As we are fast approaching summer and bikini season is just around the corner, many people want to lose a few pounds to feel their best for their summer holiday. This can often involve a ‘quick fix’, low calorie diet for a short term period just to see results, however these are the type of diets that are not successful. The safest and most effective way to lose weight is simply to live a healthy lifestyle.
Lately I have been receiving a lot of questions about how to get started when losing weight. Honestly, there isn’t really a right or wrong way to do it – it’s a personal journey. Nonetheless, it can be daunting at first so I’ve put together some tips of how best to get started!
Don’t get carried away too soon and scare yourself. There’s no rush so just relax and take your time. Start with small changes such as increasing your daily steps, set a limit of how many steps you want to walk per day and aim to meet that goal as many days a week as possible. Additionally, making simple swaps can really make a difference: Replace your afternoon chocolate bar for a banana or some unsalted almonds or try Nakd snack bars. Swap sugary drinks for low calorie zero sugar drinks (or even better, water!), try zero calorie sweetener or flavour drops instead of sugar in your coffee and add more fruit and veggies to your meals.
If you aim to do something healthy every day such as cutting out sugar, reaching your step goal or water intake goal, these small changes can eventually add up to big results.
Most of us are very busy these days with little time in the evening to be cooking healthy or complicated meals, meaning that sometimes a takeaway or ready meal (or sometimes skipping meals altogether) is the most convenient option. Planning ahead makes it easier to stay on track, write down your meals for the week so you know what you will be having in advance, this means no panic buying of chips at lunch time or last minute rushing to cook dinner.
Where possible I will organise all my food for the week ahead. On Sundays and Wednesdays I prepare my food for the next few days and leave in Tupperware boxes in the fridge – I wake up, grab my food and leave the house knowing I am prepared and on track for the day!
Be kind to yourself
So you’ve worked out you want to lose 20lb, great! The worst thing you can do now is criticise yourself by saying ‘I need to lose 20lb because I look horrible’ or being negative by saying ‘it’s going to take ages to lose this weight’. If you use negative words you won’t get very far with making self-improvements. Surround yourself with positivity, say to yourself ‘I’m going to do this for me’ and ‘I can do this’
A hard part of weight loss is staying motivated, you need to rely a lot on yourself to stay motivated throughout the journey. Being positive and encouraging yourself will significantly improve your motivation – read my other blog Motivation:Positivity is Key for more ideas around staying motivated!
It’s not a diet
Don’t label this as a diet. Diets make us think of a short term, low calorie plans that most of the time we give up after 2 weeks because our bodies are not getting the nutrients they need. Instead, think of this as a healthy lifestyle.
I often receive comments from people while I’m eating a chicken salad and they say ‘oh are you on a diet?’ I reply ‘no I just eat healthy’. I don’t label it as a diet because they can often give a negative impression, as though we are restricted and we can’t eat anything we like, so we have to just live off salad for weeks. Wrong!!! A healthy lifestyle consists of a balance of protein, fat and carbs and yes you are still allowed a treat on the weekend!
Don’t restrict yourself
Following on from the point above, the reason most diets fail is because we have it in our head that we can’t eat certain things. I like to follow the 80/20 rule. I eat clean 80% of the week and 20% I will allow a treat of something I reallllyyy fancy (usually custard creams or pizza).
It’s all about balance, one bad meal isn’t going to make you gain weight just as one healthy meal won’t make you lose weight so don’t punish yourself for eating a treat. You need to find that balance of allowing yourself a treat when you want it but getting back on plan afterwards. For me at the start of my journey I would eat well Monday to Friday and have a pizza and wine on Saturday night, then a sweet treat of choice on Sunday after the gym, by Monday I was ready to get back on plan – this worked for me but it’s all about find out what works for you.
Experiment with exercise
I often get asked about exercising during my weight loss. I have exercised since the start of losing weight because I found things that I enjoyed so I actually wanted to exercise. As I said in my first point, start small. I started off with walking several times a week, then bike riding and swimming and then I began classes such as Clubbercise and Zumba as well. Now I mainly do weight training and some cardio. If you don’t enjoy sitting in the gym on the machines, try something different, an exercise class, a dance class or home dvds until you find something you enjoy – looking forward to exercising will make it so much easier to stick to in the long run!
Don’t complicate things
Keep it simple. This is a basic science, by feeding your body with the healthy food it needs and staying active, you will see results – just be patient.
Consistency is Key
Be patient! You won’t see or feel changes over night because this is a process, it takes time. The first week can be tough and you’re likely to want to give up BUT DON’T! After the first week you will start to realise that you are in control, the week then becomes a month and eventually this will be a routine and part of your lifestyle day in day out.
- This is about being healthy not ‘skinny’ – I do not agree with detoxing, juice diets, low calorie plans etc (believe me I have tried them all in the past and they don’t work), this is about fuelling your body right to lose weight safely and naturally
- Don’t compare yourself to others – all of our bodies are different, some people will lose 6lb on their first week, some will lose 1lb. It doesn’t matter!! Focus on your own journey and becoming the healthiest version of yourself
- Don’t rely on the scales – take before photos to use in 4, 6 or 8 weeks time to see the changes for yourself, a pair of jeans is also a fantastic way to measure weight loss -try to listen to your body and the way you feel rather than relying on what the scales are showing
- Be positive – this also helps to stay motivated! (read my tips on staying motivated on another blog – Motivation: Positivity is Key)
- Don’t give up – it’s hard, you might get disheartened if you don’t feel any different, you might want to suddenly binge eat everything in sight, but stop, take a breath, remind yourself why you want this AND KEEP GOING!