If you are reading this article you are probably considering starting a weight loss journey. Maybe at your last physical your doctor recommended reducing your weight for health benefits and reducing risk of chronic disease. Maybe the last few years during the pandemic, have resulted in gaining a few extra pounds you're not comfortable with. Whatever your reason, having a sustainable plan for weight loss is the foundation for long term success. Here I have narrowed it down to the three foundational tips for a sustainable weight loss.
What Happens When Weight Loss is Not Sustainable?
With over 39% of people reporting they have been on a diet during just the year of 2021. The concept of yo-yo dieting is something that is familiar to many. You probably have a friend or family member who falls into this category. You might even consider your past experience with weight loss has led you to this same point.
Yo-yo dieting is when you follow a meal plan, exercise program, detox regime and it results in fast weight loss. This might be a crash diet, meaning the weight happened within a short period, or over a few month course. However, the end result is the same. You lost weight but it came back to just where you were before the magical weight loss you were promised.
When weight loss is not approached with a sustainable mindset, and instead with the goal of a quick fix, then it is normally too rigid and not realistic for you to maintain. Therefore the changes you made resulted in weight loss but not long term habits or the new lifestyle you plan to live for years and years to come.
Losing weight for the long term, enjoying your health, and feeling your best can be started now. Developing a healthy lifestyle with a long term mindset is very important. The three biggest things you can do to start on your journey in a sustainable way is to dive into your deep motivation, set realistic goals, and enjoy the journey. We will get into the details of each of these sustainable weight loss tips.
Find your Why
Before you even start to think about all the factors of weight loss like nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management, you have to take into account what is your deep motivation for wanting to lose weight.
This initial motivation can help jumpstart the healthy changes and learning that goes into setting up the habits. Habits will facilitate your weight loss.
And then later in your journey when you might be at a pause with measures of progress or feeling bored/burnout, you can circle back to your “why” to help boost motivation to keep on practicing those healthy habits.
Ask yourself the following questions to get to your core values and motivators for your goals:
- I want to ___because ___. (fill in the blank)
- How will life be different if you reach your health goals?
- What is your current health holding you back from achieving right now?
Once you feel like you have gone deep into your reasons for considering starting this weight loss journey, write this statement or list your reasons somewhere you can see daily or refer back to when you are in the lull in the wave of your motivation. This can be your best secret tool for staying consistent with your habits over your weight loss and long term health journey.
Motivation and accountability can also work together. If you tell others what your motivation is then they can help remind you of your biggest reason for continuing to prioritize your health journey even when it feels like the hardest. One way you can build accountability is to chat with a nutritional coach. Along with having the daily or weekly accountability of Vessel’s at home wellness test, you have access to certified nutritionists who can help answer your health questions and remind you of that deeper why for improving your health.
The whole slow and steady wins the race, might be over used, however it’s applicable to sustainable weight loss. Slow weight loss is important because it means:
- The changes you are making are not adding too much stress to your body
- You aren’t over depriving or over working out
- Your body is slowing adjusting, so a change in your lifestyle won’t result in gaining all your weight back
- Slow means realistic, and realistic is sustainable
When creating realistic goals for weight loss, looking at the recommended pace for weight loss is important. It is recommended for a safe weight loss to aim for 0.5 - 2.0 pounds per week. In the beginning weight loss might be faster due to the loss of water weight, however long term an average of (0.5 - 2.0 lb/wk) is the safest and sustainable goal to aim for. Before starting any weight loss program, it is important to check with your doctor to make sure these goals are right for you.
After you have set a realistic weight loss goal within a time period that allows you to make slow changes to reach this goal. The next step is starting making those gradual changes in your routine and habits that will result in reaching your ultimate goal.
Realistic Exercise Goals
If your goal is to increase exercise to burn more energy to help with your weight loss, then start off with a realistic increase in what your current routine is. Here are some small realistic goals to start with in terms of your exercise routine:
- Increase movement by 10 minutes per day
- Find partner or friend to go to the gym with you
- Increase your steps by 500 per day or week until your reach the recommended 10k/day
- Add one additional exercise session into your week
Opting for exercise that brings you joy and happiness is more important than burning a ton of calories doing an exercise that you dread. If you enjoy your movement time, then you will be more likely to make it a sustainable part of your routine.
Realistic Nutrition Goals
When it comes to sustainable nutrition habits for weight loss, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “Could I eat or drink these foods for the next 5, 10, 20 years”, if the answer is yes, then it is probably not too restrictive, expensive, accessible, etc. If the answer is “heck no”, then the results you gain from these foods/beverages will not last long after you stop consuming them.
Create nutritional goals that align with your food preferences, routine, and budget so they are realistic for you. For weight loss, taking in less energy(calories) than your body is burning results in losing fat and lean body mass. Since you have to consume less than you were normally, opting for food choices that fill you up and satisfy your cravings, can help regulate your appetite so you aren’t feeling deprived. Over restricting might help with a quick weight loss, however it can just increase cravings and result in overeating later, which just zeros out your efforts.
Here are some sustainable nutrition tips to support weight loss:
- Creating a meal routine = getting on a regular eating pattern can help manage hormones, cravings, and energy levels.
- Plan meals ahead of time = making choices in the moment can lead to meals based on cravings in the moment, take the time to make your daily or weekly menu ahead so your not making late night post work stress food choices.
- Include in treats = including in the foods you love in portions that align with your health goals, creates balance and reduces feelings of restriction.
- Make your fruits and vegetables the star = when you plan your meals around fruits and vegetables you are reducing calories naturally, getting in important vitamins and minerals, and increasing your taste preference for these healthy foods.
- Pair Protein = include some form of protein in your meals and snacks. Protein provides sustainable energy, supports muscle growth, and helps control cravings.
Celebrate Your Wins
Set up a system to reward yourself for prioritizing your health and meeting your weight loss goals throughout your journey. These set up rewards for hitting milestones in your weight or nutrition or sleep or mindset need to be celebrated!
Rewards help with keeping the train going and makes the journey fun. These are pit stops to reflect on what you've done and what the next step of the journey will be. Meeting your small goals boost your confidence and is evidence that you CAN reach your goals.
If you are stuck on creating healthy rewards that you find motivating, take a peak of the different types of rewards and develop some personalized ones to help celebrate your journey:
- Tangible (buying yourself a gift, just like winning a prize!): get yourself a new workout set, water bottle, sneakers, headphones
- Social (rewards with others): call a friend, try a new restaurant with a friend, tickets to a concert with your bestie, family game night, planning an active vacation
- Self Care (set aside time for something that improve your mental health) = light a new candle, take a bath, take a walk in a park, put flowers/plant in your room or office
- Physical (acknowledge the physical health reward of your journey): improved blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, lower A1C, managed blood sugar, less joint pain, increased endurance, improved sleep, the health improvements are rewards that impact your quality of life for the long term.
When picking the rewards you will set up along your health journey, make them personalized and enticing for you! When you really want a reward, it will be more motivating and impactful for a long term journey.
Your Journey Starts Today!
Now you are ready to take on your weight loss journey in a sustainable way. Starting with the right mindset, creating realistic goals, and celebrating your wins, you will reach your goals! Not only will you reach them, but you will be able to maintain the results. To complement your weight loss journey, try Vessel’s urinary test to get an inside look at specific nutrient levels. Sign up for Vessel today to keep making progress in your wellness goals with free nutritional coaching.
What is one weight loss tip that turned into a lifestyle habit for you?
Sydney Mulroy See all the author’s articles