Weight loss is a topic I talk a lot about on this blog.
That’s not because I think everybody should lose weight- it’s because it’s one of the most complicated topics out there.
It can be very overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be!
While it’s not necessarily easy to lose weight, it doesn’t need to be so complicated.
I could give you 100’s of tips on how to go about losing weight, but I’ll leave it to the rest of my blog posts to help you out.
Here, I just want to give you my top 10 weight loss tips to help make your journey way easier.
Let’s get into it.
1. The answer is always: calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight.
No fad diet, food, pill, tea, or waist slimmer can change that.
People like to fight this idea (not to mention over-complicate it) because they think this implies that weight loss is easy.
Do not get it twisted: weight loss is not easy.
But it is simple.
There are plenty of different dieting methods out there, and we all have unique lifestyles that make our journies unique, but at the end of the day, it will always come down to a calorie deficit.
2. Moderation is key
You can enjoy any food in moderation and still lose weight. Yes, even sugar.
It should never be “eat this, not that.”
It should be “eat this sometimes, and that other times.” Your approach should always be balanced.
Many of us are often looking for lower-calorie alternatives to our favorite foods.
Like the above example, bagel thins and low-calorie ice cream can be great additions to your diet if you enjoy bagels and ice cream. But they’re not the ONLY options.
Our diets don’t need to be all-or-nothing. You don’t need to give up bagels or ice cream if you love them (who doesn’t?), but you can choose to opt for an alternative to help you stay on track.
Personally, I’m not currently trying to lose weight, but I sometimes buy the bagel thins. Why? Because saving calories in certain areas allows me to allocate those calories to other foods.
But you bet your carb-loving butt that if I truly want a bagel, I’ll eat a real bagel!
It’s all about moderation.
A balanced diet sometimes takes making sacrifices, but they don’t need to be sacrifices that make you miserable! Maybe you “sacrifice” the bagel for breakfast and opt for a bagel thin instead to enjoy the Strawberry Shortcake bar at night, knowing the total calories will balance out at the end of the day.
Moderation is the name of the game!
3. Exact calculations do not exist
There is no exact amount of protein, fat, or carbs you should be eating; that number depends on a ton of different unique factors.
If you’re tracking your macros, you’re likely going to look for the perfect numbers you should be hitting every day.
But I’m here to tell you that those perfect numbers do not exist. While someone can give you general guidelines to follow, there is no hard-set rule saying you should be eating EXACTLY “this many” grams of protein in a day.
Try not to get too caught up in hitting hyper-specific goals, because it truly matters less than you think.
There are definitely recommended guidelines worth following, and I recommend my calorie & macro calculator I built to help give you suggested ranges for your macros (and I actually explain WHY I recommend those ranges, so you can adjust as needed for your life).
4. Every day is not going to be perfect.
In most areas of our lives, we’re able to understand that perfection doesn’t exist. So why do we treat our diets differently?
We want to lose 1 pound every single week. If we don’t, we’re failing.
We need to hit our calories perfectly every day. If we overeat, we’re failing.
We need to workout for an hour every day. If we miss a workout, we’re failing.
This pursuit of perfection leads so many people to give up. When you feel like you’ve failed, it’s just so easy to quit.
Ask anyone who has successfully lost weight, and they’ll be the first to tell you that not every day leading up to hitting their goal was perfect. It’s about being consistent over a long period.
You’re going to miss workouts, you’re going to eat some extra snacks, you’re going to grab a drink with friends, you’re going to celebrate Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday. That’s the human in you. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means you’re living your life.
You need to stop chasing perfection and instead focus on the long term. It’s not about one day, one week, or even one month.
Being consistent over a long period of time is going to yield you far better results than trying to have the perfect diet in the short term.
Did you fall off track and not stick to your diet perfectly this week? That’s fine! Get back on track and stay focused on the long-term.
Life isn’t perfect. It’s going to throw curveballs at you. Your diet doesn’t need to be perfect, either.
Follow a program or diet that allows you to live your life and just focus on being consistent with it for the long term.
As you may have read, I’m all about the 80/20 rule. Allow 20% of your life and diet to be less than optimal. It will keep you sane!
If you’re unfamiliar, the 80/20 rule means eating “healthy” 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time you eat what you want without worrying about the health aspect. Of course, you don’t have to sit down and do the actual math of what 80% of your total calories equates to.
As a general rule of thumb, if you eat 4 times per day (3 meals and 1 snack), allow one of those meals or snacks to contain a food that may be less than optimal. Or, give yourself one day per week to eat some foods that you wouldn’t normally eat on a typical “diet.”
Results aren’t going to come from trying to adhere to a super strict diet perfectly.
They’re going to come from being consistent over a longer period of time, even if that diet isn’t absolutely perfect.
You’re going to have some bad days. You’re a human, and it happens. But remember, you do not need perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist.
You just need consistency.
5. Meal timing (or frequency) really does not matter
So you want to lose fat, but you don’t know how many meals you should eat to maximize your fat loss?
Well my friend, allow me to help you.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the amazing results people get by intermittent fasting and eating only once per day.
Or perhaps you’ve heard that you should eat a lot of small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism working to burn as many calories as possible.
How do these drastically different concepts both work? Because everyone has different preferences, and meal frequency has no real effect on fat loss.
If you enjoy eating snacks all day long, then by all means break your day up into 10 meals (or snacks, at that point). If you don’t really get hungry all day and would rather enjoy an epic meal 1,800 calorie meal at the end of the day, you CAN lose weight that way.
Meal frequency on its own will not affect your fat loss.
The only thing you need to worry about is how many calories you are eating (remember the calorie deficit idea we talked about earlier?)
If you know you need to eat 1,800 calories to lose weight (just an example for the maths), then it absolutely doesn’t matter how you break those calories up in your day.
You just need to eat in a way that won’t drive you totally insane. Dieting is already kind of awful. Don’t make it harder on yourself.
Hit your calories and your macros. Stop worrying about how you hit them.
You can’t trick your metabolism or do any kind of voodoo magic to accelerate fat loss. Stop worrying that Janet from accounting swears by intermittent fasting. Eat in a way that fits your lifestyle, not Janet’s.
Because, at the end of the day, the only effective diet is the one you can stick to.
6. Take it slow
You may very well be making progress without even noticing.
It’s safe to say that if you lost 0.1 pounds in a day, you would never notice any kind of a change. Even if that occurs every day for a week, you still wouldn’t even lose 1 pound.
If you step on the scale, nothing will be different. You’ll likely look exactly the same. It’s easy to assume that you’ve made zero progress.
After 2 weeks, the scale would only be down a single pound. At that point, a lot of people would assume they’ve plateaued and need to make a change.
But let’s look at the big picture. If this continues for a year, you’d lose almost 40 pounds.
0.1 pounds is progress you would never notice, but it’s progress that is still happening, and can lead to some pretty major results over time.
Regardless of how much weight you are losing, you’re never going to see the exact same results day after day- your weight is always going to fluctuate. But when you feel like you’re making absolutely no progress, there’s a strong chance that the progress is just too small to notice right now.
It doesn’t mean you’re not making any progress. You just might not see it.
A year might feel like a long time to wait for results, but a year will pass you by before you know it. 2020 seemingly lasted forever, and yet, here we are in 2021.
Don’t get caught up in short-term, unrealistic goals. Focus on the big picture and don’t get discouraged.
It might feel like you’re not making any progress, but wait it out. Flex your patience muscle and watch how it benefits you in the long term.
It’s the smallest changes that can end up making the biggest differences
7. Don’t rely on cardio
Cardio is a great way to burn calories, and it is certainly a great way to advance your overall health.
But it’s not the secret to fat loss.
I’m all for adding some cardio into your routine to burn some extra calories during your weight loss journey, but I see far too many people taking that way too far.
If your calories are already pretty low, adding in a ton of cardio is not going to help you. In fact, too much cardio is going to make you feel awful, as it will likely deplete you of all of your energy.
I never recommend more than an hour of cardio per day, especially if you’re already weightlifting on top of that!
You can hit your weight loss goals without doing a lick of cardio. Focus on your diet above all else and I promise you will see the results you want.
If you want to add in some cardio to your routine, go for it! It’s a very healthy habit to get into.
But do not make it the cornerstone of your weight loss efforts.
8. Screw the scale
One of the first things I recommend to someone starting their health journey: get rid of your scale.
Let’s be clear: Weighing yourself can be a very helpful way to track your progress.
If you have a specific goal weight, you’ll want to check in on where you are at from time to time.
But in many cases, the scale becomes way more of a source of stress than a source of useful information.
Obviously, if your goal is weight loss, then you hope that your weight is going to go down. But there are 2 problems with that..
- FAT loss and WEIGHT loss are not one and the same. You can lose fat, feel great, but still weigh exactly the same due to your increased muscularity. If you step on the scale and see the number hasn’t changed, it can be discouraging, when in reality it does not reflect your progress.
- Your weight is allwwwayyysssss going to fluctuate. While your weight might be trending down over time, your day-to-day weight is going to go up and down. One day you might lose 2 pounds, the next day you might gain 5 pounds. Water retention can make your weight do confusing things overnight, and can be caused by hundreds of different factors that the scale can’t comprehend.
If you want to weigh yourself to track your progress, go right ahead, but understand that it is only one small measure of progress.
Focus on things like how you feel mentally and physically, how you look, how your clothes fit, if you’re getting stronger, or how you’re sleeping.
These are the things that will help define your progress. The scale doesn’t, and shouldn’t, tell your story.
9. You need a unique approach
What worked for someone else may not work for you.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dieting, so we need to stop comparing ourselves to everyone else.
We’re all built differently, and we all have drastically different needs. If someone finds success and you follow their plan to a T, there’s a good chance that you are actually setting yourself up to fail.
Let’s look at an example of two women following the same diet plan:
- On one hand, we have a highly active person whose maintenance calories are 2,400.
- On the other hand, we have a less active & smaller person whose maintenance are 1,800 calories.
If they were both to follow a generic plan of 2,100 calories, they would actuallt see completely opposite results.
Those 2,100 calories will put one of them in a calorie deficit, and the other in a surplus, leading to weight loss and weight gain, respectively.
Even if someone seems to be very similar to you in terms of size & activity level, their needs can still be very much different than your own. Metabolism, activity outside of the gym, body composition, workout intensity…they can all affect how much fuel we need (our TDEE).
You need to find what works for you. If you’re not seeing the results you need, you might not be eating the appropriate amount of calories!
Don’t blindly walk someone else’s path.
If you want results, you’re going to need to create your own.
10. Don’t let your weight loss define you
If you take only one thing away from this list, let it be this: you need to stop letting the scale define you.
Don’t get me wrong, weighing yourself can certainly be a helpful way to track your progress. If you have a goal weight, you’ll want to check in on where you are at occasionally. But I see the scale doing waayyy more harm than good.
The number on the scale means absolutely nothing. There is SO much more to your progress than that silly little number.
Here’s something to think about: would you settle on losing less weight if it meant feeling better, both physically and mentally?
For me, that answer will ALWAYS be yes regardless of what the scale says.
If you decide that you need to lose 30 pounds, you’re going to be discouraged when you “only” lose 20 pounds. It’s going to feel like you’ve failed. But the reality is that you probably look amazing, feel great, and have improved your overall health.
That is the progress that matters, not the number.
I relate it to my bank account. As a freelancer, my income is unpredictable. I have a goal in my mind to aim for, but I’m not going to get caught up in the exact numbers. If I can live a fulfilled life without having to struggle to get by, I’m happy. The exact number means nothing to me.
The same goes for the scale. If you’re feeling energized and confident, your mental health is improving, and your clothes are fitting better, then you’ve made incredible progress. The scale can’t tell you that.
For me, one of the biggest signs of progress is how I am feeling mentally. I’d take feeling less anxious over weighing less every single day.
Don’t let your weight loss become the sole driver of your happiness, because there is so much more to life. Don’t lose sight of what is most important.