I don’t think it’s a secret that in the past I have fallen victim to some pretty *questionable* weight loss and dieting fads. I’ve done skinny tea, I’ve done nutrient cycling, I’ve done fasting, I’ve done Slimming World, I’ve done low GI, I’ve done gluten/dairy free, I’ve done it bloody all. Now, some of these diets I’ve just mentioned are legitimately helpful in some cases and for certain medical conditions, but in my case, they were all a desperate way of hoping I could lose weight without counting calories.
Spoiler alert: I could not lose weight without counting calories.
I think it’s beyond unfair for all of these fad programmes to make claims that you ‘don’t need to count calories to lose weight!!!’ Because ok, the select few people may not need to, but for those who are chronic overeaters (me) and basically the majority of people who want to lose weight, it is very difficult to lose fat without calorie counting.
Because although it took me 3 years to finally come to terms with fact, weight loss comes down to calories in vs. calories out. No wonder I couldn’t lose weight when Slimming World told me I could cook up 300 grams of pasta with every meal for no ‘SYNS’.
“BuT iT dOeSn’t meAN SINS, it MeaNs SyNerGY” Ok, Karen…
ANYWAY, literally over the past few months I feel I’ve learnt more about ‘healthy’ weight loss that ever before. It’s taken time, but everything seems to have really fallen into place, leaving me feeling happier and healthier in my body than ever before. Which is why I thought I’d come on here this week and share my top tips on how to lose weight healthily!
- Do NOT label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This is HUGE, and once you learn how to do it, it’s incredibly freeing. Remove your preconceptions of food and allow yourself to eat what you want. There’s this idea that calorie counting is restrictive, and although it CAN be, it can also allow you to eat what you want whilst still reaching your goals. I have been losing 1lb a week consistently for the past 3/4 months, and I have still been eating things like pasta, chocolate, crisps, biscuits or cake every single day. For some people, cutting out these things completely might work. For me, it never did. By cutting out everything I loved, I felt unsatisfied after every meal/snack, which ultimately left me wanting to eat more and suffering from INTENSE cravings. By eating all the things I love but within my calorie allowance, I am far more satisfied by my food. Could my fruit and veg intake and the nutritional value of the foods I eat be better? Hell yes, but am I reaching my goals? Also yes. It’s not about perfection. On a side note, Graeme Tomlinson (aka. The Fitness Chef) on Instagram explains this concept AMAZINGLY and I would highly recommend following. I will link his profile at the bottom of this post!
- Think of your calories as a weekly target, rather than a daily one. It’s normal to be hungrier on some days and not on others, which is why I don’t stress too much about my daily calorie target. I like to think of my calorie target as a weekly goal. Some days I come under my daily target, and some days I’m hungrier or have a social occasion and exceed my target. As long as it balances out over the course of the week, that’s fine! I mean, it’s also fine if it doesn’t. Life is to be enjoyed and some weeks it can’t be helped! Also, if you’re after a good calculator for your personal calorie target, I really like this one by JSA.
- Practice self-love every day. This is huge. Weight loss should not EVER be about punishing yourself or shrinking yourself to ‘cure’ low self-esteem. I’m a massive advocate of learning to love yourself before embarking on a weight loss journey. Weight loss fuelled by self-love and positivity is so much more rewarding and also, much more likely to succeed (I don’t actually have any scientific evidence on this, but it’s certainly the case for me). Throughout your journey, practice self-care and self-love; take time to switch off, don’t deprive yourself, look after your skin, have cosy movie nights, get lots of fresh air, take social media breaks, read books. Whatever it is that makes you feel amazing, do that throughout.
- Get outdoors and get your steps in! Having been lucky enough to grow up in the North York Moors, I will always been an advocate of the power of the outdoors, nature and fresh air. In fact, there’s now a whole branch of psychology dedicated to the mental health benefits of nature. From a weight loss perspective, getting outdoors and walking is one of the simplest ways to increase your daily calorie output. This is useful as it can boost your weight loss without the need to drastically restrict your calorie intake.
- Be your own biggest fan. Appreciate your journey, be proud of how far you’ve already come (even if you’ve not yet reached your goal). I find taking progress pictures is incredibly motivating; as you’re living in your body every day, you often don’t notice changes until you compare pictures from a few months ago. Don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Your body and mind are completely individual (and that’s great) so there is no need to beat yourself up if you can’t lose weight at the same pace as X or eat as nutritiously as Y or do as much exercise as Z. Stay in your own lane and do whatever is right for you, because you are an individual with your own needs, preferences and motivations.
Honestly, I think the main lesson I have learnt is to not overthink it. Take each week as it comes, do your best, forgive yourself if you ‘slip up’ and appreciate how far you’ve come. Each small step is significant, and take it from me – you’re doing amazing!
In the meantime, I will continue sharing my monthly weight loss check-ins – you can take a look at the most recent one here.
As promised, exhibit number one: The Fitness Chef explaining the power of choice perfectly…
Disclaimer: I am absolutely not qualified in any way to give technical weight loss/fitness advice, which is why I haven’t gone into specifics like how many calories you should be eating, what exercise to do, etc etc. This is all purely about mindset, motivation and what I have learnt on my own weight loss journey. For accurate and reliable weight loss advice, you should always go to a professional (nutritionist/doctor/whoever you think is suitable to help you personally!)