Weight loss can be pretty complicated, and there’s a lot of people who want to drop body fat but don’t because they’re suffering from paralysis by analysis. They’re trying so hard to understand all the things about losing weight that they’re not even remotely sure where to start.
To be sure, there’s a lot to learn about weight loss. I’ve written a fair bit about it based on my own experience of losing now 55 lbs and I’m far from an expert.
However, like I said, I do have some experience with this kind of thing. I’ve been down this road before, so I know a few things about how to make meaningful changes and to start making them quickly.
So here they are, four things you can do to start losing weight right now.
In and of itself, this doesn’t sound like it would actually impact weight loss all that much. After all, we’re not talking about changing how much you eat or how often you eat or anything. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
But it really does.
There’s a phenomenon in physics called the Observer Effect. Basically, watching a thing changes a thing. When it comes to what you eat, that same thing is true. I’ve watched people who have started tracking what they eat suddenly making different choices because they have to record what they’re doing.
By tracking what you eat, you’re now accountable to yourself for what you eat. That means you have to justify that pizza or burger.
Not only that, but it helps to educate you on just how horrible all that stuff you’re eating actually is. You can see how it’s loaded with carbs and fat, but not so much with protein.
Just make sure you’re doing more than writing food down in a notebook and forgetting about it. You need to actually track the food. That means you need to go and put forth some effort into counting the calories, even if you haven’t set a threshold.
There are a lot of ways to do it and a lot of websites that will help you figure out the calories and macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fat that you can do almost anything. Yes, you can use a notebook–just be sure to include all the relevant info–or a spreadsheet in Google Documents. I personally recommend My Fitness Pal (not sponsored or anything, just a fan).
Once you start doing that, in addition to seeing how your macronutrient breakdown is, you’ll also see that your “I hardly ate anything” really amounted to almost 3,000 calories without you even blinking. If you’re not careful, something like that can sneak up on you.
2. Cook For Yourself
A lot of people don’t cook. They eat out. After all, we all lead busy lives and all that, but I want to point out a few facts to you.
First, eating out doesn’t necessarily save you any time. When you order in a restaurant, someone has to cook it, then bring it out to you. That doesn’t count the time spent trying to figure out what you want, waiting for someone to take your order and all of that mess. That means the time savings just isn’t enough to fool with.
Plus, if you look at the calories of some of your favorite dishes, you’ll be shocked to see just how horrible some of those dishes actually are.
By cooking at home, though, you have complete control over the ingredients. You have the final say over seasoning or anything else as well. It’s basically made your way.
Additionally, you also control your side dishes to a much greater degree.
The trick, though, is to be more selective about what you cook. You’re going to need to look more toward things like lean meats or, if you’re like me and prefer dark meat poultry, look at the boneless, skinless varieties. Those have less fat and fewer calories because of that while still being plenty tasty.
3. Stop Drinking Calories
One of the easiest things people can do each and every day is to stop drinking their calories. They fix a cup of coffee and load it up with cream and sugar. They have a couple of sodas while working. They drink sodas with their meals.
By the end of the day, they’ve taken in hundreds of calories without even getting to enjoy the food…because it wasn’t food to begin with.
Then you have people who try to clean up their diet and start drinking juice instead of soda. Sounds smart, right?
Well, sure. The problem, though, is that juice also has calories. While a 12 oz. can of Coke has 140 calories, 12 oz. of apple juice can be 180 calories. Going back to point one, this is why tracking your calories can be so important. Sometimes, we make decisions we think are healthy–and, arguably, are healthier for us under many circumstances–then get discouraged when we’re not making any gains.
That’s why you don’t want to drink any of your calories if you can help it. There are exceptions, such as drinking a protein shake to help get enough protein/calories despite not wanting to actually eat anything, but those are supplements. It shouldn’t be a way of life.
While some people are very down on diet drinks, I’m not. Looking at most of the research that supposedly shows potential harm of these drinks, I’m unconvinced. Yes, a study showed issues with some artificial sweeteners, but they did so at a dose well in excess of what a human can actually consume at one time.
Anything is toxic in too large a dose, even water.
As such, if you do diet sodas, then fine. I’ve been drinking them a lot during my time trying to lose weight myself. I also use stevia in my coffee or tea, keeping those at zero calories.
4. Weigh Yourself Daily
This one might be a little controversial for some folks, because they think weighing yourself daily is a bad idea. I get it. I used to be one of those people too.
The problem, from that point of view, is that you can become discouraged by daily fluctuations in body weight. People see themselves creep up in weight just a tad and are likely to freak out and stop their efforts.
I, of course, disagree.
When you weigh yourself each morning, it does a couple of things. For one, it’s a morning reminder that you’re trying to lose body fat which helps set up your day. For another, it’ll help you realize if there’s a problem quickly so you can take a step back and figure out if you need to make any adjustments.
The key, I feel, is to do what you can to prevent as many potential fluctuations as possible.
For the last 11 months, I’ve weighed myself almost every single day. What I do is get up, empty the bladder, drop clothes until I’m just in my undies, and then hop on the scale.
The point of that is to put myself in as close to a baseline state as possible. I’ve removed excess water from my system and prevented clothing differences from making an impact. I keep the undies on for my own psychological comfort and also because they’re all pretty much the same brand and style, so any differences are so minuscule that my scale is unlikely to pick them up. It will, however, notice the difference between a pair of thin sleeper shorts and heavy sweat pants.
I’m just sayin’.
In the last 11 months, though, I’ve been very impressed with how hopping on the scale has been a useful tool. Especially after you have figured out your caloric needs and are working to make sure they’re all good to go.
I’m able to recognize potential problems before they become major problems and adjust accordingly. It’s awesome.
There you have it, four quick things you can do right away to start your own weight loss journey.
However, those are just beginning steps. Don’t even begin to think that this would remotely be enough if you have a long way to go. This might account for as many as 10 or 15 pounds for some people, but if you have more than that to lose, doing just this is likely going to be insufficient.
What it can do, though, is motivate you to start making more and more changes to your lifestyle. That’s the key to not just losing weight, but keeping it off indefinitely.
After all, plenty of people lose weight. The problem is that they all tend to put it back on. The reason is that they haven’t adjusted their mindsets or lifestyles to live this way indefinitely. However, that’s what you kind of have to do. Yes, if you’re lean you can afford to eat a 2,000 calorie meal, but you can’t do it every day. If you do, you won’t be lean very long.
Instead, these are just some first steps. Take those, then click the follow blog button and stick around as we’ll talk more about weight loss and a whole lot of other cool topics.