With the buzz from holiday festivities over, the realization of what we got ourselves into with resolutions has begun to set in. “Losing weight” is one of the most common resolutions the problem is there’s so much information and misinformation available people don’t know where to start. To make matters worse there are many “health professionals” that have such polarizing opinions people are left asking questions like “are carbs good?” and “does long distance cardio make you fat?”. The truth is that we’re all individuals with different metabolisms, lifestyles, and goals, as a result there are a variety of weight loss techniques that can or can’t work for you. I’m going to share some basic rules for weight loss that are applicable across the board for people.
1) Start Slow: sometimes our enthusiasm for losing weight can sabotage our goals. In an effort to prove commitment some may start off with workouts and diets so extreme from their previous ones they burn up. And when the inevitable slip up occurs they feel like they’ve failed and give up on their weight loss goals. As an example for someone that’s always had a 3000 calorie a day diet rather than jumping straight into a low calorie 1500 calorie diet (plus adding weekly workouts), start out by reducing 250 to 500 calories instead.
2) Be Realistic About Goals: setting essentially unattainable goals will lead you to feeling disappointed even when you’ve made great progress. For someone that’s never seriously trained and dieted, setting a goal to win the LA marathon is unfair considering you’ll be competing with people that trained their whole lives to run marathons. It’s fine to be ambitious and bold with your goals but assess where you’re at and the work it’ll take to reach your goals.
3) Pick One You Can Adhere To: we’ve all seen the books from people praising a certain diet for their weight loss whether it was low carb, low fat, vegetarian, or paleo. A common denominator was that it was something they stuck to during the duration of their diet. The best designed diet in the world won’t be effective if we can’t follow it.
4) Be proactive about cravings: if you’re on a low to very low calorie diet it’s normal that at some point you’re going to get cravings. Rather than binge eating and feeling guilty about it, prepare yourself to deal with this when the moment strikes. One great way is by following a concept I learned from Dr. Jade Teta, it involves knowing your “buffer” and “trigger” foods. Trigger foods are ramp up your cravings, they’re the foods that you know you can’t have just one bite. Buffer foods are foods that you know you have the ability to indulge in with appropriate serving sizes throughout the week. Often times one person’s buffer food can be another’s trigger food, so it’s important to be honest with yourself and pay attention to your eating habits.
5) Exercise Inefficiency: The better you become at an exercise or workout the less calories you burn as you become more efficient. Just think of how hard a workout is the first time you tried it compared to say the 30th time you’ve done the same workout. We all adapt at different rates and our learning curves for different exercises all vary but once your workout becomes easy start a new one.
6) Non-Exercise Physical Activity: the most common way we think of getting rid of calories in addition to diet is through exercise. And it’s understandable exercise is a great tool that can provide us with a multitude of benefits. But for most people it’s extremely difficult to workout intensely for over an hour. Killing time at the gym checking your social media feed doesn’t count as time exercising at the gym. So that leaves you with about 15-18 hours in a day when you account for sleep. Things like parking further from the store, taking stairs over the elevator, and periodically getting up from your desk at work to move around can add up in a big way to help you burn calories.
Erick Avila, owner of www.ergogenichealth.com a company that provides individualized training programs and nutritional consultations for athletic events and weight loss. Erick works as a strength & conditioning coach/nutritionist with a variety of professional boxers including two ranked in the top 50 of their respective weight divisions. He’s experienced having worked in both sport and clinical settings, with focuses ranging from general weight loss to hormonal optimization. Erick has bachelor’s degrees in Exercise Science & Nutritional Science.