I’ve been Personal Training for over 6 years now. In that time I’ve seen and helped a lot of people to lose a fair amount of weight. From my clients and the people I’ve spoken to, these are the common factors I’ve seen in people who have lost weight and kept it off.
1 – Embracing healthy foods
You don’t need to live off chicken, broccoli and lettuce (please don’t!) but finding ways to enjoy and appreciate healthy foods is key. Make up the vast majority of your diet with natural whole foods – vegetables, meat, fish, fruit, a few healthy fats like olive oil and avocados, and some slow digesting carbs like sweet potato, beans, pulses and oats.
Key point – find ways to ENJOY these foods. There are so many ways to cook and season them to make them taste delicious. It should never be bland and boring. Healthy foods can be exciting, colourful, and make you feel amazing. Eat them consistently for a few weeks and I guarantee you’ll feel so much better in terms of energy, and you’ll probably feel slimmer and less bloated too.
This photo is a selection of some of the healthy meals and recipes my clients enjoyed on one of our ‘Weight Loss Wednesday’ food photo days. Looks alright doesn’t it?!
2 – Still enjoying your favourite indulgence
We all have something that we love that wouldn’t normally fit into a healthy eating plan. Chocolate and wine tend to be the big winners! (For me it’s chocolate. And sticky toffee pudding…) It’s important not to deprive yourself completely of these things (unless they trigger binges and you’re better off without them). For most people having the freedom to have a bit of what you fancy when you fancy it is a big key in their long term success.
And there are no foods or drinks that cause you to gain weight on their own. It’s only when they contribute to you consuming too many overall calories that they become a problem. I recommend allocating around 10% of your calories to things that aren’t perfect, but that you really enjoy having. For a woman on 1600 calories, that’s 160 calories per day, or around 1120 calories per week.
This could be a takeaway or meal out on one night of the week, or 4 small glasses of wine and 2 small bars of chocolate spaced out over the week. You just need to make sure the other 90% of your calories are coming largely from the ‘good stuff’ so you still get the quality nutrition your body needs.
Yep, I totally did eat this amazing sticky toffee pudding, and it was worth every incredibly delicious calorie!
3 – Tracking food intake
It’s amazing how much we underestimate the amount we eat.
Studies show most people under-report what they take in each day, some by up to 50%!
You can track your intake with a simple food diary, and just the act of having to write everything down can make you stop and think before you eat that biscuit…
Taking photos of every meal is another good tool to analyse your intake.
For highest accuracy, using an app like My Fitness Pal can be a massive help to show how many calories you’re consuming each day. Be prepared to get detailed and weigh things out that you’re unsure of, even just for the first few times to check where you’re at. It’s highly likely you’re having more than you realise somewhere. Most people are. Making small adjustments to your portion sizes will make a big difference long term.
This is a photo food diary of my day of eating. Photographing can help to assess portions, check you’re getting enough protein and veg, and put you off eating little extras.
4 – Cutting out unnecessary calories
Calories are crucial when you want to lose weight and keep it off. We all want to enjoy our favourite foods, and you totally CAN enjoy the chocolate / glass of wine / pudding every now and again and still lose weight, IF you make sure you’re not wasting calories elsewhere.
Cutting out the ‘because they were there’ biscuits with your tea at work, stopping yourself from eating the kid’s leftovers, avoiding snacking before dinner, and leaving food when you’re full can all add up to a lot of calories. Swap these for something you REALLY enjoy and you’re winning.
Emty calories…tasty, yes, but probably not most satisfying empty calories you could go for…
5 – Doing exercise you ENJOY
There’s so many different types of exercise out there. Find something that gets you EXCITED to do it, that you find FUN and look forward to. It could be strength training, circuit training, playing a sport, walking, dancing, hiking, cycling, running, swimming, Zumba, that new class where you dance around with glow sticks in the dark…WHATEVER gets you moving and enjoying it is a good thing. If you like it, you’ll keep doing it, and that’s the key.
Recent research points to around 2500 calories worth of exercise per week being a bit of a ‘magic number’ when it comes to keeping weight off. How much do you do?
Three of my awesome clients voluntarily doing a Sunday weights session with the prowler. Champions! 🙂
6 – Walking
Before I got a fitbit, I thought I did a lot of steps. Turns out I was averaging around 5000 on a day at the gym, which is pretty poor (especially for a personal trainer!) Now I aim to get in a 45-60 minute walk most days, on top of my other training. I definitely think it’s helped me maintain my weight during the odd ‘splurge weekend’. It’s also a brilliant thing to do on holiday to counteract the extra food and drink. On recent city breaks in Rome and Dubrovnik I most definitely made the most of the opportunity to sample local cuisine (ice cream, pizza, pasta, desserts…) but the amount of walking we did meant I hardly gained any weight despite a LOT of extra calories being consumed.
Walking benefits anyone at any age. It’s easy to do, low impact and provides enough stimulus to lower your risk of osteoporosis as you get older. 10,000 steps is the recommended amount and SHOULD be doable for most people. Walk more, park further away, use the stairs not the lift or escalator, go out on your lunch break, take a slightly longer route to work. It all adds up.
Whenever you can, walk in nature. When you’ve got stress, work and kids to deal with, you need a bit of greenery in your life whenever you can get it. If you’re on your own, there are some brilliant mindset-related books and podcasts you can listen to (just comment b
elow if you’d like some recommendations).
Even when it’s pouring with rain, you can still get those steps in and enjoy them with a good podcast 🙂
Hope that helps, let me know your thoughts in the comments below and please share this post if you found it useful.
Hayley Plummer – Haywards Heath Personal Trainer specialising in weight loss for women.