31 things you should know before starting your weight loss journey

I wish I knew these things before I decided I wanted to lose weight for good and start my weight loss journey.

They’re simple tips based on personal experience and with clients. They’re meant to nudge in the right direction and hopefully inspire enthusiasm for starting or restarting again at losing weight. And maybe you’ll find one or two things that you didn’t already know. 

1. Losing weight is easy with the right exercises

Woman at the squatting rack in the gym - mindfulfatloss.com

Did you know, all exercise is good for health but not all forms of exercise will help you lose weight quickly. Cardio exercises are favored when trying to lose weight and works great (depending on how much of it you do, and how long for), and it also is great for increasing fitness levels, but it has been proven that resistance training, weightlifting and other exercises like calisthenics and even dancing etc. may speed up weight loss even faster. That is because such exercises do a great job at raising your resting metabolic rate and you continue to burn more calories for longer, even after you’ve left the gym. Plus, if I can say so myself, it is more fun than just doing steady state running on a treadmill.

2. Knowing the calorific amounts of foods changes everything

Food tracking offers a wealth of insights into the foods that we eat, including knowing the nutrients, the calories, and insights into our eating habits and much more. That information allows us to take control of our weight and health and make better decisions and better food choices.

3. Weight loss is more than just losing weight

A woman stepping on the scale and it says ' WTF' (what the fuck) with caption saying that weight loss is more than just the number on the scale. mindfulfatloss.com

Weight loss should really be looked at in terms of losing body FAT. But many people still think of it in terms of only the numbers on the scale or in terms of body image.

Focusing on fat loss switches our focus from aesthetical body consciousness to better health, physique, and the general functioning of our bodies. Trying to lose body fat rather than just changing the weight on the scale, changes the mindset and perspective from I want to lose weight to I want to be fit and healthy. This mental change of focus may even prompt us to think of ways to retain muscle, increase flexibility and build strength for example, which we may not have thought of before when we were thinking of just losing weight.

4. Losing weight is easy when you have a goal

A goal gives direction and purpose. A goal makes it easy to set up a plan and review progress. But a goal shouldn’t be vague, like saying: ‘I want to lose weight’. It should be Specific, and you should know how much weight you want to lose (weekly and monthly and overall); It should be Measurable, and you should know how you will track your progress; It should be Achievable, and you should know how you will achieve that weight loss goal, and what you will do to achieve; It should be Realistic, in terms of how much weight you can realistically lose as per your deadline; and your goal should be Time-bound and you should have deadlines for achieving your goal.  

(The acronym above is SMART.)

5. The key to a better diet is to better understand foods

Once you know that proteins fill you up better than carbs and that excess carbs turn into sugar and that the right number of fibers helps the body eliminate waste, etc… You’d probably make better food choices and think in terms of food = fuel rather than food = food. Knowledge is power, in this case also. Knowing and understanding how foods affect you, can make the world of a difference on your mood, health, energy levels, rates of recovery and healing, weight loss, etc.…

6. The key to sticking to a diet is planning

Three batch cooking containers containing food - mindfulfatloss.com

Planning your foods solves the issues of impromptu eating, portion control, eating out and buying things that don’t suit your calorie budget. It also does wonders on your mind in terms of accomplishment and discipline.

Trying to lose weight does not mean that foods have to be boring or that you have to be hungry. Planning your foods and knowing what you’re having for your next meal will help you stay on track and stay satiated all day. It’s up to you to make your foods interesting, colorful, tasty and filling. Make it easy simple and fun.

7. Investing in yourself is the best investment you could ever make

Your health comes first! Health is Wealth!

With your health you can do everything! And the fitter you are, the younger you will feel and you may even feel unlimited.  You’ll see how being fit and healthy, fuels your mind with enthusiasm and your body with energy. Many people say that if they could have a superpower, it would be to have unlimited energy! Well, it’s really possible with a fit body and mind.

8. Having a positive mindset helps losing weight

A positive mindset solves everything!

It helps you persist, not give up, try new things, push yourself, believe in yourself and in others. A positive mindset even has physiological effects on your body, such as a more resilient metabolism against germs, diseases and sicknesses; it helps with things such as cardiovascular health because it helps reduce stress and therefore reduce the risk of early death.  It even helps you feel, look and stay younger for longer. It can really make life easier and any situation bearable. So too, with weight loss, a positive mindset helps us stay positive, believe that we can do that thing that we find hard, try try again and find pleasure in what we have chosen to do, because we know that it will feel great when we’ve finally achieved what we set out for.

9.  Self-accountability!

Finding ways to keep ourselves accountable could be your key to success. And this could be done by:

  •          deciding on how much weight you want to lose daily, weekly, monthly and overall,
  •          having check-ins or weigh-in review periods,
  •          deciding definitively when to go to the gym or workout,
  •          deciding when you will eat and how much of it (by batch cooking for example or planning your meals)  
your biggest project is yourself pin with #investinyourself - mindfulfatloss.com

Not everybody will follow such a strict example of a schedule or structured routine and it isn’t absolutely necessary for losing weight, however, if you did take on such a routine, you know there would be no room for error. Someone having such a structure would feel very confident in achieving their goals quite rapidly.

10.  Visualizing yourself thin works!

Slim woman on the beach. caption say visualise yourself slim - mindfulfatloss.com

It is said that athletes who visualize their routines in their heads, perform better than those who don’t. they rehearse their routines in their heads down to the clothing they are wearing, the way they feel and their surroundings.

Imagine what would happen if you already saw yourself thin and saw yourself doing all what you would do at your ideal weight or at goal weight. What would you do? How would you feel? What would you wear? How would life be different at your goal weight?

Visualizing yourself thin or at your goal weight, not only moves you towards your goal but it also keeps you motivated and keeps that goal fresh in mind when you most need a boost to keep going.

11.  One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to stop drinking calories.

Sugary and fizzy drinks are super high in calories and do not fill you up!

Did you know that a 20oz bottle of coca cola contains 240 calories and 65g of sugar? The National Health Service in the UK says that adults should have no more than 30g of sugar per day! That’s over the limit in one drink! What makes this worst is when you consider that this is just a drink. This drink is usually drank with full-on meals in addition to deserts. Therefore, imagine the amount of weight you could lose by just cutting out sugary and fizzy drinks.

Make drinks like Starbucks Frappuccinos an occasional thing, not an everyday thing.

12.  The numbers on the scales are just numbers

The numbers on the scale are not an accurate way to measure progress in weight loss. It is more of an indication of your weight and should not be taken so seriously. Your weight can fluctuate depending on many factors such as heat, hormones, fluid retention, body inflammation, muscle gain, etc.…

Too often have I seen clients be disappointed and demoralized by the non-moveable or slight increase in numbers on the scales, after a week of eating good and of training regularly at the gym.

In such cases, the weight going up or not moving does not mean that you haven’t slimmed down or gotten stronger or fitter. Quite the opposite in fact, clients have reported to feeling good in their bodies and in their clothes because of losses in inches. So, it is better to have additional ways to measure your progress than just using a scale.

13.  Supplements can help in losing weight

what are supplements - photos of a man and woman taking a protein shake. mindfulfatloss.com

A supplement is defined as ‘a thing added to something else in order to complete it or enhance it’. Therefore, if you struggle for instance to eat full balanced meals with all your vegetables and you work out hard and regularly, then you may want to take a multi-vitamin for example to supplement your lack of intake of micronutrients. Similarly, if your intake of protein is low, then you may wish to supplement with a protein powder.

There are fancy supplements out there that confuse the beginner gym goer such as Creatine, L-Carnitine and so on. Your best bet would be to read the labels and ask questions at the shop because the right supplement(s) for you depend on what your goal and activities are. So, if, for example, you’re looking for a supplement that helps you lift or to bulk or to lose weight, then ask for these at the shop and then I suggest doing some research on various brands and trying out samples before committing to a particular brand.

You should note that the body processes foods better whereas a lot of supplements are not easily absorbed by the body and just pass straight through the urinary and intestinal tracts. So, if you can, you should always try to eat full balanced meals.  

14.  We all fail! So there is no need to fear it

What would life be like if we didn’t fail? Boring and quite linear I’d say.

We learn and grow from failures. People who don’t fail don’t grow. Which is why weekly reviews are awesome. You want to:

1) not beat yourself up over failings. Rather, ask yourself, what can I learn from this situation? What is the Universe trying to tell me?

Adapt, apply and carry on.

2) have daily and weekly reviews to see what went well, what didn’t go so well and what would I do differently. Before long, you would have mastered that situation and what once seemed like a big problem will seem like no big deal.

15.  Where there is a will there is a way

8 photos of disabled athletes to show that you can do anything you set your mind to - mindfulfatloss.com

No matter the health condition, we can all find ways to lose weight. Yes, taking medications that make us put on weight sucks and it is going to be more difficult for someone in that situation, but it is still possible.

In either case, doing some research on the health condition and finding out what sort of exercises you can do, will benefit your body and mind.

Consider the facts that doctors always prescribe exercise no matter the condition or illness. And that whenever you exercise, you always feel great physically and mentally afterwards.

Exercise or activity does not have to be vigorous. Doing whatever you can is enough as long as you do it.

There is no competition except against yourself.

16.  Your reason WHY you want to achieve your goal, is your motivation

Emotions always win over willpower.

Having a strong reason why you want to achieve that goal will fuel your motivation, determination and discipline to accomplish anything.

That is because everything starts in the mind. Your mind makes you act. You think it then you do it. Therefore, don’t underestimate finding your big WHY and then ‘milking’ it, replaying it and amplifying that reason or reasons in your head often.

Remember, emotions are even stronger than knowledge. If you’re convinced by something and that something is backed by strong emotions, you tend to do it. So, use your emotions to your advantage.

If you’re stuck finding a big emotional WHY you want to achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve, then journal it. Write whatever comes to your mind, including your fears and see what comes out.

17.  You can still eat badly and lose weight as long as you stick to your calories

a list of junk food labels- mindfulfatloss.com

This is not something PTs (Personal Trainers, Weight Coaches, and the likes of Dieticians) would normally advertise because this is not the healthy way to lose weight. But, in theory, yes, you should still be able to have your McDonalds if you stuck to your daily amounts of calories a day and per week. But eating high calorie foods means you’d be eating less and not having the nutrients you need. It is just not sustainable. So, this is not recommended.

18.  Sleep and water help in losing weight

These two factors are often hugely underestimated.

Sleep regarding weight loss and exercise helps your body recover from exercise, regulates hormones including cortisol (the stress hormone), helps strengthen muscle and tissues, helps avoid fatigue and injuries, etc.…

Water helps you burn calories by the smooth functioning of your body (such as flushing out toxins and boosting the metabolism) and could help suppress appetite.

The amount of water or sleep you would need depends on your physiological build, activities and so on, so I would recommend finding out or being familiar with how much of each you need by tracking how much you currently have, how you feel and what feels right for you.

19.  Calorie counting works

Muffin and coffee with post-its notes of the calorific amounts. Mindfulfatloss.com

I have written many posts on the benefits of calorie counting recently, including knowing the calorific amounts of foods and helping you stay within your calorie count per day and week. Where people go wrong is in accurately entering the data for portion sizes and in guesstimating the calories for foods. They track less than they think and that results in consuming too many calories, weight gain and confusion.

The other thing that can go wrong with calorie counting is eating too little calories per day which results in hunger, bad mood, less energy, binging, (in some cases) eating disorders and it’s simply not healthy, not sustainable and it could contribute to not attaining your goal.

20.  Balance is key!

Overeating or eating too little, not exercising or over training is not good. A balance of exercise and a slight calorie deficit diet is the right balance to lose weight. Eating 500 calories less than what you would need to maintain your weight and exercising at least 150 mins (2 ½ hours) a week is the right balance.

Over doing or underdoing anything will not result in healthy sustainable results.

21.  When you lie, you lie to yourself – no one else

A woman looking at herself in the mirror, caption says: be honest with yourself always. mindfulfatloss.com

Being brutally honest with ourselves is super important. We don’t want to be tyrants with ourselves and beat ourselves up for every little thing either, but we want to be honest in terms of what and how much of whatever it is that we have consumed and how many calories we have burnt in an exercise for instance. If we have difficulty remembering that information, then we should track.

Overestimating and lying to ourselves is going to result in weight gain and disappointment and it’s demoralizing. Which leads us further away from our goal and how we’d like to feel.

Being honest with ourselves, allows us to have the right mindset, remain focused and stay positive about what we can and cannot do. No matter what, just remember that giving up is not an option.

22.  Eat only when hungry

Outside of main meals, asking ourselves ‘why we want to eat?’ could make a difference in how much we snack. Because, eating when we’re not hungry is often the culprit in overeating.

If snacking is within your calorie budget, then great, but if it isn’t it may also be useful to note whether we eat out of boredom for instance. And if that is the case, could we fill that boredom void, by doing something else instead?

23.  Is your goal right? Ask yourself: do I have realistic body goals for my body type?

As a PT, I encourage my clients to show me what they would like to look like. Whether that is a picture of themselves when they were their ideal goal weight once upon a time or whether it is a photo of someone else on IG for instance. And it often happens that people show me unrealistic photos of people with different body builds to them. That always results in frustration and disappointment. My advice then is, if you’re not built with massive, big thighs and bum, or if you are 5 feet 2, try not to model yourself after a 6 feet Victoria Secret model. We may be able to get you to a certain measure of that but be aware that you may not attain that particular shape as you are just not built that way.

24.  Smaller plates work for portion control

Two plates with spaghetti and tomato sauce, one small and one large portion. Mindfulfatloss.com

Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. That is why I would suggest choosing a smaller bowl or plate, to eat meals with. If you’ve tried it then you know that although it may not look like a lot on the plate that it is indeed enough and filling at the end of the meal, despite the smaller sized plate or bowl. This particularly helps people who struggle with portion control and also those who are in the habit of finishing what’s on their plates rather than stopping when full.

Some may find that establishing this healthy habit may take time to get used to but over time you may notice that it is enough.

25.  Hiding foods work to eliminate temptation

Some people need to take drastic measures in eliminating ‘bad foods’ from their diets, such as by hiding them.

That is not a bad idea if you’re only tempted to have it because it’s there or because other people in house eat these and you cannot eliminate them completely from the house. Putting foods in the back of the fridge or the cupboard or putting them in dark containers or black bags might do the trick in curbing snacking or in eliminating temptation to eat foods that are not planned or that are out of your calorie budget. This may eventually also help in establishing new habits of reducing snacking or in breaking the desire for addictive foods.

26.  Temptation is only in the mind

We are tempted to do something because we think that, that thing will bring us pleasure of some kind. Therefore, if we were to tell ourselves that, that thing does not bring pleasure or that something else, such as staying on track with the end result of being our ideal weight, or reaching our desired goal, will make us feel better, then, the temptation could be averted. It really is all about mindset.

27.  Don’t buy it!

Black man food shopping, looking at the frozen foods section. caption says don't invite bad foods into your home. Mindfulfatloss.com

You’ve probably heard that saying before: ‘Don’t invite bad foods into the home’. This works because you can’t eat it if it’s not there. Therefore, it would be easier to not buy the chocolate cakes and ice creams if you know that you struggle with having just one, once in a while.

If you have kids or other people in your household shopping for, then this tip could be more difficult to follow and perhaps point 25 above can help.

28.  Diets work and don’t work!

Diets are regimens and if you stick to them, they often work at helping you lose weight. But the problem is that they are also often not sustainable and not healthy for you.

I usually advise clients to have a general ‘check-up’ and the clearance from their doctor to undertake a radical diet, otherwise I advise that they just stick to eating a calorie deficit meal plan with an exercise routine of minimum 2-3 days per week.

29.  You can be hypnotized to be thin.

Using hypnotherapy to lose weight can seem drastic, however, it is a very effective method that is more and more common. It is used by people who want to make better choices or who struggle to take positive actions for various reasons (including low self-esteem, phobias, etc..).

Hypnotherapy for weight loss. Woman on couch as therapist takes notes. Mindfulfatloss.com

Those who have tried, have been surprised to discover traumatic events lodged deep into their subconscious that has contributed to self- sabotage, negative self-talk and feelings of not being good enough, linked to their weight conditions.

Hypnotherapy is often perceived as not being in control or the relinquishing of control to the therapist. But it isn’t so at all. At least, not the type that I am learning to practice. Rather, it is like being in meditation, we (RTT Therapists) teach you how to enter the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) state and access the subconscious. You are still in full control and can even choose to not reveal to your therapist what you are seeing or the insights that is coming to mind when under hypnosis.

It is deep internal work to find the root causes of issues, and best of all, not many sessions are required. Imagine having just one session and a recording for you to listen to and you could be your desired weight or achieve your desired goal in weeks, gradually. You notice the mental and emotional changes straight away however.

30.  Stick to one change a week

The easiest way to lose weight is by making one change per week. The habits you have accumulated until now took some time to develop, so, it will take some time to instill good habits also. How long it takes depends on each individual, but chances are that you will encounter various facets and have various awarenesses of your habits that help you change during the week. Undertaking more than one change could feel overwhelming and may lead to discouragement if trying to do everything all at once.

31.  Making weight loss a lifestyle is easier than you think

Think not just exercise but also think in terms of activity and movement.

Crossfit woman on the rings. Caption says: find something that you enjoy doing. Mindfulfatloss.com

Losing weight will be so easy and fun if you found something that you enjoyed doing and did that. How great would it be, to become great at dancing the tango for example and lose weight while doing that. Chances are you wouldn’t struggle to do it either because you loved it.

Consider that some of the best and most beautifully toned bodies in the world are that of athletes and sports people. These people do not train specifically to lose weight, but they train for their sport and losing weight or body fat becomes a welcomed side effect. So, applying the same principle of finding a sport or an active hobby could help us to lose weight whilst having fun and enjoying the process.  

The last thing you need to know before starting your weight loss journey

Losing weight can be easy, simple and fun and it shouldn’t be over complicated.

Stick to one change per week

Calorie count, at least for a while. Don’t eat too little calories and track accurately (portion control and do not guesstimate)

Exercise at least 150mins (2 ½ days) per week

A positive mindset and visualizing yourself thin can help you avoid temptation and lose weight

Before snacking, asking yourself ‘why do you want to eat that? Is it because of boredom or because you’re hungry?’

Enough sleep and water are essential for healthy easy quick weight loss.

You can be hypnotized to be thin.

What is your weight loss story?

I’d love to hear from you. Please share your weight loss stories and struggles with me here on mindfulfatloss.com.

Published by gaellejoseph

Personal trainer, weight loss coach, Pilates instructor and sports massage therapist

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