6 Beginner Friendly Steps On How To Start Your Weight Loss Journey
What Makes Me An Expert?
I AM who you are now, about a year ago.
Before losing another 30 LB since re-starting January 2020, I was searching for answers, motivation, direction and relief from the overwhelm of trying to get started with losing weight.
I’ve been that typical dieter who would begin a new diet on a Monday, the first of the month at 8 AM & by noon I’ve already quit.
I’ve tried every single diet designed.
I’ve been a ghost member at every gym you can name.
I’d start a new diet, fail and then binge for another 3-6 months before I was able to muster up enough courage to try again convinced that “this time would be different.”
I wrote this to show you that is possible to fail a dozen times, then absolutely HIT on the next try.
Step One: Determine Your Starting Points
The basic principle of weight loss is: create a caloric deficit.
I always always always start a brand new weight loss regimen with determining my TDEE.
TDEE is an acronym for Total Daily Energy Expenditure, a measure of the amount of calories it takes to keep you alive, i.e. heart pumping, lungs breathing, mouth yapping (in my case).
Step Two: Determine How You Will Create A Caloric Deficit
Now that you’ve determined your TDEE and know just how many calories you can consume to create a caloric deficit, your very next step is to begin thinking about HOW you will get to that deficit.
Whether you choose South Beach Diet, 21 Day Meal Plan, Whole 30–all of those will follow similar principles of weight release, caloric deficit.
If you’re looking to start with a diet diet, that’s cool, but you’d probably be better off with choosing one or all 3 of these lifestyle changes first.
Let’s learn a little about each, shall we?
1. intuitive eating: reducing problematic foods, trusting the body, no restrictions
2. portion control: minimal restrictions, smaller serving sizes
3. counting calories: meals should be under or within the daily caloric limit to create deficit
What is it?
You DO NOT place any strict guidelines on what you can eat. You will consume Whole Foods that are considered clean but not in excess.
When to use it?
1. the first 3 weeks to 1 month of starting.
2. at the end for weight maintenance.
WHY I LOVE INTUITIVE EATING
When I first began this most recent journey to weight loss, it was important to me to just get started. I focused on intuitive eating or reducing the amount of “problematic” foods that I had in my diet.
When we think about losing weight we automatically focus our thoughts on all of the good (but not good for you) foods we will no longer be able to have. All of the food we love will suddenly be off limits. This is stressful, AF.
The verb form of the word “diet” is precisely defined as, “restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.” Nobody wants this life.
I love intuitive eating in the very first few weeks of the journey because it allows you to form new habits in a way that is less intimidating and easily sustainable.
Action Step: How I Use Intuitive Eating
Without the pressure of restriction & the monotony of reading labels intuitive eating gives you the opportunity to become more conscious about what you nourish your body with and why.
For example: Because there isn’t any real restriction on what I can have, but I know that I still want to stay in a caloric deficit, I CAN go to the drive thru and choose a juicy cheese burger, remove the bread, replace the soda with a water & fries with baked potato and make it semi-healthy. I’ll keep listening to my body and eat when I am hungry whilst still gravitating towards keeping my plate full of lean protein, whole carbohydrates and colorful vegetables.
Intuitive eating is about the mind connection to the food we eat and less about macros but still focused on making better choices. You can start eliminating problematic foods, problematic portions without the pressure to NEVER have them again.
HOW TO USE INTUITIVE EATING:
1. Replace bad habits with aligned choices.
2. Begin thinking about your food choices.
What is it?
Limiting the quantity and/or size of serving of certain foods, liquids, condiments in a single meal.
When to use it?
1. With intuitive eating
2. 1st month of the journey and beyond
WHY I LOVE PORTION CONTROL
Okay so let’s say, you’ve completed a successful go at reducing problematic foods and eating intuitively, when you feel comfortable and ready to kick things up a notch, you will want to implement portion control.
Reducing portion sizes will begin to create caloric deficit that intuitive eating may not have been able to accomplish.
Portion control gives you the opportunity to continue to practice mindful eating BUT portion control focuses on one of the most crucial parts to weight loss, self control.
If weight loss is like building a house, learning how to control yourself would be the foundation of that house. Without self control you will never ever achieve weight loss, periodt.
I love portion control so very much at the very beginning because there is very little pressure to completely eliminate. You can take your time with how you create a deficit. Portion control not only takes the pressure off total elimination, you’ll begin to learn how to use labels when deciding how to nourish your body.
If you can master portion control, you can master weight loss.
HOW TO USE PORTION CONTROL:
1. You will read labels to determine the serving size.
2. Eat within limited quantities.
3. Become mindful about the amount of consumption particular foods.
Read More: 7 Tips To Finally Nail Portion Control
What is it?
It’s the practice of reading labels to determine calories in each food choice and limiting oneself to an allotted amount per day.
When to use it?
As soon as you feel comfortable with your ability to be restricted to a limited amount of calories per day. After you’ve been intuitive eating for some time.
WHY I LOVE CALORIE COUNTING
I’m a little giddy! Because I get to tell you about my FAVORITE tool for weight loss.
Counting calories has been the MOST effective way I’ve been able to lose MASSIVE amounts of weight over a long period of time.
Read More: In Defense Of Calorie Counting & Daily Weigh In’s
Calorie counting gets a lot of side eyes, but if you join any weight loss group online, sit down for a chat with any personal trainer at a gym, google ‘how to lose weight’, the consensus will always be COUNTING CALORIES IS KING.
BUT, if weight loss is basically defined as creating caloric deficit, how can you create a deficit if you are unsure of your calories?
I love both intuitive eating & portion control on its own but I think you’ll make a huge impact if you combined both of those with serious calorie counting.
Counting calories is as easy as downloading an app to count calories for you. If you must, you can write it down in a notebook and determine the calories straight from the label.
If you want to take a it a step further, whatever you do sis, weigh your food sis. Girl! These two things: counting calories + weighting my food has been the absolute tag team champion of weight loss for me.
HOW TO USE CALORIE COUNTING:
1. Download an app or keep a food journal.
2. Read labels to determine your portion & document the intake.
apple download: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/myfitnesspal/id341232718
Step Three: Create A Plan Of Action
Here comes the fun part.
Before we dive into creating your plan of action, can I just tell you real quick how I go about creating my own plan of action for weight loss?
First I tend to do is get my feet wet with intuitive eating, and portion control for at least two-three weeks. Then I will slowly incorporate a bit of #allmovementisgoodmovement which means I plan for a brisk or easy walk for a 30 minute minimum at least 3 x’s per week.
You can skip intuitive eating, portion control & calorie counting and begin with a plan if you’d like. BUT when I began the journey I was morbidly obese and I was dead tired of going head first into the journey and then quitting within a week.
I was willing to take things slow in order to see minimal weight loss over a long period of time versus rushing into the journey & quitting on myself before things could get moving.
However you get to the point of planning the journey surrender yourself to the fact that planning your next steps, is CRUCIAL.
Why do you need a plan? There are just no two ways about this. A plan of action solidifies your intentions. A plan turns those intentions into tangible steps that make those weight loss dreams of yours come true.
- Having a solid plan allows you to track progress.
- A solid plan allows you to measure your success.
- A solid plan is the only way to jump into the weight loss train, and stay until until you reach your goal.
HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR A SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS PLAN
Whether it is a daily list of what you will eat or a simple list of “compliant” food items, it is imperative that you know what you will be eating.
If you plan on shopping for food to cook for meal prep or just food for the week ahead, knowing what you need in house to create those delicious fit and healthy meals.
The calendar shows you just how serious you’ve been with your goal to workout. It’s a reminder of your progress and/or lack thereof.
The best kind will include opportunities to check your mental before/during and after. A good progress worksheet will also include opportunities to determine your goals, as they will change frequently throughout the journey.
When you’ve combed through those three, I have a few more suggestions on creating your most actionable, sustainable weight loss regimen.
Honorable Mentions: Include These In Your Regimen
I want this to be the very last time you set out to lose weight & fumble.
I was so tired of trying and failing and I know how much of a hit to the gut failing at weight loss can be. I’m including EVERYTHING I did, so before you set off, consider these ideas too.
Now that you’ve determined your starting points with calculating your TDEE, decided how you’ll create a caloric deficit, and have a little more of an idea of what needs to be included in your weight loss plan, it’s time I mention some crucial points to how you are going to finally reach those weight loss goals.
Drink Massive Amounts Of Water
Water is my secret weapon for weight loss. Whenever I have a gallon or more of water per day, I am able to stay at least 99.99% compliant with my meal plan.
Science says sometimes the insatiable hunger we feel is dehydration. Drinking a gallon or more of water per day helps me to feel more satisfied after each meal.
Don’t Join A Gym
YOU DON’T NEED TO BE A GYM RAT TO LOSE WEIGHT. 🗣
I’m using information pulled directly from two places, science and my personal experience. Exercise is absolutely vital to a healthy body, mind and spirit. I recommend EVERYONE exercise but, there is a big ol’ but.
For a beginner, a goal like “cycling 6 times per week” is HUGE & can become a deterrent to getting healthy. On the other hand, if the workout goal isn’t as intimidating you might be more likely to stick to it.
Social media is full of physically impressive bodies going HAM in the gym. Those bodies are #bodygoals for sure but, it is unrealistic to expect to kill it in the gym when you haven’t been physically active in a while.
The gym as newbie is intimidating af. When you’re just starting it is important to not be intimidated out of continuing on your journey.
What I mean is, there are more sustainable (read realistic) ways of creating a habit of working out.
Creating a caloric deficit + tiny bits of movement for 30 minutes a few times per week is enough to make a significant impact on the scale & create massive MOMENTUM for the long journey ahead.
#allmovementisgoodmovement because as long as that beautiful body is moving for small bits of time, you are creating massive momentum towards your goal of weight release.
When I first began losing weight, here is how I spent my 30 minutes 3-5 x’s per week:
- Walk the local park for 30 minutes.
- Do a light walk on the treadmill at home (or gym).
- Take a brisk walk through the neighborhood for 30 minutes or more.
- Damnit, if all else fails, complete a quick 30 minute workout with youtube.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to spend the 30 minutes, you just need to commit to creating some movement.
Don’t Forget To Feed Your Mind
When the workout is over, do you have the mental stamina to stay in alignment with your goals? Most of what keeps us from losing weight isn’t ANY of the shit I mentioned above. It is our self limiting beliefs.
A lot of what stopped me from losing any weight at all was the little faith I had in myself. We do not believe that we could actually lose 5, 10, let alone 100 pounds. Therefore, each time we come into contact with an opportunity to sabotage our efforts, without thinking, we take it.
TELL YOUR SELF YOU CAN, OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL RESISTANCE IS AS NATURAL AS GIVING IN ONCE WAS.
Human beings are extremely regimented in our daily lives–and our train of thought. We are usually functioning on autopilot. Before we even begin ego has already talked us out of trying.
Each time you’ve given into temptation–you’ve subconsciously told yourself “I cannot do this.”
In the very beginning of my journey, I started to take note of every single time I told myself “I cannot resist.” I mean, I started listening to the crap I said to myself in my head. Then I immediately changed it to “YES I CAN,” and just like that the big scary cookie became an ordinary cookie.
Once I started to gain some belief in what I could ,food stopped being this irresistible thing that I needed. The faith I had in myself, the desire I possessed to accomplish my goal of losing weight became far greater.
Belief in oneself is the undisputed champion of HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT.
For me: I choose journaling, meditation, influential podcasts etc to help with self care and self limiting beliefs, anxiety, depression.
Do some soul work, determine those barriers keeping you from becoming who you were designed to be. Is it your relationship with food? Is it an inability to see the strength you possess? Is it the excuses you’ve been making for yourself?
Be kind to yourself. Be patient.
Start today, don’t wait until you are ready, because you may never be.
And do not quit.
All of these tips, will take practice. Practicing each one has allowed me to lose hundreds of pounds multiple times throughout my life.
I believe you can do this.
Let me know how you will decide to start in the comments.