The idea of losing weight can feel intimidating and even discouraging, especially if you’ve tried to do so unsuccessfully before. But getting started will be much less stressful when you manage your expectations and make simple changes, rather than diving into crash diets or punishing workouts.
Becky Kerkenbush, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in Watertown, WI, suggests setting a realistic weight-loss goal of one-half to two pounds per week, and adding a separate goal to the mix to help keep your spirits up when the scale doesn’t reflect the work you’ve put in. “Examples include working to run a mile without stopping or becoming more flexible by starting yoga,” Becky told POPSUGAR.
Eric Bowling, an NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance in Los Angeles, added that you should also pinpoint your why for any goals you set. “Mindset is everything, and understanding why you want to make any change in the first place is key,” Eric said.
“If you just want to lose 10 pounds because you dislike the number you see on the scale, you probably won’t stick to your plan for long,” he explained. “If you dig deeper and find that losing 10 pounds will make you more confident, a better spouse, more energetic, or able to do athletic events again, you will start to grow the driving factor behind what makes you take action.” Once you know what you’re working toward, these simple steps can help put you on the path to get there.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Consuming too few calories can leave you feeling deprived, lethargic, and unhappy — none of which are a recipe for success. “Starving yourself can also result in a slowed metabolism, making weight loss more difficult,” Becky said. “It’s best not to go longer than four to five hours without something to eat, be it a meal or a snack.”
This includes starting your day with a healthy breakfast, which when eaten within an hour of waking can jump-start your metabolism, Becky explained. “Selecting a balanced breakfast that includes healthy fat, sufficient protein, and whole grains will provide energy and a feeling of satiety, which may prevent overeating later on,” she said.
At every meal, “build your diet around nutrient-dense, single-ingredient whole foods like lean meat, fibrous vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates,” Eric added. “Prioritize protein, which helps preserves muscle mass for anyone aiming to improve their body shape rather than just simply losing weight. Women should aim to eat between 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.”
Becky stressed the importance of not cutting out entire categories of foods, which may result in nutrient deficiencies. “Diets that omit whole food groups rarely result in long-term outcomes,” she said.
It’ll take more than just a quick session in the gym to lose weight. “Progress will be slow if you’re relying solely on training for an hour, while remaining sedentary for the other 23 hours in a day,” Eric said. He recommends logging 10,000 steps a day, which you can do by walking instead of driving or taking public transit, using the stairs instead of an elevator, or taking work calls on foot instead of at your desk. “This will help to increase the calories you burn throughout the day,” Eric said.
Strength training is also essential. “Lifting weights helps to build muscle, lose fat, and increase your metabolic rate,” Eric told POPSUGAR, and that’s with as little as three sessions a week. “However, when starting out, it’s important for you to seek out a professional who can oversee your form and technique, and make sure you are getting the most out of every exercise so you stay injury-free and get the best results possible.”
In this case, that means creating a soothing, device-free bedtime routine, which can help you clock the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. “Getting enough quality sleep is important for recovery from training and maintaining a healthy hormone balance,” Eric said. “When you’re not sleeping enough or not sleeping well, it can result in lower energy, mental fog, fatigue, and hunger cravings, which will make your weight loss efforts harder.”