In the 4 + years since I started my weight loss journey I learned quite a bit about what it takes to lose weight and keep it off. Some lessons I recognized quickly while others took me a little bit longer to see. And, even though, I have a lot of knowledge in my weight loss arsenal I am positive there is still much more I can learn.
So far, these are my top weight loss lessons.
- Tracking food. This has been the cornerstone to my weight loss. I use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my daily calories, nutrition, exercise, and weight loss goals. Read here if you are curious why I don’t use Weight Watchers.
- Meal Planning. Taking the time to meal plan provides me with the road map and structure I need to stay on track with my food. However, meal planning is not always easy. So, instead of struggling I use Plan to Eat to streamline the process. Now meal planning is not an issue. The lesson learned here is don’t try to do things alone all the time. There are plenty of affordable services that can help.
- Make ahead meals. Preparing my foods ahead of time makes it easier to eat healthy during the week. Simple yet powerful concept. I am more likely to eat the foods I plan when I take the time to food prep.
- Clean(er) eating. Eating clean(er) foods makes me feel good, especially green smoothies. My body feels nourished and I feel focused.
- Strength training makes all the difference. A flat tummy and defined arms are not going to be the result of running 3-4 miles a day. However, I love to run – it keeps me focused and sane – so I keep it a part of my exercise routine.
- Keeping an exercise schedule that works. Exercising in the morning is the way to go for me. If I don’t exercise in the morning it won’t happen.
Each strategy plays a huge role in my weight loss journey. There are many more but there is one thing that trumps them all. Something that only occurred to me recently. Want to know what it is?
Consistency. Yep, I need to stay consistent. Consistency is the #1 thing you ABSOLUTELY MUST do to lose weight and keep it off.
Simple? Yes. Common sense? Probably. Is it the reason I did not get results years ago? I am going to go with YES. I now know that all of those weight loss strategies work but only when I am consistently using them.
To lose weight and keep it off I can’t meal plan sometimes, track food when I feel like it, eat clean food on occasion, or work out when time allows. No I need to consistently make all those strategies a part of my everyday lifestyle. That is the only way to change habits, lose weight, and keep it off.
Looking back, I can’t tell you the number of times I would start and stop an exercising routine. It seems like I was on a bi-monthly rotation. Some months it was like I was training for an iron man marathon while other months I was training more for a Keeping Up With the Kardashians marathon on E. Ha! Don’t judge we all have our guilty pleasures. It was the same with food. I would throw myself into salads and grilled chicken for a week or so only to binge on pizza and pasta the next. Basically, my lack of consistency is the #1 reason I never experienced weight loss.
I remember having thoughts like “If I only kept exercising I would feel comfortable in my summer clothes” or “If I kept up with running and eating healthy I would be able to wear that dress” or “If I stopped eating so much junk all the time I would feel better going on vacation” and I am sure many other thoughts like this entered my mind.
Now I can say “you know what Tammy, you were right”. If you stayed consistent with healthy eating habits and exercise yes you would be comfortable in summer clothes, be able to wear that dress, and feel better going on vacation. And I can say that now because I have lost the weight and know exactly what it feels like to be confident and happy in my own skin. I lost the weight by staying consistent with my weight loss efforts. I kept going!
Consistency is key!
Staying consistent is important because it provides you with the time you need to build new habits and see the results of your hard work. It takes about 3-4 weeks to implement a new habit. Sometimes this can take even longer when you are trying to replace bad ones. You are not going to change habits or see results overnight. One day of drinking smoothies, tracking food, running, squats, and sit-ups will not get you bikini ready. Not even one week of doing those things every single day will do the trick. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. In most cases, it takes a few weeks to see any physical results. That’s just the way it is and the reason it is so important to stay consistent with your efforts. Don’t get me wrong you will feel better and see some changes but if you are looking to drop 50 pounds and 4 dresses sizes in a week that won’t happen.
Inconsistency can be very frustrating when trying to lose weight. It can feel like you are “giving up” causing you to feel defeated with the entire weight loss process. I often here people say “that didn’t work for me”. Well, first of all that can’t make you lose weight. Only YOU can make you lose weight.
Second, you have to give yourself enough time and stay consistent. Weight loss is a process filled with many hills, valleys, curves, and even ditches. If you keep going despite all of these challenges you will build and sustain new healthier habits and see the results of your hard work.
What does consistency look like?
Consistency means stability, regularity, and dependability. It means you know what to do and expect day after day.
Here are some tasks you can do every week to stay consistent with creating a healthier lifestyle and losing weight.
- Plan your meals. I recommend setting time aside during the week to create a meal plan and grocery list so when you have time to shop you are ready to go. Make sure to plan for all meals and snacks. If you eat 5 times a days you need to know what those meals will be. You can view all my meal plans here.
- Weekend food prep. I have said this a million times but I will say it again. It is so much easier to eat healthy when healthy food is available. You don’t need to spend an entire weekend prepping food but it will be in your best interest to set some time aside. Even a little food prep will make a difference. Here is a beginners guide to food prep I wrote if you are looking for more information.
- Exercise 3 to 4 times a week. You don’t need to exercise every day nor do your routines need to be trainings for the Tough Mudder or marathons. However, to lose weight you will need to incorporate exercise in some fashion. I think it is important to get in the habit of exercising 3-4 times a week. Don’t feel like you need to join a gym. You can easily exercise in the comfort of your own living room. The key is to create a schedule that works for you. There are tons of home exercise routine posted here. If you need some tips on starting a morning exercise routine then check here.
- Track your food every day. Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by tracking food. I know it can seem tedious – and sometimes it is – but it will work to hold you accountable. To make it 100 times easier use a website and/or app like My Fitness Pal. I am telling ya that website was a game changer for me. Here is a post to help you get the most out of my fitness pal.
- Get and stay organized. I truly believe that an organized life is a happier life – at least it is for me. Trust me, I am not OCD organized in any way shape or form. However, I will say when I take the time to write a to do list, keep my calendar updated, and my house from looking like a bomb went off I feel better, happier, and much more focused. Staying organized keeps you out of the “hot zones” and frees up time and mental energy to keep you moving forward on all your goals, including weight loss goals. Here is one of my favorite posts I put together on this topic called 7 Things You Can Do to Lose Weight that Don’t Include Food or Exercise.
The best way to stay consistent week after week is to be intentional and plan, plan, and plan. Don’t expect to create and stick with new habits if you are flying by the seat of your pants every day. Take time every day to think about what you want to accomplish. Then write it down and keep it visible. Take time to review it every morning and night. This helps to reflect, make adjustments, and see progress. Personally, one of the most important things I do daily is write out a to do list. Without that list I am lost soul trying to figure out what to do next.
The biggest challenge to staying consistent is life happens. There is always something getting in the way of eating healthy, working out, cleaning, or doing anything we need to do. For this reason, it is important to focus consistently on habits and lifestyle instead of quick fixes and unrealistic diets. When you do this it is easier to get back on track (instead of starting over) with your goals when life gets in the way.
Again, weight loss is a journey and a process. It never ends – even when you reach your goal weight. It is about creating healthier habits, routines, and staying consistent with them. Consistency makes all the difference between results and regret. So keep going!