So you want to lose weight?
Did you read my last post? “Maybe The Problem IS You”… if you haven’t, I highly suggest starting there.
Early on when I first started Personal Training, I was more focused on the “how” and less about the “why”, but as I’ve matured, I’m realizing, even more so now, how much more important it is to deal with the mental health aspect of why the weight was gained to begin with as well as dismantling limiting beliefs and personal mis/conceptions of health and beauty.
Are you still with me? Okay, good!
Do you want to know what the best exercises are to lose weight and the best time to do it? And the best foods?
The best exercise: whatever you love to do and will do consistently.
The best time: whenever you feel your best.
The best foods: well, this is a tricky subject. I’ll get to that later!
Here’s the thing; there’s no secret diet or workout or time or anything. Most people complicate things too much. The majority of people don’t need a six-pack – and, honestly, I’m not interested in taking people there.
I want to help (women) work through their past traumas, dismantle limiting beliefs, and have them know they are deserving of love – from themselves and others – just as they are.
However, I also want to teach women the joy of movement, creating achievable goals, and being mindful and intuitive in how they feed their body, mind, and soul.
The truth about “weightloss”, and the success or failure of it, is consistency. And this is why most traditional diets don’t- and can’t! – work; because they’re not sustainable. They’re not meant to be – no matter what they claim. Unfortunately diets don’t teach you how to properly navigate foods and often instills fear of certain foods or food groups.
So what do you need to do in order to lose weight?
Yes, movement, not exercise.
Find something that you love to do.
For me, I love lifting weights. I always have. I started lifting weights when I was in high school- because it wasn’t cardio as I wasn’t allowed to run because of my knees and asthma. I love getting stronger – especially when I got stronger than the guys.
I also love – LOVE! – dance! Any form, but especially bellydance and swing dance that I could do with my husband. We did swing dancing for years! I would be out on the dance floor song after song until I was dripping sweat and could barely breathe! When it’s fun, it doesn’t feel like exercise!
I also enjoy cycling – though it’s used more as a form of transportation but as it’s easier on the knees, I can do it on a daily basis.
Yes, I feel women should do resistance training, especially as we get older to help keep bone density and musculature, but it doesn’t mean lifting 5 days a week and being able to bench press your own weight. It could be 2-3 times a week and combined with other, more enjoyable forms of movement…. if resistance training isn’t your thing. (Or maybe it will be! You never know!)
As for the best time to exercise, that is entirely dependent on several factors; work schedule, sleep schedule, family obligations, etc.
I used to be very much a morning person. I still am, based on most people, I’m sure! But getting up at 5am is getting harder and harder for me. 6am is definitely more realistic! But I start work at 7am – so working out before work is challenging to the point of impossible. So we go to the gym immediately after work because that’s what works.
However, that might not work for you. You might work graveyard, or 2 jobs, or double shifts, or split shifts, or you might travel, or have a huge commute, or have family and children who depend on you being home. These are all legitimate reasons that could prevent you from being able to have a concrete consistent schedule. You may not be able to form a workout schedule more than a week at a time.
And that’s okay! You need to work with what you have available. And you can add things to your day – parking farther away from the door when you get groceries or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. All these little things add up!
Food / Dietary intake
I really do hate the word “diet” as most people assume restrictive, bland, repetitive grossness. This is definitely the hardest part to talk about as most people have trauma around food.
For instance, my dad was adopted into a very religious family. His dad was a minister and his mom taught Sunday school. As my dad was growing up, his mom would make way more food than the family of 4 really needed – but his mom didn’t believe in leftovers. She’d often say “Don’t let this food go to waste. Think of all the starving children in Africa”… so it’s no wonder my dad was overweight for most of his life! It made things especially challenging for my mom, who did believe in leftovers, to convince my dad he didn’t need to eat everything she cooked; she wanted leftovers!!! Unfortunately I grew up with shame around food – even though it never occurred to me when I was younger. Because of my dad’s weight – and he was diabetic – he liked sweets and he’d often sneak treats. It’s probably where I picked up that habit.
When it comes to changing up your diet – especially if you’re trying to lose weight – the best thing you can do is to make small changes over time:
- Eat a piece of fruit instead of drinking fruit juice
- Whole wheat bread instead of white bread
- Brown rice instead of white rice or do a mixture of both
- Drink more water, less pop
- Chicken breast instead of thigh (white vs dark meat)
- Side salad instead of fries
- Switching from (bovine) milk to a nut milk like almond
This is obviously a very small list, but it’s something that I don’t really believe in anymore. If you love milk, don’t switch! I embraced intuitive eating a few years ago because I was tired of being on the diet merry-go-round and knew there had to be a better way. And though it took a LOT of trial and error (emphasis on the error) I no longer have the binge habits I used to. Knowing I can have something if I really want it is often enough to not want it!
The big thing my husband and I are trying to do now is to watch portion sizes, times we’re eating, and how we’re feeling – and it seems to be helping with boredom eating and over eating.
Now the big thing with this is not to become obsessive. Orthorexia isn’t a widely known eating disorder – some doctors don’t acknowledge it as one – but it is becoming more common. It’s the obsession of eating clean.
However, paying attention to, say, portion size, isn’t inherently obsessive. The fact is, most people have no clue how much they’re actually eating. Quite often, portion sizes we consume are more than double what it should be! That’s why I don’t keep cereal in the house – portion sizes are so small compared to my hunger.
When it comes to food – just like exercise/movement – you need to do what’s right for you. Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but if you’re not a breakfast person, why force it? I absolutely need breakfast. 1000% required. If I don’t have breakfast, I get nasty and crave sugar. Bad. And for breakfast I’m not talking a scone with my coffee – I’m talking turkey bacon (because I genuinely prefer it to pork bacon) scrambled eggs, and hash browns – or toast if we’re out of hash browns.
If someone said “peanuts are, without a shadow of doubt, the best food for your health!” but you’re allergic to peanuts… you’re not going to start eating them because someone said to, right? You need to use common sense! If you don’t like something, don’t eat it!!!
When it comes to how you feed your body, you need to do what’s right for you, and that requires trial and error. If you’re on a cookie-cutter diet that has the same meal plan no matter who you are, you’re probably going to be sorely disappointed.
- Lean mass
- Activity level
These are some factors that come into play with your results if you’re on a “weight loss journey”. And because you are a unique individual, your results will be very different from others!
The truth is, when it comes to “losing weight”, you need to ask yourself why. Are you doing it for the right reasons – and the right way? And what if you don’t? What if you diet and exercise and yet you don’t lose weight? What then?
We don’t grow up hating ourselves; our bodies. That is a learned behavior. But the good news is, if it’s a learned behavior, you can unlearn it. You can do the work, dismantle your beliefs, and move on. Become intimately familiar with how your body feels; the foods that makes you feel the best, and move in ways that you crave.
THAT is the freedom that you should strive for.