How do you lose weight?
Before we get into it – here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, especially if you’re doing it to be healthy, increase energy, and feel better. Losing weight doesn’t mean you don’t like the way you look, it might just mean you want a change. It becomes dangerous when you’re losing weight the wrong way – which can lead to body dysmorphia, messed up metabolism, and other long-term health issues. That’s why before doing anything, I always establish my WHY. When you have a strong why, then you will have a better journey. So, if you’re in this boat, let’s talk about it.
So, why does a simple question like “how to lose weight” feel so hard to find an answer to?! There’s always controversy about the BEST way to lose weight. Is counting calories the best way? Orrrr is fasting the secret? Maybe it’s keto?!
There are soooo many trendy crash diets, special teas, expensive supplements, elimination diets, workouts, etc. It’s exhausting!
Is losing weight REALLY so complicated?
Yes and no.
You can thank diet culture for the confusion. It pushes you to go to the extreme and spend money on unnecessary (sometimes dangerous) products. It takes a serious toll on your mental health. It turns simple, healthy weight loss into something that is anything BUT healthy.
I’m here to tell you that you CAN lose weight without making yourself miserable and depriving yourself. I’m here to simplify it for you. But before I get into this too far, I want to be clear that losing weight isn’t TOTALLY black and white. That’s because things like sleep, stress, and hormones play into weight loss too, and all of us are different! So it’s definitely a good idea to consult with your doctor before making any big changes.
Ok. I’m gonna share everything I’ve learned after years of my own experience with damaging diets, obsession and basically just doing everything wrong. If you’re feeling lost in your journey, I’ve got you! If you feel like going to the extreme is necessary to reach your goals – Listen up. It’s NOT.
And if weight loss ISN’T part of your journey? TOTALLY OKAY TOO.
“Dieting” isn’t necessary, but working on your diet IS.
Does that sound confusing? Let me explain.
Going on a diet isn’t the way to lose weight. Crash diets won’t do you any good in the long run. Starving yourself is NOT THE WAY.
But improving your diet IS.
There’s really no getting around it. You have to take a good, hard look at what you’re eating if you want to lose weight.
You have to nourish your body.
That means eating enough and making the quality of your food a priority. Starving yourself may give a satisfying result of losing a few pounds quickly, but it won’t give you long term results. Yes, being in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you consume) is important for weight loss. BUT you still need to make sure you’re eating enough. Eating too little interferes with the way your body makes and uses energy and how it builds muscle. It makes you grumpy and it slows you down.
So before you do anything, I want you to learn how to calculate what your body needs based on your goals. A calculator like this one is a good place to start! Keep in mind this will only give you an estimate! But at least you’ll have a starting point to decide on a safe and manageable calorie deficit (300 – 500 calories per day is most often recommended).
And it’s okay if calorie counting isn’t your thing. In fact, it’s not really my thing anymore either. During my own journey, I fell in love with focusing on the QUALITY of the food I ate. I really started seeing changes when I committed to eating mostly whole foods – veggies, lean protein, and fruit. Putting my energy towards what I was eating vs. how much helped me learn to eat more intuitively and make choices based on what was best for my body. If you need some guidance in this area, you can explore my 90 Day Journey Meal Plans. I worked with Registered Dietitian Breanna Woods to develop a healthy and good-for-you meal plan for those who need it!
I have a much more in-depth post on calorie-counting here. Ultimately, you have to decide if this method works for YOU.
Lastly, DRINK YOUR WATER. 😉
Movement is key!
We all know that exercise is the other piece to the puzzle. This is where you burn calories, build muscle and lose fat. 100% necessary to change your body composition (AKA get that flat belly, firm booty and/or tone legs, etc).
But do you have to push yourself to the limit every day to lose a few pounds? Nope. Do you have to force yourself to do workouts you don’t even enjoy? Also nope. Should you feel guilty for skipping a workout or dreading a workout? Hard nope.
It is sooooo important to find exercise that you enjoy. THAT is the movement you’re going to stick with and turn into a lifestyle. It shouldn’t feel like a job that you dread and it definitely shouldn’t make you feel stressed.
Obviously we all have days where we feel unmotivated or lazy for various reasons. And exercise can totally help lift your spirits if you push through and get it done! But it’s important to listen to your body. If you truly need rest, then that’s important too. Recovery may not SEEM productive, but it’s actually a big part of weight loss too.
So – you have to move to burn calories and lose weight, but find movement that brings you joy!
Take it one step at a time
If someone says they want to climb Mt. Everest, do they just take off and start climbing the day they decide to do it?
No, they don’t. That would be dangerous, right?! They train for months to get stronger and build their endurance for that climb. They set small goals that build up to the big goal.
We can use this process for weight loss too. Don’t you dare wake up tomorrow saying you’re going to lose 20 pounds this month. Like climbing Everest with no prior training, this is dangerous. And guess what? Chances are pretty good you won’t meet that goal.
Instead of “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this month,” break it down into goals like:
- I’m going to meal prep lunch on work days
- I’m going to exercise at least 3 days a week
- I’m going to walk 10,000 steps per day
- I’m going to eat a veggie with every meal
Keep it simple and achievable. Every achievement will motivate you to keep going and eventually, you’ll see the “big picture” changes.
Know it’s going to take time
Weight loss can happen super slowly. Actually, IT SHOULD happen slowly.
Like, 1 to 2 pounds per week, MAX. Sometimes less. Losing weight too quickly leads to yo-yoing, which is suuuuuper damaging to your body. So let’s agree to take this process nice and slow, mmkay?
And guess what? It’s totally normal for your weight to fluctuate each day, or even throughout the day! So take it from someone who used to obsess over the scale and STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF EVERY DAY.
Just accept that changing your body takes time. If you have big goals, they’re not going to happen at the snap of a finger. Plateaus are normal and life happens.
Be kind to yourself, and get help if you need!
If you’re stuck, please PLEASE get extra support from your doctor or a dietitian. They’re the pros that can guide you based on your unique circumstances.
And also remember…
THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE DOES NOT DETERMINE YOUR SUCCESS.
There is soooo much more to your health than those little numbers on a scale or measuring tape. These things don’t tell the whole story, which is why I always recommend journaling throughout the process. I promise if you do, you’ll find a lot more to celebrate than weight.
And those little things are WORTH CELEBRATING! Notice you’re eating more veggies than ever before and loving them? That’s great! Suddenly feeling less stressed because you’re moving your body every day? Sounds like a huge win to me.
So there you have it. Those are the basics for how to lose weight. Before you set off on your journey, put some thought into why you want to lose weight. Let that be your motivation along the way. And enjoy the process! Even if the numbers aren’t changing on the scale like you want, know that change is still happening in your body. Give yourself some love for making healthy changes, and keep going! YOU GOT THIS.