You've tried Whole 30, Optavia, Keto, and Paleo. You've tried meal replacement shakes and drinking apple cider vinegar. All with hopes to lose the weight and that this time it will be different. This time, the weight loss will stick.
At this point you feel like life's been one big diet as you've continued your lifelong search for the one that finally works.
There have been some that worked better than others. Some where you actually did lose the weight and felt pretty damn confident again. Until...
The weight slowly started to creep back up, the frustration rolled in, and before you know it, you were back to where you started leaving you feeling like a failure.
I see you.
I hear you.
I want you to know that you are not a failure. The diet failed you.
The story above is not uncommon for many of our clients here at Freedom Nutrition Academy. It's very few and far between we get clients that their whole life doesn't felt like one big diet and all they can think about is food and how to lose weight.
Deep down, you know there are no magic solutions. But those fast results you see your friend or co-worker getting, or the before and after you see of someone you don't even know online down 40 pounds in 30 days becomes so enticing. Those thoughts start to sink in again. Could this be the answer? Could this be what I've been missing all along?
You pay for the program that comes with meal replacement shakes or bars, and a detox drink you start to consume without even really knowing what you're putting in your body. The rest is history.
You've heard that quote before, that "history repeats itself."
This is what is called Weight Loss Cycling, or better known as Yo-Yo Dieting.
It's a vicious cycle that won't end-- until you put an end to dieting.
No, I don't mean it isn't possible for you to lose the weight and keep it off for good. What I mean, is that you've got to stop falling into the trap of these quick fixes that are damaging your metabolism and making it harder and harder for you to lose weight and keep it off.
If you want to lose weight and get off the rollercoaster ride with your weight, you're going to have to make lifestyle changes.
By lifestyle changes, we aren't talking High Intense Interval Training (HIIT) workouts at least 5+ days a week, running or cycling miles and miles every week, cutting foods out of your diet, or feeling like you are starving.
You don't have to go to extremes to lose the weight and keep it off. Take for instance, Mary, who's down 40 pounds and hasn't done any cycling or running on a treadmill since she joined our program 6 months ago. We've increased her activity from sedentary to getting in at least three 45-minute walks per week. Combined with eating more protein, being more mindful about her choices, and portion control, she is down a whopping 40+ pounds. The best part, she's eating the same foods she feeds her family, she eats out, and still includes dessert and alcohol in moderation. She hasn't felt starved or deprived throughout the whole process. Even better yet, she's made no drastic changes and says "this is a lifestyle I can maintain the rest of my life".
The ingredients to your success are persistence and consistency with behavioral changes and small daily actions. The recipe does not include deprivation or misery.
With all of the nonsense out there, it can be really challenging to navigate what you should be doing to lose body fat. So I want to clue you in on the Top 10 actions you can take that will help you achieve success.
1. EAT ADEQUATE PROTEIN
The recommended dietary allowance to prevent deficiency for an average sedentary adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is the MINIMUM amount of protein a sedentary individual who is NOT trying to lose body fat would need to prevent loss of muscle tissue. When seeking fat loss, those needs go up quite a bit.
If you want to lose body fat, aim for a daily protein intake between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (this is about .73 and 1 gram per pound body weight). For athletes and those who exercise heavily, you'll want to aim for the higher end of that range and needs may be even higher if aiming for fat loss.
If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 or a body fat percentage above 25-30%, basing your protein off your goal weight will make more sense.
2. NOT FEARING CARBOHYDRATES
When's the last time you ate a burger with the bun, a bagel without the middle ripped out, or had a bowl of pasta and didn't feel like you were being bad?
The diet industry has warped so many of you into thinking carbs are the problem. But the reality is, it's not the carbs. It's the type of carbs, what else is in the carbs you're eating (e.g. pizza which is high in carbs but also super high in fats), and the amount of carbs you're eating.
Every meal and snack you eat should contain carbohydrates because they provide your body with energy and help keep your blood sugars from getting too low which prevents you from the infamous crash. But we aren't just talking any type of carbs. You should aim for more wholesome carbs in your diet that contain fiber. Fiber will keep you more full and energized for longer and also supports better bowel regularity.
You should minimize the amount of refined carbs you eat like those in candies, sweets, soda, chips, and Cheez-Its. Refined carbs are fine to have in moderation, but if you're turning to these for your afternoon pick-me-up, especially after skipping nutrient dense carbs like whole wheat bread, whole grain pastas, potatoes, beans, or oats in your main meals, you're probably going to have a hard time stopping with just one serving. If this is you, your body is most likely in a deprived state because you have a hard set of food rules keeping you from eating the carbs your body really needs or you simply aren't eating enough food. Once you start the refined carbs in foods like candy bars and Cheez-Its when you're in a deprived state, they are hard to stop because your body is telling you to save-up because it doesn't know when it's going to get that type of energy again.
Try practicing for a week, putting starchy carbs back on your plate at every meal and see what happens. I bet you'll see an increase in energy and a decrease in sugary cravings.
3. GETTING ADEQUATE SLEEP
Sleep is one of the most underestimated pieces of the puzzle when it comes to achieving sustainable fat loss. Sleep has a crucial role in optimizing hormones that impact your appetite and satiety. If you're getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, this can enhance cravings since lack of sleep can lead to an increase in the hormone Ghrelin which stimulates your appetite. Leptin on the other hand, decreases. Leptin is a hormone that helps you feel satisfied after a meal. You can see how these can backfire on you.
On top of that, many of you turn to extra caffeine to perk you up when you're feeling tired. Caffeine can lead to more cravings since research has shown that it can decrease our perception of sweetness. If you're drinking caffeine too late in the day, it will still be in your system at bedtime which can decrease the quality of your sleep.
Not getting adequate sleep can also make it more challenging to keep your activity levels up. You'll likely be more sedentary as you don't have the energy to get your body moving. This will decrease your total calorie burn across the day.
If you have several habits to establish and sleep isn't in check, I'd start with this one first.
4. PROPER HYDRATION
I get new clients all the time who tell me they're only consuming around 12 ounces of water daily. The recommended amount is half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
This means that if you're 160 pounds, your goal should be 80 ounces per day. More if you're exercising.
Adequate hydration is important to support bowel regularity, energy levels, flushing waste products out of our body, shuttling nutrients to our cells and tissues, and so much more. For fat loss, adequate hydration supports a strong, healthy metabolism, helps you feel more full, and helps curb cravings. So make that time to fill up your cup and drink up!
5. PLANNING AND PREPPING
This seems to be one of the most challenging habits for people to establish. What I often see is that many of you overcomplicate things by thinking you have to make recipes that have a lot of ingredients or those that include things like quinoa, chia seeds, kale, ghee, or a bunch of other ingredients you don't typically keep on hand.
I love trying new recipes, but making new recipes for every meal can be overwhelming and tiresome. If you love making new recipes and have the time, by all means, you keep after it. But for many of you, quick and simple will help you stay more consistent with healthier eating habits.
When I meal plan for the week, much of the meals we make are more like "meal assembly". This can really help to simplify the process since what you do is simply, pick out a lean protein, a starchy carb, a vegetable, and healthy fat. Pick what you'll use to add pops of flavor, whether it be a marinade, sauce, vinegar, citrus, or spices and herbs. Do that and BOOM! You've got yourself a balanced meal.
Let's see this in action
Whole wheat penne pasta (starchy carb) + lean ground beef (lean protein) + jarred pasta sauce (flavor) + steamed broccoli and olive oil with spices (vegetable + healthy fat + flavor)
Marinated sirloin steak (lean protein) + baked potato & butter, salt, and pepper (starchy carb + flavor) + green beans, olive oil and sea salt (vegetable + healthy fat + flavor)
If you aren't in the habit and you're saying you don't have the time, well you better start prioritizing it or you'll be struggling to achieve your goals until your time runs out.
6. MANAGING YOUR STRESS
You ever find yourself having downed a whole bottle of wine after a stressful week at work? Or you ever find solace in a pint of Ben and Jerry's after a hard break-up?
There is no denying food and alcohol can bring us comfort, numb our pains, or distract us from our problems. When we eat or anticipate eating certain foods, it can trigger the release of dopamine in our brain which provides us with a reward where we no longer feel the problem we were feeling.
Turning to food or alcohol as your coping mechanism all of the time, can become problematic if it's causing you to take in excessive calories or interfering with how you feel. Working with one of our Nutrition Coaches can help you build more mindfulness with your food choices and help you find better coping strategies. Depending on the stressors you are going through, it may also benefit you to work with a trained mental health professional who has more expertise and training on strategies to help you manage your stress better.
Food has a huge impact on how we feel overall. So if you know your eating habits need some work, I highly suggest finding a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help empower you with knowledge and skills how to nourish your body better, improve your relationship with food, and to help provide you with encouragement and the accountability you need to follow through.
7. EATING YOUR VEGGIES AND FRUITS
If you were telling someone else "how to eat healthy", would you say, "eat your fruit and veggies?" I can almost bet you would! So if you aren't eating fruits and veggies daily, it's time to start working more in. The amount you need per day will vary depending on your gender, height, weight, age, level of activity, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, but in general, the USDA recommends that you should be aiming to get at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day at a minimum.
Vegetables add volume, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals to your meals. These are super important to support your metabolism and weight loss efforts. I always say, try to get color with every meal and fill at least half your plate with those veggies.
9. MOVING YOUR BODY
One of the biggest mistakes made by people trying to lose fat and get more "toned" is doing way too much cardio and not lifting enough weights. Now, I will never knock cardio because it is important to support cardiovascular health and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, but too much high intense cardio without proper recovery can increase levels of cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone.
Cortisol activates our sympathetic nervous system which can lead to the quick breakdown of fats and carbs to increase the energy available for a "fight-or-flight" response.
Too much cortisol can lead to a wave of other symptoms such as:
Decreased sleep quality
Suppressed immune system
Decreased muscle recovery/more muscle fatigue
Now, there is no doubt that with consistent training, you'll get stronger and your body will be able to adapt and take on the stressors of HIIT better. But if your goal is fat loss and you're eating in a caloric deficit (which is another stressor), and perhaps stressors from work or kids, you run a much larger risk of having the negative effects of too much cortisol take place.
So do yourself a favor, pick up some weights, and up your steady-state cardio such as walking. Aim for weights 3-5 days per week. Your body and mind will thank you.
10. TRACKING YOUR INTAKE
Speaking of a caloric deficit, in order to lose body fat, you must be in a caloric deficit.
You do not have to be in a huge calorie deficit and be eating 1200 calories per day to lose weight. 1200 calories is the nutritional needs of a toddler. As a grown, active adult, your needs are going to be much higher. Many of our clients are eating around 2000 calories per day and losing body fat. You only need to be in a deficit of around 250-500 calories per day to lose weight. We always try to keep our clients calories as high as possible throughout the weight loss process to support a healthier metabolism, healthier hormones, and to give our clients more freedom and flexibility in their food choices. It also makes things a lot more sustainable!
LET'S WRAP THINGS UP
If you feel like you've tried everything to lose weight, download this FREE Habit Tracker to start building some of the above mentioned healthier habits today. I recommend picking just 1-2 to start working on at time. Too many at once can be overwhelming. Once you're consistent with those, add another habit or two to begin working on while continuing your consistency with those previously established. We want progress, not perfection. So if you mess up and miss a day or too, don't dwell. Just get right back after it.
This is the simplest way to form healthier habits, how to change your lifestyle, and maintain your results for the long run. No magic. Just small consistent efforts.
The hardest part about the journey, is that as humans, life loves to throw us curveballs that can feel really hard to navigate. Holidays and vacations, sure, they can be tough... but it's the sleepless nights, illnesses, injuries, losses, anxiety, and long, exhausting work days with a million other responsibilities that are the most challenging to work through.
This is where hiring a coach and having someone to lean on for encouragement and support when things get tough can be so beneficial. If you need some help, we coaches here at Freedom Nutrition Academy are here to cheer you on and help you rock those goals of yours!
At the end of the day, your success truly comes down to being the best you can be. "The best" being a standard you set for yourself, not a standard set by others. You are capable of anything you set your mind to.
Start today by taking just one small step.
BUILDING A BODY AND LIFE YOU LOVE COMES FROM PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST
We know you've been trying to manage it all and trying your best to reach your goals. But the methods you've tried aren't sustainable and aren't empowering you with the knowledge and skills you need to make your weight loss last. There is no way to fail at this. We will simplify your nutrition and help you learn how to eat proper portions, balance your meals, put a stop to emotional eating, and improve your self-talk, all while balancing the foods you love.
Click here to learn more about the next round of our 6-Week Nutrition Kickstart group coaching program and secure your spot. We start March 21st and would love to help you get on a path that will help you feel healthier, happier, and more confident in your skin!