Like any successful project you need to be organized and prepared to ensure that the program succeeds and you fulfil your weight loss and fitness goals. So here we provide 30 steps to losing weight, split into 4 “parts”. Once you have set your targets and set the foundations for your weight loss plan you can take action and start to see results.
The first part is Preparation, the time to start planning for the task ahead. The second part concerns Action, when you start your diet and exercise plans for real. Then it is down to the Intensive diet and fitness and finally advice on how to Maintain a healthy weight using everything you have learned.
Part 1: Preparation
As soon as you decide that you want to lose weight, you need to start adopting some small but simple changes to your lifestyle. This is what we called Weight Loss Stage 1. This is really a preparation stage to losing weight, and there are 8 rules to follow in this stage.
1: Never skip breakfast if you want to lose weight
The first mistake that many people make when they start a new weight loss / diet plan, is to skip breakfast. However, this will hinder you in several ways. In fact, research has shown that people who eat breakfast are usually slimmer.
Eating a healthy breakfast helps to boost metabolism and also reduces the chances of mid-morning snacking. Many people are overweight as a result of snacks in between meals, not from eating large meals.
2: Find someone to exercise with
Many people are not motivated to exercise by themselves. Find someone who is also looking to lose weight, and organize exercise sessions with them, either at home or in a local gym. Alternatively join a fitness class or martial arts club, where you will find plenty of motivation, and make new friends too.
3: Monitor and improve your physical activity
Firstly, what do you want to achieve from exercising? Just to lose weight / reduce fat? Build muscle? Improve sport? To be able to cycle, run or swim again with family and friends? For most people reading this it is most likely to reduce fat and lose weight.
On average, to maintain a healthy weight, you need to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, five days a week. If your BMI is higher than 23, then you need to increase the intensity of the exercise that you do, or exercise for longer.
Finding a fitness class that is one hour long, and attending that twice a week, in addition to the 30 minutes per day, is an excellent way to reach these levels. If you prefer to exercise at home to lose weight then follow a circuit training based workout.
4: Throw out all your junk food!
This may be hard to do, but once done, it will mean that you only have healthy food in the house. Throw out, or give away, all your sugary and fatty junk food today!
If you still have a tub of icebreaker, biscuits, cakes, pork pies or anything else high in saturated fat, refined sugars or processed meats, then get rid of it! Junk food is one of the biggest reasons why you put on weight, so ditch it if you want to lose weight.
5: Eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
This has been the health department’s advice for a while now. Try to eat 5 portions of fresh fruit and/or vegetables everyday. This is easy to accomplish.
A glass of fruit smoothie, such as Innocent Smoothies, gives 2 portions of fruit, and a healthy meal should give 2 portions of vegetable, leaving you to find one fruit snack to make it up to five.
If you are exercising intensively (learn more about intensive exercise routines), a banana beforehand is an easy way to make it to five portions, and also provide you with an excellent source of energy. However, do not over indulge on fruit juices as they contain a lot of fructose which can turn to fat.
6: Join a weight loss and fitness community
Chatting to others that are also struggling with weight loss can be a positive thing. Knowing that there are others like you, struggling, makes it easier to plow on.
Recent studies have actually proved that being a member of a weight loss club really helps people to lose weight. Also, you can help others, by passing on your knowledge gained from your successes. Find a community and see what a difference it can make.
7: Do different fitness activities
Many people get bored with one activity, so rather than just run everyday, try different sports, martial arts, yoga, etc. Do not limit yourself to one thing. Different activities will provide a more all round fitness regime, plus you get to meet a larger group of people, and make losing weight more enjoyable.
8: Learn to cook and prepare healthy meals
An essential part of maintaining a healthy weight, is to be able to eat healthy foods everyday. If you do not know how to cook, then the chance are at some point convenience foods, takeaways and junk food will find their way back into your meals, and these alone can cause you to gain weight rapidly.
Invest in a healthy cooking book, and learn to cook healthy nutrition meals for yourself. The Food Bible is one of the most well-organized and complete healthy cooking guides on the market at the moment.
In addition to learning to cook, building a collection of healthy snacks is vital. Some of our favorite healthy snacks include tinned mackerel on wholemeal toast, tuna-mayo sandwich, chicken or vegetable soup, mixed bean salads and dried fruits and nuts.
Make sure that you ALWAYS have some of your favorite healthy snacks in the house for when you are feeling hungry in the evening.
Part 2 – Action!
Losing weight and staying in shape is not just about eating healthily, it is about living a healthy life.
So a combination of healthy diet, regular exercise and sensible living all helps. Few people realize that inadequate sleep can actually affect their weight.
There are 9 rules to follow to improve the quality of your lifestyle, which also teach you how to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
9: Drink more water
This rule is so simple. Many people think that they are hungry, when really they just need more liquids. Drinking more water helps to ward off hunger.
Also, drinking plenty of water is essential for a healthy digestive system, and transports nutrients to where they are needed. It also helps your skin to stay young-looking, hydrated and elastic.
10: Find an exercise that you really enjoy
If so far you have been exercising just to lose weight, then you may start to tire of this. People that find an activity that they really enjoy are more likely to stick with the exercise and stay healthy for it.
So rather than pound away on the treadmill, or do the weekly aerobics class grind, try out some sports, such as badminton, cycling, horse riding, or even karate. All these will keep you much more focused and motivated. Group activities are also always more enjoyable, and a good way to gauge your own progress.
11: Reduce stress
Being stressed leads to binge eating, skipping exercise, and poor sleep. All these lead to weight gain. Regular exercise helps to reduce stress levels, and research has shown that exercising outdoors reduces stress even further.
Taking a weekend walk in the park with the family, or hill walking with friends, is a great way to reduce stress and get fit at the same time.
12: Eat for your life
Make sure that you stick to a healthy eating plan. This means keeping up the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Also look at the Mediterranean Diet which has been shown to help reduces cases of cancer. Plenty of olive oil, fresh vegetables and a drop of wine all helps.
13: Get your family involved in your weight loss
If you can get your family involved with the whole diet and exercise lifestyle, it will both improve your chances of success, as well as making your family healthier to.
14: Never miss a workout
Often you will have to miss an exercise session due to work or family commitments. If this happens, make up for it on another day. Either extend the next exercise session, or fit another session in. Learning some good home exercises is a great way to be able to fit in exercise any time.
15: Eat slowly to eat less
It can take up to 10 minutes from starting a meal to feeling full. Eat too fast, and you are more likely to eat too much. Slow down your eating, and as soon as you feel contented, stop. Take a look to see how much you ate, and try to make the next servings a similar size.
16: Learn to enjoy life
Make sure that diet and exercise does not take over your life. Remember to enjoy yourself. On nights off, watch a film, read a book, or go out and have some fun. Do not become a boring fitness fanatic!
17: Drink more water to prevent hunger!
OK, we mentioned this in rule 1, but it is so simple, and so effective, that we need to mention it again. If you are feeling hungry in between meals, pour yourself a large glass of water first. If you are still hungry after drinking it, then grab a healthy snack.
Part 3 – Intensive diet and exercise
Stage 3 of our weight loss plan involves intensifying both exercise and diet. By exercise, we simply mean that it is time to up the work rate a little.
18: Get sweaty and out of breath
The basic rule of any exercise session is that at the end you should be sweaty, and at times during the exercise you should be out of breath.
If you are neither losing your breath nor sweating, then you are not working hard enough.
19: Be independent of other people
Being independent is also essential for a weight loss program. It is important to be independent from other people, independent from fitness equipment and gimmicks, and independent from diet rules.
Although having a gym partner can help motivate you, they can also hold you back. If your gym partner is not in the mood for the gym, this does not mean that you can have a night off too.
This leads to the slippery slope of failure! Ensure that you are happy running alone, going to the gym alone, or going to you local aerobics / martial arts club alone. If you do not rely on others, they cannot let you down!
20: Be independent of fitness equipment
People often complain that they go to their local gym, and it is so busy that they could not get to use the equipment that they wanted, when they wanted, so skipped a workout.
It is important to remember that gyms can get very busy, especially just after Christmas and the New Year, so you may not be able to use the machines that you want.
At times like this, it is vital to have a back up plan. This is where bodyweight exercises come into their own.
Although bodyweight exercises and circuit training is a great option for those that cannot afford a gym, and have no equipment at home, there is no reason why you cannot do bodyweight exercises in the gym.
There are no rules that say push ups, sit-ups, star jumps, squats and burpees are only allowed in the aerobics class. If you go to the gym and the machines are all busy, then find some space and do some circuit training exercises.
Go through a few circuit training workouts of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, star jumps and burpees, then stretch, and you will have already done a good workout, while others are waiting.
If you are not a member of a gym, and have no classes in your area, then home workouts are going to be your main fitness activity. So learn a few different routines, design a few for yourself, and stick to the plans. Keep a training diary and never skip a training session.
21: Intensive workouts
Remember – always exercise intense enough to become both sweaty and out of breath during exercise. High intensity interval training is the key to weight loss.
Building more quality intensive routines into your week is far more important than training twice a day and running yourself into the ground. Government guidelines say that to maintain a healthy weight we should exercise 5 times per week, to the point that our heart rate is raised significantly.
However, three good quality sessions will also do this well. Building more weight-bearing exercise (resistance training) into your weekly schedule is a must. Whether it be bodyweight exercises or using resistance machines / free weights, you should aim to do some weight training each week.
22: Eat a well balanced diet
For diet, intensity is all about getting the most out of every meal. Each meal should be well-balanced to ensure that you receive adequate proteins, fats and carbs, and also a good range of nutrients and vitamins is essential.
Eating bland meals, with high calorific value but low on nutrients, will make it harder to lose weight. Following a good diet is essential to ensure that you rebuild and repair muscle after exercise, and to ensure that your cardiovascular system is in good working order.
Intense exercise with poor diet can lead to over training, and a weakened immune system. Generally healthy food is good enough to refuel and rebuild your body.
23: Supplement your diet
Taking supplements is recommended when you are working out very intensively, either just a multivitamin, or if you are doing a lot of weight training, then a protein supplement also.
Always ensure that you fuel your body an hour before an intensive exercise session, with a healthy balanced meal of carbs and proteins. Then within half an hour of finishing your workout, eat again, this time with a high protein meal / drink.
Research has shown that taking a protein drink within 30 minutes of exercise increases muscle growth and rate of repair. If you leave it much longer, you will not gain the same benefits, and risk just storing the energy as fat.
24: Eat superfoods
Certain food groups are better equipped to help you build a stronger body than others. These foods contain higher than average amounts of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and often some specific foods have properties that are unique to them in their way of boosting our immune systems and generally improving diet. Although no food is a cure for illness or really “super” in isolation, consuming more nutrient dense foods if certainly good for your health.
- Berries – Dark berries are best, such as blue berries, strawberries and boysenberries. These berries contain huge quantities of antioxidants that help to protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
- Salmon – Salmon is a fantastic fish. It is a good source of protein, contains vitamins A and D, plus important minerals such as selenium and zinc. Salmon is also an oily fish, meaning that it is high in omega-fats, which are essential for keeping a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. They are also good for brain function.
- Leafy green vegetables – Possibly the most underrated superfood, and often ignored by westerners. Vegetables such as broccoli (recently reported to reduce diabetes damage and strengthen lungs) and spinach are packed with vitamins, and are also a great source of fibre.
- Oranges – Oranges are not only a good source of vitamin C, but also contain a soluble fibre called pectin which helps to lower cholesterol levels.
- Pineapples – Pineapples are also packed with vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system, and also provide a good source of potassium which helps to maintain healthy cell, nerve and muscle function.
25: Reduce stress and compliment yourself
Learning to deal with your emotions, and improving your self-esteem, can actually help you to lose weight. Being stressed or angry causes a chemical response in the body, whereby the stress hormone cortisol is released. Cortisol has been shown to contribute to weight gain.
Also, low self-esteem often results in people giving up too early, or even convincing themselves that they have not succeeded, when in fact they have. Learn to love yourself as you are, to better improve yourself!
26: Focus on your achievements
By focusing on achievements rather than failures, you will stay focussed. Changing your mindset is not easy, but it is possible. It is part of becoming a stronger person, both mentally and physically.
Everyone has bad days, but in life so long as the good days outweigh the bad days, then improvements can be made. Stay focussed, keep working hard, and be proud of yourself.
Part 4 – Maintain your weight
The fourth and final stage of our weight loss program is maintenance. Once you are at this stage, you can give yourself a big pat on the back, as you have achieved your ideal weight.
27: Permanent lifestyle changes
All that is required at this stage is to keep working out at a rate to maintain your physical fitness, and maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. This will ensure that you give your body the best chance possible at fighting disease and infection, while at the same time repairing muscle tissue and maintain healthy joints and bones.
Ideally your BMI is in the 18.5-24.9 range (assuming that your are not very muscular). You should look and feel better than you have ever felt before.
You should be active, alert, and enjoy active pastimes, playing with your children are participating in local sports or fitness activities. Always remember what a fantastic achievement it is to get to your ideal healthy weight.
28: Stick to your healthy eating plan
Keep fat and sugar intake low, stay away from junk foods and convenience food. Learn to enjoy treats moderately (once a week is a treat, once a day is over indulgence!).
Ensure that your meals keep you satisfied, and that you do not feel hungry. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast.
You must be prepared to continue to eat a healthy diet for the rest of your life. The sooner you realize that this is not a punishment but a normal way of life the sooner you will start to enjoy your new healthy diet. Most people who are a healthy weight follow this sort of healthy diet.
Just avoid junk food, processed food, large portions and sugar and get plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and dairy.
29: Keep active with exercise
Maintaining your fitness levels is the minimum requirement. Ideally you should aim to improve on your fitness. Enjoying your fitness activities is a must.
Whether you are running, hill walking, climbing, playing football, learning a martial art or becoming the next body building champion, make sure that you are enjoying yourself while your exercise. This is the Motley Way.
Without regular exercise you really do risk putting weight back on again. Exercise helps you to keep your metabolism levels raised which ensures that you are burning off fat as well as sugar.
30: Do not punish yourself
Remember that everyone has bad days, everyone has set backs. You may fall ill, get injured, or have a life changing event which stops your exercise for a while.
If this happens try to pick yourself up to fight again. This is your health, your life. You have only one life so do your best, and never give up. Be proud of yourself, you are wonderful!
Make sure that you are familiar with all the resources on offer at MotleyHealth. We have many articles on healthy eating and fitness workouts. Either choose your own fitness plans or ask us below and we shall help you decide on what to do.
More from MotleyHealth:
Our top 30 weight loss tips