Are You Still Searching for the Best Diet Plan or Workout to Lose Weight?

I know, trying to lose weight can be frustrating…but don’t sweat it, I’m here to help!

 

Greetings friends, it’s officially that time of the year again! 

You know, January — the only month when gyms approach their maximum capacity thanks to all the ‘resolutioners‘ coming out of the woodwork.  It’s also the month when Google searches spike drastically for things like, “how do I lose weight fast?”, “what is the best diet plan?”, and “workout routine for weight loss”.   

Despite the very real influx of effort and the best of intentions, January is also the month when the majority of our New Years resolutions get broken, forgotten, and thrown to the wayside.  

But not this year.  No way, this year is going to be entirely different (or so you tell yourself).  But for how many years now have you realistically been telling that same story?  More importantly, what lifestyle changes have you already committed to that will set this year apart from the rest?  

Read: Why New Years Resolutions are for Suckers

Let’s be honest, losing weight is no easy task.  It often takes months, years, or even decades to put on the weight.  Yet we naively expect to find a magic pill that will instantly shave off 45 pounds and leave us with abs worthy of laundering the dirtiest of clothes.  To add insult to injury we want to achieve these effects with minimal effort or exertion.  

Sadly though such a pill doesn’t exist.  Trust me, I’ve spent most of my life searching for it.  And washboard abs are about as attainable as field level seats to the Super Bowl.  But that doesn’t mean your quest is hopeless.  

To the contrary there are many tried and true methods for safely and effectively losing weight.  And by doing so, not only will you look and feel better almost immediately, but your future self will also thank you for your efforts today.  

The fastest way to lose weight

Instant gratification has become a trademark attribute of our society; we all want what we want, and we want it NOW.  Why should weight loss be any different?

Instead of forming healthy habits and a adopting a sustainable wellness routine year round, we repeatedly find ourselves discouraged and out of shape sometime right around late April with only weeks until “beach season” returns.  This of course results in high levels of stress which are both unhealthy and bad for our physiques.

So what do we do next?  There are a few options but the one I see most frequently is what I’ll call the ‘fad diet Hail Mary’.  Since it is a fad by definition, the specifics generally change from year to year.  But regardless,  to throw a Hail Mary usually entails adopting some version of a “crash diet”.

Although these can be somewhat effective in the very short-term, the inclusion of the word ‘crash’ should be a red flag for anyone with a triple digit IQ.

When it comes to losing weight fast you need to seriously consider the potential implications to both your ultimate success or failure, as well as your long-term health.  Generally speaking there is no good way to sustainably lose weight fast.

That being said, there are certain dieting techniques that can be effective in the short-term when a small amount of weight loss is desired, temporarily.  An example of this would be an extremely low carb diet in preparation for a wedding or similar event in which you want to look your best (high school reunion, anyone?).

There are multiple problems with aggressively losing weight however.  The least of which is the yo-yo effect that we’ve all experienced before, or at least know someone who has.  That term of course refers to when a person loses a significant amount of weight, only to quickly put it back on as soon as the diet ends and “normal” eating habits are resumed.

More importantly though, losing weight too quickly is potentially dangerous.  In fact, it can be just as dangerous as gaining weight too fast.  The generally accepted rule of thumb is that you can safely lose up to two pounds a week.  Any more than that and you’re putting your long-term health at risk.  

Weight loss pills and supplements

Speaking of risking your health, be very careful before purchasing or consuming any kind of weight loss pill or supplement.  Many of these products are ineffective at best and at worst, can be seriously dangerous or even downright bad for your health and well-being.  

As if the negative health risks weren’t enough to keep you away, diet pills and diet-related supplements are often very costly since manufacturers pray on the common desperation that’s experienced by anyone who’s repeatedly tried to lose weight unsuccessfully.  

Many weight loss products contain high doses of caffeine or other dangerous stimulants.  To make matters worse, there are minimal regulations and insufficient long-term studies to support the safety or efficacy of these products.  

There is one caveat however and that is for the extreme or morbidly obese person.  If someone becomes so overweight that their health is at serious, immediate risk, then drugs or even surgery may be an option.  Even in such extreme cases it should be in conjunction with a holistic diet and exercise plan.

Whether you’re healthy or not, always check with a medical professional before taking ANY pill or supplement to ensure that it’s safe.  

Easy weight loss

Sorry to burst your bubble but there is no such thing as easy weight loss.  If there were, you’d already have done it and we’d both be Calvin Klein underwear models.

As with most worthwhile goals in life getting in shape will take a high degree of dedication, effort, and a healthy dose of discipline.  This is especially important since the hardest part isn’t actually losing the weight, it’s keeping it off once it’s gone.  

Read: Getting Unstuck: How to Set ‘Smart’ Goals

In order to do that, you’ll need to focus on changing habits.  That is, creating new, healthy ones, and simultaneously letting go of old habits that no longer serve you in your journey for self-improvement.  As I’m sure you’re aware, changing our habits is difficult at best.  In fact, it’s the whole reason why losing weight is so hard to begin with.  

See, this weight loss stuff is all pretty simple after all!

If only that were the case….

The best way to lose weight

I’m assuming we can agree by now (as if we couldn’t before this) that there is no easy way to lose weight.  At least not safely and sustainably, anyway.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that it’s totally possible.  So possible in fact that hoards of people are doing it every single day.

I’ve personally lost weight in the past and have helped many others do the same.  In addition to the aforementioned determination, abiding by the following general guidelines and techniques will have you headed in the right direction in no time.

That being said, I realize that some people prefer to not go at it solo.  As such, I am always here to provide you with one-on-one coaching should you need that extra encouragement and guidance.

What gets measured gets improved

Your New BFF: the Food Journal

Keeping track of everything that enters your body (through your mouth, sicko) is neither fun nor easy.  However, it is crucial if you’re serious about losing weight.  Not forever, but at least until you have a solid understanding of your baseline food intake.  

You may think you know what you eat, but many people are surprised or even shocked when they see their true consumption written down in cold, hard ink.  The truth can be scary sometimes!

You should look to measure and track your calories as well as your macronutrients for at least 7-14 consecutive days.  This will serve as your starting point from which you will continuously check and adjust.  

Weighing-in

Scales can be highly beneficial in two ways:  

First, it’s helpful to have a good digital kitchen scale handy to weight your food when necessary.  I use this when measuring things like mixed nuts or Greek yogurt.  Otherwise you are simply guessing and have no real idea of your body’s true nutritional needs.  

Second, while I don’t necessarily advocate weight loss as an end (since it’s more important that you are happy with how you look and feel, right?), keeping track of your own weight can be a useful metric to ensure you’re on track.  

If you do decide to weigh yourself be sure to do so weekly instead of daily.  There are simply far too many variables and one’s weight can fluctuate quite significantly from one day to the next.  Lastly, try to ensure that you’re always weighing in at the same time of day, since weight also fluctuates from morning to night.  

When attempting to change habits, start small and focus

If you do decide to weigh yourself, be sure to do this weekly, instead of daily.  There are simply far too many variables and weight can often fluctuate quite significantly from one day to the next.  Lastly, try to ensure that you’re always weighing in at the same time of day, since weight also fluctuate from morning to night.  

The 80-20 principle and low-hanging fruit

The 80-20 rule (AKA the Pareto principle) states that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from only 20 percent of the causes.  For example, in a given business 80% of the sales might be generated by 20% of the customers.  Or for our purposes 80% of your weight loss may come from 20% of your actions.

The Pareto principle is extremely useful in any personal development endeavor since it allows us to focus on the few things that matter most.  When some or all of these things are also the low hanging fruit, then you’ve found the areas to attack first since they are both effective and attainable.

Fortunately there are some pretty straight forward changes we can make immediately to buoy our weight-loss efforts.  A few of these are just good practices in general and implementing them should help to improve more aspects of your life than just your appearance:

  1. Exercise more:  This hopefully goes without saying but getting some form of physical activity in at least a few times each week is crucial to our physical and mental health.  Exercise takes on an even greater importance as part of a holistic weight-loss program OR for people who have very sedentary lifestyles.  And the good news is you don’t have to immediately go out and run a marathon.  Getting started can be as simple as committing to taking a 5 minute walk at a certain time each day or taking the stairs instead of the elevator on your way to work.  Small improvements will eventually add up to big results if you just keep at it.
  2. Watch less TV:  The first time I heard this one I admit I was a bit surprised.  But it makes total sense when you think about it.  Watching too much TV can lead to many other bad habits such as emotional eating.  Even by itself though sitting on your butt staring at “the Tube” is about the least active thing you can do.  If nothing else read a book instead — this way you’ll at least be giving your brain a workout.
  3. Eat less processed foods:  If there are multiple ingredients in something that you can’t pronounce or things that simply sound bad for you (or both, like butylated hydroxytoluene) then it’s probably not helping you achieve your fitness goals.  You should also look to cut down or ideally cut OUT fast food, takeout, and prepared meals from the grocery store.  What’s the best way to avoid processed foods?  Cook your own meals!  That way you know exactly what ingredients go into a dish.  You can also use the time it takes you to cook to enjoy your favorite podcast or simply practice being mindful.
  4. Cut out soft drinks and diet soda:  One of the simplest ways to lose weight with minimal effort is to cut out soda, soft drinks, and sugary juices from your diet.  If you are a heavy soda drinker you can literally lose weight just from adopting this one piece of advice.  I used to drink 1-2 diet sodas every day until I learned just how detrimental such drinks are to our health and waistline.  Gradually I reduced my intake to one a day, then one a week, and now I don’t drink any soda at all.  I didn’t go cold turkey though, I’m not insane.  I just drink coffee now with nothing in it but milk.  Believe me I seriously prefer milk and sugar in my cup ‘o Joe. However, the bottom line is that…

    Don’t be foolish Bobby, SUGAR is the devil!
  5. Sugar is the DEVIL:  Yepp — Bobby Boucher’s mom was wrong all along (sorry for the terrible ‘Water Boy’ reference, I couldn’t resist).  But sugar really is the absolute worst.  If you are willing to make only one change to your diet then please, let this be it.  I understand that it isn’t easy.  Sugar is addicting.  but like any other addiction, if you have the will power and commitment as well as a plan, you can TOTALLY do it; I have faith.

Now that you know how to start working towards building the body you desire, what are you waiting for?

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Peace.

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