Here is a quick look at the broad spectrum of what generally should be done and not done in order to lose weight.
Avoid refined sugar. It’s fine if you have a piece of fruit, but there’s no good reason to pour sugar into your coffee.
Start an exercise program on an easy gradient. You aren’t going to lose all of your weight at once. It is going to come off gradually. Unfortunately our bodies don’t change as fast as our minds.
Focus on consistency in the gym above all else. Focusing on consistency is what is going to get you in the gym 200+ days out of the year. It is going to set the stage for your new lifestyle, which is active. Beat yourself up if you want to for short term gains, but a lot of that stuff blows people off.
Count your calories and keep a food log. The point of this isn’t to drive you insane. It is to build awareness. Eventually, you won’t need to. But everyone – overweight or not – can benefit from some awareness on this point.
Set realistic goals. Work with a fitness trainer or other health practitioner to determine a healthy rate of weight loss that is real for you.
Get your family on board. It is important to not only control your diet and exercise, but extend that into your environment. Work with your family on movie night to switch to healthier options. Make sure that they know not to tempt you. Tell your friends to give you a break from the club.
Plan ahead. Plan your week out ahead of time and make sure that exercise is in it every day. It takes about 10 minutes to look at the week ahead, but this little mind exercise will get you far.
Educate yourself. You are a student now. It is your job to learn everything about fitness and nutrition. You may or may not master these subjects, but you’ll definitely learn more if you approach it from that perspective. My clients with the most weight lost were the ones who wanted to learn.
Keep an exercise log. Look at this as a written communication to your future self. You’re not doing it for you right now. When you look back at this, at whatever time, you’ll be able to see the massive amount of work you’ve accomplished. It is no small thing.
Keep a healthy snack around at all times. There’s no reason to let yourself get too hungry. As soon as a diet starts to make you go crazy, it’s over. You can push it for a short period, but it isn’t sustainable and building good habits. Ever heard of the term “hangry”?
Get enough sleep. Sleep is important for muscle gain, weight loss, your immune system, your mind, and don’t forget those people who work next to you. Look, you’re already asking your body to unload massive reserves of energy. Don’t ask it to do that on low sleep as well. It’ll push back.
Get a gym buddy. Having someone to be accountable to makes a big difference. Maybe your boss doesn’t know that you missed your workout, but your buddy does. If you and someone else is in it together, you’ve got a little more skin in the game.
Understand that your family benefits from this. Sometimes parents will just let themselves go while taking care of their kids full time. That, unfortunately, winds up with you not being there later in their lives when they have kids. Think longer term and just keep yourself healthy. You’re not being selfish.
Get gym clothes that you like. We all like getting new things and especially girls when it comes to new clothes. Once you’ve got them, you want to wear them and hit the gym. It’s really funny but it works. Money spent on gym clothes that you like is worth the investment.
Have a spare set of gym clothes in your car. I can’t say how many times people canceled on me at the gym because “They forgot their clothes.” It’s a simple fix.
Go to a gym that is on your way home. When you’re searching for a gym, it is good to pick one in between your home and work, if at all possible. This way, when you’re pressed for time, you’re not also factoring in the wasted minutes of driving. It cuts the additional drive time to zero if it is on the way.
Find good music or a good audiobook. Sometimes we’ll just do some cardiovascular exercise and you’ll be on the treadmill, bike, rower or out running for a while. If you have music or an audiobook you like, you’ll want to exercise and will find reasons to exercise.
Stay hydrated. Every chemical process that happens in your body happens in an environment filled with water. So, so, so many things go wrong when you don’t drink enough water.
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Get a water bottle you like. Some people like the ones that are marked with times of the day so they know they are on track. Lots of dudes like Yeti water bottles. If you like it, you’re more likely to keep it with you and use it.
And now for the DON’T
There’s only one don’t.
Don’t run something weird on yourself where you feel like you are withholding food or fun or pleasure. You’ll go bonkers. I’m not even going to put don’ts on here because this entire thing is a DO.
You are investing in yourself. Instead of thinking about what you can’t have, think about what you can have instead. If it’s not a cookie, then look at what healthy vegetables you can have – and then look at how much better you feel (physically and mentally) after you’ve snacked on almonds instead.
You can crack the weight problem, just don’t crack yourself in the process.
I know there are a ton more DOs that I should put on the list. If you have any to add, please send them along.
Losing weight isn’t a matter of tying you to a chair and keeping you from things. It’s educating you how to eat and drilling in good habits.
It involves a lot of action taken on your part. I’m never gotten anyone to lose weight by scolding them for eating junk. But I HAVE gotten them to lose weight by educating them and taking advantage of their enthusiasm for food to create something totally healthy and that causes the fat to go away.
So stop beating yourself up and get to doing.