There is so much confusing and conflicting advice when it comes to weight loss.
These are key principles to focus on that will help you create lasting change.
Many of us have experienced that diets don’t work.
They might ‘work’ temporarily, but not when it comes to helping you keep the weight off.
The only way they create weight loss is by giving you rules and restrictions that reduce your calorie intake.
This puts you in a ‘calorie deficit’, which is the only way to lose body fat.
But there is no magic in the rules themselves other than that. And this is great, because it means you don’t need to cut out carbs or sugar, or eat at a certain time of day.
You just need to find a way to reduce your calorie intake, increase your daily energy expenditure, or both.
The absolute most important key point for lasting weight loss, is that those changes need to be sustainable.
Otherwise, the weight will just come back.
So, here are 10 top tips to help you lose weight and keep it off. Improving your health, enjoying your food, and creating a lifestyle you love along the way.
Tip #1 – Awareness of calories
Whether they come from the healthiest foods on earth (whatever they are) or complete junk, calories are the deciding factor when it comes to weight loss.
If you eat more calories than your body needs, even from natural foods, you’ll gain weight.
And if you live off McDonalds but your calorie intakes is less than your body needs, you’ll lose weight.
We want to find that sweet spot where you get to lose weight, feel at your best, and enjoy freedom to eat anything you love. That means mostly nutritious foods, and a bit of whatever less ‘healthy’ choices are worth it to you.
Calorie awareness will help you a lot with this goal.
You don’t need to count every calorie, but the more you can build your awareness, the more power you have to create results.
Build the habit of checking packets and portion sizes.
Look for where you can reduce portions of carbs or fats at dinner, and maybe add more veg instead.
Be aware of those snacks, bites, nibbles and drinks, and how they can add up.
And practise mindful eating – see tip 7. Even if you never count calories, this point alone will usually help you significantly reduce your intake, while still enjoying foods you love.
For a brilliant, entertaining, myth-busting book to help you understand calories and weight loss, check out The Fitness Chef – Eat What You Like and Lose Weight For Life.
Tip #2 – Focus on protein and veg
Eating enough protein and veg will maximise your nutrition, and make weight loss considerably easier.
A good aim is a palm size serving of protein in each meal, and half a plate of veg at dinner.
Protein helps you stay full for longer, supports your immune system, and helps you body maintain muscle. Muscle is vital for strength, long term health, and keeping your metabolism higher, which helps you lose fat. It also enables you to feel like a badass.
Vegetables provides fibre and water to keep you full, plus an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients for health and energy.
Tip #3 – Plan your food
Planning can make an incredible difference to your weight loss efforts.
It brings awareness to what you’re eating, helps you ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs, and reduces the likelihood of willpower failure later in the day.
If you’ve got a plan (and it’s realistic and doable), all you need to do is follow it.
No more deciding what to eat all day long. Oodles of mental energy is saved, which you can use to focus on other areas of life.
The key point, and where most people go wrong, it in the realistic and doable part.
Don’t plan the ideal diet day. Plan what you will actually want to eat.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to work for you.
That usually means mostly nutritious foods (see tip 2), but also choices that are convenient.
Plus a bit of whatever else you love now and again too, so it doesn’t feel like you’re on a diet.
Tip #4 – Aim for 7-8 hours sleep each night
Ideally, aim to get to bed at the same time each night too.
Our circadian rhythm means we do better with similar sleep times and wake times, including weekends.
We all know the wonders of sleep.
Among many other benefits, it increases energy, boosts your immune system and recovery from exercise, and reduces cravings.
These are a few tips if you struggle to get enough sleep:
- turn off screens an hour before bed (or at least put a blue light filter on them)
- keep a notepad by your bed to do a ‘brain dump’ if you have thoughts that keep you awake
- try listening to the app Calm, which has guided meditations and a library of sleep stories
- supplement with omega 3, vitamin D and magnesium (citrate or glycinate)
- get outside in morning daylight whenever you can – this helps regulate your internal body clock
- eat protein, carbohydrates and green veg in your last meal of the day – this boosts levels of tryptophan and magnesium, which can both help you sleep
- keep your bedroom cool and dark, and consider wearing an eye mask
- don’t watch TV or use your phone in bed (doing encourages your brain to associate bed with stimulation and entertainment, and we want to associate it with sleep).
Tip #5 – Increase daily steps and movement
Many people don’t realise how much of a difference daily movement makes.
For most of us, it has more impact on our weight than the deliberate exercise we do.
If you only have a few hours a week to go to the gym or do fitness classes, that’s a tiny fraction of your available time.
In a big chunk of those other waking hours, there is the potential for more movement.
This could be standing rather than sitting, using a standing desk, parking further away from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking up the escalator, playing around with your kids. All movement helps.
Step trackers are great for this, as they encourage us to do that bit extra than we normally would.
10,000 steps is a great target, but everything counts, whether it’s walking, cleaning, or dancing around at home.
It all adds up.
Tip #6 – Do regular strength training
These are just a few benefits of regular strength training:
- boosts your metabolism
- helps you tone up and wear clothes you love
- keeps your body strong
- protects bone density
- reduces your risk of injury, aches and joint problems as you get older
- makes you proud of what your body can do.
Strength training means we retain muscle, which is otherwise lost as we age.
Muscle is vital to living a long, healthy, active life.
And when it comes to weight loss, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
Losing body fat becomes easier, and you’ll notice your figure change.
I can’t emphasise enough the impact strength training can have on both your physical and mental health. It’s huge.
What counts as strength training? Anything that trains your body to get stronger.
That can be using your bodyweight, resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbells, barbells, and machines at the gym.
Many of my online clients do workouts at home using my training app.
You can find recommendations for home training equipment on my online store page here.
Tip #7 – Practise Mindful Eating
So many of us eat without being present and fully aware of what we’re consuming.
We grab food on the go, eat while we work and mindlessly snack.
Often we zone out when we feel guilty about what we’re having – overeating, not even really getting to enjoy it, and feeling worse after.
Mindful Eating means:
- checking in with your body and eating when you’re physically hungry
- eating slowly and without distractions
- noticing and enjoying each bite
- stopping when satisfied
It sounds simple, but many of us rarely do this. When practised consistently it can be an incredibly powerful tool.
For many people this concept is key to ending their weight loss struggle, and dramatically improving their relationship with food along the way.
One of the best books on this topic is The Joy of Half a Cookie – click on the link to find it on amazon.
Tip #8 – Consistency not perfection
If you’re an all or nothing person, and it’s not serving you… you can change.
‘All or nothing’ is not set in stone; it’s simply what you’ve practised.
With my clients, we work on the concept of ‘always something’.
You never have to be perfect. It’s impossible to do everything.
But what’s one thing you can do today?
It’s better to be 80% on plan consistently than to swing from 100% to 0.
It’s normal to slip up, have bad days, make mistakes.
That’s not the opposite of success, it’s part of the journey to it.
You only fail if you give up.
The key to winning at weight loss: see what you can learn, make your next choice a great one, and keep going.
Tip #9 – Focus on building habits
First you make your habits, and then your habits make you.
It’s so easy and tempting to focus on losing weight as fast as possible.
But if you want weight loss to last, you need a lifestyle you can keep living.
That takes time to build, and it requires healthy habits. We’ve talked about a few of them in this post, and here’s a summary below.
Habits for health and weight loss
- keeping aware of calories
- including protein in each meal
- eating 3-5 servings of vegetables each day
- drinking 2-3 litres of water daily
- going to bed early enough to get 7-8 hours sleep
- tracking your steps
- eating slowly and without distraction
- strength training 2-3 times per week
That’s not an extensive or completely mandatory list.
But if you worked on building those into your life, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll see results and feel amazing.
A key point with habits is that, through repetition, making time for them, and thinking about them in the best possible way (visualising the benefits they bring), they become automatic.
Established habits are part of your routine and your identity.
You do them even when you don’t feel motivated, because you love the results they contribute to.
For a brilliant book on this topic, check out Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Tip 10 – Make sure you’re enjoying it
When you’re seeking results for life, it’s vital to enjoy what you do.
Don’t wait to be happy when you reach your goal.
Make it as fun and rewarding as possible right from the start.
Practice encouraging and supporting yourself, and being proud of your efforts.
Even the little ones. The baby steps forward. They all count. Celebrate them.
This isn’t just woo woo hippy dippy stuff – it aligns with how your brain works.
Our brains are designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
When you mentally reward yourself for taking positive action, you give yourself a hit of dopamine.
Emotions are powerful and what we remember – so that pride, self-encouragement and hit of dopamine make your brain far more likely to want to repeat the positive action again.
On the flip side, if you make the process restrictive, beat yourself up for mistakes, and allow thoughts such as ‘I’ll never get there’… your brain isn’t going to want to continue down that road.
So don’t do that!
Take your time. Make it fun. Be your own best coach.
Don’t worry about how long it takes.
It’s not a race. There’s no one else to compare to.
Just keep building those habits and taking small steps forward.
One day you’ll look back and be in awe at how far you’ve come.
If you need any help, find out more about online coaching here: