Now that is mid January, the New Years Resolution hype is starting to lose momentum. If you took some of my advice to heart, then maybe you scooted through Resolution season without seeing anyone’s posts about succumbing to the pressure to lose weight or keep meaningless resolutions. If that is the case, I congratulate you!
But, if you are sticking to resolutions with a healthy mindset, I also congratulate you. It can be healthy to have a resolution to lose weight if your mindset is in the correct space and you are looking to lose weight for the right reasons. And, if that is the case, then I want to share my insight on what I consider the most sustainable weight loss plan ever.
You can read every one of my weight loss accelerating tips in the program I finally packaged together for you, Weight Loss Unlocked, here. In the meantime, here are the basics to get you started, and what I think the most sustainable paleo weight loss plan is.
So what do you need to know to lose weight, and keep the weight off long term?
1) Listen to Hunger Cues:
Overeating is a problem that can prevent weight loss. You don’t want to snack too much, to eat beyond fullness, or to exceed your daily energy requirements on a regular basis. (I know that that’s easier than done for a lot of people. I used to be one of them. For more on the psychology of how to do this, my best resources are this post and this program.)
Most people don’t know this, but under eating can be just as much as, if not more of, a problem.
Because even while under eating reduces calorie intake and therefore cause weight loss in the short-term, it causes health and hormone problems in the long-term.This is especially important for women. The female body has many mechanisms specifically designed to store body fat if it thinks it is being starved: this protects a woman (and her baby) from dying if she is pregnant.
If you under eat on a regular basis, your body may think that it is being starved, and it will slow down thyroid function, and therefore fat burning.
In order to experience optimal weight loss in the long run, you absolutely must prevent this kind of damage from happening.
The key to doing so is just being sure to eat when you feel hungry. Don’t starve yourself. And don’t make yourself wait on purpose. Don’t give yourself a set number (say, 1500) of calories to eat in a day. And don’t even give yourself a set amount of food. Energy needs vary day by day. If you feel like you need to eat more, do it.
Once people begin ignoring their leptin signals, they get easier and easier to ignore. This is because constantly elevated leptin levels cause leptin receptors to become insensitive to the leptin floating around in the bloodstream. As the body realizes that it’s normal leptin signaling isn’t getting the job done, it incites more eating, more weight gain, and higher leptin levels in hopes that an increased leptin signal will get through. For this reason, obesity is correlated with high leptin levels, even though many obese people complain of constant hunger.
Leptin resistance is a problem for everybody. Both men and women. Without fixing leptin sensitivity problems, it’s very difficult to lose weight. It’s even more difficult to enact any kind of dietary restriction. But women, who have higher levels of leptin than men (having higher body fat percentages) and who have HPA axes more attuned to energy conservation, are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in leptin levels.
AKA pay attention to your hunger signs! If you are feeling hungry, eat, and if you’re not feeling hungry then do not eat. This is the best way to keep your leptin signals regular.
2) Incorporate Low Impact Movement :
Our bodies like to move. Low impact movement has been shown to improve mood, health, and sleep quality – to name a few. Typically, low impact exercise is my favorite type of exercise because it includes one type I really really enjoy, walking outside. So when people say “low impact” I don’t immediately cringe like I do when people say “cardio”. Low impact can be walking around your neighborhood or going for a gentle bike ride. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, it is mainly the things we do that perpetuate movement on our day to day. As long as we keep low impact in our schedules our body will respond appropriately.
The key to weight loss is not to exercise harder, but to exercise smarter.
Running, cycling, using the elliptical, and other cardio exercises are not the panacea most people make them out to be. They do not burn as many calories as the people who sell them would like us to believe. Nor do they build muscle all that well. They also elevate stress hormone levels if done on a regular basis.
All three of these factors make them inferior for weight loss.
Instead of doing cardio, I like to recommend doing a mix of three things: weight lifting, short, intense sprint work-outs, and slow, “happy” movement.
For me, this looks like lifting weights once or twice a week, doing a couple sprint workouts a week, and going dancing at night.
The basic ideas are this:
- Muscles require more energy to maintain, so if you build muscle, your body will burn more calories over the course of any given day, regardless of whether you work out.
- Strength training helps improve insulin sensitivity and hormonal health
- High intensity sprint workouts (like pedaling as fast as you can for 6 periods of 45 seconds) improve insulin sensitivity and hormonal health
- Strength and sprint workouts promote something called “metabolic flexibility” which helps you burn both carbohydrates and fat efficiently
- Exercising too much, like many cardio exercisers do, is stressful to the body. With short weight lifting and sprint workouts you minimize the amount of stress hormone in your bloodstream.
So exercise smart. Lift heavy weights twice a week, do two sprint workouts a week, and walk or do yoga and dance or any other fun activity as often as possible.
3) Consistency is Key :
I know how challenging it can be to remain consistent. Sometimes a buddy can help you stay accountable. I’m a big fan of noting my progress in writing, usually by making charts or calendars, so I can visually see the fruits of my labor. This can be great if I am being too hard on myself or if it feels like I’m not working as much as I should be; it’s a great reminder of the effort I’m putting in.
4) Do Exercise You Enjoy :
You know how they say if you love your job you won’t work a day in your life? Well the same goes for exercise. If you find a type of movement you enjoy doing regularly, you will stick to it. For me this is biking, kayaking, dancing, climbing and group sports. These don’t feel like exercises or workouts to me, it’s a socialization opportunity and I typically get to see more of my environment when I do these.
Outdoor sports are one of my favorite easy ways to get in exercise because I also love being in nature so incredibly much. Are there any particular hobbies that you enjoy that you could wrap into an exercise? For instance, if you love flora and fauna, maybe a walk through some botanical gardens could be enjoyable. Or, maybe you feel like you don’t get to see and spend time with your family very often. A good way to squeeze in time together could be an after dinner bike ride.
It is okay to feel like you don’t like any types of exercise. I stand firm in my belief that there is an activity out there waiting for you that you will truly enjoy, you just need to find it.
5) You Must Reduce Inflammation
No matter how hard you try to lose weight, you might not be able to if you suffer from an underlying health condition.
Thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are super common problems for people trying to lose weight, especially women.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), and leaky gut are all gut health problems. They might not seem like they are important for weight loss, but they are some of the most important. Without a healthy gut, you cannot absorb nutrients well, or have a healthy hormonal response to food.
Autoimmune diseases are also very important to tackle. The best guide for overcoming them, in my opinion, is Sarah Ballantyne’s, here on Amazon.
Figure out your underlying issues by taking stock of your body. What symptoms do you experience? When? For how long? How long have you had them? Take your answers to google and to the doctor. Get some tests done. Paleo is fantastic for healing, but a more targeted approach can help heal you all the faster.
Then, the faster you heal your underlying problems, the faster you can lose weight.
6) Making the Focus Not Entirely About Losing Weight
An important idea to consider but may go without saying:
The more that you think about who you are as a person, as opposed to the way that you look, the more in control you will be of the whole process.
When you are secure in your values, in your personality, in your relationships and your career and your life, then you are more satisfied with everything. You don’t need to lose weight as badly as you might if you didn’t love yourself, if you thought the way that you looked meant everything. All you really need is yourself.
Weight loss is very, very hard when you want it so bad. This is true for a lot of important things in life, like romance, for example. In both of these cases, the harder you run for it, and the more crucial it seems for your happiness, the more and more it slips out of your fingers.
The alternative is to stop chasing weight loss. Stop obsessing over it. Stop letting it rule you. Instead, if you can increase your comfort with yourself – with who you are – you can make weight loss a side project. It will be an addendum to who you are, but not the whole thing.
Then you can do so light-heartedly, and more easily, without risk of stress or nervous breakdowns or obsessive sabotaging behaviors.
7) Weight Loss Unlocked
Ready for more than just blog posts? After decades of yo-yo dieting, I finally freed myself from being a slave to my weight loss battle.
So, I developed my own personal program for maintaining a healthy weight without fretting at all. I am happy, free, in a fit, healthy body, and eat the foods I want to eat.
I do this using a combination of unique paleo diet insights, scientific studies on female metabolism, and self-loving strategies. Learn all about how I and the thousands of women who have taken my advice do it in the program, here.
The key to lifelong weight loss is learning how to heed your internal cues. Learning your body, understanding its needs, and feeding it nutrient dense food. There doesn’t need to be a special superfood protocol. There just needs to be balance.
Remembering these insights along with all of the 7 steps combined is the best way to maintain sustainable weight loss. It can seem overwhelming at first but after lacing each step together it will start to feel more natural, and I promise your body will follow suit.
Best of luck on your weight loss journey!