Most people want to lose weight in some capacity. I don’t love the phrase “lose weight” because it really has quite a loaded meaning, but for the sake of this article it makes sense because there’s a universal understanding about what it means, in simple terms.
You want to be lighter. Carry around less weight. I get it.
The one thing I’ll mention before I get into the tactics is that you may not have thought about the kind of weight you want to lose. Most people judge their progress by what the number on the scale says. Many fitness professionals and trainers will scoff at that and tell you “don’t look at the scale” and “that number doesn’t mean anything.”
Well guess what? To you it might mean a lot because that’s the only way you’ve ever known to measure your progress, success or failures.
That’s okay. I’m not here to bash and judge. The scale is fine for some people. My point today is to show you that it’s not the only way to monitor yourself and it certainly should not dictate your happiness (easier said than done, I know).
Back to the type of weight. When you say you want to be lighter and ultimately weigh less, I would venture a guess that you want the weight that you lose to be fat.
Cool. So here’s the thing. I could go on all day about that your goal should be to lose fat and gain muscle. That’s likely true, but how much fat you want to lose and how much muscle you want to have is not really up to me. That’s a personal choice. Some women like the lean, athletic physique and some want to look a little more or a little less lean. It’s all in what you personally feel comfortable with in your body.
So I’m just going to make a blanket statement that yes you probably do want to lose fat and get some muscle. That’s where we can relate that back to the scale and your general “weight.”
It’s pretty simple to lose weight. To change the composition of your body (aka lose fat and gain muscle), that’s a little tougher. The extremes are easy. Anyone can lose weight, if they aren’t worried about the kind of weight. You can eat in an extreme deficit and you will lose weight. That weight may be muscle, water and some fat, but you can’t be sure.
That’s why those extreme diets work in the short term.
So that’s why I say that weight loss (or specifically body composition change) is SIMPLE but not EASY.
Navigating that middle-of-the-road lifestyle is tough, but that’s the ultimate goal. To be able to train hard, look good, feel good, have energy and also still have a life. It doesn’t come right away and it takes practice and faith in the process.
Back to my point- the extreme ends of this spectrum are easy. It’s easy to go on a crazy diet and then not be able to maintain it, so you look for a continuous stream of crazy diets. It’s also pretty easy to feel defeated and do nothing.
So what do you do?
The “super simple strategies” for body composition change (aka weight loss in the right way):
- Strength train 3x per week using full body movements to engage all the major muscles, which leads to a higher metabolic demand, meaning you will burn more calories both during the session and after
- Use movements such as squats, lunges, dead lifts, push ups, presses, rows and static core movements (plank variations)
- use all of these exercises at your own level- for some people this will be using weights, some people will only use body weight. Form is paramount
- Perform 1 day of higher intensity interval work. This is based on whatever is high intensity for YOU. Push yourself but stay safe. An example of a workout like this might be:
- find a track, field or open space: run as fast as possible for 60-100 yards, walk for 1 minute (or longer if needed) and repeat this for 6-8 rounds, depending on your fitness
- the goal is to make these sessions as athletic as possible, so other choices may be hill runs, jumping rope, performing some simple agility drills (running to a cone, back pedaling, shuffling, skipping, etc)
- Drink enough water each day. Take your body weight and split that in half. That’s how many ounces of water you should drink each day. Build up to this by adding 10 ounces per week if you are not close on an average day.
- Eat a protein source every time you sit down for a meal (chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, greek yogurt, protein powder are all good options)
- Eat something green at every meal (even if it’s some sliced up celery and cucumbers with your breakfast or spinach blended into your smoothie)
- Eat to 80% full. This is a tough concept because you have to become mindful as you eat. When you get to the point where you feel like “yes I could eat more,” that’s probably about 80%
- Eat slower
- Stay off your phone while you eat and during your workouts
- this helps you stay present during meals and also allows you to work out harder because you are engaged in the process
- Try to work out with a group or with a friend to build in accountability
- Build into your mentality that this is a way of life. It doesn’t mean you are depriving yourself, it simply means that everything you eat and every workout you have is a conscious choice
- Also build into your lifestyle that you are no longer “on” or “off” the wagon when it comes to dieting and working out. With this middle of the road approach, it’s just something that you do
- If you have a rough day, just get back into it tomorrow with no guilt. Learn from the process and set yourself up better for the next day by taking the lesson from that previous day
These lessons will give you a jumping off point and hopefully open your mind a bit to see that weight loss is a process, it’s not a one-off quick fix and anytime you try to make it that way, you become frustrated, disheartened and your confidence in yourself goes down.
The simplest way to figure out if what you’re doing is something you should continue is to ask yourself this.
Can I eat like this forever?
Can I work out like this forever?
If the answer is no, it’s time to start considering a different lifestyle option. Begin with 1-2 things from the list above and build those into your daily and weekly practices. Continue to build, seek the help that you need from a coach or trainer and create the lifestyle that allows you success, confidence, balance and even some enjoyment.