In this article, I will be discussing how to lose weight naturally. Losing weight doesn’t need to be an intense battle against yourself.
Today, I will be discussing several tips and tricks that can help you lose weight more effectively and with less effort.
I would advise you to implement small changes rather than big ones. Why? Well, being able to overcome small changes can increase your confidence, which results in a positive feedback loop that allows you to overcome even more changes.
Going in it cold turkey can be effective is you have a strong will, but on the whole it lowers the chances of success. You will notice though, that a healthy balance that allows for eating some unhealthy foods, can give a lot of satisfaction.
Be Realistic and Honest With Yourself
Really, it doubles your chances of success! Implementing a healthy lifestyle starts with realistic expectations and accepting it fully.
What is realistic, you ask?
Well, there has been a lot of research on this topic. More than often, the results show that a weight loss of 10-15% is realistic to maintain for the next 1-5 years.
Let’s say that you weigh 200 lbs, for example. If we follow this realistic guideline, a weight of 170-180 lbs should be achievable.
These numbers might carry a different message that a lot of companies want you to believe. Some claim that you can lose up to 30% of your weight if you purchase their product.
Do me a promise, pretty please. Don’t let yourself be fooled by such companies.
I however, don’t want to give you unrealistic expectations! My first advise therefore would be to pick a realistic weight that fits you, and is maintainable for the long run.
Every person has a certain weight that ‘fits’ them. This is called a ‘setpoint weight’. If you like, you can go lower than this weight, but I wouldn’t recommend going too low, as it may be too hard to maintain, which can lead to disappointment.
Gaining and losing weight on a regular basis (yoyo-ing) may cause your setpoint weight to increase.
You Can Still Eat Less Healthy Foods
I think it’s important not to forbid yourself from eating anything per se. If you forbid yourself from eating chocolate for example, you will only crave it more, and what do you think can happen next?
You can implement less healthy foods in your regular diet without any problems, as long as you keep an eye on your intake.
Choose Whatever Food Fits Your Body and Lifestyle
I would advise choosing foods that fit you as a person and implement it step by step. Don’t just blindly start following a random diet that promises you a certain result.
A lot of diets actually prescribe a very low amount of calories, which may result in malnutrition.
A solid meal plan template can be a great way to teach yourself a healthy eating pattern, as it shows you what you need on a daily basis and how you can diversify.
Other than that, I would say you can keep eating anything you like. Implementing a new ‘lifestyle’ is something you should sustain.
Why would I sell you a meal plan without any form of ‘reward foods’ if I know you can’t keep it up? Everyone likes a piece of chocolate or a cookie every once in a while! It’s about moderation.
Note that I am not a big fan of radical solutions. I urge you to try to think about it this way. Which plan would you follow: a fast and radical plan that might not have the effects you want, or a slower plan that allows for eating whatever you like, albeit in moderate amounts?
I have talked about implementing small changes rather than big ones, and I want to elaborate on that a bit more through the use of the frog metaphor.
Say you were to put a frog in your pan filled with water because you need sustenance. Would you try to cook the frog instantly with the risk of it escaping? Or would you slowly increase the temperature of the water until it faints?
It might not be the prettiest metaphor, but I hope I got the point across. I would not recommend cooking frogs, by the way.
I read a comment on my previous article about cravings, stating that ‘man is a creature of habit’. This person is absolutely right. Once we, as people, have found a habit we feel comfortable with, it becomes very difficult to change it. The more radical the change, the heavier your resistance will be.
Small changes can have a huge impact. I’m going to take two of my associates, Joey and Anne, as an example.
Joey wanted to be able to run 6 miles (10 km). He hadn’t run in quite a long time and he was not looking forward to start again. He started slow. The first workout was running for a minute and then walking for a minute.
He then increased it to 3 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of walking, and so on. He kept increasing his training sessions while at the same time implementing some small nutritional changes, until he ran half a marathon about 4 months later.
Examples of nutritional changes include:
- No more coffee with added sugar
- An extra 10 minutes of daily exercise
- No more soft drinks
- Snacks only on weekends and in modest amounts
She got challenged one day, to not put sugar in her coffee for one week. She drank about 5 cups of coffee per day, each with an added 2 sugar cubes. Not putting sugar in her coffee saved about 110 calories per day!
Of course, she expected her coffee to taste terrible. It did for the first three days. After day 3, her confidence went up unknowingly, which in turn made the transition easier. Once she tackled this ‘problem’, she was ready to face another.
Step by step, she taught herself a new meal routine that is easily manageable. Eventually, Anne reached her setpoint weight and to this day still manages to maintain it.
Once again: focus on unwanted habits and tackle it step by step.
Treating yourself is a fantastic tool that maintains wanted behavior. Let’s say that you’ve just managed to not put sugar in your coffee for a week. Great achievement: treat yourself!
Just don’t reward yourself with food.
Prepare For Resistance
Taking the step towards a healthier lifestyle often means leaving certain things behind, which can lead to feelings of loss. It’s important to keep this in mind.
Are you noticing resistance? Is that voice in your head trying to sabotage your progress? Try to find out where this resistance comes from and why.
Sometimes it helps to just take a small step back, or choosing a different approach.
Always remember the positive side of losing weight and/or fat, and why you want to achieve your goal. You have taken the step to change for the better. In other words: you’re not weak if you experience resistance!
How to Counter Setbacks
Let’s say that one of your habits is to have a few snacks whenever you’re stressed. Chances are you will feel a craving for snacks the next time you feel stressed.
Changing such a habit can be very tough. Therefore, it’s important to prepare for moments like these. What are you going to do when you crave something sweet?
Create a plan B, which should be a healthier alternative that distracts you from your cravings. Why don’t you go for a walk though a park?
Once again: you are strong and you can do it. Always keep that in the back of your mind.
Create a Set of Rules
A code of conduct can help you lose weight. This code should contribute to you reaching your goals. Write down a set of solid rules for everyday life and stick to it.
You can then hang this list of rules somewhere you can easily see it.
- Goal: From now on, I will not be adding sugar to my coffee.
- Day 1: Success
- Day 2: Success
And so on.
If you succeed for a week, treat yourself with something that makes you happy. No foods, though!
Move on When You Made a Mistake
Don’t just quit if you experienced a setback. When you are teaching yourself a new set of behavioral rules, it’s a matter of time before you mess up.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” Albert Einstein
If you made a mistake, acknowledge it and try to move on. Analyze why you made said mistake and plan for the future. How can you prevent it from happening again?
Get Professional Help
To use professional help can be very valuable. A dietitian or behavioral expert can help you to determine which approach best fits your needs.
So there you have it. These tips should be able to help you on your way towards losing weight and excess fat. However, it is entirely possible that you might have some questions. Therefore, I’ve listed some of the most frequently asked questions.
What is Considered Healthy Weight Loss?
Losing weight in a healthy way means that your body still gets the necessary nutrients. This prevents malnutrition, even though you will be experiencing a caloric deficit.
It’s important that you’re not losing weight at a rate that is too fast, because this will deteriorate your muscle mass. Not only that, but chances are you will get a shortage of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
So, at what rate should you lose weight?
Because of the aforementioned reasons, I recommend not losing more than 1-2 lbs per week.
That might not sound like fast progress, but I am advising this for yet another reason. Losing too much weight in a short amount of time can cause binge eating, which obviously isn’t good for progress.
It’s important to stay realistic. Losing between 10 and 15% is considered realistic for the long term.
What is Considered a Healthy Weight?
By calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI), you can check if your weight is right for you.
Anywhere between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy BMI. If your BMI is lower than 18.5, I recommend contacting your physician or dietitian, as you might need professional help with your meal plan.
Can I Lose Weight Without a Proper Meal Plan?
Losing weight comes easier if you change your (current) eating habits. You can do so though a diary, for example. This will allow you to slowly change your nutrition.
Don’t just follow any diet. The diet that has the best results, is one that you can maintain. This all depends on your goals and all the rest of it.
So all in all, you might be able to lose weight without a proper meal plan. However, if you consume 3000 calories a day and your train twice a week, I can already tell you that your results will be marginal at best.
Yes, you can lose weight, but losing weight effectively is a whole other question.
Can I Lose Weight Without Working Out?
Yes, you can. Working out though, increases your base metabolic rate. Therefore, it becomes even easier to lose weight. Working out has numerous positive effects on your body, so I would definitely recommend it.
Why am I not Losing Weight Anymore?
There can be multiple reasons why you aren’t losing weight with or without a diet. One of the most common ones, is that people that are dieting and working out fail to see the insignificance of ‘weight’.
Your body is made up out of what?
Exactly, fat is just a part of it. So let’s say you have been dieting actively, but your scale says otherwise. If you are working out, you’re definitely growing in muscle mass. Muscle mass is heavier than fat.
So even if your weight remains the same, your body fat percentage may decrease. Therefore, it’s important to measure the waist and hips. If your waist is shrinking while your weight remains the same, you’re losing weight and gaining muscle.
Another way to track your progress, is to take pictures of yourself, even if you really don’t want to. I can understand from experience that shame can be quite common when it comes to your body composition.
However, if you really want to see your progress, I would recommend taking a mirror selfie every month.
A second reason why you might not be losing weight, is that you are underestimating the quantity of your meals. I’m going to be asking you a question and I’m curious to see how many of you got it right.
How much is one serving of peanut butter?
I will let you do a Google search to check your result. It’s okay if you don’t have the correct answer, as it happens all the time. Even dietitians can have difficulty estimating how many calories are in servings of food.
A third explanation can be that you’ve reached a plateau. Whenever you’ve lost a certain amount of weight, your body will need even fewer calories. If you want to lose even more weight, you will have to eat less.
A fourth reason that you are not losing weight anymore, could be that your meal plan is incompatible with your needs. This might have something to do with not eating enough essential nutrients, which can lead to muscle deterioration and in turn a lower base metabolic rate.
Is a Low Carb Diet Effective?
A diet that involves very low amounts of carbs, can indeed cause your body to lose weight. But as always, there’s a catch and you’re probably not going to like it.
Low carb diets often only work short-term. This has to do with the fact that carbs hold more water than proteins or fats. When you’re experiencing weight loss through a low carb diet, chances are you’re losing water weight, rather than fat.
Studies have also shown that a low carb diet, as well as most other diets don’t work for the long run. A lot of people tend to return to their old habits once they’ve achieved their goals once, or even before that point has been reached.
How Can I Lose Belly Fat?
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut for losing belly fat. What do I mean by that? Well, fat is distributed throughout your body, meaning that if you lose fat, it could come from anywhere. In order to lose belly fat, you will have to lose overall body fat.
You could perform more exercises that target the belly. That way, you create more muscle mass, which might make it seem that you don’t have as much belly fat as you really have.
So yeah, if you are losing fat, you will burn off some of that annoying belly fat, too. Unfortunately, it can take quite a while before you really start seeing it.
Nonetheless, you should keep at it if your goal is to have a flat belly.
How Do I Stay Motivated?
Oh boy, motivation. Where do I start? Imagine that you’ve just read this article and you’re ready to make a change in your life. You start your weight losing journey fully energized, but within a couple of weeks, your motivation starts to dwindle.
Does that sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
Motivation is an art form, especially when it comes to yourself. Luckily, motivating is something you can learn.
Planning is a big part of motivation upkeep. It’s important that you set goals for yourself and that you track your progress. Describe how and why you are doing certain things. It will give you a structured overview, which allows you to see and target your weaknesses.
Another important aspect of motivation is your confidence. To be more specific: the feeling you get when your actions give you the results you want. This is called ‘self-efficacy’. It’s important to start with baby steps, so you can get a taste of what success feels like.
Once you’re familiar with this feeling, you can scale it up. You will get more and more energy from your own success. It’s a positive feedback loop. The best way to reach this point, is to track your own progress.
So how do you know if you’re moving in the right direction? Well, I would recommend that you analyze your results. Are you reaching your set goals? Are you rewarding yourself? Are there any obstacles and how can you tackle them?
The main takeaway is probably that you need to be heavily involved in changing your habits. You can’t just download a meal plan and expect things to work themselves out.
There you have it. Losing weight can be very difficult. Most of it comes down to changing your old habits and rewarding yourself when you have.
By taking things slow, you will ensure consistent progress. Slow progress is a victory, too!
It all comes down to you. If you really want to lose weight or fat, it has to be you that does it. Therefore, I want you to take accountability for your actions. Don’t make excuses for yourself if you have a set goal in mind.
Focus on your prey.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Please, feel free to leave them in the comment section below!