It doesn’t make any difference what phase you are at in your living or wherever you’re coming from, losing excess weight is by no means simple. No matter if you’re a grandparent striving to drop a couple of lbs so you can keep up with your grandkids or a young mother who desires to fit back into your pre-pregnancy pants, dropping fat will constantly demand commitment, enthusiasm, and the eternally frightening: change.
This can be even more daunting if you have fifty or more pounds to lose. Chances are, you’ve been carrying around that extra weight for a while. You know it’s important for your health, but with so many pounds to lose and changes that need to be made, you probably don’t know where to begin.
Thankfully, getting started is actually much easier than you think, and if you do it right you will set yourself up for long-term success.
Get Prepared and Plan
Before actually starting any actionable items, you need to prepare yourself both mentally and emotionally. This sounds weird, but if you are prepared for the mental and emotional aspects of major weight loss you will be more likely to stick to it when things get tough and keep the weight off long-term. There are multiple things you need to think about and consider before starting a weight loss regimen:
1. Losing large amounts of weight is a full-time commitment.
You can’t be all about your weight loss goals Monday to Friday and take the weekends off. You also have to realize that losing large amounts of weight takes time and patience. Real life is not the Biggest Loser: Healthy weight loss ranges from 0.5lbs-3lbs per week. More than that is not sustainable and often results in relapse later on (just look up the stats on how many Biggest Loser contestants gain the weight back within a year of the show!). Dedication and consistency are the name of the game!
2. There is never a “perfect” time to start.
As already mentioned, major weight loss takes time, so there will never be a chunk of time long enough where you won’t have to make some hard sacrifices. Holidays, birthdays, vacations, dinners or nights out with friends – all of these things will come up while you are making your lifestyle changes. You will have to make sacrifices, and it will be hard. Remember your goals, communicate those goals with your friends and family. You can do it!
3. Recognize you will mess up.
No matter how hard you try, no matter how carefully you plan or how many times you tell yourself you will or won’t do something, you will have times where you will slip up. Accept it, don’t beat yourself up over it, and move on. You have fifty plus pounds to lose because you have several hard-fast habits that need to change, and that won’t happen overnight.
The important thing to remember is that one slip on occasion won’t break you, just get back on track right away. If you find yourself slipping often, or one leads to a slew of others, you need to dig a little deeper to figure out what the larger issue is there. Never let a mistake make you give up entirely, and ask for help if you need it.
4. Your weight loss should be out of self-love.
If you are exercising and dieting because you hate your body, that’s a negative place to start and will result in a negative outcome. You should be building a healthier lifestyle because you love your body and want to do what’s best for it.
Be sure to set goals that aren’t tied to the scale or a clothing size: Real, tangible goals like running a 5k or finally taking those dance lessons you’ve always wanted to are much more motivating and fulfilling than a number on a scale or a waist circumference.
The most important thing when trying to lose large amounts of weight is to start small and make one change at a time. Trying to make several changes all at once is overwhelming and you will most likely fall off the bandwagon early on.
Adding a new healthy habit every week or two that you know you will succeed at is motivating and will make future changes easier and more natural.
14 Steps to starting your Weight Loss Journey
1. Add things in before taking things away
It is much easier to add new, healthy habits in than to try and take away the unhealthy ones ingrained in your lifestyle. Small, inexpensive additions that you know you can stick to, like taking a walk on your lunch break or drinking an extra glass of water each day can go a long way.
2. Start with something you like.
Going along with the first tip, make sure that you start with things you enjoy. If you enjoy biking, then bike. If your favourite vegetable is carrots, then eat more carrots. In the beginning, it’s all about what you know you can stick with, you can make the more difficult changes later.
3. Make food switches
Replace processed and packaged foods with whole fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, etc. Processed foods are almost always higher in sugar, fat, salt, and calories, and usually have additives and preservatives in them you don’t need. Taking these out and preparing your own food will make your diet healthier by default. Nine times out of ten follow this rule: If it has to tell you it’s healthy, it probably isn’t!
4. Eat proper portions
Even overeating healthy food is still overeating. Try using this simple portion control guide, and listen to your body. If you have eaten a properly portioned meal and still feel hunry, drink a glass of water and wait twenty minutes. That lag time will give your brain and stomach time to communicate whether or not you actually need more food.
5. Slow down
Right in line with step number 4, slow down, pay attention to your food (no TV dinners!) and chew every bite thoroughly. Chances are, you won’t eat as much as you originally thought you needed. Bonus, you’ll actually enjoy your food more when you pay attention to the flavors, textures, sights and smells.
6. Drink more water
We are a chronically dehydrated population, and this is making us tired, sluggish, and fat. Switch all other drinks (juice, soda, etc) throughout your day with water and you will have more energy, be less hungry, and consume way less sugar and empty calories.
7. Stop putting sugar in your coffee
Keep the cream or milk in your morning tea and coffee, but get rid of that sugar! Sugar is toxic to your body in more ways than one and is spiking your insulin, which is making your body hold onto fat. In general, you should remove the sugar from your diet, not the fat.
8. Add an extra serving of vegetables each day
Leafy green ones especially! Eating more vegetables will provide your body with much-needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They will also help to fill you up for very few calories. Take this a step further and switch out some of your carbohydrates with extra vegetables to cut calories from your meals without feeling starved.
9. Keep alcohol to the weekends only
No matter how you spin it, alcohol has a lot of additional calories (and can sometimes make you eat more than you normally would). Control your consumption by only drinking on the weekends, and even still keeping it down to one to three drinks per weekend. This is often where people struggle because of habits and pressure from their friends and family.
Make your goals known: Good friends will help you succeed, not push you into drinking too much. Another trick is to offer to be the designated driver for a night out. It will save your friends from having to pay for cabs and it will save you thousands of calories in alcohol consumption.
10. Offer to bring something to dinner
When having dinner at a friend’s or going to a potluck, if you bring something healthy you know no matter what there will be a healthy option for you to eat. On that note, also recognize that you do have the power to say no — just because it’s a birthday, holiday, bat mitzvah, or other special occasion doesn’t mean you have to have dessert or drinks. Remember your goals and stick to them.
11. Take carbs out of your morning
If you have fifty or more pounds to lose, chances are you have low (or non-existent) insulin sensitivity. Take the carbs out of breakfast and focus on protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. If smoothies are your go-to breakfast, stick to a half cup of low-sugar berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries), and be sure to include greens, protein, and healthy fats. In addition, by having a small amount of non-processed carbs in your evening meal will actually help you sleep better at night, which also aids weight loss.
12. Get better sleep
If you aren’t sleeping enough or properly, your body will be in a constantly stressed-out state. This not only makes you hold on to fat, but when you are chronically fatigued you are more likely to skip the gym and make poor food choices. When you are tired, your body cues hunger (and specifically, sugar and carbs) to provide you with fake energy.
13. Combine cardio and strength training
Cardio workouts burn a high amount of calories, but strength workouts build muscle which boosts your metabolism and builds strong joints to prevent injury.
Make sure your new workout routine has aspects of both. You can alternate between cardio and strength days, or you can do workouts that have elements of both. If you really don’t know what to do, consider booking a consultation with a trainer. Often a first consultation is free or at least cheap, and they can help you get started on the right track.
14. Move more throughout your day
As a society, we spend entirely too much time sitting! Get a standing desk, go for walks after lunch and dinner in addition to your scheduled workouts, plan active dates or family outings instead of dinners and movies – the more you move, the more calories you burn, the faster you will lose weight and the healthier you will be.
Losing a large amount of weight is challenging but not impossible. By starting small, staying positive, and actively seeking support from loved ones and professionals if needed, you can and you will lose weight. Now take a deep breath, choose one or two of these action items, and get started right now. It will be the best decision you ever make!