It’s October and the festive treats are on the shelves, party nights are being booked and the little black dresses are starting to make an appearance. I always get asked the same question at this time of year:
How much weight can I lose before Christmas?
I don’t despair at this, it actually pleases me, because it means you want to make a change and you have thought about it almost 3 months in advance.
There are 2 relevant questions here:
- What is a realistic amount of weight to lose?; and
- How do I lose this weight?
A Realistic Amount of Weightloss
The recommended and sensible amount of weight loss to aim for is 1-2lbs per week. Yes, I said PER WEEK. If you are a crash diet junkie, forget all you have been taught. Slow and steady wins the race by maintaining long-term weight loss. Nutrition is for life, not just for Christmas!
What does 1lb of weight look like anyway?
Before you diss 1lb as being too little, think on it this way – 1lb is a thick paperback book or a tin of beans. It’s not a small amount. 5lb is a whole baby. So essentially what I’m saying is that you could lose the weight of 6 tins of beans in 3 weeks and 20 tins in 10 weeks, just in time for Christmas. It doesn’t seem so small now does it? You could lose a stone and a half for Christmas.
How Do I Lose This Weight?
The advice on weight loss can be confusing and overwhelming and this often causes us to do nothing – paralysis by analysis! Whilst I don’t believe in fads, I do believe in simplicity. So here are my top 3 tips on losing weight:-
1. Make Only One Change At A Time
Research shows that we have a finite amount of willpower. This means that we can only cope with exerting so much willpower at any 1 point in time. On that basis and based on experience with clients, I recommend tackling nutrition first and then exercise, not both at once. What we eat is 90% of the battle with weight loss as it is almost impossible to out-train a bad diet. It therefore makes sense to start with our diet. This may seem controversial, as eating well can inspire us to exercise and vice versa. This is what I like to call the domino effect. However, the willpower required to change both our eating and moving habits, effectively overnight, is immense. To suggest that on Monday morning we will get up and change the eating habits of a lifetime and at the same time build in regular workouts (making us more hungry and more tired), even sounds a little ridiculous.
Instead, I would suggest working on better nutrition for at least 4 weeks before incorporating exercise (unless of course you already do regular exercise, in which case, carry on as normal).
2. Analyse Your Bad Habits For A Week
Ask yourself these questions:-
A. When are my weakest times of the day?
B. What is my main food/drink weakness?
C. What is the voice in my head saying before giving in to temptation?
Then create a strategy by doing the following:-
A. Change up what you are doing at your weakest times. E.g. go for a bath or a walk immediately after dinner if you have a sweet tooth.
B. Replace your vice with something healthy (and less calorific) but still appealing. E.g. have some low-fat Greek yoghurt with baked nectarines and honey instead of ice cream and chocolate sauce.
C. Decide on a firm reply for the voice in your head when it is trying to derail you. Create a name for that voice and make it another person who is trying to sabotage you.
3. Use The ‘My Fitness Pal’ App To Track Your Calories for 7 days
There is only one way to lose weight and that is to create a small calorie deficit EVERY SINGLE DAY. Whatever diet you have done in the past, the only reason it has worked is because you have burned more calories than you have consumed over a period of time. The My Fitness Pal App is an excellent tool for keeping track of what we eat and burn off each day. It even has a scanning option for packaged foods that are already in the system (of which there are many). You simply input your age, weight, sex, height and desired weight loss of between 1-2lbs per week. Then you log everything you eat each day and any workouts you do. I won’t lie, it can be fairly tedious and the hardest part is weighing the quantities of food you are eating. However, this is also the most useful part as most of my clients discover that their quantities are way larger and more calorific than they expected. Embarrassingly, this also happened to me! It is unrealistic and too time-consuming for many to use the app on a long-term basis. What I suggest, therefore, is to use it for 7 days as a learning experience. We tend to eat the same food each week so a snapshot of 1 week is usually enough for you to see where you are going wrong and where changes need to be made.
So yes, you can lose a stone before Christmas. You could actually lose a stone and a half.
Focus on one change at a time.
Be mindful of your bad habits and talk to your inner saboteur.
Use ‘My Fitness Pal’ for a real view of what you are eating every day.
If you have any questions please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org