Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Resolution To Lose Weight - Part 1 - Diet

Losing Weight In One Year

New Year's Resolutions always seem to be about giving things up. But what if that was turned on it's head, and instead of giving things up, we started new things?

In the last post I talked about Getting Ready To Quit Smoking, today I'm going to focus on how to plan to lose weight with regards to dieting. As far as New Year's resolutions go, it's a very popular one, whether you are into running, sports, fitness or watching TV. Most of us would like to lose a little weight, some of us a lot. Due to my love of eating and some poor food choices this month, I seem to fall into the latter category.

Recording Your Measurements

This is where it all starts. I would recommend using digital scales (remembering to use fresh batteries) on a solid, level surface. Write down your weight, and for a more accurate assessment of where you are starting from, measure your fat content and body measurements.

Don't be afraid of the scales or seeing the results, just think of it as a starting point. By writing the results down you will be able to record how well the weight loss is going. Before starting the Insanity Challenge I also took pictures of myself, which can be another great way to see how well you are doing visually.

I recommend taking the measurements first thing in the morning, before you eat anything. Just remember that every time you weigh yourself after this should be done at the same time of day, and on the same scales.

How Much Weight Do You Want To Lose?

This is one of the first things to ask yourself, rather than just stating that you want to lose "some" weight. Having an achievable goal which is a solid number means that you have a precise goal to work towards.

I will use my own weight as an example. I currently weigh 198 lbs (14.2 stone), which is quite heavy for a runner (I also don't fit into my clothes the same way I was during the start of the year).

I want to lose 39 lbs this year, bringing me down to 159 lbs (11.3 stone). This might seem like quite a lot, but break it down over the year and it works out at less than a pound a week. I could maybe even achieve this weight well before the year is over.

Setting an achievable goal is better than trying to get to a weight that is unrealistic or too demanding. Losing 1 pound a week can be done, losing 2 pounds a week can be done with a bit more effort, but if I was to try and lose 3 pounds a week I would only last so long before either I gave up, or my body gave up, resulting in sickness, injury or zero energy.

How To Lose Weight

There are basically two simple ways of losing weight. Taking care of your diet, and increasing the exercise you are doing. It can get a lot more complicated than that, but when it is broken down into simple terms, those are the two things that matter.

One thing that I found to be very helpful with my diet was MyFitnessPalwhich is a free app and website that records everything that you eat or drink. It takes just a little bit of time to scan the bar-codes or enter ingredients, but it's much faster than manually writing down and totaling up your calories every time you eat.


Give it a try, have a play round with it and it should help you keep track of what you are consuming. And it's FREE, which is always a bonus. It also lets you know if you are eating foods with hidden fats, sugar or salt.

How Not To Lose Weight

The weight did not appear overnight, which means that it will not disappear overnight.

No pill or tablet will magically make fat go away, and any that do normally come with great health risks. Stay away from them, all they do will make you lose money.

Crash diets will work very quickly, but the weight will come back just as rapidly when it finishes. Crash diets mean giving things up, and you will start to crave what you miss. Don't give anything up, just replace what isn't good for you with what is. If you eat a lot of chocolate, try to replace it with fruit. If you still crave it, buy a chocolate bar on a Friday. Or a Wednesday. But eating fruit should make you have less carvings, meaning less calories and refined sugar.

Don't go hungry. You don't want to spend a year being hungry, do you? Just eat fresh food, made from scratch. Chicken, sweet potato and vegetables will fill you up just as much as a McDonald's, but have less calories, sugar, fat and salt. And cost less.

Where Is Your Diet Going Wrong For You?

If you are overweight, or just want to get a bit lighter, think of the reasons why you might be overweight. Write them down, then plan how you are going to change these ways.

An example of my own would be that I buy shop cooked, fattening food in work, possibly followed by chocolate. To combat this, I will start making packed lunches, bringing a big bottle of water with me and leaving my wallet either at home or in the car.

Recently I have put on a lot of weight, mostly due to getting takeaway dinners or foods that were microwaved. This was mainly because I hadn't done a proper grocery shop, the cupboards were bare and it just seemed a lot easier when I was hungry. To fix this I have stocked up on frozen vegetables, lean meats and wholegrain rice and pasta. I can't use this excuse now..

If you can't understand why you have been putting on weight or can't lose it, the MyFitnessPal app should help you see where it is going wrong. Portion size, cups of milky tea or coffee with sugar, or too much alcohol are good examples of how too many calories can be consumed without realising.

There will be a reason, you just need to analyse your diet, and see where the problem areas are. It's worth spending a bit of time doing this, and trying to thing of ways of how to solve them without you going hungry.

Remember alcohol is full of empty calories, and having a few drinks every night or binge drinking at the weekend can play a big part in weight gain.

I wrote a post Why Can't I Lose Weight? that dealt with some of these issues, if you want to check that out.

Try and break it down into weekly goals 

Even if the first week is spent recording everything you eat normally to get an idea of where the calories are coming from, this is better than starving yourself, giving up and going back to old habits. It's also worth remembering that weight loss is gradual, so maybe only checking your weight once a week is a good idea.

Losing 1 pound on the first week is still weight loss. You will be going in the right direction. Look at any changes or discoveries you have made, and act on these accordingly. It really is all about writing things down and making small changes. I had been drinking countless cups of tea with whole milk and two sugars. I swapped this for a black coffee with one sugar and saved a couple of hundred calories a day.

Try to make your meals from scratch. There are countless cooking shows on television, cooking books can be bought everywhere and the internet is full of recipes, so there is no excuse for not knowing how to cook. If you are pressed for time, make a big batch of food on a Saturday or Sunday and freeze it in portion sized freezer bags.

So What Should My New Year's Resolution Be?

You want to lose weight, but giving up everything you like, just won't work. Write down simple goals and integrate them into your weekly diet. Examples could be:

Make a big batch of healthy meal every weekend and freeze portions so you always have a quick meal ready for any night of the week. 

Cut down chocolate/ crisps/ chips/ sweets/ takeaways/ alcohol by half. You still want to be able to have these treats, just not as much of them. Look at what is causing the weight gain, and reduce your intake.

Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day. This will help with sugar cravings and the vegetables will fill you up, and give you lots of essential nutrients. The more good food you eat, the less bad food you will crave. 

I hope this will help you on your quest to lose weight, I will post Part 2 tomorrow, so if you don't want to miss it then sign up to my email subscription. If you have any comments or tips, please leave them in the comment box below.

Happy New Year

Half Marathon James

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