Are you as lean and toned as you want to be? Will you ever become as lean and toned as you want to be? We all have this perfect image of what we want to look like. Getting to that image can cause a lot of frustration as there is a constant fluctuation of that perfect body and what it actually looks like. I say we, including fitness professionals and those who have already reached their weight loss goals. You are successful when you reach your goal, and then continue to maintain that goal.
How do you do that? Most often the road between the body that you have and the body that you want is made up of the decisions you make along the way. Using these 21 tips, you will be able to make some simple daily decisions that keep you on that road to success.
Diet and Nutrition Decisions
#1. Eat 30-60 minutes after waking up. While sleeping overnight your body has been fasting for several hours. Many use the term fasting as a quick way to lose weight, however this is not true. When you fast, your body goes into starvation mode and will start to store more fat to help you survive the conditions. When you sleep, you are not fueling your body with nutrition so you need to give your body food as soon as possible to prevent it from going into starvation mode. This is the same reason you should eat every 3-4 hours that you are awake during the day.
#2. Eat 5-6 small meals each day. This means that you will be eating every 3-4 hours. Eating this many meals throughout the day will help your body know that it will be receiving the nutrition that it needs when it needs nourishment. Keep in mind that you need to balance the macronutrients so that you are getting the correct amounts of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that will keep your body healthy. When your body gets the nutrition that it needs as often as it needs, it will begin to increase your metabolism which in turn leads to a decrease in fat storage.
#3. Avoid eating “fat-free” foods. These foods can still be stored as fat! Adding the phrase “fat-free” does not equate to “healthy”. “Fat-free” foods are made with extra sugars to make up for the missing fats. Yes, sugar is just a fattening as fat itself. The average adult eats about 3 pounds of sugar a week, which is enough to fill up a dumpster each year!
#4. Eat, and then wait. By waiting 20 minutes after you eat a meal you will have an ample amount of time for your body to actually register if you need more food or not. When you stick to your small meals throughout the day, this becomes much easier and will keep you from overeating. Sometimes we simply want more because it tastes really good and our body hasn’t been able to digest enough to decide that it is truly full.
#5. Carbohydrates (carbs) are a must! Make sure to add complex carbs to your daily meals. These are what give you energy to get through your normal day and for all those tough workouts. Whole grains, vegetables, and legumes are some of the foods that are complex carbs. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down into sugars causing them to be less likely stored as fat.
#6. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Your body needs a balance of many different nutrients to remain healthy. Make sure that you are eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, in a variety of colors. Each color contains different nutrients. A term that I love is, “eat the rainbow”. Try to include at least one new color each day of the week.
#7. Your body needs water. Water helps your body function properly. The human body is made up of 80% water and it needs water to survive. Drink about 8-10 cups of water each day. The best way to accomplish this is to drink one cup right when you wake up, one with each meal, one during or after your workout, and one right before bed. Just as your body is fasting all night, it is also without water all night so you want to keep it from becoming dehydrated.
#8. Before every meal, drink a glass of water. Doing this will help you use some of that space in your tummy which helps train your body to need less food to feel full. This is a great tip to use for successful weight loss. Taking control of how much you eat will gradually get easier with this simple trick.
#9. Avoid drinking specialty drinks or coffees. Even a Grande Iced Skinny Latte contains 110 calories, or if you prefer a Grande White Chocolate Mocha, it contains 400 calories. Given that the average woman needs between 1,200 and 1,400 calories per day, these two drinks alone can take up a good chunk of the calorie count, plus the extra calories and sugars are going to be stored as fat. Aim to drink more water as your main drink of choice, or simply drink your coffee black (a Grande black coffee has about 5 calories for the whole thing).
#10. Ditch the soda pop. This is a great way to easily lose an extra 30 pounds this year. The average person drinks about 2 regular pops a day, which is roughly 300 calories. These extra calories along with the extra sugars get stored as fat and really add up over the year. Counting calories alone, this can result in a weight gain of about 30 pounds a year. Get rid of the pop and you will lose that 30 pounds instead of gaining the extra 30 pounds.
Exercise and Fitness Decisions
#11. Burn some quick calories shortly after you wake up. You can burn these calories with a short 15-20 minute walk or run. When you perform your activity shortly after you wake up your body is going to have to pull some energy from those extra fat stores because it has not received any fresh calories for the day. Plus, in my experience, getting the exercise done as soon as possible keeps you from creating excuses later in your day for not getting your workout completed.
#12. When you exercise for weight loss use compound movements. These activities will burn more calories and tone more muscles at once, all while taking up less time. Some great compound exercises to add to your routine include jumping lunges, squats, and dumbbell rows.
#13. Include strength training. Muscle burns more calories than fat; 1 pound of muscle will burn 30-50 calories a day and 1 pound of fat will burn 9 calories a day. Another bonus, other than losing weight more quickly, is that you will look younger than your friends when you strength train.
#14. Control the down motion when strength training. Taking control of the speed at which you lower or release the weight (eccentric contraction) will help you tone your muscles and increase your strength. Along with becoming stronger and having better looking muscles, you will be less likely to injure yourself.
#15. Add core (abdominal) exercises to your workouts. Your core is what supports you during your day-to-day activities so it is very important that you keep it strong. My favorite core building exercises are Yoga, Pilates, and martial arts. You can also use push-ups, crunches, and leg raises to strengthen this area.
#16. Exercise in your fat burning zone. I know that this term gets thrown around loosely and some machines try to help, however you are the only one who knows if you are actually in this zone. This is the point in your workout that your heart rate is up and you are breathing slightly heavy, but can still carry on a conversation easily. You want to reach and maintain this level of intensity for at least 10 minutes for every cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercises are the workouts that are going to get you to your weight loss goal the quickest.
#17. Weight loss loves consistency. Be consistent with your workouts is super important. You do not have to workout every day and it is okay to miss a scheduled day, just make sure you are getting your workouts in regularly. Start with 2-3 days a week and build up to daily workouts.
#18. Mix it up! Just as you need variety in your diet, you need variety in your workouts. By repeating the same workout every day, your body will build up a tolerance for the routine and will not have to work nearly as hard to complete it. About every 3-5 weeks you should change your routine. Make your workouts longer or shorter, more intense or less intense, or do completely different workouts altogether.
#19. Write and post your weight loss, nutrition, and exercise goals. You want to see your goals every day to help keep you more accountable. Writing goals that include a specific number or size will help you reach your goals faster than a vague goal of just “losing weight”.
#20. Include monthly weigh-ins and measurements. When losing weight it is important that you keep a written record of your gains and losses. When you weigh yourself regularly you will begin to see a trend, whereas sporadic weigh-ins can lead to false results. Keeping in mind that your weight will fluctuate from day-to-day (even hour to hour), seeing the overall trend will help you make better judgments on what you need to change to reach your weight loss goal.
#21. Find a support group. We all know how easy it is to come up with excuses not to do something. Having a group of people who know about your goals will help keep you accountable. You want to have people who will be honest with you and keep you honest with yourself.
Add these tips to your daily lifestyle one by one or all at once, and begin to see great results. Remember not to get discouraged with yourself, healthy weight loss takes time and patience. There is not a one size fits all for weight loss, so do your best!