The Secret to Weight Loss?
What if I told you that I held the secret to weight loss? You’d probably roll your eyes and be tempted to walk away but I bet there’s this tiny little part of you that thinks “what if….”
And now I’ve got you. I mean, what IF this piece of information is THE thing you’ve been waiting for? What have you got to lose, right? For those reasons alone, these headlines will continue to grab your attention even though you know deep down, there is no magic pill or secret. I’ll spare you the B.S. and give it to you straight. If you want to lose weight you must:
BE IN A CALORIC DEFICIT.
My work is done, you’re welcome. Kidding, keep reading because there is SO much more to losing weight and improving your health.
Humor me with a quick lesson about calories. A calorie is a unit of energy. Food is composed of calories (energy), hence the ‘food is fuel’ line you’ve undoubtedly heard. A calorie or caloric deficit means your caloric expenditure is greater than your caloric consumption. Simply put, energy out vs. energy in. Remember that as we dive in here.
While a deficit IS the answer, there really is more to weight loss and improving overall health and that’s what I want to share with you.
Follow me for a second as I share two scenarios that I commonly see with clients:
You decide it’s time to lose weight. You google diet plans, pick one and commit. You follow it to a ‘t’ for the first two to three weeks and see some changes. You’re pumped and feeling good. You got this! That third weekend rolls around and it’s your monthly happy hour with the girls. You’ve been ‘so good’ the past few weeks that you tell yourself you deserve ‘just one.’ Inhibitions are lowered, one turns into two, then three and now you’re getting hungry. You’ve already ‘blown it’ so who cares, let the late-night snacking commence! ‘I’ll start over on Monday,’ you rationalize. A weekend won’t do much damage anyway, right? Right?!
Or maybe you’ve been here: Summer is coming and you’re dreading putting on a swimsuit. You decide it’s time to do something so you join a boot camp or challenge at your gym and go balls deep 5 days a week. You’ve gone from couch potato to boot camp fanatic. You love the high you get after each class and the progress you’re seeing. Clothes are fitting looser, you have more energy and people are noticing. This continues for a couple of weeks or maybe months. But eventually, the newness wears off, you’re exhausted, your work schedule is getting too busy, your body is hurting and the progress is slowing down anyway so you start to skip a class, then two, vowing to start back on Monday. But Monday comes and goes and a couple days turn into weeks.
Both scenarios have the same theme…you’ve gone from nothing to something. Of course you will see results in the beginning and that’s why these types of plans or challenges continue to be so popular; they yield fast results! Notice I didn’t say, lasting.
Here’s where people get tripped up thinking that a particular diet plan or challenge is THE thing.
It’s understandable because you DID get results during that challenge. But it’s not because of that special workout or meal plan. In fact, ALL diets work. Yep, you read that right. It doesn’t matter if you adopt the keto, paleo, carnivore or some other restrictive meal plan….it’s not the meal plan, it’s the fact that you’ve created a caloric deficit. Just like it’s not that ONE specific workout you’re doing that’s making all this happen; it’s the fact that you’re moving your body now and have created a caloric deficit. Is it sinking in yet?
But here’s another reason why both of those scenarios are a recipe for disaster.
We can’t operate at those deficits or extremes forever. Life isn’t conducive to a strict meal plan or intense, constant exercise. We have holidays, travel, celebrations, vacations, death, crazy schedules, and more. So what happens when the newness wears off? We quit because it’s not sustainable, right?
Think about it, if you’re overscheduled, running on fumes, have zero white space on your calendar, are running kids all over creation after working all day, living on fast food and caffeine…it doesn’t even make sense to ADD intense exercise or a strict meal plan to that. You’re literally setting yourself up for failure if you follow one of those scenarios; trust me, I know from personal experience. Queen of ‘all or nothing’ over here.
So what’s the answer?
Start small. Like, baby steps y’all. I’ll be honest, it’s not exciting nor does it yield overnight results but it DOES help you begin building that solid foundation that is necessary for longevity. One that allows you to take charge and ownership of your health. Learning new ways of doing things, changing habits, slowing down, it’s all part of the process. The diet and exercise part will only get you so far (they ARE important and necessary!) if you don’t address all the other pieces, you will forever be the hamster on the wheel.
So how do you get to a place where the nutrition and exercise piece really click in a way that’s not exhausting or restricting?
-Increase water intake
-Sunshine (seriously, no one gets enough)
-Find a way to create a bit more movement each day (taking the stairs, walking around the block)
-Aim for an extra serving of veggies each day
I have yet to work with a client who has those basics mastered and that’s generally because they underestimate their importance. Listen up my Type A friends, more is not always better.
If you want long-term results and sustainability then you must think and do, long term.
A 6-week gym challenge or a 3-week diet plan has an end date. Leading a healthy lifestyle does not. Also, realize that it’s likely taken years to get to your current state of health (or lack thereof) and it’s completely unrealistic to think you can ‘undo’ years of unhealthy habits with a short-term plan. And as a side note (I will not get on my soapbox right now); any plan that demonizes a food group or tells you to eliminate one altogether is garbage and should be avoided. Unless you have a medical condition and/or allergy there is absolutely no reason to eliminate a food or entire macronutrient.
Remember, every person is different as are their needs, goals, schedules, genetics, and general lifestyle so it doesn’t even make sense to follow a cookie-cutter meal plan or exercise routine. Your journey is unique to you so throw that comparison game out the window right now. Repeat after me: It does not matter what my best friend is doing. It does not matter what my sister’s neighbor swears by or what I see from ‘fit-fluencers’ on social media. My journey is mine alone and my only basis for comparison is staring back at me in the mirror (unless you have little kids then they are probably standing right underneath your feet asking you what you’re doing).
In all seriousness, the beautiful thing is that as you begin to address the basics you should naturally start to feel better and you’ll WANT to do more. Now, if you’re looking at that list and thinking it’s too much to tackle, cool. Pick one. Seriously. No step is too small. Remember this is YOUR journey. What is one thing you can do today to improve your health? Drink a glass of water? Go to sleep 10 minutes earlier? Say no to something or someone? You be the judge; you ARE in control!
As you begin creating healthier habits and learn to tune into your body, it does get easier. Does that mean you won’t have a bad day, miss a planned workout, eat all the things or ‘fall off the wagon?’ Nope. And sidebar here but there is no falling off the wagon with a healthy lifestyle. There is nothing to ‘fall off’ of because life IS full of ups and downs. But the beautiful thing is that WHEN those moments happen (trust me, they will), you will have learned that there is no need to ‘wait til Monday’ to start over. Went in for one cookie and ate the whole sleeve? Swore you were going to have ONE glass of wine and it turned into a bottle? It happens. But that vicious ‘start/stop’ cycle where you berate yourself doesn’t serve a purpose anymore because you know what to do now. You get right back at it with your next meal and move on with your life. You no longer have to ‘run it off’ or skip meals to ‘make up for it.’ That way of being is not serving you anymore.
I could talk for hours on how your mindset and mental/emotional being play a role in your overall health but I’m pretty sure I’ll run out of space so let’s wrap up by circling back to the secret to weight loss, the caloric deficit.
We know a deficit can be created 1 of 2 ways (reduce calories OR increase expenditure) but there is one thing I didn’t mention and that’s the ideal way to tackle this. A little less calories and a little more movement/exercise than you’re currently doing is a beautiful combination. This way you aren’t exercising to death or restricting yourself so much you’re hangry all the time. Notice I said less calories and not a specific macronutrient (carbohydrates, fats, proteins). We need them ALL, yes, even carbs. They are nothing to be scared of when you learn to tune into your body’s needs. Also notice I didn’t tell you to start running or doing endless cardio for movement. Cardio isn’t the best solution for weight loss anyway despite what people think.
Remember these key points:
-Anything/one/plan stating their way is the only way is a huge red flag
-Slow and steady wins the race if you want long term success
-Walking is a beautiful place to start if you’re new to exercise (you do NOT need to run!)
-You CAN continue to enjoy the food and drinks you love while improving your health
-Throwing in a new diet/exercise routine is a recipe for disaster if you haven’t addressed the suggestions mentioned earlier
As a wife, mom of twin girls, and business owner, it’s my passion to empower and educate women to take control and ownership of their lives in a way they never have before. Letting go of old habits or stories and creating new ones is a beautiful thing to be a part of and I’m incredibly blessed to be able to coach others through that process. Even though you may not be where you want to be (yet), it doesn’t mean you can’t love what is staring at you in the mirror right now. I would love to connect with you, answer any questions, expand on this topic or be a resource for you.