There is so much confusing and conflicting advice when it comes to how to lose weight.
It can feel pretty overwhelming right?
Where do you even start?!
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In this post are key principles to focus on that will help you create lasting change.
Please note, you don’t have to do all of them all at once.
Pick 1-3 that you can start or improve, work on them until they are established, and then add something else if needed. Everything you do will make a difference – even if you don’t see it straight away.
Before we begin, let’s just quickly establish:
How diets work (and why they don’t)
All diets, however they’re set up, give 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 specific rules themselves other than that. And this is great, because it means you don’t need to cut out foods you love, drink celery juice, eat vastly different meals to your family, or do anything else you don’t want to do.
You just need to find a doable way to reduce your calorie intake, increase your daily energy expenditure, or both.
The crucial point for lasting weight loss, is that those changes need to be sustainable.
Which means they also need to be at least somewhat enjoyable, so that you’re happy to keep doing them.
Otherwise, you won’t maintain the changes, and the weight will just come back.
Most diets don’t teach you the tools and habits that will help you keep your results – you either have to follow them (or keep going back to them) for life, or you end up regaining the weight.
They also often encourage a poor relationship with food – leading you to see foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and feel guilty or like you’ve failed if you eat something ‘bad’.
In reality, no foods are good or bad. Some support your body and your goals and are great to include. Some just taste amazing and are totally fine to enjoy too. It’s all about finding balance and making choices that feel best for you.
So, here are 11 top tips to help you lose weight and keep it off.
Improving your health, building a healthy relationship with food, and creating a lifestyle you love along the way.
Tip #1 – Awareness of calories
Whether they come from the healthiest foods on earth 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 healthy natural foods, you will gain weight.
And if you live on meals from McDonalds and KFC but your calorie intakes is less than your body needs, you’ll lose weight (but probably not feel amazing).
So we want to find the sweet spot where you can 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 of them, the more power you have to create results.
This means it really helps to build the habit of checking packets and portion sizes.
Look for where you can reduce portions of carbs or fats at dinner, and add more veg to bulk out the meal instead.
Be aware of snacks, bites, nibbles and drinks, and how they can add up.
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
Protein is a game-changer for so many women.
Eating more of it keeps you fuller for longer, and reduces cravings for snacks.
Protein helps us maintain muscle, recover from exercise, and stay strong as we get older.
From around the age of 30, we gradually start to lose muscle mass, and this accelerates after menopause.
Less muscle means a body that’s more prone to aches, pains, falls and injury, and a lower metabolism (meaning we need to eat less calories to maintain weight).
Not good. But, eating enough protein (and doing resistance training) are two big things we can do about it, that make a huge difference.
So how much protein is enough?
Well, 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. As an example, if your goal weight is 70kg (11 stone, or 154lbs):
70 x 1.5 = 105g
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, to top up your intake.
Whey protein can be a super convenient option for many women.
Find out about the benefits of protein powder, where to get, what to do with it, and more in this article I wrote here:
And obviously, we all know the benefits of veggies. They provides fibre and water to keep you full, plus an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients for health and energy.
Aiming for half a plate of veg (fresh or cooked from frozen, roasted, steamed, stir-fried, whatever) at dinner is a great way to boost your intake. It also means there’s only room for smaller portions of carbs and fat, so you’ll automatically reduce your calorie intake while enjoying the same amount of food. Double win.
Tip #3 – Plan your food (make it quick and doable)
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 many people slip up, it in the realistic and doable part.
Don’t plan the ideal diet day. Plan what you will actually be happy 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
When it comes to how to lose weight and keep it off, getting enough sleep is a key factor.
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:
- 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).
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.
Tip #5 – Daily steps and movement
Many people don’t realise how much of a difference a bit of extra movement can make.
For most of us, our general daily movement 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 very small fraction of the time when you’re awake.
But in a big chunk of those other waking hours, even when you’re busy doing other activities, 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, going out for a 5 minute walk at lunch, dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner. All movement helps. It all adds up.
Step trackers are great for this, as they encourage us to do that bit extra more than we normally would.
10,000 steps is a good target for many, but what’s most important is doing a bit more than you’re doing now (if you can). Adding 1000 steps per day to whatever you currently do will take about 10 minutes of extra walking – over time, this can add up to make an incredible difference.
Tip #6 – Regular strength training
When they think about how to lose weight, many people don’t consider strength training.
But it makes an incredible difference to incorporate it into your life (and it doesn’t have to be in the gym).
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 your bone density
- reduces your risk of injury, aches and joint problems as you get older
- improves your chances of living longer
- 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.
So 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.
If you’re interested, you can find recommendations for home training equipment on my online store page here.
There are also plenty of ideas for resistance training on my Instagram page here – @hayleyplummerpt
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.
I also wrote a post all about this topic here:
Tip #8 – Setting up your Environment for Success
Your environment will play a key role in your weight loss, and there are plenty of ways you can influence it.
Look for ways to make healthy choices easier, and less-healthy choices harder.
These are some examples that clients have found helpful when it comes to food:
- keep healthier snack choices (like fruit, babybels, boiled eggs, meat slices, high protein yogurt, protein powder) in places where you’ll see them first when you open the fridge or cupboard
- keep less healthy snack choices out of sight – in a drawer or low shelf in the fridge, or in an opaque box on a high shelf in the cupboard
- homemade healthy snacks (like my Chocolate Banana Bread or Chocolate and Fig Protein Balls) can help to keep in stock – cut them into slices and freeze them if you find it hard to stop at one
- always have frozen vegetables in the freezer
- frozen fruit (like berries and bananas) can be useful for blitzing into smoothies or microwaving to eat with yogurt
- keep protein powder and protein bars in stock for quick and easy meals or snacks
- have an emergency ready meal in the fridge or freezer
- have a pre-planned super easy back-up meal, for when you don’t have much time or energy to cook (examples could be egg or beans on toast, a stir fry, or fajitas)
- keep a protein bar in your bag when out and about
- cook extra portions of dinner to have for lunch, or as an easy future dinner
These are some examples clients have found helpful when it comes to exercise:
- wear your workout clothes on days when you want to exercise
- leave your trainers by the door to make it easier to go out for a walk
- make exercise equipment visible in your home on days you want to use it
- keep a pair of walking shoes (and perhaps a waterproof jacket) at work so you can walk at lunch
- keep spare gym kit in your car, so you can always fit in a gym session if the opportunity arises
Tip #9 – 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. And 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.
And it’s totally 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 from slip ups, have self compassion, make your next choice a great one, and keep going.
Tip #10 – Focus on building habits
First you create your habits, and then your habits create you.
It’s easy, and very 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.
If you’re losing weight fast by making changes you know you can’t sustain, chances are you’ll end up gaining that weight back.
On the flip side, if you’re losing weight slowly (maybe some weeks not losing anything at all) but you’re building better habits, and improving on any of the tips already mentioned in this post…
Chances are you’ll achieve great results over time (as long as you keep going – don’t give up!) and have everything in place to be able to keep them.
Here’s a quick summary of some habits we’ve talked about so far:
How to lose weight – Key Habits:
- 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 #11 – How to Lose Weight (and keep it off) – Make Sure you Enjoy the Process
When you’re seeking results for life, it’s vital to enjoy what you do.
Don’t wait until you reach your goal before you allow yourself to be happy (you won’t get there if you do this, because the process will be miserable and you’ll end up self-sabotaging to feel better).
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.
And when you mentally reward yourself for taking positive action, you give yourself a little hit of dopamine.
Emotions are powerful – they’re what our brains remember. So that pride, self-encouragement and boost 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.
For more on enjoying the process, check out my article here:
How to Lose Weight Bonus Tip – Seek 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.
You have so much to think about in life already. Having support, guidance and accountability from a coach can be the missing piece to help you finally achieve the results you’ve always wanted.
Coaching can simplify the process, help you focus on what really works, and empower you to create a lifestyle that works for you.
Find out more about Online Weight Loss Coaching here:
I hope this post helps – if you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2022.