For anyone who has tried losing weight, you know it isn't easy. Regardless if you were successful in losing 60 lbs or if you are annoyed with those stubborn 5 extra lbs... losing weight is tough!
Over the past year I have put on weight because of my injury. With 4 months of hardly any walking (last nov-feb) I had a hard time keeping my muscle mass. While my heart was staying strong through aerobic exercise, my fat cells enlarged (fat cells don't go away when you lose weight, they shrink) and I put on extra lbs. Over the summer, I took time to evaluate my healthy diet and what I need to do to increase my lean muscle mass. I took action and I have been steadily decreasing my fat mass and increasing my lean muscle mass. And, at the end of every day, I am not going to sit at home and complain to Karel that I need to lose weight. It is my responsiblity to evaluate my own diet as many others should do if they continue to struggle with extra lbs. So, after communicating to Karel about what I will do to lose weight in a healthy way I couldn't help but think about the struggles with weight loss. For me it was an extra 10 lbs of body fat that I put on my former "lean" IMFL body but for others it may 100 lbs. Even though I am very passionate about healthy eating and sports nutrition, I know it isn't easy to lose weight and at the end of the day it is important that I make smart nutrition choices that will allow me to have a healthy relationship with Karel and also fuel my sport. So, if you are like me and already have a healthy diet, consider weight lifting the missing link and start decreasing your body fat and increase your muscle mass by hitting the gym. As for others, you probably have a solid routine of staying active and maybe it is your eating habits that need to change. Here are my thoughts and if you still need help with your weight loss, please let me know and I'd love to help.
At the moment you realize you really need to lose weight, weeks and months have already gone by where you have unconsciously eaten your way to a higher weight. Isn't it funny how you can think back to a time when you were at a "healthy" weight (a.k.a. probably your "goal weight" at the moment) and wonder how you let yourself gain so much weight.
For some people it is just a few lbs that you want to lose in order to run a bit faster. As for others, years have gone by and 10 extra lbs turns into 30 or 40 extra lbs.
I have worked with so many people over the past two years and the weight loss stories I hear are amazing. It is those who have lost over 50 lbs that really touch my heart but when a person tells me their performance has improved by cleaning up the diet, I feel so fulfilled in what I am able to do to help people.
However, I find that the people who struggle the most with weight loss are those who only want to lose 5 lbs and it seems to be a bit easier for those looking to lose 30 or 40 lbs. So how can we all lose weight in an "easier" way without feeling restricted or alone in our weight loss endevours.
Although losing weight is never easy, most people who are focused on losing more than 10 lbs have a good idea of how they gained those extra lbs. Aside from the immediate loss in water weight when reducing calories, a simple evaluation of the daily diet can easily help someone drop 10-15 lbs in a few months. When people struggle with a few extra lbs they really don't know what to cut out because the diet is very controlled, healthy foods are already consumed and workouts are great. Now, this isn't to say that people wanting to lose 10 or more lbs don't have a healthy diet but extra lbs are caused by extra calories. Unused calories contribute to an increase in fat mass.
If you are on a quest to lose weight, understand that losing weight is not going to be easy. However, easy has nothing to do with the words awful or hate. Never tell yourself that changing eating habits is awful or that you hate your new diet plan. Ultimately, changed habits will become your new nutrition plan. Now, here is where I like to break down weight loss and help people realize that after losing unnecessary body fat eating will become a lot easier.
When starting your weight loss plan, remember that it will take time to lose weight, just like it took time to gain weight. It may not be fun to omit certain foods in the diet and to decrease portions but think about the end product and keep that in mind when attempting to change bad habits.
I don't believe in getting obsessed with your bathroom scale so take time to look at your diet and your body. Look in the mirror and pay attention to certain areas on your body where you tend to store fat. Your clothes will tell you when you decrease fat mass. It is important to focus on foods which you can omit in order to decrease calories and to steadily drop weight. If you try to lose weight in a quick, unhealthy way, you will not learn how to maintain your weight for the rest of your life. And although your goal is to change your physique to a lean or athletic build, you are not going to be very happy if you create unhealthy eating habits that make you feel like you have to eat alone to stay at your goal weight, or you fear eating around others because of your strict nutrition plan or that you will never be able to work out hard again because of your new low-calorie, unhealthy diet. In order to have a healthy diet, is wise to stay consistent with your weight loss nutrition plan on a daily basis so that when you do lose weight you can enjoy life in a healthy body, with good eating habits.
Let's look at the ways people gain weight overtime:
Do you ice cream or cereal every night before bed? How about 4 or 5 times a week? If you keep the daily calories the same every day but eat 200-300 extra calories in ice cream or cereal it may not seem so bad at the time but you could gain 1 lb in about 2-3 weeks. Now that isn't so bad if you are only eating an extra 300 calories over your recommended daily calories a few days a week but I have a feeling many athletes do not control their caloric intake on a daily basis and in addition to ice cream there are other treats in the daily diet which add extra unhealthy calories.
So, if you are a male and you eat 2800 calories 3 times a week and you are only suppose to eat 2400 calories and then you have 1 cup of ice cream 4 times a week, you are at risk of gaining 1 lb in about a 1 1/2 weeks. So, in eating just a bit more than you need every day and having a sweet treat at night a few days a week, you may gain 10 lbs in about 15 weeks. In 1 year, you could easily gain over 30 lbs. Of course this is a rough estimate but "extra" calories, small at the time, do add up.
Take some time and look at your daily diet. Is there 1 thing that you can reduce, substitute (don't eliminate foods, substitute for a healthier, lower calorie item) or decrease on a daily basis which will help you eliminate 200-300 calories a day? If you did this every day you could lose 1 lb in about a week in a half. Wait a minute, isn't that the same as not eating ice cream 4 times a week and not eating 400 extra daily calories over your recommended calories? So Marni...are you telling me that all I have to do is reduce just the ice cream and drop 200-400 calories from my diet on a daily basis I can lose 30 lbs in a year???
Reducing portions is an easy way to drop weight quickly without "missing out" on some of your favorite meals. Also, swapping the high calorie foods for lower calorie foods which are high in fiber, whole grains or protein will also contribute to more satisfying meals. And lastly, it is ok to be a little hungry between meals but it isn't ok to be starving for a meal and then overeat. Snacking is recommended to monitor blood sugar levels but even snacking on healthy food can cause a person to gain weight over time. As you attempt to lose weight in a healthy way, be sure you are communicating with others so that you can create a healthy eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle. be sure here is no sabotage from others in your attempt to reduce your portions and reduce your intake of foods which have caused you to put on lbs.
Now, here is where it gets fun. Once you lose weight you CAN eat whatever you want....on occasion. Even during your weight loss journey, it is perfectly fine to enjoy a treat or eat a little extra every now and then. Remember, weight gain happens over time because you have been eating certain foods overtime. You aren't going to gain weight by eating ice cream once a week but you will gain weight if you eat ice cream every night, every day of the week.
If you can stick to your weight loss habits, which involve restriction, discipline and will power (ugly words but they are only temporary!) there will be a day (sooner than you know) that you will not worry about going out for pizza, having ice cream for desert, going to the bakery for a nice piece of bread or enjoying a bowl of cereal for a snack, on a Sunday afternoon after long training. Those "extra" calories, one day every few weeks, will NOT cause you to put on even 1 lb.
I know it is hard as you start losing weight but be sure others are on board with you to change some habits. And if you think you are alone in losing weight, I assure you that most individuals would love to lose at least 2-5 lbs. It is important that you understand that weight loss takes time but it is only after a few days that you begin to feel and see the results.
Don't be afraid of breaking habits and missing out on your "favorite" foods. Obviously foods should be heart-healthy and nutritious to support your athletic lifestyle but at the end of the day you need to realize that any extra weight on your body was put on from a change of habits. There was a time when you had good eating habits or a lifestyle that supported your healthy eating habits and you didn't have extra calories in your diet to contribute to weight gain. When you recognize the changes that are needed for you to lose weight, your new way of eating will become a little bit easier and ultimately your ideal healthy body composition will keep you on track to live a long and healthy life.