There’s the case of the college guy who wants to look chiseled for Spring break. But no hard how he tries, the scale won’t move.
There’s the other case of the busy professional who’s seen a series of specialists, nutritionists, doctors, consulted with fitness trainers. She has wonderful meal plans, and a training plan customized to her needs, but she can’t shed a pound.
The two cases above are real, and the issues are common. Here’s what I’ve found after lengthy discussions.
1. Weight Loss is in the kitchen
People don’t really know how much food they eat in calories, and they don’t know how much food they should eat. You cannot lose weight just by switching to broccoli and brown rice if you still overeat. Track your food intake. Weigh yourself everyday. Eat less and less everyday until you see the weight going down. Write down the number you found and stick to it.
If you don’t restrict your calories to a given number, your “weight loss” won’t mean anything and deviate.
Speaking of diet, is there a specific diet that works more than others? I advise generally a calorie-restricted mediterranean diet. There are no adverse side effects. However for those who are looking for quick results, look into keto, a high-fat and very low carb diet. A 3 months keto diet brings dramatic results. I advise however to switch back to mediterranean diet as keto is hard to maintain regularly.
Important note: Track also your snacks, muffins, sweets, and even the Starbucks coffee. In Western-style diet, these add up and often bring in more calories than meals. Track also drinks. If you follow the keto as mentioned above, you won’t be able to have an alcohol drink. But tea or coffee has 0 calories and will increase fat oxidation! so make sure to get plenty of those.
3. You cannot outrun a bad diet – but exercising do help
It is impossibly hard to lose weight just by sheer amount of exercise. I’ve been able to only do it once in my life, by commuting by bike twice a day + running every day. I also followed a very strict low carb high fat diet. I was happy with results by it was grueling, and I don’t wish anyone to go through the same regimen. This is why I recommend everyone to focus on point #1 first.
Exercise can help though : they increase your metabolic rate. This means that at rest, one day later or even a few days later, your body will spend more energy.
This means that regular exercise will you shed fat – even when you are not exercising. In the same manner, circulation system is improved, and so is general mood and subjective well-being. You feel good and food restriction isn’t as grueling as it used to be.
3. Make sure to Get Adequate Sleep and Rest
Most people focus on exercise (gym/cardio) then diet. However, without good sleep, you will not be able to loose any weight. Poor sleep, such as interrupted sleep, short duration (6 hours and less) or long duration sleep (8h30 and more) will kill all your efforts in diet and exercise.
Make sure to get a good 7 hours sleep every day, especially if you are stressed or have exercised during the day.
If you find yourself in any way stressed, anxious, irritable, angry or depressed, find a way to fix this. Get help, find social support, or get some rest. All these increase oxidative stress and will make your weight loss difficult.
In the same manner, do not exercise every, hoping that you will loose weight faster. There is risk of overtraining. It is better to exercise only 3 or 4 times a week but increase the intensity of each session.
4. Discipline is Key
It’s great to have smart meal plans or the best training plans in the universe. But they don’t mean anything if you only follow them for a week or if you cheat with chips and biscuits every other day.
Weight loss is all about discipline and committing for at least 3 months. Let your friends know about your challenge, perhaps this will motivate you to stick to it. Make sure to celebrate every little success. Be present and focus on every meal and every workout. Make it count, better, enjoy it every day.
5. If All Fails …
If all fails, I have the following suggestions:
- Intermittent fasting, which is not eating for 2 to 5 days, is guaranteed to kickstart your weight loss journey. Fasting can also bring the last finishing touches and get rid of the last abdominal 5 pounds fat you had.
- See your doctor and get some blood work done. Check your cortisol levels, as well as thyroid. Ask also if you have any metabolic issues. It is possible you have hypothyroidism, metabolic syndrome or any other health issue that makes weight loss incredibly difficult
- This page lists all obesity risk factors, from the obvious (sugar, saturated fat) to the less obvious (asthma, cortisol). I invite you to have a look at it, and see if there’s something in the list you can work on.
I hope these help. Happy weight loss and good luck !