Updated: Mar 9
Being self conscious on the beach is no fun. This year, I want you to totally own and rock your body confidence. I'd love for you to not be worried about exposing a chubba baby belly and stretch marks--your body is beautiful. Or if your thighs touch; in most healthy body types they do! Unless you are underweight, or have a naturally wide hip frame, your inner thighs will touch, and this is by no means an indicator of your fatness or being overweight. So, if this has been troubling you, I encourage you to settle in with a gut-friendly green tea and read this post on how to lose weight ...the healthy way!
Are You Stuck In The Summer Weight Loss Trap?
Do you fall prey to this every year? The sun comes out and we go looking for a quick fix. The shake programs, magic coffees and fat burning pills all hype you into believing weight loss will happen swiftly, but I guarantee you, it is the fastest way to fail by looking for a "short cut" or crash diet. You know what I mean: the type of program that promises "a fast effortless way to reduce weight"or to "burn fat while you sleep". These only stress the body and all too often, make matters worse.
"In all my experience as Fitness & Health Coach, very few of these "lose weight quick" diets or pills actually work. In fact, they often do more damage than good wreaking havoc on your gut microbes and overall gut health. Pills, fat burners and chemical filled shakes also mess up female hormones, encourage poor eating habits and in most cases, the weight returns two-fold."
Healthy weight loss takes time. It took you time to gain the weight, and let's be 100% real, it'll take time to burn, shift and remove it. The good news it that starting with a solid plan can help you see results quicker rather than trying this and that and hoping for the best.
The Real Woman's Guide To Summer Weight Loss
I'll be straight up with you (because I'm that kinda gal) you can't realistically lose much weight in a week or two. You need about 30-90 days to make a visible and significant impact on your body shape. Remember, the human body is engineered for survival, not cosmetic appearances. Rapid weight loss is a symptom of disease, not good health, and can send the body into a tailspin. The only guaranteed way to improve your body shape is to adopt healthy eating habits and increase your daily exertion and exercise.
In three months, you can safely lose 8 to 12 kg, which is more than enough for those carrying a few extra kilos to experience noticeable health improvements as well as a much leaner body. By reducing your weight gradually, you'll have a far less chance of weight regain or the frustration of a weight loss plateau or other obstacle. You'll also be training yourself to practice better health habits, ones that can last and support you over a lifetime.
First, You Need To Be Motivated
No one likes to change their habits. Its comfortable, and means effort, not just at the time, but repeatedly. That afternoon cola or extra latte is something you may look forward to every day, but swapping it for green tea may be leave your feeling a little ho hum. It is always hardest at the start, but if you can stay with it for 21 days, you'll surprise yourself. That's the amount of time it takes most of us to adjust to a new habit (or kick an old one). It can take as long as 90 days for that new habit to become part of your non-negotiables, and part of your everyday routine.
To bulletproof the formation of new healthy habits, you need a strong motive; something to keep you dieting and exercising when your motivation fades and boredom sets in. For this reason, I used to buddy up my personal training clients as they often had the same goals and motivations bouncing back after pregnancy. Getting their body back and being more energised enough to join in physical play with the kids was always a powerful driver. What's yours? Whatever motive you choose, it must be something more powerful than the urge to eat tasty high calorie foods in front of the TV!
Anything that powerfully helps to commit you to your weight loss goal, makes a great motive. So be bold. Post your commitment to getting healthy on your Facebook wall to hold yourself accountable. Book an expensive beach holiday, or buy a gorgeous outfit to fit the body you want to have at the end of your diet program. These actions require you to succeed, and therefore provide constant motivation along the way.
Be Positive About Short Term Sacrifices
Whether you're trying to lose weight for summer, save money or studying for exams, an important piece of the motivational jigsaw is your ability to be positive about making short term sacrifices. The choice is fairly simple: you can focus on the "deprivation" involved in giving up certain foods, or you can focus on the health benefits you will get by not eating these foods.
Sadly, many dieters focus on feeling deprived. In my experience as a coach, after a while, this just mentality leads people to see their diet as a burden, a bore, an evil necessity. It is why so many people quit dieting, give up on shake programs and tire of intense exercise programs. They want the quick fix, and can't "see" the benefits that weight loss will bring them for the effort. If the results are not instantaneous, they lose interest. But the reality is, if you want to improve your body shape by summer, you must avoid this trap. Go into your weight loss journey ready to appreciate the longer term benefits you will receive by making short-term adjustments to your current lifestyle.
The Good News About Improving Your Diet
Many of our tastes, food cravings, and general attitudes to food are strongly influenced by what we eat and drink. I know countless Mums with busy big families who have reported astonishing changes in their family's eating habits after less than three weeks of making their own healthier choices. I know with my own kids, one who is on the spectrum the other ADHD, that the foods they eat and supplements they take, directly affect their behaviour.
The point is, for many of us, our modern diet is loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium, all of which condition us to crave more of these items. But if you can break out of this dependence on junky ingredients for even 2-3 weeks, you'll notice a huge difference in your tastes. Which brings me to healthy eating...
Think Healthy Eating Not Weight Loss
In my experience, one of the most effective weight loss strategies is to focus on healthy eating. I'm not saying you shouldn't stand on your weighing scales, just don't measure your progress exclusively by what the scales say. Be aware that it's just as important to enjoy your food as it is to feel good about your change of eating habits. Any diet you hate is guaranteed to fail, no matter how much weight you lose, because as soon as you achieve your goal, you will revert to your old eating habits and regain every pound lost. You need to shift your whole lifestyle to a healthier attitude, eating plan and activity level.
The Top 10 Healthy Eating Habits
In a nutshell, a healthy diet involves making small shifts to your food intake. If you have always eaten takeaways, processed foods and on the go, it's time to clear out the pantry, restock, start home cooking, and begin meal prep and planning. This gives you the best control over your food intake.
Are you practising these 10 healthy habits?
More home-cooked meals, less eating out.
Eating more colourful, fresh, high fibre fruit and veggies.
Drinking 3 litres of water every day (more in hot weather).
More fibre, less refined white breads, pastas and processed foods.
Eating clean protein such as fish, skinless chicken/turkey, less red meat.
Smaller servings of red meat, larger servings of vegetables.
Eating low fat dairy foods.
Quit sugar, colas, energy drinks and juice at home and drink infused water.
Less condiments, more healthy dressings (avocado, herbs, spices, olive or coconut oil).
Meal prep for main dishes and simple, healthy snacks you can take on the go.
If you start practicing the above, the weight will slowly begin to slide off. Add in ALL the tips shared here, and you can expect to see some big changes. Consistency in your efforts is key!
Exercise Provides Wonderful Indirect Benefits
Exercise does burn extra calories and therefore does help to widen your calorie deficit. But it's direct effect on weight loss is typically quite small. In fact, it's not uncommon to gain weight when you start exercising. The real weight reduction benefits of exercise are indirect ones. It raises our metabolic rate, helping us to burn calories at a slightly faster rate, and improves our mood, which typically reduces our need for comfort-eating. However, don't overdo your exercise workouts. I've lost count of the number of dieters who started exercising too vigorously and burnt out within 3 weeks. Ideally, start with 30-45 minutes a day of any physical activity that you can easily manage. Then gradually increase the duration and intensity. Listen to your body at all times, and be sure to loosen up beforehand and wind down afterwards.
See Yourself As You Want To Be
If your goal is a waistline you can proudly display in the sun, then don't wait until it happens to "see" it. Visualize it from the moment you start dieting. Visualize yourself walking along a beach, or lying next to the pool with a perfectly flat stomach. Whatever your ambition for your weight or body, get used to visualizing it in the greatest possible detail. Because "seeing it" is the first step to making it come true. As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words.
A Lot To Lose? Just Visualize The Benefits!
If you have a lot of weight to lose, you may not think that losing 11kg in three months is particularly worthwhile. If so, ask yourself this question. What's the alternative? No matter what method you choose, you won't lose weight any faster, so it's only a question of when you start and how long it's going to take. I can answer the last question right now. Losing 45 kilos takes about a year - typically a little longer to allow for disasters along the way. Fifteen months would be a more realistic time span to reduce weight by this amount. This is nothing. Just visualize yourself walking down the street 45 kilos lighter, and tell me that eating healthily for 15 months is too high a price to pay for such a wonderful prospect.
Your First Priority - Get Support
If you really want to lose weight for the summer, your first priority is to find support. Join a diet-group at work, or a fitness class, or go to weight loss meetings. Or join an online forum. Losing weight on your own is perfectly possible, providing things go well and your scales keep saying nice things. But when difficulties arise, as they surely will, having the support of real people can make all the difference between success and failure. If you experience difficulty finding support, try my own weight loss forum. It's great fun and very inspirational.
Put it into action. ...what are you going to try from this post?
Wishing you health + happiness,
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