Several clients come to me looking to lose weight. Weight loss is challenging, but it's not impossible. If you start the process with the mindset that it IS possible to achieve your goals, you're already halfway there. I've noticed certain traits present in clients who see the biggest success in their weight loss goals. Two of my "biggest losing" weight loss clients have lost 92 pounds and 125 pounds (now both at their goal weights) in less than a year, just by adapting these five steps into their everyday lifestyle. It has nothing to do with taking fat burning, craving controlling, metabolism boosting supplements, or following restrictive fad diets. In fact, those methods set you back even further. Here are the basic steps these clients have adapted as part of their daily lifestyle in order to see success in their weight goals:
1. An understanding of mindful eating.
There is a big difference between being satisfied and being full. This was one of the first things I discussed with them, as they each had their own struggles with eating until they were "stuffed" rather than "satisfied". Here is an example of a hunger scale you can use to try and understand the difference, and how to train your body into feeling these levels of hunger/fullness. It takes 20 minutes for satiety signals to reach the brain, so eating until you feel about 80% full and eating slower will help reduce your chances of overeating. Try this activity if you think mindless snacking could be an issue for you!
2. An awareness & accountability of your daily habits.
By tracking/logging their exercise and nutrition and checking in with me, it's much easier to stay on the right track. Each week, they send me a log of what they did that week for exercise (i.e. if they got in 10,000 steps a day, took a workout class, or which of my strength training workouts they completed). They follow the calorie range I calculated for them to meet their needs, and track their meals on a food journal app. I have access to these journal entries to make sure they are staying on the right track. If for some reason there is a halt in their weight loss, it's much easier for me to figure out the issues. If specific numbers or macros scare or overwhelm you, there are plenty of other routes you can take to still journal your food. I have several clients that do not count their calories on their own but instead send me photos of what they eat, or write down their meals in a journal and send this to me at the end of each week.
3. An understanding that slow weight loss is still weight loss.
Some weeks they would work their absolute tails off and only lose half a pound. They could have become discouraged, felt sorry for themselves, and fallen back into unhealthy eating habits. Instead, they understood that even at a slow rate, it's still weight loss. No matter how slow, it does add up in the end. Yes, it may take 10 weeks to lose 10-20 pounds, but the result of this slow rate of weight loss is a sign of a healthy, sustainable, new body weight. Losing 10 lbs in one week is NOT healthy, nor is it sustainable! Read my blog on why detox diets/cleanses don't work!
4. Being honest with yourself, and your dietitian!
I will never, ever look down on someone for splurging on a night out with friends, taking a day off your exercise routine, or grabbing take-out instead of cooking a healthy meal! My clients enjoy these moments every now and then, and so do I! It's part of a healthy lifestyle. However, they are always 100% honest with themselves and with me when they do veer off the weight loss plan. They always tell me the exact reason why they may not have lost as much as they should have, and don't try to make up excuses. It's perfectly normal to splurge every once in a while, but you must always be honest with yourself if the weight doesn't come off as easily after too many of these splurges!
5. Being prepared by planning ahead.
They always let me know if they have to travel for work or are going on vacation and let me know where they plan on going out to eat. We look over the menus together and discuss the best options so they are fully prepared on what they should order to stay within their meal plan. If they know it's going to be a long day at work, they pack extra snacks (keeping some in their desk), or have dinner prepared, or have already discussed with me the best options of what to pick up on the way home. Check out my blog here on more tips on how to plan ahead. After educational sessions on how to make healthy choices at the grocery store, dining out, and grab & go options, this step comes so much easier - but it does take time, which is why meeting with a dietitian is so beneficial.
No matter how large your final goal is, remember to stick to achieving small goals each week. This could be as simple as adding a serving of vegetables at lunch. Cutting your trips to fast food restaurants per week in half. Reducing your soda intake from three a day to one. Here are 20 other small changes or "simple swaps" that could help get you to your end goal, whether weight loss or just overall living a healthier lifestyle. Making small changes and even applying just a few of these steps will help move you in the right direction!