How do I start losing weight?
What’s the best way to lose weight and keep it off?
Do I need to follow a diet, count calories, or just eat healthy?
These are all common thoughts and questions when it comes to the confusing world of weight loss.
In this article I want to give you a simple, low-stress and health-based solution.
Do you need to follow a diet?
NO! No no no no no.
Diets do not work long term. If you find a diet to follow, imagine still eating that way in a year’s time. Could you do it? If the thought of still eating that way doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, that diet will not work for you.
You may lose weight initially, but at some point you will either slip up because it’s too restrictive, or you’ll finish the diet, go back to eating normally, and put all the weight back on again.
If you want to lose weight for life, you need to find a way of eating that you can happily continue for life.
Do you need to count calories?
Maybe at some point.
Above everything else, weight loss comes down to consuming less calories than your body burns off, so it is extremely useful to be aware of how much you’re taking in.
But if you’ve never counted calories before, you may not need to start just yet.
I actually dislike counting calories.
Don’t get me wrong – I think it is a very valuable thing to do for many people somewhere along the line, to get a real understanding of food and what it contains.
But it’s easy to develop skewed thinking when you just look at numbers rather than the actual food itself.
Incredibly nutritious foods like avocado and olive oil become ‘danger foods’ due to their high fat content, and get swapped for low calorie processed snacks and refined oils instead.
There is a balance to be struck, and many people struggle to find it.
Food is WAY more than just calories.
There are so many INCREDIBLE healthy foods out there.
I’m talking about the raw, unprocessed, natural stuff like fresh quality meats and fish,
Fruits and vegetables in their abundance of colours, shapes and tastes,
Healthy fats that are ESSENTIAL for the healthy functioning of your body, like olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds
Herbs and spices that add so much flavour and more nutritional value to your meals.
These foods all have SO many benefits.
So many additional vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients that you just don’t find in processed and packaged ‘goods’ from the supermarket.
Your body is made up of all the things you eat.
Do you want it to be made up of quality nutrition and the best that nature can offer, or do you want it to be made up of artificial sweeteners and processed junk?
Again, don’t get me wrong. I’m far from perfect with what I eat.
But the thing is, no one needs to be (and in my opinion it’s actually quite healthy not to be).
If you’ve read some of my other posts you probably already know how much I love chocolate, cake and sticky toffee pudding. I eat sugar when I really want to, because chocolate, cake and desserts are the less healthy things that I really enjoy having. I also eat protein bars, which are processed and contain ‘unnatural’ chemical ingredients.
But I very rarely eat crisps, biscuits, pastries, fast food or ready-meals because I understand that for my body to function optimally, it needs quality foods MOST of the time.
Most of us have one or two unhealthy things we really love, and you should by all means enjoy that guilt-free every now and again.
Labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and totally avoiding all the bad stuff is not a good way to go. Anything is fine in moderation. It’s what you do the MAJORITY of the time that counts.
Your body can cope with a bit of poor nutrition every now and again, but not on a daily basis.
You might be so used to feeling tired, low on energy, and frequently suffering from colds and headaches that you don’t realise just how good you CAN feel with a better diet.
None of those symptoms should be regular occurrences. You deserve to feel ALIVE, full of ENERGY, FREE from headaches and in EXCELLENT health.
But you may need to take better care of your body in order to do so!
If you want to lose weight and be healthy, and you know your diet contains a lot of poor quality processed foods, address this first.
Cut out the foods that leave you feeling bloated or lethargic after eating them. And take out the junky/processed foods that deep down you don’t really enjoy that much anyway.
If there’s one or two processed foods you don’t want to cut out yet, that’s fine. Just cutting out some will make a big difference.
Then look at replacing those foods with healthy and nutritious alternatives.
One important point here:
It’s extremely important to appreciate, value and LOVE your body.
Whatever you think about the current state it might be in, your body is AMAZING. It is capable of so many things and it is the vessel for YOU and your life.
And it’s the only vessel you’ll ever have, so you need to nurture it and give it the care and nourishment it deserves. Do that, and it will become your best friend. But YOU need to become its best friend first.
To do that, search for new, natural foods and recipes that are packed with nutrition, that look amazing, and that will give your body everything it needs to look and FEEL amazing too.
As a basic rule, try to comprise each meal with:
- a source of protein – lean meats, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils
- a small portion of healthy fats – avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, oily fish, nuts, seeds
- vegetables and/or fruit – look for leafy greens plus colourful fruit and veg to get the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Sometimes you’ll want to add in some quality starchy carbohydrates too (before/after exercise is always a good time to do this) such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, wholemeal bread, quinoa and lentils.
You don’t need to eat like this all the time, but if you gradually build these kinds of foods and meal structures into your eating plan, you should look, feel and function a whole lot better.
Making these kinds of changes is usually enough to kick-start substantial weight loss in many people, along with becoming more aware of portion sizes and snacking habits.
If you find weight loss stalls before you reach your goal, you can either add in some more activity or another exercise session, decrease portion sizes, or start monitoring your calories for a while to work out where you’re at. I’ll cover that in a future article.
If you’re looking for some easy healthy recipes, you’ll find over 50 Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert ideas in my Healthy Recipe Ebook