There comes a moment in time when that nagging “I want to do something about my body”, turns into a decision. A decision that you’re going to act on. With so much conflicting advice out there, it can be difficult to decide how to start your weight loss journey. Especially if you’ve tried to lose weight before and slipped back to your old weight. Now you also have to battle the “it won’t work for me” monster. It can feel like you’re on the inside of a hamster wheel, with no way out.
But losing weight can be fun and easy. Well easy-ish!
Before You Start Your Weight Loss Journey
Start by loving yourself.
If you want to lose weight because you hate yourself and your body, you won’t be kind to yourself. Think of it as teaching a kid to ride a bike by shouting at them instead of encouraging them. You want loving encouragement.
Self awareness is a lifelong journey. It’s one of the keys of creating a healthy lifestyle that works for you. Don’t join a running club if you hate running. If you’re a night owl and hate early mornings, don’t set a goal to get up at 5 to do yoga
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Worked for your friend so must work for you? Wrong! Human physiology is complicated. Nutrition affects us all differently. There are several “pillars of nutrition” that apply to us all but you have to take in your individuality. Walk your own journey and enjoy it.
Create habits that work for you.
Think that people who have healthy habits are more disciplined than you? It’s not true! They just set up their lives so their habits work. (This goes hand in hand with self awareness.)
Go for a lifestyle change rather than a “diet”.
Here’s a hard truth. If you’re gaining weight now, the way you’re living isn’t working in terms of weight loss. If you diet for a few months and go back to what you’re doing now, you’ll get the same result. Weight gain. Don’t worry! You can make small changes that will make a difference. Small changes that you can sustain.
Make Changes to What You Eat
If you want to lose weight, you need to make changes to what you eat. Many people think that exercise is the key to weight loss. Exercise is a great way to get fit and feel fabulous but accounts for 5-15% of weight loss (depending on which expert you read.)
Ever heard the saying “You can’t out run a bad diet”?
The amount of energy you burn off with exercise is only a small proportion of your “basal metabolic rate”. The amount of energy your body uses each day. Your first port of call is to look at what you eat.
Nutrition affects us all differently. I like to say you need to find “the perfect diet for you” rather than the perfect diet. (By “diet” I mean a way of eating, rather than something you do for a few weeks.)
There are a few “blanket policies” that apply to everyone.
Two Main Culprits Of Weight Gain
People start to gain weight for many reasons. The two most common are hormones (insulin and cortisol) and your “biome” (the bugs that live in your big intestines.)
Luckily the cure for both is similar!
1. Unrefined Carbohydrates
A diet high in refined carbohydrates (think flour and sugar), with little variety of fruit and vegetables pushes your insulin levels up. (Insulin is your “fat storage” hormone. You don’t want raised insulin levels, especially if you want to lose weight.) It also leads to a biome that has “the wrong sort of bacteria”.
Reducing refined carbohydrates and replacing them with unrefined carbs is a fantastic first step. Vegetables and whole grains are your friends. Luckily they’re bountiful and easy to prepare.
And tasty! Easy, healthy and tasty!
2. Healthy Fats
We used to think that a low fat diet was good for us. Research is showing us that this is not the case. Our body doesn’t turn healthy fats into fat. (It does turn refined carbohydrates into fat.)
Fat is a great way to feel full up. The healthy fat with the most research behind it (in terms of weight loss and health benefits) is extra virgin olive oil.
Which is great for us as it’s super tasty. You can drizzle it on just about anything. As we do here in Spain.
Extra virgin olive oil is an integral part of the “Mediterranean Style Diet” (MSD). The MSD also has the most research in terms of long lasting weight loss and health benefits.
The “MSD” isn’t really a “diet”. It’s more of a framework. (Side note, beware hashtags that claim to be “MSD” there is quite a lot of misunderstanding behind it. It’s not large quantities of pasta and pizza as you might expect if think about Mediterranean cuisine.)
Lots of Variety
Variety is the spice of life and the key to a healthy diet! Think lots of different types of vegetables. The Med Style Diet also has nuts and seeds, some fish and small amounts of meat.
Protein is an interesting and controversial area. Some “weight loss diets” work by eating lots of protein. Many experts say that large quantities of protein aren’t good for you. I recommend 45-60g a day of good quality protein. (ref Michael Mosley’s Clever Guts Diet.)
Make Sustainable Changes
You want to make changes to your diet and way of life that you can stick to. Create a healthy way of living and eating that that you love and the rest will fall into place.