Losing weight, whether it's fifty or five pounds, can be difficult for anyone. As a personal trainer, I see many clients who are frustrated by their lack of weight loss. Many people reach what is called a plateau, at which their body has adjusted to their efforts and the weight refuses to budge. By continually implementing small changes, and varying your workouts and meals, you won't get bored with healthy eating and your body will continue to change for the better. Here are some tips I recommend for clients; I have included those tips that those who have lost weight found the most useful.
1. Set goals- When you decide you want to lose weight, you need to set specific goals that are attainable and realistic. By setting short and long-term goals, you have guidelines to follow to ensure your success. For instance, you may have 30 lbs to lose but you know you can’t lose that in one month. Try to set a goal to lose 2 lbs per week and focus on that goal. If you meet that goal, you will be on track to lose all your desired weight in about four months or less. If you don’t meet your weekly goals, you can still adjust to lose more the next week or plan more than four months to lose all 30 lbs. Write your goals down and hang them up where you see them daily.
2. Visualize- After setting goals, it can be hard to stay motivated. Imagine yourself at your goal weight. Imagine yourself already skinny. To stay motivated, put up pictures around the house of yourself now, as an overweight person, and pictures of those people at a healthy weight that you would like to emulate. After seeing what you really look like in a swimsuit, you will be more motivated to eat less at dinner and put away that box of cookies. Soon you may be as thin as the pictures of those whom you admire.
3. Daily log- Try to keep a daily log of everything you eat. Don’t conveniently forget those few bites of chocolate cake, but record everything. If possible, try to record the amount of food, the time, and how you felt when you ate. This will show you at what times you tend to eat more or snack, as well as if you are emotionally eating (eating because you are bored or frustrated, rather than from actual hunger).
4. Plan your meals- Although this may take more time than you are used to, planning is the most effective way to eat healthy. Plan your meals before you feel starved and take snacks in between meals. Try to eat every 3-4 hours so you are eating three small meals and two snacks per day. Write a list of healthy meals that you plan to eat within the next 1-2 weeks. Make a grocery list and buy only those items. Shop only on the outside aisles of whole foods. Avoid shopping when you are hungry so you don’t have impulse buys. Try preparing your meals for the week during one or two days a week (like on Wednesday and Sunday), so you have healthy lunches and dinners ready. Keep snacks ready in plastic bags or containers so you reach for those rather than candy. This will help you eat healthy even when you feel too tired to cook or are too busy to stop.
5. Have weekends free- Plan to eat healthy meals for five days out of the week, then take a break on the weekends. Indulge in your favorite foods on Saturday and Sunday. This makes it easier to be social on the weekends, and gives you a reward to look forward to after a hard week of healthy eating. After you start eating healthy, you will have more energy. So after the indulgent weekend is over, you may actually enjoy returning to your healthy meals because they help you think easier and give you more energy throughout the day. If a whole week is too long, start with eating healthy for three days, then taking one day off to “cheat” in the foods you crave. If you cheat on a healthy eating day, don't get frustrated and abandon your efforts. Take that mistake and learn from it by striving to be more disciplined.
6. Diet and/or exercise with a friend- Those that lose weight and keep it off usually have some friendly support. I go to the gym more frequently when my friend is encouraging me and wants me to go with him. Studies show that having a support system helps people lose more weight and keep it off longer. So grab a friend and go for a walk or spot each other while lifting weights. Or try a personal trainer so you keep your workout appointments (trust me, if you are paying for that hour, you will show up).
7. Add supplements- It is amazing what a little multivitamin can do for your health. A multivitamin can fill in the nutritional holes you may be missing in your otherwise healthy diet. Adding other supplements like whey protein and a weight loss supplement can also help you reach your goals. If you don’t get enough protein, whey protein can help you. Protein will keep you full longer so you eat less. A weight loss supplement can speed up your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day, as well as inhibiting your hunger switch, so you eat less all day. Akavar is one such supplement that will help you eat less so you lose more weight.
8. Take regular measurements- Weighing yourself and taking measurements with a tape measure will help you track your goals better. Be aware of how your clothes are fitting as well.
9. Drink water when you feel hungry- If you are bored or starting to feel hungry, drink water first. If your hunger is real and not abated by water, try a small snack like a handful of nuts or some fruit.
10. Celebrate every success- Keep a journal of your successes and the changes that have benefited you most. Treat yourself to small gifts that don’t involve food (a massage, a bubble bath, a new shirt, a pedicure, etc.). Notice the differences you feel in every part of your body. By celebrating every small success, you will stay more motivated to make healthy eating and exercising a part of your daily routine.
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