Fifteen years of dieting. Seventy-five pounds lost. Three years of nutrition coaching. Over 100 clients. I have been a long-time student of Weight Loss 101. Of all the lessons learned, here are the top five crib notes of my Diet Degree.
- You don’t have to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight.
Ever. I don’t know how the diet industry came up with this number – but it’s false. Sadly, people everywhere abide by these extreme low-calorie diets with big dreams of losing weight. They fail. The secret to effective weight loss? EAT. As much as possible. Crazy right? The truth is, most people can and should be losing weight on WAY more food than they’re eating. How is this possible? You just need to find your ‘sweet spot’.
Everyone has a range of calories that their body will lose weight within. I call this, the ‘Sweet Spot’. Based on your age, activity level, weight, etc. your sweet spot is specific to you and you alone. When you diet you want to be at the high end of this range. Why?
- You get to eat more food while dieting. #winning
- When you plateau (because you will) you’ll have some wiggle room to reduce calories as a way to help you overcome it.
The bottom line: Why start a diet at 1200 calories, when your ‘sweet spot’ could be 1700. Amiright?!
- You don’t have to give up your favourite foods.
Unless you plan to avoid birthday cake, wine, or pasta for the rest of your life – don’t cut them out of a diet.
‘I’m going to cut out sugar for 8 weeks and lose weight’ is a great approach – but what do you do after the 8 weeks? When you want that glass of wine, or eat your kid’s birthday cake. And the weight creeps back on…
There’s no denying that restricting food is tough. But it’s also an opportunity to teach you BALANCE, MODERATION and MINDFULNESS. These are hard lessons to learn, but if you want to maintain your goals they are important ones. Following a diet that lets you eat the things you love while keeping you on track, teaches you how to make better choices. Without them, you’ll gain the weight back. With them, you’ll achieve your goals and KEEP them too.
- Eight-week transformations don’t exist.
The only person losing 15 lbs in 2 months is a fitness competitor, because they’re PROFESSIONAL dieters.
You, are a professional human, living a normal human life. You’re going to fall off track, have rough days, indulge on the weekend, and skip the gym. This is why realistic goals are critical for success. Having a timeline is important, but tight ones can be stressful. Stress holds on to weight. Stress makes it harder. Stress means you’ll want to quit. Every. Damn. Day. Realism removes the stress:
- ‘Realistically I’m going for brunch on Sundays’.
- ‘Realistically work is rough this month and I might miss the gym a few days.’
- ‘Realistically I’m going to have a glass of wine on Friday night.’
- ‘Realistically on this diet I should expect to lose 1lb a week, which is great because the weight is coming off and I’m still living my life.’
So examine your life, set honest, realistic goals and be patient with the process. Your health goals are for life – not for 5 minutes on stage – so you got time, Boo.
- I don’t do Cardio, I do Cardi B.
Cardio is important – but not mandatory for weight loss. If you’re currently hitting that treadmill 5 hours a week to lose weight – STOP. Get off and head to the weight room. Immediately.
Muscle burns fat throughout the entire day – not just for 30 minutes on a treadmill. If weight loss is your goal – weights are your answer. Cardio is like your secret weapon. Use it only when needed. Let’s say you’ve been dieting for 12 weeks and you hit a plateau. You don’t want to sacrifice and cut more calories, so instead, you add in one HIIT session a week and commit to walk 20 minutes to a further Starbucks at lunch. The weight starts falling off again. You’re back in business.
However, if you’re already doing 5 sessions of cardio a week, are you really going to add two more? Not likely. The best approach is to start at the bare minimum. That treadmill is your Ace. Only throw it down when you need to.
- The scale is not the best indicator of progress.
Although an instant indication of your current weight, the scale is not the most accurate at determining progress. Salt intake, sleep, stress and other factors can cause daily water retention/loss and impact the number on the scale. Hormone fluctuations throughout the month can also cause (sometimes significant) fluctuations in weight for many females. These jumps in numbers can lead you to believe that your current diet isn’t working, when in fact it really is.
To balance these fluctuations, use other forms of measurement to track your progress. Weekly photos and body measurements are your best option. In many cases, when the scale isn’t moving, your body composition is changing. I.e., ‘My jeans don’t fit but I’m still the same weight – I’ll take it!’ The scale is great, but if you really want to know what’s happening, measurements and photos are best. So, step off that cold, finicky platform and grab a measuring tape – you’ll be happy you did!
I hope these 5 tips helped! Have any other pro tips that I left out? Or any questions you have about your wellness and diet game? Hit me up in the questions below!
With love and nut butter,
A certified fitness nutritionist (ISSA) with a black belt in dieting, wellness and balance, Lindsey’s mission is to help women improve their relationship with food, while achieving and maintaining their health and wellness goals. Her mantra is, “Never start a diet that you can’t maintain for the rest of your life.’ Applying her own experience of disordered eating and her extensive nutrition coaching, Lindsey helps women rediscover their love of food through loving themselves. Follow @lindseykee for more!