Many people have the goal to lose weight- whether that be a few pounds, or hundreds of pounds. However, the vast majority of people do not know where to begin. How frustrating!
If you've decided to make the change in your life to lose weight and become healthier, you've already completed one of the hardest parts in your fitness journey! Now, it's time to dive in and stay motivated.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to start a fitness plan and/or weight loss goal is trying to make a complete 180 change, which just isn't feasible. It is always best to start slowly and make simple changes, one goal at a time.
It is true that the only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit. This means, that the calories "out," or expended through physical activities, exceeds the calories "in," or consumed through food and drink.
The problem many people face when beginning a weight loss journey is reducing calories drastically, all at once. The reason this doesn't work is because our bodies have a natural response to want to keep us at our current weight, thinking that if you are reducing calories this drastically, you must be in starvation mode. You find yourself incredibly hungry, having more cravings for low-quality carbs and sugary foods to give you a quick energy boost, or even just tired and fatigued. Your body has been relying on its current intake of calories and has become so used to this over-indulgent amount, that it cannot adjust to the immediate reduction you've put it through. So, how can you combat this? There are a few options that may help you eliminate that miserable feeling of starting a "diet." You can still reduce calories, but in a more efficient way, or you can implement more physical activity to make up for your current calorie overload, and adjust your goals later on once your body adapts.
To reduce calories in a more efficient way, your best option is to begin with eliminating excess-calorie foods that you probably aren't even aware you're consuming. These items would be creamy and fattening salad dressing, butter and other calorie-dense condiments when cooking meals or as a topping, your morning coffee additives, and late-night snack foods. Ease into it. Make your goal for week one to eliminate unnecessary calories. Instead of creamy salad dressings, opt for balsamic dressings instead. If you aren't a fan of balsamic dressings, but need the flavor of a dressing, make the change of not dousing your salad in dressing, but pouring a small amount into a side-container and dipping the tip of your fork into the dressing before stabbing your salad. This will give you the flavor of dressings in moderate amounts, so your calorie intake isn't spiking from an unnecessary, non-nutritive source. For butter, opt for the healthier alternative of a small amount of olive oil. Olive oil still contains numerous calories, but will give you healthier fats than butter. Olive oil use, while a great alternative to butter, should still be monitored. Have you ever considered how many calories are going into your morning coffee from half-n-half, heavy cream, whole milk, and/or sugar? My guess is it is probably much more than you realize. Could you still enjoy your coffee with less creamer, less sugar or a sugar-free sweetener, or even black with no additives? These would be much healthier alternatives to your heavy cream coffee loaded with sugar or sugary-flavored syrups. Do you think that late-night snack you're craving is worth the extra calories? Are you even hungry for a snack or are you just eating because you are bored, distracted, or feeling emotional? These are all wonderful questions to ask yourself. It doesn't mean you can never eat a late-night snack again, but take a moment to ask yourself if you're truly hungry or if you have some other motivation for eating and decide if it is worth those calories. A little reduction per day can go a long way in minimizing your weekly calorie intake, and may be the easiest way to adhere to a lower calorie diet as you enhance your motivation to further decrease your calorie intake moving forward. You don't need to starve yourself! Focus on these tips, and as you begin to make these small daily changes, removing little by little unnecessary calories, you will be sure to feel the motivation to persevere and see where else you can eliminate calories from your diet.
Stay tuned for more weight loss strategies and tips! As always, reach out to me, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, regarding any questions or for advice on where to go next. Best of luck to you on your health, fitness, and wellness journey!