A selection of weight loss tips from my online coaching client Sharon, who has lost an incredible 60lbs and transformed her health and fitness along the way.
In a recent episode on my podcast (Think Healthy With Hayley – episode 60), I interviewed the lady herself.
Losing 60lbs eating foods she loves
Going from back pain on short walks, to being pain free and about to go hiking in the Lake District
Healthy habits Sharon has built
Overcoming binge eating and diet mentality
Mindset shifts, vision boards, strength training and more
What Sharon has learned, what’s helped her most, and advice she’d give to others.
It’s a brilliant episode, and I highly recommend checking it out.
Sharon’s weight loss tips
Sharon summed up her transformation with this:
Life is soo much better after learning not to use food as an emotional crutch. I have lost 60lbs so far and can honestly say it has been without deprivation or a painful exercise regime (my previous default system).
She also listed the key focus points and lessons that have helped her most.
Each headline below is a tip that Sharon gave, listed in the order she gave them.
I’ll elaborate on each one to give more context and ideas that might help.
Let’s dive in.
Get professional support
Many women get to the point where they’ve tried various diets and are left feeling lost, frustrated and confused.
If that’s you, seeking professional guidance from a nutritionist, personal trainer, or weight loss coach (I am all three) can make a huge difference.
They can help to simplify the process, focus on what really works, and support you in creating a lifestyle that works for you.
Find out more about Online Coaching here – Benefits of Having an Online Weight Loss Coach.
Eating more protein keeps you fuller for longer, and reduces cravings for snacks. Protein is also the building block of our muscles, helping us stay strong and recover from exercise.
From around the age of 30, we gradually start to lose muscle mass, and this accelerates after menopause. We also become less efficient at digestion and using protein as we get older.
So for optimal health and body function, we need to make sure we’re eating enough of this vital macronutrient.
How much is enough?
If we’re being specific, 1.5g per kg of your ideal bodyweight is a good number to aim for.
Higher or slightly lower than this is fine too. For example, if your ideal weight is 65kg (10 stone 3lbs, or 143lbs):
65 x 1.5 = 97.5g
For most women, 90-120g protein is a good range.
If you’re not counting grams, aim for a palm size serving of protein in each meal (you could also have a high protein snack, like Greek yogurt with fruit, or a protein shake.
Such a powerful tool for weight loss, and for living your best life.
Resistance training helps you build and maintain muscle – keeping your body strong, protecting your bones, and boosting your metabolism.
It also helps you see noticeable changes in your figure, and get the ‘toned’ feeling that boosts confidence and makes you feel amazing in clothes you love.
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns each day.
Doing big compound movements (highly effective exercises that work lots of muscles and multiple joints) like squats, deadlifts, push ups, rows, presses and pulldowns, keeps you strong and able to do all the movements the human body is designed to do.
You’ll be less likely to suffer aches and pains, and more likely to be enjoying life to the full for decades to come.
Sharon trains at home with resistance bands, dumbells, and a second hand barbell that she bought a few months into our coaching. She’s now turned her spare room into a home gym, which I think is absolutely beyond awesome.
Training at the gym is fantastic for being able to use a variety of equipment and keep building strength, but you can get a lot out of workouts at home too.
The majority of my clients are busy working mums and do resistance training at home to save time. To find useful home training equipment, check out my store page HERE.
Podcasts & books
Mindset is often the deciding factor when it comes to weight loss.
Most of us know enough about what we should be doing, it’s just really hard to keep doing it.
We struggle with motivation, self sabotage, self criticism, negative thinking, and a lack of ‘willpower’.
Often we aren’t fully aware of the thoughts and habits that hold us back – they run in the background, causing us to repeat the same patterns over and over again.
Podcasts and books are two brilliant self development tools that can help with this.
Podcasts are a goldmine of both information and inspiration, and best of all, they’re free.
These are a few of Sharon’s favourites:
- Losing 100lbs with Corinne – Corinne Crabtree
- Mindset with Muscle – Jamie Alderton
- Think Healthy with Hayley (that’s me!)
There are so many brilliant books about mindset, nutrition, weight loss, or a combination of those topics.
Sharon highly recommends the three below:
- Not a Diet Book (James Smith)
- Eat What you Like and Lose Weight for Life (The Fitness Chef)
- Chasing Cupcakes (Elizabeth Benton)
Find these, and a few other brilliant books, on my Store page HERE.
Daily walking is an incredibly underrated activity.
It’s so powerful for weight loss, as well as your physical and mental health.
If you’re walking with a bit of impact – like hiking, going up and down steps or hills, climbing over the odd stile – you’re helping protect your bone density too.
Sharon started with short flat walks, and couldn’t go far without experiencing back pain.
She ordered a fitbit at the start of coaching and – as she got fitter, stronger and the pain reduced – built her steps up.
Now, Sharon averages an amazing 15,000 steps each day.
The pain is long gone, and it’s very likely down to a combination of these factors:
- Resistance training helped build strength in her hips, back and glutes
- Eating better (more natural foods and protein) gives the body more nutrients to repair and recover
- Building activity up gradually allows the body to adapt
- Weight loss (through a calorie deficit) reduces the stress on joints
Batch cooking can be a brilliant time saver for weight loss.
Meals such as casseroles, chilli, curry, and stews work very well cooked up and portioned out for the week ahead. Some can be placed in the freezer for an easy meal at a later date, and many taste even better a few days after they’ve been cooked up.
When you get to eat a nutritious home cooked meal, with no prepping or cooking required (because you already did it), that’s a win.
Sharon found weekend batch cooking made a big difference, and gave her more time to get out for walks during busy weeks at work. The photos above are all examples of Sharon’s epic Sunday cooking sessions.
To lose weight and keep it off for good, you need to lose it in a way you can live it.
That means planning in less healthy foods you love, and enjoying them guilt-free.
Having experienced various diets, Sharon found this concept really helpful. Nothing off limits – just make sure you slowly and mindfully enjoy every bite.
So often we feel guilty for eating foods, or binge on them mindlessly when we’re stressed.
If you love it, plan it in. Give yourself time to get the most from it – noticing each delicious bite and stopping when you’ve had enough. You can always have more later.
Seeing it this way can remove the ‘f*** it’ mentality of deciding to eat it all now before you have to ‘start again’.
It can also help to think about saving calories for the best of what you love. Planning in the treats that feel most worth it to you can help you say no to other choices that are ‘nice’ but not ‘awesome’.
Over time, saying no to the generic choices that aren’t that great can save you thousands of calories. Some of those can be spent on your favourite indulgences, and some can be banked for weight loss.
NEAT stands for ‘Non Exercise Activity Thermogenisis’. It basically means any movement we do that isn’t deliberate exercise. It’s very powerful tool for health and weight loss that can make a huge impact on progress, and it’s something that most people aren’t really aware of.
The majority of us non-athletes only have time to do a few hours of exercise each week. But there are all the other waking hours each day when we have the opportunity to be moving more in small ways, and thus increasing our NEAT.
Examples of this are cleaning, fidgeting, dancing around the kitchen while cooking dinner, walking while talking on the phone, using a standing desk, and parking further away than you need to so you can get a few extra steps in.
All of these little movements can add up to a significant amount of extra calories burned over the course of the day.
A good way to measure your activity is to use a step tracker, such as a fitbit or apple watch. While they won’t capture every aspect of NEAT (like standing when you could be sitting, or just being a fidget), they give a useful indication of how much you’re doing. Most people find that wearing one encourages them to do more steps, and that’s always a good thing.
If you can find ways to increase your NEAT, you’ll boost your health and weight loss.
So many of us could benefit enormously from getting more sleep.
A good bedtime routine and consistent sleep pattern (keeping to similar times even at weekends) can make a world of difference to your energy, hunger, cravings, mood and more.
The infographic shows some key tips that can help improve the quality of your Zzzzs.
If you find your brain switches on just as you’re wanting to drift of, try keeping a notepad by your bed to write down your thoughts. Getting them out on paper can help your mind relax. Avoiding screens (especially social media or the news) and listening to a meditation or sleep story can help this too.
In terms of nutrition, a dinner that contains protein provides your body with tryptophan – the precursor to serotonin – which can help you sleep better. Protein and carbs can help your body feel full, and keep your blood sugar levels stable through the night.
Magnesium citrate or glycinate (not oxide, which is poorly absorbed by the body), can be a useful supplement that has calming effects and regulates melatonin.
Tracking your data
When it comes to weight loss, there is so much more to track than just your weight.
Sharon found tracking her data extremely helpful for motivation – making plans, writing lists and ticking things off.
These are ideas for what you can track when it comes to health and fitness:
- Weight – not the only form of data and always not the most reliable (as it’s affected by hormones, carbs, salt, sleep, stress and more) but still important. Sharon has a chart tracking her progress towards her ultimate target weight.
- BMI – seeing this drop towards the healthy weight zone can be a good motivator for some
- Measurements – sometimes your weight won’t change much for a few weeks or more, but your measurements show that things are happening. My clients take waist, hips, arms and thigh measurements every 2-4 weeks.
- Item of clothing – not strictly ‘data’ but trying on something that’s a bit tight, and feeling it start to fit you better, is another good way of tracking progress
- Food intake – obviously extremely important when it comes to weight loss. Keeping a food diary or using an app such as my fitness pal can both work very well. Sharon found it most helpful to use a photo food diary called See How You Eat – I highly recommend this too.
- Steps – using a fitbit or other step tracker will help boost your NEAT and can improve weight loss
- Training – keeping track of your strength and fitness, and aiming to improve them over time, is hugely motivating.
Self love and a vision board
You can’t shame and criticise your way to weight loss success.
A very small percentage of people might be able to temporarily reach their goal via that method (and a restrictive diet), but they very quickly slide back.
Constant self criticism results in self sabotage. All the great things you do won’t feel good enough, and the slightest slip up will feel like failure.
So for weight loss success, you have to be on your side. Supporting yourself, encouraging yourself, looking for wins.
It didn’t come naturally to her, but Sharon embraced this concept and found it transformative. It has become one of the key factors that led to her success.
And finally, a vision board. This is a board that you can display in your house, and fill with images that represent your goals, dreams and aspirations in life. There are many good examples online if you’re interested in creating one yourself.
Vision boards help you remember your goals and inspire you to keep taking action towards them.
You can collect pictures (some people like to add words or quotes too) from magazines or print them from the internet.
It’s a great motivational tool that can be fun to create too.
Update: She did it…
This is Sharon in May 2021, completing a major goal of hiking in the Lake District.
She posted this photo in my private online coaching Facebook group, along with the message below:
Well 6 days of walking down in the fabulous Lake District ~c180,000 steps completed and I’ve been up pretty high. Very proud how far I’ve come from not being able to walk more than 20 minutes last September without major back pain setting in.
Amazing, and what a fantastic achievement. Well done Sharon!
So there you have it.
The key habits and concepts that have helped Sharon lose 60lb and transform her health, fitness and mindset along the way.
Don’t forget to check out the podcast to hear the lady herself:
And if you’d like to find out more about online coaching, you can do so by clicking this link: