10 Tips to Drop 10 Pounds
From a Bodybuilder
There are simple steps you can take to start off losing weight the right way but there is no such thing as a quick fix. If you want to lose weight, you have to work for it.
When I began my fitness journey, all I knew about losing weight was what I learned through high school health classes and mass media; in order to lose weight I had to cut calories. I felt apprehension towards food and eating felt like I was undoing all the exercise I had just worked so hard to accomplish. What was the point of exercising if I’m just going to eat and counteract all that hard work? I needed to learn how to view food as fuel for my progress, rather than as a bucket of water dumped on my motivational fire.
For a year before I started bodybuilding, I worked out consistently at the gym and tracked my food intake, making sure not to eat too much. My progress stagnated and my lifts barely improved even though I thought I was doing everything correctly!
Through my personal journey and education, I’ve gathered 10 tips that helped me lose weight. These tips will help you break through your weight-loss plateaus to reach goals and keep a steady weight once you’ve achieved them.
1. Drink more water.
Your body operates at its full potential when it has plenty of water. Remember that you are 70% water! Without being hydrated, your organs cannot function as well and that has a tremendous effect on the process. By drinking more water than you actually need, your body will stop holding on to it. Not drinking enough water will cause your body to cling to water in order to prepare for the next dry spell whenever you do take a drink. You will be able to visibly see a difference within two weeks of drinking more water - your skin will feel better and stay clearer, your energy levels will be higher, you will be less bloated, and you will lose pounds simply because of water weight.
2. Cut your sugar intake.
Moderation is key - don’t deprive yourself, but do practice self-control. Avoid negative thoughts like “I can’t have this” or “I need to work out to deserve this” and the conflict of “good” and “bad” foods. Instead, focus on what you do have and enjoy. Thinking about what you’re missing will cause you to see it everywhere and make the craving worse. When you do have a treat, practice mindful eating. Savor each bite and avoid multitasking in order to give it all of your attention. You’ll feel more satisfied. Juice, soda, and even many protein shakes have high sugar content. Make sure you are looking at food labels and, where possible, opt for lower sugar options. Just by cutting out these sugary drinks you will notice a significant difference. To help cut sugar without sacrificing the sweeter things, check out some these blogs! The Big Man's World, Kim Hoeltje, Chocolate Covered Katie, The Iron You, and Sugar Free Like Me
3. Try HIIT — High Intensity Interval Training.
Often times when it comes to weight loss, people feel they need to do endless cardio to see results. Well, good news to those of you who “dread the tread:” high intensity interval training, or HIIT, can help you maximize fat loss. HIIT is any training that causes you to work at a high intensity for a short burst between periods of low intensity or rest. After a HIIT session, your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate, causing more fat burn - a benefit which LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio doesn’t offer. LISS can also cause your body to burn muscle so if you are trying to build or maintain muscle mass, you will benefit from giving HIIT a try! You can find more more in-depth information about the benefits of HIIT here.
4. Eat more protein.
Protein uses more thermic energy for your body to digest it, thereby burning more calories. It also helps you feel more satiated for longer. Protein fuels fat burning and will help your body maintain its muscle mass throughout your weight loss journey.
5. Try to pair a protein with a fat OR a carb for each meal.
For each of your meals or snacks, try to avoid foods that are high in both fats and carbs. By separating them, your body will be able to process them more effectively and store fewer calories.
6. Eat more frequent, smaller meals in the 300-500 calories range.
This will make sure your metabolism works throughout the day while also helping to prevent overeating and binging. Eating smaller meals is healthier because you can absorb more of the nutrients and it will keep your body from going into “survival mode”. Skipping meals will send you into this “survival mode” and your body will hold on to calories for fear it will be deprived again. Keeping your metabolism constantly processing will help prevent your body from feeling the need to store calories, which will later become fat. Try to eat your first meal within an hour of waking up. Don’t buy into the old tale that you are not supposed to eat before bed, but do avoid carbs at your last meal or during times of lower activity.
7. Move every day.
Even if it’s only a little, 30 minutes is a typical consensus of how much exercise the average adult needs in a day. Also, try to minimize the time you spend sitting. Break up long sitting spells with 10 minute walks; it will help to keep your metabolism healthy. Moving also helps your body to burn anything extra you might have consumed the day before. You can do anything: dance, walk, run, swim - whatever you enjoy.
8. Take progress pictures.
Instead of looking to the journey of others for motivation, create your own journey and look at your progress to keep yourself going. Remember, consistency is key! Tracking your progress only by weighing yourself is misleading because muscle weighs twice as much as fat. You might lose a pound of fat but the scale says you gained a pound despite you being consistent and following your plan to a T! It’s probably muscle gain. The safest way to track your progress, therefore, is through progress pictures and how your clothes are fitting you. Weight, of course, is valuable as a measurement but just be wary, it can be misleading.
9. Don’t be afraid to lift weights.
Lifting weights can burn more calories than cardio. People are afraid to lift weights because they don’t want to bulk up. Weights won’t bulk you up unless you want them to; it takes a lot of work to build muscle. Try circuit training to maximize calorie burn. Time your rest periods and keep them around 1-2 minutes so your heart rate stays high. This is also similar to HIIT in that your heart rate is fluctuating to increase calorie burn. Muscle burns calories even when you are sedentary; the more muscle you have, the more you can (and need to) eat.
10. Have a plan.
For any recipe, you need a list of ingredients and directions. Reaching your goals (weight loss, fitness or otherwise) is the same way. Don’t go into the gym and look around wondering what you should do. Instead, buy or research a training plan to help you reach your goals. The same goes for your meals each day. If you plan what you will eat ahead of time, you can make sure you are prepared and hitting your nutrition goals.