As we embark on any new adventure to transform our health, I notice we are often filled with one lurking fear: will I follow through? Have there been multiple times when you set a fitness goal for yourself, only to find you dropped that goal once life happened and your enthusiasm fizzled out? In this post, I want to share with you 15 tried and true weight loss tips that I have found in working with my clients that have helped them push through until the end.
1 | If you want weight loss success, be clear on your goals
When you start with a road trip, you need a clear sense of where you are going, right? You pull out that map (ha ha, ok fine, a map app!) and determine your destination.
But often when it comes to weight loss or fitness, we haven’t really articulated what our destination is. We just establish vague goals like “get healthier” or “lose weight.” But I want to encourage you to dig deeper.
Why a Why?
Often people don’t get to the heart of WHY they want to achieve their weight loss or fitness goal. For example, I had one client say she wanted to get healthier and I kept pressing and pressing for a firm answer on WHY. She just couldn’t get to the bottom of it. She felt like she had to lose weight, but had little emotional connection to why.
After quite a few questions and answers, we uncovered that she was raised in an unhealthy family and because of that, she felt like she had no real chance at a healthy lifestyle for herself. Her parents set her up for fitness failure. So now that she has her own kids, she wants to paint a different future for them. She wants to give them fewer health obstacles in their life by being a great example for them. What a powerful Why, right?
Find Your Why
So dig deep and uncover YOUR deep why. That why that will get you to crawl out of the warmth of your bed before dawn and workout. Or that one that makes it just a little bit easier to avoid those donuts someone brought into work.
First ask yourself:
What do I want to achieve?
Now, follow that up with:
Why do I want to achieve that?
Keep digging deep until you have very specific answers that you are passionate about.
Create a Measurable Goal
Next up, attach a very specific, measurable goal to that. What outcome would you like? By measurable, I mean it needs to be something where you know you achieved it. It could be a weight loss goal, a body fat percentage goal, or even a lifestyle goal such as “We go out to dinner only 1X/week” or “I consistently workout 5 days a week”.
Create Mini Goals
Now that you have created a very specific destination for yourself, it’s time to create some guideposts for you, some marks in the journey where you can celebrate. Think about it like being on a road trip–you see that “__ Miles until __ City” sign and you get excited every time you see that sign come up because the number gets smaller and smaller and you keep getting closer and closer to that goal! It sure makes getting through Nebraska a little easier! (sorry Nebraska friends!)
By having small mini goals, it allows you to get more momentum as you celebrate those mini victories and feel a sense of accomplishment.
So how would that look? Well, let’s say you have a weight loss goal to lose 40 pounds. Then perhaps your mini goals look like this:
- 5 pound weight loss
- 10 pound weight loss
- 15 pound weight loss
- 20 pound weight loss
- 30 pound weight loss
- 40 pound weight loss
Set a Deadline
Want even more momentum? Attach a deadline to those goals as well—that will help you avoid procrastinating on them and will keep you on course to hit your goal for the year. Keep in mind, healthy weight loss is approximately 1-2 pounds per week (see point #12 for my caveat on this). Slow and steady wins the race y’all!
2 | Read or listen to personal development every single day
I found that the clients of mine who spent 10-15 minutes each day reading or listening to personal development were far more likely to stick with their weight loss journey and have more success.
Doing this helps keep the motivation going. I like to think of it like this–let’s say you are spinning a plate on top of a stick or something (because don’t we all do that in our spare time?). In order to keep that plate from falling off, you need to keep spinning it.
Same goes with a weight loss journey. Life WILL bring chaos. Stress WILL happen. You WILL naturally lose the excitement you had at day 1. But I find that personal development helps me “spin that plate” and keep my motivation from falling off. Motivation is everything.
Some suggestions for personal development:
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen (heads up, you can find a free audio of it on YouTube) – This is a favorite of mine that I normally recommend to my challengers because it helps them see more clearly how all of their small and simple efforts add up over time. Another book with a similar concept is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- The Hunger Fix by Pam Peeke – My challengers with eating issues swear by this. I see time and time again clients of mine read this book and then start to have amazing results. I highly recommend this book if you feel you are struggling with over-eating.
- Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy – I recommended this to a client of mine and he told me that this book is what got him going on his journey that eventually led to him losing 100 pounds. He said, “it got me to plan my meals ahead of time, make time to exercise rather than say tomorrow I’ll do it and stop putting my health needs off till later.”
Find what speaks to you. What are you struggling with and what resource out there might help you? If you need some help, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment on this post and I’ll offer my suggestions!
3 | Pay attention to your environment
One of the biggest mistakes we make when it comes to weight loss is paying little attention to the tempting options in our environment. Research studies have shown that the more you are exposed to a particular temptation, the weaker your resolve gets over time (often called “ego depletion”).
So let’s say, for instance, you have a bin of cookies on your counter. Every time you walk by the cookies, the thought might cross your mind to eat them. At first, it might seem relatively easy to resist them, but each time you walk past them, it’s almost like a muscle is getting weaker and weaker. Soon that “muscle” is so fatigued that it can’t resist it anymore.
If Your Family Still Wants the Treats
Think of anything in your household that might tempt you and remove it completely. If you are like me and have a family of people who aren’t willing to give those things up, don’t make them! I first ask that they pick treats that aren’t particularly tempting to me. If they still want treats that tempt me, then I just ask that they be placed out of my sight.
4 | Pick a consistent workout time & stick to it
If you don’t plan a time in your day to workout, then something or someone will take up that time. I guarantee it. There just is never enough time in the day to do all we want to do, and you might be tempted (on many occasions!) to fill up your time with things other than working out.
So pick a specific workout time, a non-negotiable time, and stick to honoring it. Even if you don’t feel like working out, commit to doing it anyway at that time (if you put it off to do later, chances are it won’t get done).
5 | Establish a habit/routine
We talked last week about establishing a habit, and I’m re-iterating it again with reaching your weight loss goal.
To do this, you need a trigger. This is something that signals to your brain, “OK, it’s time to workout.” This can be putting on workout clothes, taking a pre-workout drink, playing a certain song (anyone remember Jock Jams? Oh my goodness, I loved those!). Pick something that, after being repeated over time, will soon be the trigger to get you to do it. Remember the whole Pavlovian Dog experiment? It got to a point where when the researchers rang the bell, the dogs already started salivating for food. You want to get to that point—once you do that trigger, you get yourself ready to rock and roll with your workout. For me, I put on my workout clothes and take my pre-workout drink. That signals to my mind that it’s go-time.
Then comes the action. The action is the workout! So go and get er’ done! Remember, no putting it off!
Next is the reward. The reward signals to your brain right after you worked out, “Hey, this was a good thing, I want to keep doing this!” I recommend you have the reward be immediately after you work out–it doesn’t benefit the brain if it’s a longer-term reward.
You also want the reward to not be food-related—that might cause a whole host of other problems!
Some ideas for rewards:
- Checking in with an accountability partner (this is what did it for me, I checked into my challenge group and the “yays” I got from my friends in there kept me going and still does!)
- Playing a favorite song
- Doing a little celebration dance (cheesy, I know!)
- A few minutes relaxing and reading a book
I highly recommend the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg—it goes into greater detail on this and is a fascinating read.
6 | Be aware of your macronutrients & calories when on a weight loss journey
I don’t want to stress you out too much with this one, but yet it’s important. In order for you to lose weight, you need to pay attention to eating the right number of calories. Notice how I didn’t say “fewer” calories. Yes, you do need a deficit in calories to succeed with your weight loss, but honestly, with most of the busy women I work with, I find their problem is that they aren’t eating enough. That causes their bodies to lower the metabolic rate and hold onto the weight because the body isn’t trusting that it will get the calories it needs (it’s essentially stockpiling!).
I recommend using the My Fitness Pal tracker to track your food a bit. Or, if tracking numbers is overwhelming to you, my challengers have had a lot of success using the containers from the 21 Day Fix. If you are interested in that at all, you can email me at email@example.com and I can get you set up with those (often times I’m given access to some great discounts).
Also, pay attention to “macronutrients”–basically there are 3 macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Make sure you have a good balance of those (the My Fitness Pal app and the 21 Day Fix containers both give you guidance on that). I notice my day is completely off track if I don’t make sure I get in at least 2 protein servings before noon , 1-2 fat servings, and 1-2 carbohydrate servings.
- Protein serving: about the size of a deck of cards
- Fat serving: about the size of a thumb
- Carb serving: about the size of a fist for a starchy carb (think breads, sweet potatoes, fruits) or two fistfuls for a non-starchy vegetable (leafy greens, broccoli, etc).
7 | Put together a simple weekly meal plan
Next, it’s helpful to have a meal plan for the week–but here’s my tip, keep it simple! Stick to 2 breakfast options, 2 lunch options, and then give yourself a little variety for dinner. That’s how I have my meal plans set up for my challengers in my 5-Day Kickstart and it seems to work great.
When you have a meal plan all laid out for you, you make less decisions on a daily basis on what to eat. I have found that makes a huge difference for my challengers.
8 | Keep Meals in Your Freezer for Quick Meals
Once you’ve planned your meals, a great thing to do next is to stock up on some freezer meals.
This has been so crucial for my own success, especially since I’m constantly tempted to go out to fast food. I know some people are so grossed out by fast food—not me, I think it’s delicious!!! But it’s ridiculously unhealthy! So I try to avoid it. I have quick meals in the freezer that I can grab whenever I don’t have time to cook.
I create double batches of some dinners and eat half that night, then freeze the rest.
Also, I find that we usually have about a serving left after each dinner, so I freeze individual servings that I often have as a quick lunch.
9 | Start Small
This website was originally named Fit Baby Steps because it’s a topic I’m passionate about: long-term fitness happens when you take baby steps at a time. I’ve noticed the clients of mine who tried to completely overhaul their lives got exhausted and gave up. Those who are constantly making little tweaks are experiencing amazing results.
Small Steps for Weight Loss
So start today with some small steps. Here are some things to start with (I recommend picking one of these and mastering it):
- Start moving at least 30 minutes a day
- Get in 64 ounces of water
- Swapping 1 unhealthy meal with a healthier one
- Swapping out some unhealthy items. Here are some examples:
- Use greek yogurt instead of sour cream (trust me, often times you hardly notice a difference. I’ve had clients who call themselves die-hard sour cream fans who resisted my advice for so long, then finally did it and realized it was great!)
- Drink water instead of juice and soda
- Replace 1 meal a day with a nutrient-rich shake like Shakeology (you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for info on that)
- Substitute white bread with whole wheat bread or, even better, sprouted whole wheat bread (I like the Trader Joe’s brand)
- Use brown rice instead of white rice
- Add an extra vegetable serving at dinner
- Have a “green smoothie” each day
10 | Find workouts you love
If you find a workout that you love, it’s going to be much easier to do it. Whenever a potential client comes to me for help, one of the first things that I ask them is what has worked well for them in the past. What kinds of workouts do they like/dislike? It amazes me how many people continue to do workouts that they can’t stand because they think it’s better for them. But what I’ve noticed is they are less likely to stick with it!
Therefore, try different things, switch it up, and discover what you love. If you want access to some free workouts to try, I have some great ones for you (just email me at email@example.com).
11 |Drink Enough Water
Next let’s chat about water. Water impacts everything. One of the biggest ways I’ve seen a lack of water sabotage my own nutrition, and that of others, is that when we are dehydrated, we tend to crave foods, especially sweets.
Prioritize that water! I like the app Water Logged to help with that because it sends reminders if you are behind on your goal. You could also set an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink water every few hours.
When I worked in an office, my colleagues and I had a friendly competition every day on who will drink the most water. Every time one of us filled our water bottle, we put a little tally mark next to our name on a whiteboard.
Find what motivates you to get that water in. It’s a HUGE priority for your health.
12 | Understand the difference between weight and body fat
Ah….this one I’m passionate about. Nearly every time I have a first-time challenger in a group of mine, I find that after 1 week they weigh themselves and are discouraged that they didn’t have huge weight loss numbers. I really blame society for this–we are so focused on weight loss. Honestly, I was hesitant to title this article about “weight loss tips” but I did it because I really want to draw some of you in who were raised to believe it’s all about weight, and challenge you to think a little differently.
1 Pound of Muscle vs 1 Pound of Fat
If you look at how big 1 pound of muscle is versus 1 pound of fat, muscle is MUCH smaller. If building muscle when you are working out (I recommend it! Muscle burns fat!!), you may not find that your weight is decreasing, because that 1 pound of fat is being replaced by 1 pound of muscle. BUT–you may find that your inches are decreasing, and your body fat is decreasing.
I have my challengers take their measurements in inches. I also highly recommend taking photos of yourself–I personally find photos to be the best gauge of success. This is a photo taken of me a while ago when I finished a weight-lifting program. I weight the SAME in both photos, but my inches and body fat percentage (and appearance) in the photo on the right (where I have more muscle) is much smaller.
13 | Be In it for the Long-Run
Also, remember that weight loss isn’t an overnight process–sure, we hear of programs like “21 Day Fix” or a “30-day challenge,” but if you truly want success, you have to accept that slow and steady wins the race. This will take you turning this into a lifestyle—which is going to require much patience.
I have a fantastic example of this. My friend Julie and I have been in online weight loss groups together and she has been such an inspiration to me. She stuck with focusing on her fitness long-term and had amazing success over time:
So take a deep breath. I know you want to crush that goal, and you will, but you will only do it if you focus on this being a lifestyle for you and you accept that this will be a long-term process.
14 | Bounce Back Fast
Did you fall off the wagon? One of the worst things you can do on your weight loss journey is to fall off the wagon and stay off.
In my experience, I find that I tend to go off the wagon, but the real damage is done right after that. I develop a “screw it” mentality and eat everything in sight. When I develop a “bounce back” attitude (rather than a, “Well, today’s shot, I’ll be good tomorrow”) I find I actually still end up right on track with my goals.
One tip to avoid the “off the wagon” mentality is if you go off course a little, then commit to being right back on course the very next meal.
15 | Get Support
Finally, and I can’t stress this enough—don’t try to go on your weight loss journey alone. Time and time again I see a challenger decide to commit to a group of mine and tell me they are very private about their health. And time and time again I notice that those people simply don’t progress. There’s something magical about having support on a weight loss journey. I find that a sense of community can help motivate you to keep going. The more you are connected to others as they are on their journey, the more you can be inspired by them.
I personally recommend a private online challenge group. That was how I experienced my own personal weight loss success (I have info on mine below if you’re interested). I had a private group where I could log in after a workout and celebrate (for me, that was the “reward” for my habit), I could go in there and ask for advice, and I could simply go in there to get some motivation when I was in a funk.