When you are trying to lose weight it is information and knowledge that will set you free. You need to know all the pitfalls that are out there and you need to be aware of every little trick that can help you on your journey. You also need to know how to stop it from coming back. This post is your ultimate guide to losing weight for good. I hope it helps you.
The low down
This post has a lot of information to digest so I have broken it down into some sections so you can read a little bit and then come back to it. I urge you not to skip anything though as each part is as important as the last. The sections include:
- Preparing to lose weight, becoming the warrior
- Proper food and drinks
- Exercising for smart weight loss
- Maintaining the weight
- Tips to help you on your way
Start at the beginning and work your way through. And if you fall off the weight loss track as the weeks and months go by you can always head back here for more information or to get your priorities set nicely again.
Preparing to lose weight, becoming the warrior
The first thing I want to talk about in this post is the fact that you need the right mental attitude. If you approach weight loss with anything less than a warrior mentality you are going to fail. Simple. The most important part of losing weight is the warrior mentality.
Goals that mean something
Sit down somewhere quiet and think of why you want to lose weight. Try to come up with at least five really solid reasons that mean something to you. It might be that you want to live longer in order to accomplish some goal. Whatever the motivations try to make sure it is something that has an affect on you deeply. You are going to need these reasons on those days where you don’t feel like getting up and going to the gym.
Role models that do something
The next thing you need to do is find a role model that helps inspire you. This could be someone you know or someone that you don’t know but respect. Many men choose people like Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali. These are great athletes who represent discipline and mental toughness. Find your role model and look up some information about them. Perhaps even read their biography. This will give you the inspiration you need to stop you from becoming weak in the mind.
Proper food and drinks
Now that you have sorted out your mental preparation we need to get on to the most important thing of your weight loss journey. Your diet. Without the proper food and drinks it is impossible to succeed on this journey. You see, women need to be calorie perfect because, unlike men, we do not have testosterone to help us along the way. If our diet falters then our weight loss will as well. Get your diet right if you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off.
The mathematics of weight loss
The sad part about weight loss is that it is mostly, in the long term, about maths. You see, if you want to lose weight you need to be burning more calories than you take in. If you have excess calories in your diet they are going to be converted into fat stores. And the thing that most women don’t realize is that over a number of years those calories add up. Take a look:
If you have a can of Coke with lunch everyday of the week you are taking in 155 calories x seven days a week. That is 1085 calories a week. Now, there are 3500 calories per pound of body fat. So, if you take in 1085 calories from one can of Coke per day in three weeks you have added a pound of fat. That is 17 pounds per year. Just from your daily Coke.
Now, don’t panic. Weight loss is more complicated than that. It is not that black and white. The point of the above example is to show you how important your diet is going to be over the course of your life. Every little thing you take in each day will add up to extra pounds.
Eating well vs running
The most important thing you need to realize after seeing that mathematical example is that eating well is so so so much easier than running and burning the calories. All you have to do is leave the can of Coke in the fridge and you have effectively burned 155 calories from your diet. That is a good 20 minutes on the treadmill. Now, when you do go to the treadmill, you are going to be burning other calories and that means you are going to lose weight a lot faster than if you had that Coke with lunch. Remember this: eating well is so much easier than running.
Foods to avoid for long term success
Weight loss is really about discovering what foods you need to avoid. It is the things you remove from your diet that will make the difference, not the things you add. And the main thing to remember here is that you need to remove unnatural foods that are made up of empty calories. Let me explain what empty calories are.
Empty calories are calories that you get from foods that provide no nutritional benefit. Take a packet of chips as an example. From this packet of chips you might get 30 grams of fat and a couple of hundred calories. But you got zero nutritional benefit. It didn’t give you any minerals, vitamins or proteins. On the other hand, if you had a salad with some cheese you might get the same amount of calories and fat but you also got tonnes of goodness that helps your body function properly. It is a massive difference.
Try to avoid things like:
- Soft drink and sodas full of sugar
- Deep fried and shallow fried foods which add calories for no reason
- Baked goods like crisps and biscuits which are full of fat and sugar
- White bread, rice and pasta which contain a lot of empty calories
- Highly processed foods with lots of preservatives
Instead you need to be eating natural things like fruit and vegetables and raw milk. As a general rule of thumb, the less man has had to do with the creation of the food the better. If you can get it straight out of the ground or right off the tree you are going to lose weight very fast. And your health is going to improve more than you can imagine.
The myth of fat-free
It is high time the women of the world learned that fat-free is a marketing ploy that has very little to do with losing weight. Fat free meals are, 90% of the time, bad for your waist line. Please take this information in. Fat does not make you fat. Some fats are good for you. Fat free foods are generally packed full of sugar – and sugar makes you fat. Sugar is the worst of all the empty calories, and half the time you will find that fat free meals are full of it. Next time you buy something that is fat free and claims to be good for your weight loss take a look at the nutritional information. I bet it is full of sugar.
Portion sizes and frequency
The common thought amongst diet experts is that six small meals a day is the way to go if you want to lose weight. The idea is that by eating smaller meals more often you keep your metabolism burning and this uses a lot of calories. But this idea is completely useless if you are taking in a lot more calories than your body is able to burn for energy. If eating six small meals a day instead of three main ones means you are taking in hundreds more calories then the idea is mute.
Earlier this year I switched to three strict meals a day as I got a new orthodontic treatment that only lets me eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. And as a result I lost four kilograms in the space of about two months, doing nothing new or different on the exercise front. I must have been taking in way too many calories with the six meals a day philosophy. Try both and see which one works for you.
Exercising for smart weight loss
Now that we have covered the diet elements we can move on to exercising for smart weight loss. Please note that the key word here is “smart”, not “exercise”. It is really important that we exercise in a way that sets us up for success, not failure.
Understand that anything is better than nothing
Some women I know actually talk themselves out of exercise because they think that, unless you do a solid hour, you are wasting your time. This is a grave mistake. When it comes to exercise it is vital that you understand that something is better than nothing. Think back to the above point about the mathematics of weight loss. If you can only get time for a 20 minute walk you are still going to burn off a can of Coke worth of calories. Sure, its not a 60 minute weights and rowing session at the gym, but it will help. Any exercise is better than no exercise.
High intensity is better than low intensity
I have talk about this lots of times here on the site but I need to rehash it here again for this guide to losing weight. High intensity exercise is always a better option than low intensity. Why?
- It burns more calories
A shorter session of intense exercise burns more calories during the session than a long slow workout. This means you are using your time effectively.
- It keeps your metabolism up
A high intensity bike ride, run or boxing class will keep your metabolism cranking for hours after the workout has finished. This means you will be burning calories even when the workout has finished. And that is a very valuable thing.
The downside about high intensity workouts is that your body can overdo it. If you workout at the gym five times a week and do hard stuff every time you are going to burn out in a few months. So, try to make your high intensity sessions fewer but more intense. For example, if you workout four times a week try to make two of them super intense and then leave the other two for slower weight training or a longer more relaxing jog. This will keep your body well rested and well worked.
Variety is the key to long term dedication
One thing I have noticed over the years is that the women who stick to their exercise programs use a lot of variety. They are loyal and dedicated to fitness as a whole, not to one particular form of exercise. Sure, there are those amazing women who can go to a yoga class every day for ten years but for the most of us we need to inject some variety into the routine in order to keep it exciting.
The good news is that in today’s fitness obsessed society there are so many different things to try. There is no way we will ever get bored. Some ideas include:
- The regulars like running on the treadmill, cross trainer or riding on the exercise bike
- Weight training or doing home workouts
- Kickboxing or some other martial art classes
- Going for hikes in the hills with friends
- Taking classes like yoga or pump or step
- Going for bike rides with the family
Variety is also important because it stops your body from getting stuck on a plateau. Fitness is all about pushing your body to a new level and then letting it adapt. The body always adapts so you have to keep pushing it to new levels. Changing your regular exercise routine is one way to do this.
Women must weight train
So many women still avoid weight training because they are worried about putting on muscle and looking like a bulky man. It is a myth that needs to be busted because it really isn’t true. Women simply do not have the chemical make up in their body to become really massive. In fact, the only thing that will happen with weight training is that your body will become leaner, tighter and more toned. You won’t get bigger. Weight training is really important because it burns a lot of calories while keeping your healthy and strong.
There are so many benefits to weight training and one of them is that you feel amazing after a workout because your body has released so many endorphins. Some things to remember:
- Learn the correct way
Get a trainer and learn how to lift weights correctly before you go out lifting like a crazy woman. These things can cause some pretty serious long term injuries if you don’t do it correctly. For this reason I always tell my friends to start off with the machines because they are designed to keep the movement safe and controlled. They will also help to teach you the proper form.
- Use free weights
Once you are proficient with the machines you should move onto the free weights exercises that use dumbbells, barbells and your own body weight. Why? Because these exercises are unbalanced and require that you use more muscles to keep stabilized. And more muscles means a more complete and intense workout.
- Keep it short
Don’t workout for two hours at a time. Mix your weights session with your cardio session and do some running on the treadmill followed by some jumping squats and pushups. It is wonderful if you can mix cardio and weight training together as you will really get your heart racing.
This blog has some pretty comprehensive articles about weight training and all the different exercises that are available to you. I recommend going back through them for some inspiration and then start adding weight training sessions to your workout at least twice a week for the rest of your life.
So how often do I need to exercise?
Here is where things get tricky. Finding the time to exercise is really hard and, unfortunately, studies show us that we need a fair amount in order to maintain our weight. In fact, a recent study revealed that you need about an hour of exercise everyday in order to keep the weight off. To be honest I find this a little difficult to believe. I would love to know some important details like: did they weight train, did they do high intensity workouts, how were their diets, did they exercise before breakfast, etc.
I do not believe that you need an hour a day, everyday, in order to lose weight and then maintain that weight. I think it depends heavily on how good your diet is and how well you exercise when you do actually do it. However, I do think you need at least four solid sessions per week. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do something significant like run, box, go to a yoga class, etc. Anything less than this amount and you will struggle to notice any changes.
Maintaining the weight
Perhaps the hardest part of any weight loss program is maintaining the weight once you have reached your goal. In fact, I have heard statistics that something like 95% of women will go back to their old weight within two years of losing it. That is very depressing. It is important that you get the right information and discipline in order to make sure you are the 5% that stay lean, sexy and healthy.
Make habits for life
When you begin to lose weight it is important that you make habits for life instead of just temporary changes. You see, the main reason that women go back to their old shape is because they go back to their old way of eating. And the real cause of this is the concept of dieting. Dieting is not a good idea because it gives you the idea that it is only for a period of time. Rather, you need to make habits that will last the rest of your life. Sustainable changes like eating less processed food and more fruits and vegetables. If you are just trying to find a diet that will help you lose weight fast then you are in trouble because that weight will come back, 95% of the time.
Science is continually discovering new things about the body and the way it operates. Fitness experts and dietitians are constantly coming out with new data about how you can lose weight and keep it off. So keep learning. Keep reading about these things and stay up to date with the modern schools of thoughts. This is advantage that will really help you along the way because you will find more efficient and healthy practices.
Remember the motivation
Remember the start of this post we talked about finding the strong motivation that you can call upon. Don’t forget it now just because you have achieved your goal. In fact, now is the most important time to remember it because it is after the weight is gone that most women fail. It is a lot like quitting smoking, lots of people can do it but most of them relapse. You need to remember your goals about living longer for your children, avoiding serious diseases and having a better quality of life now more than ever.
Tips to help you on your way
To conclude this guide I have put together a list of tips from this site and from around the web that will help you along your weight loss journey. As I mentioned before, knowledge is power. The more you can know about a topic the more able you will be to make the right decision. Take some time to read these great sites or bookmark this post and come back to them when you need more information or inspiration.
- How to get more energy and never feel tired
This post will help you feel more alive and energetic which is really important if you are going to be getting up early for all those hard training sessions.
- What is better, the treadmill or the cross trainer
A little article about determining which cardio machine is best for weight loss at your gym.
- Tips on how to start jogging
A good list of tips from a great website. Sometimes you need some help to start jogging.
- Some meals for weight loss
Reader’s Digest is one of my favorite magazines and they have a great online section devoted to meals that help you lose weight.
- Good fats vs bad fats
It is important to know what kind of fats you should be eating. Yes you should be eating them.
- How to beat depression
Sometimes we eat badly because we are feeling bad. This post helps you to deal with depression without food.
- How to start weight lifting
A few tips on how to get started with those weights. Ladies only.
- The benefits of fruits
A great list of different types of fruit and their nutritional benefits
If you have any tips of your own or would like to add to this guide I would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment and hopefully we will get some good discussions going. Also if you know of any other super helpful posts please let us know and we can add them to the list.