So this week everyone has gone back to work, kids have gone back to school and it’s all New Year New Me……
Although actually I think there has been less of that this year which I think is a good thing. You aren’t magically going to wake up on 1st Jan only wanting green juice and coconut water. Neither should you.
Life is for living and yes food is fuel but it should also be enjoyed. But of course some of us want to lose a few pounds and that’s fine but doing that needn’t involve sacrificing all the food you enjoy and surviving on meagre rations of bird seed.
The key to long term weight loss is actually just simple maths. You need to create a calorie deficit. Calories in needs to be less than calories out. That’s it.
Of course it makes better sense health wise to make the majority of your diet up with Vegetables, Fruit, lean meats and pulses but there are no hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t eat to lose weight.
I like to keep simple with my clients. We set up MyFitnessPal accounts, then start tracking every day. In the first few days we aren’t worrying too much about being over the calorie goal, we just need to know where we’re at and what sort of patterns are showing up.
Then it’s time to make some tweaks. Are we over our calorie allowance because of lots of snacking or because certain meals are much higher calorie than the others?Can we start to look at lower calorie meal option? Are we snacking through boredom or because of genuine hunger? If it’s boredom we need to either accept that its boredom not hunger or look for some lower calorie options to at least keep a limit on how much is consumed. Things like sugar free jelly, low calorie hot chocolate etc are great for this. If it’s genuine hunger we either need to make the meals or the snacks more filling. Usually upping the protein levels so lean meats, boiled eggs, nut butter with your apple or a protein shake are filling options. Also ensure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.
We continue this just making tweaks as we go along until we’re comfortably in a calorie deficit without really feeling like it’s dieting, more like -This is how I eat now.
I know this approach almost sounds too simple, and well that;s because it is simple. You still have to make the effort of logging food, starting to plan how meals will fit into your calories etc. However the freedom to make your own food choices based around what you actually like and what is convenient to your lifestyle is what throws people who are used to rules of giving up certain food groups or having weird (non scientific) points attached to things that mean they struggle to navigate an M&S lunch counter or a restaurant menu.
So, if you’re committed to losing weight for good this year, make the commitment to keep it simple, follow the basic science of calories in vs calories out and create a diet that fits your lifestyle long term.
Here’s a couple of things I will add that will make this process easier.
- Start to plan your meals and snacks in advance. Take into account the time you will realistically have available on those days to prepare and eat food. If you’re on the run or home late have portable and quick to prepare foods.
- For the most part coloured vegetables -greens, purples, reds etc. have a low calorie value for the volume of food so use them to add bulk to your meals.
- Admitting you won’t have the time or inclination to cook and therefore buying low calorie ready meals, soups, packet rice and microwave veg bags is a much better option than throwing in the towel and ordering takeaway.
- Weighing, measuring and searching for things in myfitnesspal can seem like a pain at first, but you can save recipes and meals, copy them into other days etc. which makes it much easier after a couple of weeks and it starts to become more instinctive.