Step 1: Make sure you set realistic goals.

Often people are led astray by fad diets and the results they see online in big social media adverts such as "lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks" or "6 weeks to a six-pack" and so on, and this is simply setting people up for failure and leading to a poor mindset around what is realistic.

Yes, the science says that 2 lbs of weight loss per week can be achieved healthily, but it is often difficult to maintain because it requires such a drastic change in people's lives and often ends quickly, resulting in a binge down the line, causing a yo-yo effect that often recurs for most people's adult lives until they finally give up. Instead, consider a more conservative approach of 0.25-0.5lb per week, which I know now doesn't appear very glamorous.

0.5 lb seems like nothing, but think of it this way: if I said to you 1 year ago today that you could be 2 stone lighter by this time next year, would you have taken it?

Step 2: Control your controllables. We all know now the simple formula to weight loss is energy taken in needs to be less than energy used, IE eat less and move more.

This is correct but only half of the picture when you actually put that into the theory of real life when you throw kids, job, social pressures and so on into the picture. So what do i mean by control your controllables,

A few examples of this are:

Organisation: Being organised will lead to better choices around food and better attendance to your chosen method of exercises.

Shopping: Going to do your own food shopping will ensure the foods you need to succeed in your goals are actually in the house, this also works the other way and stops the foods that impact your goals in a negative way not being there.

Step 3: Increase your NEAT

NEAT stands for "non-exercise activity thermogenesis." NEAT is simply movement outside of exercise (gym, running, football, etc.). Why is this so important? On average, people train for 45-60 minutes, which results in a calorie burn ranging from 250-750 depending on the workout, participant, and a few other factors. The main issue here is that there are still 23 hours in that day, so assuming you fill as much of that as possible, doing other movements is critical to fat loss. This includes cleaning the house, walking pets, walking to and from the station, taking calls on the phone and walking round the house. Any type of movement will burn calories and the more you burn the more consistent the weight loss will be.

Step 4: Enjoy your food.

Now that we've established that incorporating smaller, achievable food intake reductions and increasing movement outside of the gym are ways to seamlessly integrate weight loss into your current lifestyle, another method is to ensure you still eat food you enjoy, even if it's the same food but less. For example, if you're going out to dinner or ordering takeout, change your order to come without chips and get an extra portion of vegetables. The final tip for this method is to track your calories and make sure what you're eating fits into your daily allowance. This will allow you to have a little more freedom as you can add things in and out of your day to make it fit. Remember to also not stress that this is a long-term approach, and if you require a meal or day that you feel like has completely “thrown you off the wagon” cross it off and get straight back on the next day. It doesn't matter what day it is; don't find yourself on a Wednesday saying, "I'll be back on Monday." This can lead to bad habits and just cause weight gain instead of loss.

Remember, your body has no idea what day it is.

Step 5: Staying on track while keeping a social life

Firstly, you should never feel guilty for enjoying yourself, and along with this, you shouldn't let pressure from social events get in the way of your goals. So how do we find the middle ground? Some of the points we have already discussed can help with this, such as being organised, i.e., planning ahead what you are going to eat at a restaurant; getting back in control the day after; and remembering that one meal or one night out won't undo all the hard work you've already put in. Outside of these points, there are a few other takeaways. One of the easiest ways to enjoy your social life while trying to lose body fat is to simply set rules. That will help you stay in control. For example, a rule could be "stick to low-calorie drink alternatives on a night out" or "always pick your meal in advance so you have some control." Another one could simply be "always prep breakfast for the next day ahead of time" to ensure you are back on track the following day.

Finally, what I would consider the most important point is to just be realistic. Set the goal of maintaining your weight during the weeks when you have social events that involve more food and/or drink. This will take the pressure off and allow you to enjoy yourself and get back on track with weight loss the week after, while remaining positive because you met your goal for that week. Don't underestimate the power of hitting a goal! A goal to maintain your weight during a week filled with social events is as good a goal as any.

Long-term success in weight loss requires you to enjoy the process; you should never get to the point where you cut out all the things you enjoy in life to achieve a set weight.

Written by Chris Farrant


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