Adopt These 8 Habits if You Want to Lose Weight
I'm on a weight loss journey currently, so when I say losing weight isn't easy, I mean it.
I mean all you have to do is make better food choices, eat a little less, and move a little more... Right?
The commitment and dedication it takes to change habits, is what makes losing weight hard. Did you know that the majority of your day is created from habits?
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The route you drive to work, the gas station you stop at to buy that soda and Gatorade every morning, all of it because of habit. We start being mindful of what we are eating, and somehow we still manage to "sneak in" too many calories.
Seriously, you can start making a lot of progress with weight loss if you start slow. The reason you start slow is because you have to intentionally change and create new habits. If you completely overhaul your diet and exercise routine, you eventually fall back into old habits. It's not because you can't do it. It's definitely not because it's hard.
It's because of your habits.
Before we jump into these eight habits you should try to adopt, read a little history about my fitness journey. I think it will help you apply these principles if you see that others have struggled just like you have.
2010 has come and I have surgery on my ankle due to being so overweight. I weighed in at 380, 60%+ body fat.
As I sit there, I realize I'm going to die very early if I don't change. A buddy from the warehouse I was working at wanted me to go lift with them, so other coworkers bet money on if I would go or not.
125 pounds and about a year later, I've hit 255 pounds. My ankle never was rehabilitated, so I struggled with ankle pain.
Flash forward a few years later, I've trained somewhat consistently, but slowly gained weight. I start getting control over my weight, but now I am 300 pounds at 28% body fat. Since I was a powerlifter, I wasn't so worried about my weight.
More depression hits.
So here it is 2017 and a lot of stressful events later, I stand on a scale to see it says 390. What am I doing with my life? You see, my habits of binge and emotional eating had finally caught up to me.
So here it is today, 10/2018, I'm back to losing weight and currently weigh 288. My coach Steve Shaw has helped me learn how to properly track calories and make better food decisions. My problem was always the amount, not quality. I love my veggies, fruits, and whole foods... I just like eating too much of it.
This long drawn out story is to show you that all it takes is restructuring your life to embrace positive habits. I don't mind using a food scale, I don't mind using measuring cups and spoons — I get to eat what I want and know it's okay.
Trying just one of these habit changes could be what you need to snowball your way to your weight loss goal. So here they are.
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8 Habits to Help You Lose Weight
1.) Plan out your food
Did you know you could quite literally have your cake and eat it too? That is, if you plan out everything.
I spend Sunday and part of Tuesday to plan out my meals for the week. What do I want to eat? What new flavors can I try?
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Also, spend the money on these:
- Food scale - they are cheap
- A couple sets of measuring spoons
- A couple sets of measuring cups
- Tupperware or meal prep containers
- A good knife
- A decent set of pots and pans
- A decent set of baking sheets
Put some money in the game and set yourself up for healthy habits.
You could start by simply logging what you eat. Start being more mindful of the serving sizes and use the measuring tools you just bought to start eating less.
Once you can prepare most of your meals, planning out your calories and exactly what you will eat removes temptation and the need to "make a quick stop."
2.) Get Some Protein in at Breakfast
Unless you are intermittent fasting, I recommend eating some protein at breakfast. Those sugary breakfast foods are all fine and dandy until you realize you ate half of your day's calories before you even got to work — and you're gonna have that midday crash like usual.
Eating protein helps maintain and build muscle, but it also keeps you fuller for longer.
Simply grabbing a protein shake or eating some lean protein for breakfast will help with cravings and urges. You simply won't be hungry.
3.) Try to Eat at the Same Time Every Day
I'm not saying you have to eat at exactly 11:59 pm every day, but setting up an eating schedule will help with hunger management.
It's sort of like your circadian rhythm for sleep, so when you eat breakfast within a couple hours of waking up, eating consistently through the day, and tapering your calories down at night will allow you to skip out on the hunger pangs.
You don't have to be perfect, you just need to be consistent.
4.) Drink More Water
The more I focus on getting enough water in me, the better I feel.
Most of us walk around mildly dehydrated — if you go thirsty for hours like I do, you've been mildly dehydrated by the time you feel thirsty.
Studies show that our bodies can confuse hunger, fatigue, and thirst. Next time you have the urge to snack on something, pound a bottle of water and see how you feel after that.
The better hydrated you stay throughout the day means you will have adequate energy levels, lower urges to eat a snack, and improved cognitive performance.
Keep your water accessible and set alarms to drink some if you need to.
5.) Get Some Fiber
Something that many of us don't get enough of, we should aim to eat 25 grams of fiber if you are a female, and 35 grams of fiber if you are a male.
All of those heavily processed foods you eat contain a very little amount of fiber. Since fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer, eating protein with fiber really helps.
My mornings consist of a serving of oatmeal with honey and a protein shake.
Some days I haven't been able to eat lunch at the right time and instead of being hungry by 1, I started getting those feelings around 4. It really does help.
Grab a handful of almonds, eat more vegetables and fruits, and even start using avocados to get more fiber into your diet.
6.) Walk More
Something I struggle with (remember my ankle?) but as I lose weight it's getting easier, is to walk more.
Walking is a low-impact exercise you can do every day. Carve out 30 minutes a day for yourself and walk.
There are plenty of articles out there on the benefits of walking, so I'm not going to go into detail about why you should start walking.
In one study, they took participants that had Type 2 diabetes and had two groups — those who walked after each meal, and those who only exercised once per day. The participants that walked after every meal experienced a greater weight loss than those who exercised once per day for the same amount of time.
7.) Start Organizing Your Plate Differently
Instead of putting your favorite part of a meal on your plate first, put on the healthy stuff. Load up your plate with vegetables and fruits before you start loading up the protein.
If you put an emphasis on healthy foods first, you don't have as much room for calorie dense foods. Once you can consistently keep your portions in control, it is okay to enjoy the foods you love.
I mean seriously, I get to eat amazing food every day and I'm losing weight by following this habit.
8.) Try High-Intensity Workouts
If you aren't lifting some weights, I invite you to start.
If you really don't want to lift weights, you're going to have to walk. Want to make your walking more effective for weight loss?
Try using a high-intensity protocol.
Research shows that high-intensity exercise burns more calories than steady-state exercise when performed for the same amount of time.
Ideally, you will want to be at about 70 to 80% of your maximum heart rate. You can find this by subtracting your age by 220. But you don't have to worry about your heart rate like that yet.
Instead, practice walking at a faster pace for 60 seconds and then a slower pace to recover for 30 seconds. Once your physical fitness improves, you will be able to do all-out sprints and then walking to recover.
The reason I say don't worry about your heart rate yet is because you simply need to get started. Once you get started, you can improve your workouts.
Wrapping It Up
Take action. Do anything.
The sooner you start working to make each day a little better, the sooner you will start seeing progress. Don't get discouraged if you mess up - I've lost 125, gained back 135 pounds, and now I've lost 102 pounds again.
Going through the ups and downs has given me a lot of insight on what works for me and what doesn't. If you aren't planning your meals, writing down what you're actually eating, and working to improve every day... it just won't work.
You may think it's working, but you'll never know. As soon as you ratchet down and hold yourself accountable, you'll see results.
It's not rocket science, it's just behavior modification. Quit being a slave to your weight.