So You Want to Lose Weight?

I wasn’t going to post about weight loss, but figured I would put out my opinion, thoughts, and suggestions. There’s so much information out there that I’m sure this will get lost in the chatter, but here I go anyways.

One thing I’ve said time and time again is that real, lasting change needs to come from a place of love, not hate. You can not hate your body enough to affect change. If you hate yourself, nothing will ever be good enough. If you love yourself – or accept your body – results don’t matter and the changes you make will be about honoring your body. Don’t focus on weight loss – think of losing weight as a by-product of a healthy lifestyle.

A couple things I would get asked all the time when I was a personal trainer was what type of exercise is best and at what time of the day?

The best type of exercise is whatever you enjoy and what you’ll keep up. You don’t have to set foot in a gym in order to get in shape, exercise or lose weight. Here in Ottawa, there’s something ridiculous like 500km of multi use trails throughout the city and area. You can bike, walk, jog, roller blade – even cross country ski in the winter time from what I understand. There’s many parks to hike in the summer and snowshoe in the winter. In the winter, you can skate the Rideau Canal. Summer or winter, there’s plenty to do. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Dancing? Gymnastics? Martial Arts? Check out your local community center. Take swimming or skate lessons. Are you competitive? Choose a race or competition to aim for. I never thought of myself as a runner – as I always professed my hatred of cardio and running. After an overenthusiastic commitment to running the TC10k in Victoria back in 2016, as much as I didn’t necessarily enjoy the process (though I did eventually enjoy it) after that race, I really got addicted. Despite that, I didn’t run for about 3 years as life got in the way.

Now I’m ready.

As for the time of day, it’s whatever time works for you. Some say fasted cardio (first thing in the morning before food) is the best, but I say whatever time you feel your best – and when it makes sense for your life – is when you should do it. For me, I’ve always preferred to go in the morning, but since I leave for work at 6am, so I’m up at 5am, that’s challenging for me unless I want to get up at 330am. I’m not THAT much of a morning person! Instead, I’ll be going after work because it makes sense. On the weekends, I’ll go in the morning.

Find a way to track your progress. This morning I took my weight and measurements. Just because this is how I track progress doesn’t make it right or wrong. If you track this way, don’t become obsessed with the numbers and whether they go up or down. There’s many factors in play and it’s very easy to get hung up on the number and don’t take your measurements too frequently – once a month, MAX. Beware of this because it can very easily lead to diet culture habits. Other ways to track your progress are: how do your clothes fit? Take pictures to compare. How far could you run a month ago vs now? How are your sleep habits? How are your moods? Blood pressure? There’s many other ways to track your progress other than a number on a scale.

DON’T compare yourself to others so watch who you follow on social media. If you find that you’re constantly compare yourself to someone, unfollow them. Hell – I caught myself doing that just this morning! One of the people I follow posted a progress pick and she included her stats – she’s 5’6″ and 161 lbs. She’s VERY muscular but ripped! I couldn’t help but think “wow! I wish I looked like her!”. When I competed, I would do the same thing – look for fitness models who were my height who looked how I wanted. And you know what I found? All their weights were SO different! The thing is, you could have 10 women who are the same height, who go on the exact same diet, doing the exact same exercise and they will all look and weigh different. This is because everybody is different, processes food different, and responds to exercise different. This is why, if you go on a “diet”, it’s important to understand that you may not have the results as the person pimping the diet. Use it as a guideline but not gospel.

You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Though this quote is tossed around fitspo sites and are often associated with those supporting diet culture… however, it’s still true. The biggest thing about getting your diet “under control” is not doing too much too fast and don’t get too obsessed with “clean eating”. Orthorexia is an eating disorder – obviously not as common as bulimia and anorexia, but still as damaging.

Think of it this way: if you’re somewhat new to this whole “getting healthy” thing and you jump into exercising an hour+ every day and you cut out all the junk food and only eat steamed veggies and boiled chicken breast, are you really going to stick to it? The first time someone in the office brings in donuts, you’re screwed! You still have to live! It’s better to make small, manageable changes. Things like: cut out pop. Cut out processed foods. Cut out the “whites” – white bread, white pasta, white sugar. Add more servings of vegetables. Keep fruit in the house for snacking in case you have a sugar craving.

I like to promote intuitive eating. I believe our bodies are smart enough to tell us what it needs. The problem is, most of us have been victim to diet culture for so long, we’ve lost the ability to hear that voice. The good news is you can get it back. It will take time to learn that language again and it’ll take time to trust it, but it has always been there and has never left.

Have you ever noticed that in the warmer months you crave cooler foods like salads and raw fruits and veggies and in cooler months you crave warm and heartier foods like stews and soups? This is your body telling you what it wants and needs.

When it comes to food, it’s usually the hardest thing to figure out but also the most important. When it comes to “losing weight”, it’s 80% how you fuel your body and only 20% what you do which is why there’s SO many diets out there! Going on a diet can be helpful in the beginning if you have no clue where to start, but keep these things in mind: ALL macro nutrients (carbs, fat, protein) are essential to your body – you need all of them for optimal health. If a diet is telling you to cut out one macro nutrient, do not take the bait. Also, no pill, tea, or shake will shed the weight – the only thing it’ll be making skinnier is your wallet. “Cookie cutter diets” – which I like to call any commercial/conventional diet – doesn’t work. Why would it work for someone who wants to lose 50 lbs as well as someone who wants to lose 10 lbs – or 100 lbs? This is why there’s so many diets out there.

Now, the one good thing about trying different diets (trust me, as I’ve tried SO many out there!) you learn about your body and constitution. You can figure out how your body reacts to certain foods. Maybe you feel bloated and phlegmy when you eat gluten – doesn’t mean you should cut out carbs, but maybe look at gluten-free carbs. Maybe eating certain meats like beef makes you really lethargic so maybe keep it to white meats like chicken breast or pork. If you feel the need to go on a conventional diet, keep a food diary but instead of keeping track of how much you’re eating, keep track of how you feel when you eat certain foods as there might be a pattern in how you feel. Are you hungry again shortly after having a meal? Have a look at the macro nutrients and see what you’re missing. For me, if I don’t have enough protein with my breakfast, I’m hungry very shortly after. All of this information can be helpful with intuitive eating.

Okay, so since diet plays such a huge part in “losing weight”, here’s some more tips:

Fat doesn’t make you fat. Any excess of any macro nutrient will make you fat. In fact, fat is essential for your health but think of terms of avocados, seeds, and nuts.

Don’t kid yourself with “fat free” or “sugar free” products – to take sugar or fat out of a product, something needs to be put in its place – and typically it’s not good for your health.

If you want a cookie (or whatever) – by gawd, have a stinking cookie! Restricting too much may result in binge eating.

Know yourself. For me, I tend to cut out sugary foods completely as if I have one, I have way too many – and I do NOT keep anything in the house! This isn’t for everyone. Some people can “just have one”… not me. I know this about myself.

Salads aren’t always healthy – especially if you get them in restaurants. Caesar salads are insanely calorie dense and not always good for you. Even a garden salad can have more calories than you expect depending on the dressing. Also, get the dressing on the side as they often put too much on.

Calories in do not need to be less than calories out in order to lose weight. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It can be used as guideline but keep in mind that most people need a MINIMUM 1500 calories a day just to keep your body functioning – that’s doing absolutely nothing. You need to eat for your goals and performance. If you cut out too many calories, your body will think you’re starving it and hold onto what you do consume. There’s a fine line between too much and not enough food and this is why it’s so hard to diet effectively.

There’s SO much more that I can say regarding this, but I’ll leave it here for now. Diet and exercise can be challenging and confusing. Just keep in mind that there’s more important things than “losing weight”. Don’t let it stop you from living. At the end of your life, I guarantee it that you won’t regret not losing weight but you WILL regret letting it stop you from enjoying yourself. Yes, carrying too much weight can be detrimental to your health and the weight itself is stopping you from living the life you want, but for most, that’s not the case.

And that’s why “losing weight” should be a by-product to the lifestyle you lead.

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