3 parts to losing weight: the emotional, the nutritional, and the physical
The first step to losing weight is the intention to lose weight. You must want to do it yourself. You may have various personal reason for doing it (e.g. medical, health, social, professional, etc.), but ultimately it is only you who can change your situation.
Losing weight is tough. You'll need perseverance, determination, strong will and self motivation. And to ensure long term success, you must want to do it for all the right reasons. As such the battle for losing weight begins first and foremost in the mind.
The basic formula for losing weight is straightforward:
if your calories burnt is greater than the calories consumed then you lose weight.
What you eat and drink and how much of this is burnt by your body determines what shape and size you are. For this reason nutrition and physical activity (or exercise) are the two other key components to weight management.
A simple way of assessing whether you need to lose weight is to calculate your body mass index, known more popularly by its acronym BMI. It compares your weight with your height and lets you know whether your underweight, OK, overweight, obese, or clinically obese. It applies equally to adult men and women. It isn't suitable for children or young people under 18.
You can quickly use the BMI chart below to check your weight status:
Alternatively, you can use the BMI healthy weight calculator (provided by the NHS) which is suitable for both adults and children to calculate your own BMI or check if your child is a healthy weight for their height. It takes less than 20 seconds. All you need to enter is your gender, age, height, weight, and activity level. That's all.
But remember the BMI also has its limitations. For example, if you're an adult with a very athletic build (e.g. professional athletes) you could show as overweight. This is because muscle weighs more than fat and the BMI does not take this into account. Also, if you’re pregnant, the BMI does not apply. To get a more accurate reading of your healthy weight seek advice from your doctor or midwife.
A BMI of 25 - 29.9 is considered overweight and one of 30 or above is considered obese. People with BMIs between 19 - 22 live longest. Death rates are noticeably higher for people with indexes 25 and above.
The BMI is not infallible. For instance, it is possible for a healthy, muscular athlete with very low body fat to be classified obese using the BMI formula.
If you are a trained athlete, your weight based on your measured percent body fat would be a better indicator of what you should weigh.
Another way of finding out whether you are healthy weight and size is to measure your waistline.
Whilst the BMI is a good indicator of how healthy your weight is relative to your height, it is important where you store the fat if you are overweight since you could be at greater risk depending on where you store it.
We store spare body fat under the skin and also around the vital organs in our abdomen (tummy). Fat around the abdomen causes more health problems than fat carried around the bottom or on the thighs.
The more fat you have around your abdomen (when compared to having fat around the bottom or thighs) the more you are at risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer even if your BMI is healthy.
Most people are apple-shaped or pear-shaped in terms of their body shape. This means that when you put on weight, the fat is either stored around your hips (pear-shaped) or around your middle (apple-shaped).
- Feel for your hip bone on one side and move upwards until you can feel the bones of your bottom rib. Halfway between is your waist. For most people this is where their tummy button is.
- Breathe out naturally.
- Wrap a tape measure around your waist to find your measurement.
Your ideal waist size should be no more that half your height. For example, a 5 ft 7" (or 67 inches)man should have a waist size less than 33.5 inches. For most men their ideal weight size is less than 37 inches (94cm), and for women less than 31.5 inches (80cm). The more bigger your are from this number the more likely you're going to suffer from health problems.
Table 1: Healthy waist size for men and women Ideal High Very high Men less than 37" (94cm) 37 - 40" (94 - 102cm) more than 40" (102cm) Women less than 32" (80cm) 32 - 35" (80 - 88cm) more than 35" (88cm)
Your waistline is a great way of tracking changes of your latest lifestyle modifications. Use it to check your progress. Measure your waist regularly but don't get too obsessed with checking it. Measure it every few months, but make sure you do it correctly to get an accurate reading.
If you carry excess weight around your abdomen, that means you're an "apple" shape. Those who carry excess fat around the bottom and thighs are "pear" shaped.
Anyone who is carrying excess weight anywhere on the body would benefit from losing that weight.
But if you're an apple shape, it's particularly important that you take action to achieve a healthy weight. You can do this by making lifestyle changes to improve your diet and increase your physical activity.
Physical activity can improve the health of anyone who is overweight, and it's not just a matter of burning calories: your heart, lungs and circulation will benefit too.
If you are overweight or obese, dropping as little as 5 - 10% of your body weight can significantly improve your health and well-being and reduce your risk of some potentially serious health problems. This means that an individual that weighs 200 pounds (or approximately 91 kg) will benefit greatly from losing 10 to 20 pounds (or 4.5 - 9 kg).
- More energy and vitality
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Reduce risk of high blood pressure
- Reduce pain and aches associated with arthritis, joint disease, and lower back pain
- Improved mobility
- Improve your breathing
- Help you sleep better (especially for those with obstructive sleep apnea) and wake more rested
- Prevention of angina, chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart
- Decreases your risk of sudden death from heart disease, heart attack or stroke
- Prevention of Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes (high blood glucose)
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Improved heart health
- Improved fertility and enhanced sex life
- Decreased risk for colon and breast cancer
- Reduce risk of depression
- A healthier gallbladder
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder commonly diagnosed in patients affected by excess weight that snore or gasp for air during sleep. It’s caused by pauses and gaps in breathing during sleep and results in insufficient oxygenation. This causes fatigue and sleepiness during the day. It also is responsible for making certain diseases less responsive to treatment, like hypertension for example.
When sleep apnea is significant, oxygen levels in the blood are too low during sleep and the use of a breathing machine called CPAP is necessary. It has been shown that a 5-10% weight-loss may improve sleep apnea and sometimes if the apnea was not very severe, one can be weaned from the CPAP breathing machine. This is a big achievement for some, as having to use a CPAP is life-saving but often perceived as cumbersome by those who need to use it.
We all have different lifestyle, health, taste in food, family responsibility, work pattern, sleep pattern, mentality, financial constraint, etc. It'll be difficult to clone somebody else's approach to weight management to the tee and expect to get the exact result for yourself.
You need to find a solution that works for you.
Realign your expectation to get achievable, realistic result. Discover the weight management technique and strategy which you can sustain over long term and which help you to maintain a healthy weight permanently.
1. Emotional intelligence
Starting a diet and exercise regime can be an exciting venture. But if your motivation is disgust at the size of your waist, you could be setting yourself to fail.
You’re not alone. Everyone struggles with their weight throughout their life: either trying to lose weight, putting weight on, or maintaining it. But begin your journey to a healthy weight by learning to love yourself.
As long as you punish yourself into trying to lose weight, it simply won’t work. Even if you lose weight you'll still hate yourself. And one day, the evil voice in your head will still scold you and tell you that you're still not good enough even though you're skinner. You're then likely to comfort eat and become fat once again.
I'm lying to myself everyday when I say I'm doing the best I can. I'm living the best I can. I'm living to my full potential. Everyday is a lie. And it's getting harder to lie as I literally can't stand being around myself.
Chantell, someone who worked hard to lose their weight after being obese
Remember, body fat is only A PART of your body. It's not poisonous. It's doesn't make you ugly. And it doesn't ruin your life. It is only something that your body stores. The excess body fat which has made you overweight or obese CAN be removed with good nutrition and physical activity. So there IS a solution and with regular active effort you WILL achieve your goal.
Yes, it's good to be angry and frustrated at your unhealthy state. But let this be healthy anger which motivates you to do something about it and not self hate which cripples you and saps all your physical and emotional energy. Remember, if you don't adore yourself for the person you are before you lose weight, the chances are you're not going to be able to do so when you're slim.
When any event happens in our lives, it’s natural to react emotionally (e.g. sad, happy, scared, excited, etc.) and despite what society may tell us, it’s important to allow ourselves the space to feel these emotions.
Having emotional intelligence is not about ignoring our feelings but instead developing the ability to control the way we react to them.
Kristen Marston, blogger
Stop hanging onto that nobody cares about you - stop losing your self worth.
Become the person you want to be. You have the power within you to change your life.
Chris Powell, Personal trainer, to an overweight client
Work with your body to get it to look how you want.
However, you cannot do this if you're hating yourself. If your weight loss is fueled by negative mind chatter and self-hatred, weight loss becomes punishment. At the first sight of a little slip up your negative mind will pounce upon it, procrastinate, and tell you that "you're a loser - you have no willpower".
Yes, you can't just think yourself slim, you need to put some action into it as well. But that doesn't matter unless you're in the right frame of mind to begin with.
If you like yourself you'd be more inclined to look after yourself and would feel more deserving of feeling good and happy. Otherwise you'll be constantly criticising yourself and your appearance and hurting yourself in the process. By all means strive to be even better in all aspect of your life but learn to accept who you are and appreciate your positive qualities that you already possess.
If your self-hate runs much deeper, then please seek professional help. Unfortunately, this one is multi-layered, complicated and unique for each person. To truly make permanent progress in this area consult your GP and take the recommended path to recovery.
It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true: hating your body is one of the biggest factors in emotional eating. Negativity, shame and hatred rarely inspire people to make long-lasting great changes, especially when it comes to our bodies or our sense of self. Many people tell me they will stop hating their body after they reach their goal weight. I say you have to stop hating your body before you can stop the emotional eating cycle.
Jennifer Kromberg, a licensed clinical psychologist in California, USA
We are multidimensional human beings. What truly matters is who or what we are on the inside. If you're a spiritual person then you'll know that the body is only a cloth for the soul. What truly matters is the purity of this soul when it exits your body after death. Therefore begin to love the radiant being that you are and focus more on beautifying the spirit within you, regardless of what the world sees on the outside.
However, whether you believe in the soul or not, one thing you cannot deny is that our body undergoes changes through the passage of time. The great thing is we have the ability to change our body weight to a healthy one with the right nutrition and exercise. So it is YOU who are in control - not your body. And always remember, our character, moral, ethics, purity of intention are far superior qualities than our physical appearance. Be happy with yourself. So what if there are few pounds to lose - it doesn't make you a 'bad' person.
Trying to love yourself while you lose weight seems a bit counterintuitive. After all, you’re working hard to change your body, so that must mean you don’t love it the way it is, right?
Start by thinking of your weight within the context of your overall wellbeing. That means widening your focus to encompass more than just the numbers on the scale, the way your jeans fit and yes, even what you see in the mirror. Embarking on a healthy weight loss program should inspire you, energize you and make you feel proud of yourself.
This can be a tall order for many, but remember — when you begin a weight loss process from a place of self-love and acceptance, you are more likely to set realistic goals and allow for the little setbacks and disappointments that are a common stumbling block for many.
Successful slimming is all about banishing negativity and concentrating on loving everything you possibly can about yourself.
Daily Mail (UK newspaper)
Finally...do it for your family. Do it for your friends. But most important of all, do it for yourself. It's your life - make it a great one! Unload yourself - not just the physical weight but also the emotional weight.
Few tips on how to learn to love yourself when you're overweight:
- Make friends with the person in the mirror = Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how perfect and beautiful you are just the way you are.
- Write a list of 20 things great about you = Write 10 things you most love about yourself and another 10 things people adore about you. Turn to this list when the "What's the point?" day strike.
- Write down a description of your body parts that you love = When you're slimming it's easy to get fixated on the body parts that you dislike, rather than appreciate those for which you should be grateful. But for any diet to work, you need to fall in love with your body - the one you've got right now - before you start. Take a good look at your body and write down what you love about it. Turn to this list whenever you feel discouraged during your weight loss plan and remind yourself of everything you love about your body.
- Be grateful = Before going to bed each night think of things you're happy to be (e.g. funny, determined, enthusiastic, etc), things you've done well that day (e.g. not losing temper with your children, cooked a healthy meal, made others feel good about themselves, etc.), and things you're grateful to have (e.g. your health, a loving partner, a comfy bed, etc.).
- Treat every day as a new beginning = Start each day by affirming to yourself that you will do the best you can—no matter what happened yesterday. Thinking of every day as an opportunity for a fresh start can help you to avoid getting into the cycle of negative self-talk that causes many people to give up on their weight loss goals early in the process.
- Give yourself a compliment once a day = It may sound silly, but it can help encourage self-kindness to come naturally (and limit self-doubt, which can lead to self-loathing). Remembering what you love about yourself puts you in the right mindset to want the best for your body, too.
- Look around you = Self-acceptance is a condition of grace and appreciation for the great range of body shapes and sizes. We are all different, and who you are and what you look like is unique. Remember that your weight loss journey is about achieving better health instead of focusing on becoming someone else's definition of "perfect".
- Reflect on the gifts your body has given you = It propelled you through your half marathon; it gave you two beautiful children. The body that you may be down on has undoubtedly brought you great opportunity and joy. Reveling in those experiences and all that are still in store for you is an important way to love yourself while you lose weight.
- Set attainable goals = Aiming to drop a dress size in time for your high school reunion in six days is an easy path to disappointment and self-blaming. Moreover, coming down on yourself in this way can actually contribute to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been shown to increase the amount of belly fat stored by the body, particularly in women. Setting a more attainable goal, such as trying a new exercise class once a week or swapping one sweet treat for a healthier option, is a better way to protect your self-esteem and respect your body’s limits. Also reward yourself when you achieve a key milestone as this will help spur you on to achieving your goals.
- Feel the benefits of exercise = You know that exercise is one of the keys to successful weight loss. But what you might not know is that physical activity stimulates feel-good chemicals in the brain that elevate your mood. Research also shows that those who exercise regularly, as part of a weight loss routine, tend to rate their self-esteem levels as higher than those who don’t. If finding the motivation to workout is difficult, enlist a friend to exercise with you. Just as it’s helpful to learn to love yourself while you lose weight, there’s no better cheerleader to take on your journey than someone who wants the best for you and constantly reminds you of how wonderful you are.
Your mind is like a DVD player and you can choose which disc to play. If you find yourself watching a DVD that depicts your frustration, your list should help you chose a different one.
...Stop striving to be perfect — you don’t have to do everything right in order to love yourself and for others to love you. Instead of berating yourself if things don’t go to plan (the chocolate biscuit that jumped into your mouth, the day without exercise), start practising a bit of unconditional self-acceptance.
Amount of time wasted reading weight loss related articles or watching YouTube videos could be effectively spent on burning calories by being active. However, make informed decisions. Don’t risk your health by doing activities that is bad for you.
In life you get what you want out of it - as long as you're doing what it takes to get it.
The most important thing is the state of your heart and your BMI (Body Mass Index).
Plus, not everyone looks good skinny. Men generally look good muscular, whilst women generally look good with slender, curvy body. But aim for what you're comfortable and happy with – as long as it's healthy - as it’s your body.
Losing weight for the sake of losing weight may provide with quick motivation but this doesn't last long. It's not a strong enough reason to provide you with long term motivation.
Think about what you really want to achieve. What do you want?
Your goal may be physical, such as having more energy to do things you love, being able to run for few miles without stopping, or looking better. Your goal can be emotional, such as boosting your confidence and self esteem, or feeling better. Or your goal may be social, such as increasing your job promotion chances, improving your social status, or altering your eating behaviours to prevent or minimise chances of developing a disease common to your family (e.g. diabetes, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, cholesterol, heart disease, etc). Or maybe your goal is a combination of many of these things.
Whatever it is, make it personal to you.
Remember, losing weight is not a goal - it is a result. Goals are actions that you take to reach a result. Set yourself short-term goals (about 2-6 weeks long) for example reducing your sugar and carbohydrate intake, giving up fizzy drink, losing few pounds/kilogram, etc. Take some time to create your list, customise it to fit your lifestyle.
Notice that losing weight was not mentioned as a goal. Losing weight is always the result of making positive lifestyle changes; it is not the goal in itself.
...Make each goal as specific as possible, achievable, and something that you desire. In order to make your goals come true, the desire to achieve it has to come from you.
Have fun with this list. Give yourself a great reason to wake up and start each day.
Have patience. Give yourself time. It's a process. Take small steps toward your goal. If you make small changes in the beginning this will help to change your eating and exercise behaviours for big results in the end.
The first few weeks ease yourself into healthy lifestyle changes. Don't push yourself too hard or too fast. During this time don't be too disheartened by the number you see on the scale - even when you don't see any weight changes. The goal is to get comfortable with making changes and to start to enjoy taking healthy steps.
Break down your transformational phase into manageable chunks e.g. 3 months. Avoid weighing yourself weekly, or worse still daily. This will prevent you from getting preoccupied with the scale. Give yourself time and weigh yourself once every one or two months.
Remember, stay with the lifestyle pattern which encourages better health, both mental and physical. Keep yourself away from anything that has a negative impact on your life.
This will depend on your age, gender, lifestyle, medical condition, metabolism, amongst other factors. Start by using the BMI calculator to work out what is a healthy weight for you. By setting a target weight it'll keep you focused and motivated to try and reach that goal. As we have already shown, losing as little as 5-10% can have significant health benefit.
If you're doubt on how much to lose, consult your doctor/physician. They can help you make a wise decision based on your medical history. Whatever target you set, make sure it is realistic and achievable, otherwise you will set yourself up to fail.
Once you’ve worked out a target weight, you should set a date by which you want to achieve it. Generally speaking, shredding 1 kg (2.5 pounds) a week is a realistic and healthy weight loss goal. This roughly translates to losing a total of 1,000 calories a day. You can achieve this by cutting 500 calories from your diet and burning the additional 500 calories through physical activity. It's easier than you might think.
People who lose weight any faster are probably losing water or muscle mass - not fat - neither of which you want to do. Remember, it's natural to want to lose the extra weight super fast. But persevere and make good, healthy lifestyle changes which you can sustain for the rest of your life, as opposed to getting quick result and putting all the weight back on soon after.
It's not a race or a competition. It's about your happiness and quality of life.
It is best not to lose weight too fast. You should aim to lose weight gradually. If you lose more than a kilogram per week, you may lose muscle tissue rather than fat. This isn't sustainable weight loss. So, it is recommended that you lose an average of 0.5 to 1 kg per week (about 1-2 lb per week).
Our weight loss guide is designed to help you lose weight at a safe rate of 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) per week by sticking to a daily calorie allowance of 1,900kcal for men and 400kcal for women.
Losing weight faster than this, unless under medical supervision, can increase the risk of health problems including malnutrition and gallstones, as well as causing you to feel tired and unwell.
If you are overweight or obese, there are some powerful reasons to drop 10% of your body weight this year. Losing this amount of weight can significantly improve your health and well-being. It may not sound like a lot. In fact, most people trying to lose weight set much loftier goals for themselves, but unrealistic goals can often end in disaster.
When you are overweight it can be demoralising weighing yourself. The scale doesn't lie. The number on the scale shows you where you really at and sometime you don't want to look at it. It may show you that you're a lot more heavier than you thought and you got a long way to go.
But, as with any journey, you need to know where you're at before you can figure out where you going. Set yourself a target. A challenging target. Determine what is your ideal healthy weight and don't give up until you reach this goal.
However, don't get obsessed with number crunching.
Your health is not a number. You're not a number.
The whole (weight loss) process is NOT about turning numbers in a scale. It's about keeping promises to yourself and honouring yourself and your integrity over anything else. It's about the quality of your life. How good is your energy level, how good is your mood, are you more active, do you find day-to-day physical tasks more easier, do you feel confident, are you able to maximise and take advantage of the positive aspect of life, and much more!!
As you become more proud of who your are becoming the scale too will go the right way.
Being overweight can dampen your confidence and willpower. Therefore it is vital that your family and loved ones give you small positive encouragement.
Invite your family, friend, neighbour or work colleague to join you. Having company is fun and motivates you to keep going. Research shows that having a support system (such as a loved one going through the same weight loss process as you) improves commitment and increases your chances of weight loss success.
As soon as you return back home don't always think I have to look after everyone else first before I look after myself. When you go back to your old mindset, you return back to your old pattern. This means returning to comfort eating again.
However, sometime family meeting is geared towards food. The focus is food. And some family members may also think being overweight is "not a problem" and "it's fine". Regardless of how you may appear to these family members, remember being overweight or obese equals danger. You're putting your health at risk and decreasing your chances of living a longer life. Where possible, have a frank but sensitive discussion with loved ones. Tell them what you need from each other to move forward. Is there anything you need from each other to help you reach your goal?
But, though it's important that these family members open their eyes to the fact that you're unhealthy, first thing first: you just need to focus on getting healthy as opposed to building bridges. Learn not to react to such negative feedback and don't let it discourage you from actively seeking a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a healthier you. Spend less time with people who don't push you in positive direction. Once you enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, these same people will come running to you to seek advice and tips!
It is your body. Your health. Your life.
You can get all the best advice in the world, read articles (such as this one), watch videos and be surrounded by all the necessary resources, but none of it matters if you don't DO something about it.
Maintaining a healthy weight is part of owning your health. Ultimately you must want to do it yourself. Rather than over analysing your situation and procrastinating, act upon medically-sound advice.
Put simply: think less, do more!!
We'd love to see you in great health...
Until you set a goal of how much body fat you want to lose, you are just dreaming. It needs to be specific and written down. If losing body fat is what you want to do, you must be willing to achieve it at all costs. If you do not want to lose body fat enough, you will continue to give yourself reasons not to work out.
Get real and tell yourself that you are going to do this, no matter what. Before any other step, this is the most important one.
If you are not real and serious about losing fat, all the other steps will not help you. YOU MUST SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF. You need a reason to keep going, to do cardio first thing in the morning, to skip that extra slice of pizza. You need a reason or you will not follow through. So step 1 is to stop dreaming and start doing. Tell yourself you are going to achieve your goal no matter what. Write down what you want to achieve and then go after it!
Body Building magazine