Updated: Oct 1, 2020
It seems to me that the start of a new year brings with it a plethora of good intentions. Amongst these, a pretty large number of people make losing a bit of weight one of their goals. Naturally this is easier said than done, as is evidenced by the number of people who by the end of year have not achieved their goal!
Firstly, why bother? Do we really care whether we look like supermodels or not? I don’t, but that’s not the most important point. Far, far more important than the bikini body for its aesthetic value is the positive effect that staying in a healthy weight range with a healthy body composition (I’ll explain that in a moment) has on your health, both right now and into the future.
Body composition refers to the amount of fat and the amount of muscle that your body is made up of. Thus, bodybuilders with lots of muscle might weigh more than you, but their body composition is much healthier than being lighter but having little muscle. Muscles are your best friend - they burn up lots of energy (calories/kilojoules) so it’s worth doing some resistance exercise to work on muscle building.
Amongst the risk factors of being overweight are heart problems, cancer, diabetes and joint problems. However, particularly if you are still young, it’s hard to see those risks as real and relevant to your life at this moment.
My first tip to help you stay on track with your resolve to lose weight is to make a list of all the benefits of losing a few kilos that you will experience in the here and now. Here are some examples:
My clothes will feel less tight and uncomfortable and I will feel that I look good in them.
I will be able to walk up hills without puffing and panting.
I will sleep better.
I won’t feel as hot in Summer.
My knees won’t hurt as much.
What things do you think would improve in your own experience if you did lose the weight?
Make your goal realistic, specific and measurable. If your lowest adult weight ever (when eating healthily and exercising regularly) was 60kg then a goal of 54kg is probably never likely to be achieved! Be realistic. Next, put a timeframe on it: I want to lose X kg in the next X weeks and I will achieve this by doing A, B and C.
Be specific eg ‘by cutting out all added sugar’ rather than ‘by changing my diet’. Write this goal down!
By far the best results will come from a whole package of lifestyle changes. That means addressing diet, exercise, good sleep patterns and decreasing stress. Plan to make positive changes in any of these areas that you’re not already excelling in (eg I have great sleep patterns so I wouldn’t need to do anything different there).
If you only change what you eat, or only increase how much exercise you do, you’ll see some weight loss but not as much as if you did both!
Get a buddy on board. Doing this with a friend is much more likely to keep you accountable. It’s great to have someone to compare notes with, to share meals and recipes and with whom to exercise. So phone a friend and make this a shared challenge!
This follows on form the ‘Be Realistic’ tip. When choosing what exercise to do, how to relieve your stress or what kind of healthy eating plan to follow, make sure that what you select is actually possible in your lifestyle and will be acceptable to you over a long period. (So don’t go on a diet which advocates fish 4 days per week if you hate fish! And don’t agree to meet a friend for 6am gym sessions when you regularly work overtime until 10pm.)
Small is beautiful. Everything that you achieve is to be praised. Every small weight loss, every increase in muscle and decrease in fat, every lost centimetre around the waist. Even no weight loss but an increase in activity daily is a big plus for positive change and brings about proven health benefits.
Don’t expect changes to occur over days, think weeks and months.
Small wins over a period of time are much more likely to result in weight loss which is sustained.
Now that you have your head sorted it’s time to look at the specifics of how dietary change can assist with weight loss and also with changing your body composition. Watch for my next blog post!