How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind
Losing weight can be daunting and in particular, starting is the hardest part!
But let me tell you a secret, there is no rule that says you have to eat only 1200 calories, cut out carbs or do burpees everyday if you want to lose weight.
Sure, people will tell you that you must do THIS, or you must use THAT. But in most cases, they are the same person who is selling THIS and THAT!
The underlying mechanism for weight loss is creating an energy deficit, whereby the amount of energy you expend (exercise and normal metabolic function) exceeds the amount of energy you take in (food and drink).
Sure, there are other considerations beyond exercise and food intake, but let’s focus on the main players.
Weight loss 101
There are three ways to create an energy deficit.
- Increase energy expenditure and keep energy intake stable.
- Keep expenditure stable and decrease energy intake.
- Increase energy expenditure and decrease energy intake.
All three of these methods will create the deficit that is required for weight loss.
Now it becomes a matter of which option you select – do more exercise, eat less food or both?
Increasing energy expenditure and reducing energy intake is the most popular way to program for weight loss. This has a double-whammy effect and creates a greater energy deficit, which should facilitate faster weight loss.
If you’re in the industry of weight-loss, this is ideal. People want results and they want them yesterday!
However, this approach is also the hardest because it requires changes to both exercise and nutrition habits, which have previously been poor. This can lead to the client becoming overwhelmed and being unable to sustain this protocol.
Considering the client.
Imagine you have not exercised for three years and you have just decided to get back into it. You are lacking confidence, you know that you will take a while to acclimatise and also hate the idea of being unfit. Now I tell you that on top of this, you are going to be a little bit hungry while you are contemplating and doing all of this... well that sounds fun!
Will you still keep exercising? Some people don’t mind and are happy to endure some short-term pain for long-term gain. However, others find this very unenjoyable and difficult to maintain. As a coach, it is imperative to be able to manage different clients and adapt your programming accordingly.
A good option is to support the client by encouraging them to exercise while keeping everything else relatively stable, which includes food intake.
In the early stages, let them increase their exercise and focus on overcoming any initial barriers they may have. After the first few weeks, they will begin to see progress both physically and in their performance.
Even if they don’t lose weight (but they invariably do) this leads to exercise becoming more enjoyable, as progression is motivation for future performance.
The next steps
At this stage you can look at reducing energy intake. But hang on, there isn’t any requirement to make changes if weight loss is already occurring... so energy intake only needs to be restricted if the client wants to accelerate the process or if weight loss halts.
So you’re saying you can keep the diet similar and just exercise? That’s a weird thing for a Nutritionist to say…
It probably is, but when I have clients working on a 12-week program, we are working to achieve their longer-term weight loss goals, not just see how much weight they can lose in four weeks.
This isn’t to say I don’t provide nutrition programs to guide my clients. I provide meals plans, nutrient guidelines and scheduling support to help them improve their nutrition.
However, if the client thinks making too many changes will be unachievable, we can focus on taking one step at a time and cementing that progress in place!
A secondary benefit of increasing exercise in the initial stages is that it doesn’t require restriction.
We know how humans are - tell them NOT to do something and they immediately want to do it. If I tell you not to eat ice-cream and pizza (to create a deficit), guess what you will be thinking about?
Get the right plan for YOU!
Now you can use this information to determine the right way to start a weight loss program for you.
Do you really hate exercise – get a well-designed nutrition plan and include some light walking (maybe listening to music) a few days a week.
Can't bear the though of changing your diet just yet – get a well-designed fitness plan that allows you to exercise 3-4 times per week at varying intensities.
Eventually you will get to a point where either exercise or nutrition needs to be changed to keep making progress. However, by then you will have seen weight loss and will be motivated to implement a new strategy, because you have seen the benefit from your hard work!
Weight loss doesn’t have to be low energy intake and high exercise. If there is something you really don’t like, emphasise the other early on and address that challenge later, when you have some confidence in yourself and your coach!
What if my coach says I have to do both?
Find a better one...
You could take the time to explain the concept of an energy deficit, but if you have to teach them, what are you paying them for?
Yours in gains,