1. Be consistent.
When you venture on a weight loss journey, it can be tempting to choose a fad diet where you commit to be “perfect” for x number of days with the promise that the weight will fall off and all your dreams will come true. It can be encouraging to commit to that short period of time, put blinders on, and charge ahead. People actually do lose weight this way all the time.
However, when you have tired of living “perfectly,” what are you left with? Often we will rebel against any new healthy practices which is soon followed by putting back on the weight we have lost.
What I want to encourage today is instead of committing to “perfection” for a short period of time, choose consistency over the long-haul. Understand that a slower weight loss that comes from intentionally fueling our bodies and not depriving them is more sustainable and in six months time, can change your relationship with food permanently and potentially end the need for any “quick fixes” in the future.
2. Measure what matters.
It is hard to know what to change if you don’t know what you are doing in the first place. I’ve heard many clients say to me, “I thought I ate so healthfully…I had no idea I ate so much sugar…I really thought I ate plenty of protein.” If you are committed to changing your habits around food, begin by measuring what you’re doing right now. Continue measuring as you make changes and pay attention to what works.
How do you measure? This can be as simple as using the notes app on your phone or an app like MyFitnessPal.
You can also physically measure your food using measuring cups or a food scale. Find what works for you and use the data to hone your plan.
3. Automate your meals.
Automate as much of your eating as you can. For instance, this could look like choosing between one or two meals for breakfast and lunch EVERY DAY. For me, this looks like two versions of my favorite smoothie for breakfast and something appropriate for the season for lunch that I’ll repeat for a few months.
Why do this? Doesn’t it get boring? Actually, the consistency is comforting. By doing this, I remove the willpower needed for deciding what to eat at each of these meals. Did you know that your willpower is finite? It sure is. Willpower gets pulled from all day long without us even noticing it’s happening…and it happens faster on stressful days. That’s one reason you may find your cravings are stronger after long, stressful days. By automating as much of your eating as possible, you remove some of the mental work required to keep you taking action towards your goals.
My current breakfast smoothie:
½ cup frozen cherries
1 cup frozen kale
1 scoop protein powder
1 tbsp peanut butter
Approx 1 ½ cups almond milk
4. Get adequate sleep.
Sleep is paramount to healthy blood sugar regulation. Inadequate sleep (95% of adults require at least 7.5 hours sleep/night) raises your risk for gaining weight and obesity. One way it does this is by down regulating the satiety hormone leptin and up regulating the hunger hormone ghrelin. Ever wondered why you feel so hungry after a sleepless night? It’s your body chemistry. If you want to lose weight, you have to sleep.
5. Find accountability.
When it’s a commitment you have made to yourself (like weight loss), it’s important to understand how your personality will benefit or hinder that. In her book, “The Four Tendencies,” Gretchen Rubin explains why some of us have trouble meeting expectations that we set for ourselves (take her quiz here to figure out your tendency).
If you fall into the category “obliger” like I do, you begin to understand the need for an accountability partner. This can be as simple as sharing your weight loss goals with those closest to you to the slightly more involved endeavor of working with a weight loss coach. Understanding your need (or lack thereof) of outward accountability can help you feel connected to your goal for the long-term.