If you ask ten different people who’ve lost weight what the secret to their weight loss success is, you’ll get ten different answers. It’s not just because weight loss is an intensely personal experience, but because everyone’s perception of what actually did the trick can vary significantly from person to person.
When you add in the unending parade of misleading articles and resources online, countless self-appointed experts and an increasing demand on your time and energy and it’s no wonder why so many people struggle to create their own success stories with weight loss.
The goal of this piece is simple: to provide you with a basic outline for success in weight loss that will work for 95% of the population. The other 5% will be affected by medical or socio-economic conditions that require a highly personalized approach – but this post isn’t for them – it’s for you.
Here we go: 3 simple steps that when combined create a strategy for guaranteed weight loss success.
ONE. Consult with your doctor. Every exercise program in the world starts with the same words of advice: “before starting this, or any, exercise program, consult with your doctor…” and there’s a reason you hear this advice over and over again – your doctor will a) ensure you’re not in that 5% we talked about earlier and b) create an amazing source of accountability to insure your success.
The truth is, you can’t count on your friends and family to hold you accountable, because often times, it’s falling into the same habits and lifestyles as those folks that put you in your current situation. And because they often suffer from the same health and fitness struggles as you – they may not be invested in your success as it may underscore their own perceived shortcomings or failures in weightloss and wellness. Because your doctor is invested in your success, talking about a weight loss strategy with them will ensure you have someone holding you accountable who’s objective and rooting for you.
TWO. Count every calorie you consume and spend and track them. This is just basic science, folks. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You cannot lose weight without following this principle (and that’s why it’s so important to track these things).
In order to lose one pound, you need to burn approximately 3500 calories. In theory. In reality, what that means is that you need to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories in order to lose a pound. If you burn 3500 calories but take in 7000 – you’d gain a pound. (And you’d be surprised how many people overestimate their caloric burn and underestimate their caloric intake – create a surplus instead of a deficit!)
So the rule is simple: every day track how many calories you take in and how many you spend. Make sure you end up with a negative number at the end of every single day. If you track-as-you-go there should be no big surprises when you step on the scale. Don’t assume you can lose weight without good tracking habits – simple math on paper cannot lie, but you’d be surprised the lies our brain is willing to tell us when we want that special treat at the end of the day.
Go to bed every single day with a caloric deficit. And if you want to get really specific, plan your deficit based on your weight loss goals using the 3500 cal = 1 pound math. And when I say track them, I mean write the numbers on a calendar. Write them in a journal. Anywhere. Just make sure you’re keeping a record of your calories in and calories out.
THREE. Decide how you’ll define your success and WRITE IT DOWN. Is it pounds lost? The fit of your favorite jeans? The number of uninterrupted minutes you can spend running? Whatever it is, define it. And make it a part of your tracking habits. Tracking weight? Weigh yourself regularly and write it down. Tracking the fit of your clothes? Take a pic in your favorite jeans twice a week. Minutes spent running? Make a log.
You MUST have a clearly defined goal and measurement chosen in order to know when/if you’ve created your success story. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight.” You have to say, “I want to lose 10 pounds by the time we open the pool this year.” Or “I want to fit into my favorite jeans before my high-school reunion.” And write it down. Write it down several times. Put it with your tracking logs/journals/diary/whatever you choose. Write it on a post-it note and stick it on your fridge or in the cupboard with those crackers you always run to at the end of a long day. Stick one on your mirror in the bathroom or on your closet door.
Remind yourself regularly of your goal and WHY that goal is important to you. Ultimately, you’re accountable to yourself. If you really want to achieve something, you need to constantly keep the goal and the reasons in front of you to maintain your focus and motivation.
There are plenty of other rules. Plenty of programs and guides and recommendations. But I personally guarantee you that if you do nothing more than these three things you will absolutely lose weight. So before you invest in the big programs or drop bucks on the next big thing, just do these three things consistently for three weeks. If you see results, keep going. If you don’t – go back and read this again – you’re doing something wrong. You can even email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll figure out what that is.
So get out there and use these three simple rules to write your own success story. I believe in you. Do you?
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