Most people think shrinking their waistline requires them to follow some complicated diet with secret ingredients that only people with six-pack abs know about, or stumble on a miracle pill that will help them melt the extra pounds away overnight.
Or, they oversimplify things and think that eating nothing but canned tuna, going on the Military diet or drinking a magic meal replacement shake three days in a row will give them the chiseled abs they’ve always wanted (Ok. What happens to the rest of the week?).
I’ve got some news for you: All this is no bueno, and isn’t going to work.
Sometimes, a bad diet ‘not working’ or having nothing happen when you take a questionable supplement could be the best thing that could happen to you, ever. Why? Because I don’t want you to end up like this guy.
Or this woman.
I also don’t want you to keep beating yourself up and perpetuating the cycle of self-loathing (been there, done that) because you keep losing and then re-gaining those 20 pounds over and over again. It’s not healthy and you should be spending your time living, not struggling with yo-yo dieting using hyped-up weight-loss methods that aren’t benefiting you in any way.
This is why I wanted to write this post and share my personal, tried-and-tested strategies for losing weight (and by weight, I mean fat weight, not muscle or water weight) without losing my mind, and how you can too.
STRATEGY 1: STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF DAILY
I know this one may sound counter-intuitive, and you’re probably going “What?!? How on earth am I supposed to know if I’m losing weight if I don’t weigh myself every day?”, but hear me out.
Here’s the deal with the scale: Relying on it as a progress indicator while you’re working on dropping those pounds can literally drive you to tears and panic if you watch them like a hawk every single day.
To me, getting to my goal weight is about feeling comfortable in my own skin and the clothes I wear, and less about reaching a certain size or number.
What I’d like you to do instead is to pick one piece of clothing that you cannot presently fit into, but want to wear with confidence and comfort (this means no digging into your skin and with some room to spare), and use that as a means to gauge your progress.
Pick something that’s made from stiff fabric (like cotton or heavyweight denim) and doesn’t stretch. I personally picked a pair of skinny jeans that fitting into was, let’s just say, very challenging in the beginning, but over time, let me know that I was making solid progress, thanks to a looser waistband (less belly fat, yay!).
This way, I stopped wasting time being a slave to the number on my scale and as a result, had more energy to focus on eating healthily and exercising with purpose to get to my goal. I’m not saying that weighing yourself is bad for you (it’s not)—seeing those numbers shift downwards significantly can be a huge motivator, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
STRATEGY 2: KNOW WHY YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT
Here’s one question I’d like you to answer before you move on: Why do you want to lose weight?
Your answer will determine whether you succeed or fail. For example, which of the two people below will reach their goal and make it stick?
Sarah: “I want to lose 30 pounds because my friends say I should.”
Jason: “I want to lose 30 pounds because I’d like to be able to play with my kids without losing my breath and having to sit down just 5 minutes in.”
If you’ve guessed that Jason will be more likely to reach his goal, 100 brownie points for you. Jason’s goal is better than Sarah’s because it’s tied to a reason that’s bigger than what he weighs and how he looks. It’s tied to his relationship with his kids. This makes it so much more powerful and meaningful than wanting to lose weight because his friends think he should (also, what his friends want have nothing to do with what he really wants).
Your turn: What’s a weight-loss goal that will drive you forward instead of dragging you down?
STRATEGY 3: LET GO OF YOUR OBSESSION WITH CLEAN EATING & CALORIE COUNTING
The problem with trying to eat clean 100% of the time is that it isn’t just unrealistic; it’s also unhealthy.
And, counting your calories while you’re out to dinner with friends and family is…well, I don’t want you to be that person. Plus, over time, it can become a tedious, tiring chore.
What’s worked for me (this is also something my students are having massive success with) is this: Listening to my body. I listen to what my gut is telling me (there’s a reason why your gut is called your body’s second brain) before, during and after a meal.
By doing this, I’m able to eat whatever I want without:
- having to look at a calorie counter,
- weighing my food (and to be honest, I’m to lazy for that) or
- feeling guilty about my food choices.
Even at times when I’ve had a little too much to eat (it happens, we’re all human), I instinctively know how to get back to a state of balance the next meal, the next day or the next week after a celebration, party or holiday.
If you’d like to get started on your journey of mindful eating for weight loss, my free, Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet email course can help.
STRATEGY 4: EAT MOSTLY FRESH, WHOLE FOODS
When it comes to heavily-processed foods like donuts, cupcakes, French fries, pizza and ice-cream, the verdict is, without a doubt, in: The more of the stuff you eat, the more of it you crave for.
There’s nothing wrong with you, and there is a way to break your overeating habit: By replacing the foods that trigger the addictive pathways in your brain, with ones that don’t. This means eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods like leafy greens, beans, whole grains, poultry, meat and seafood.
I’m not saying that you have to banish the sweets and pastries from your life forever (I don’t plan to stop eating cupcakes and croissants any time soon)—just eat less of them, don’t keep them in places where it’s easy to go overboard (like say, your home).
STRATEGY 5: LOVE YOU
As cliched as it sounds, this is the ONE thing that got me to stop eating to numb my emotions and start eating to nourish my body.
I realized that by choosing to use and abuse food (and in the process, loading a lot of stress on my body), I was also reinforcing my unhealthy, destructive eating habits, and the stronger they got, the worse I felt.
So what did I do? I started taking one healthy, nurturing step at a time, literally. I was so unfit that all I could do was walk. I fixed how I ate, one meal at a time—reducing my addictive food portions by a several spoonful from week to week (going cold turkey just didn’t appeal to me) and substituting them with foods that did my body good. I learned how to be kinder to myself. I took more time out for me so I could replace eating with action-taking, and grow in mind instead of body.
I knew I was going slow, but that was OK. I wanted my new habits to stick, and they did.
Which weight-loss strategies I’ve mentioned above will you be putting into action? Let me know in the comments section below!