There are a million free resources on the internet with tips and tricks on how to lose weight, but you have to put those tips into concrete actions and hold yourself accountable when things go sideways or get difficult. That’s when you need a coach. Weight loss is complicated because humans are complex and we’re all far from the same, but there’s a successful formula out there for everyone.
Remember, the combination of small action steps done consistently over time gives us the greatest opportunity for long-term success.