How To Lose Weight In 2019
February is a vital time for anyone who set out with the intent of losing weight over the course of the year. Many people will have launched their year-long campaign on January 1, maybe tied into some form of New Year's resolution. I know from both professional and personal experience that the month of January is not always conducive to overhauling nutrition regimes and becoming a regular at the gym, if only for the fact that people are travelling and are away from home.
It can be a much better idea is to wait until February to kick off your body recomposition regime, focus on getting it set up in your normal surrounds and then let it play out across the rest of the year. Whilst your progress to January 31 might not be incredible if you take this approach, I’m more interested in where you are sitting come December 31st.
If you are contemplating weight loss this year, I recommend at least contemplating some goals to achieve over an eleven-month timeframe - you would be surprised at few people do. Most people have the 12-week transformation in their mind, convinced by the idea that ‘this will be the time’ they overhaul everything and get the dramatic result.
Unfortunately, the majority of these transformation attempts come to two outcomes: being unable to stick the regime for more than a couple of weeks, for no gain; or getting good results over the 12-weeks, but then they fade away over the next eight months because you can’t keep adhere to the regime long-term.
If the majority of people experience one of the above outcomes, it’s safe to say this isn’t the best approach to lose weight. But before we run through a better approach to get results in 2019, you need to ask yourself some questions.
The first is do you want to lose weight? Why? And how much?
The second is very important when it comes to assigning timeframes to weight loss goals, which is ‘when did you last weight [insert goal here]?’ If you haven’t weighed that amount for six years, then we don’t have to get there in six weeks. This question works well to help people qualify using a longer timeframe that requires a smaller magnitude of change and is more likely to be adhereable.
Now we have answered those questions, we can outline a process to get there.
Understand Your Current Regime
Once we have a goal in mind, we need to understand what your 3F’s look like. The 3F’s are food, fluid and fitness (physical activity) - these are the key variables of energy intake and energy expenditure. To elicit fat loss, we need to ensure more energy is being expended than being consumed. Therefore, it’s important to see how much energy is going in and out, so we can make adjustments to the 3F’s in line with your goals.
To track energy intake, record everything you eat and drink for seven days. My clients use the Tracking Challenge (part of the Client Information Pack), mobile apps such as My Fitness Pal or Easy Diet Diary, or just use a pen and paper to note down what they eat. The aim is to build an accurate picture of your current regime, which can be analysed to identify potential changes.
Record your body weight on the first day of tracking, and the day after completion, to see what impact this level of activity and food intake has on body weight. If your weight is steady or goes up, then you likely need to increase exercise and/or decrease food intake. Look at the tracked data and see where you could make changes to do this.
If your body weight goes down, repeat the same program next week - you’ve just created your own weight loss plan! It is common to lose weight when tracking due to exercising more and eat a little bit better when they are in focus. If you initiated the changes yourself, there’s a stronger likelihood that you will continue to adhere to them in the future.
Set Goals With Timeframes
Once you have an idea of what you are doing right now, you are in a much better place to start to work out where you want to go. Most people have an arbitrary weight loss number in their head, say losing five or ten kilos, which is OK to start with. Once you have the amount you need to lose, subtract that from your current weight.
Then we need to go about developing a timeframe to achieve that goal. The shorter the timeframe, the great level of change required to achieve the target. You can set a few of goals for 2019 - an eleven-month goal for the end of the year, alongside two and six month goals to keep you accountable along the way.
Just remember your answer to the question when did you last weigh [insert goal here]? Particularly when it comes to setting shorter goals. It can be tempting to set a big initial goal to ‘kick start’ the new regime, but just keep in mind the potential negative impact if you don’t achieve it. Most people are better off starting with a smaller goal for the two-month milestone, with the primary focus being to develop a regime that can be used long term. It’s much easier to accelerate from a solid base.
A guide for weight loss is 1 - 1.5kg per fortnight. That sounds like nothing compared to 12 kg in 12 weeks, but most people would be happy with 26 kg over the course of a year.
Remember to consider the goals in the context of the longer term goals. Even if you do lose 12kg in 12 weeks, if you put 8kg back on over the next nine months, the year goal has not really been achieved. This will help promote using a program that is adhereable over the long term.
Exercise 4-6 Times Per Week
To start with, aim to exercise more than you currently are to increase the Fitness component of the 3F’s and therefore increase energy expenditure. But when it comes to longer-term exercise goals, I recommend trying to work up to 4-6 sessions per week.
This amount means that you are exercising more days than you are not, which is important for creating a habit for many people. In addition, the more sessions you do, the shorter they can be. In the early stages of a fitness regime, most people do not have the fitness to complete 60-minute workout sessions, be it in the gym, running or something else. More frequent sessions allow intensity to be maintained across the duration of the shorter session.
More sessions also allow a greater variety of training. Six days might look like three gym session, a run, a swim and a yoga class. That’s a great all-round regime and also accommodates more enjoyable lower-intensity training, such as the yoga class.
Keep Tracking And Trying New Things
I can’t advise you what to do with your nutrition because I don’t know what you are doing. The most important thing is that you try new strategies and begin to see what works.
Decreasing meal frequency - larger meals and less snacking between meals
Altering the macronutrient composition of the diet - increasing protein intake, trialling different ratios of carbohydrate and fat
Macronutrient distribution across the day - prioritising carbohydrate intake around exercise, higher fat intake at work
Trying different food preparation methods - prepare meals in advance, meal delivery, healthy fast food options
Try to find what allows you to eat the right amount of food for your goals without taking over your lifestyle. Whenever you make changes or try a new approach, track food intake to see how your adherence goes. You will begin to see what works well and is worth following up with.
Get Help Where You Need It
You can do it on your own until you can’t. If you find your strategy is continually breaking down, it might be time to bring in some assistance. Before you just hire a trainer or nutritionist, try to identify where the strategy is breaking down and then find someone who can develop solutions to remedy this specifically.
There are companies who will deliver food, recipes and groceries to your house - use them if time is an issue.
Hiring a trainer or signing up to premium group fitness classes can help with adherence to training sessions.
A nutritionist can help develop the right approach to nutrition, depending on where you are right now and what is challenging.
Sometimes you do need to try harder or be disciplined, particularly when you know what you should be doing. But if you find yourself trying to stick a regime that seems to continually break down on Thursday, that’s a pretty good sign that it might be the wrong approach for you.
It could be tinkered by prioritising training sessions and being more strict with the diet earlier in the week, to build in some flexibility closer to and across the weekend. This means you can eat a bit more and won’t feel bad about missing training sessions - they are already done - which can be the difference between sticking to the plan or Thursday through Sunday becoming ‘screw it, I’ll start again next week’... a few weeks of which can lead to weight gain.
The requirements to lose weight in 2019 aren’t any different to what they were in 2018, 2008 or 1908. There might be a be some different technology in place now that we can use to track our food intake that wasn’t here in 1908. But keep in mind that that food production was very different back then and there would have been fewer temptations - or rations - to eat at all. It all balances itself out.
If you do want to lose weight this year, take the time to understand your current regime and then go about making small changes because you are hopefully working with a longer timeframe. If you get stuck, find help. Weight loss is simple on paper, but it gets hard when the rubber meets the road. If you need some help to get it sorted, you know where to head.