1) Find Your Inner Motivation
Before you can go on a successful weight loss journey, you will need to find the inner motivation within you.
Take a moment to assess why do you so desperately want to lose the weight? If your answer is, before I’m overweight, that’s not enough. You need to dig deeper. For instance, it might be for your wedding that is coming up in the next year, a confidence issue you want to overcome, a health issue that you need to deal with, or your weight might be preventing you from doing a certain things or getting the job you want. So be honest and ask yourself, what is your inner motivation that will give you the strength through your weight loss journey.
If your reason for losing weight is merely physical appearance, or to look like a certain celebrity, I would suggest that you re-evaluate your motivation because this can be lead to an unhealthy obsession. This obsession can be unhealthy both physically and emotionally. Hence I always emphasize the importance of loving and accepting yourself before you can make any changes. We are all different, perfect in our on ways and we should embrace that.
Once you’ve found your inner motivation, write it down, because this will be your key to success. Next thing is to do a “Give & Take checklist”. We cannot go on a weight loss journey without making sacrifices or changes in our current lifestyle. The “Give” side is “What will I gain from Losing Weight” and the “Take” is “What do I have to change or Sacrifice”. The “Give” for instance can be better health, more confidence, land your dream job, more energy, feeling happy etc. The “Take” can be getting up 30 mins earlier everyday for a workout session, cutting down on my alcohol consumption, no more late night snacks, dine out less and make more home meals, cut down on fried food or fast food etc.
Once you have written down the “Give & Take list”, weigh the balance, make sure it’s realistic to your schedule and lifestyle and consciously tell yourself that you are ready to commit to these positive lifestyle changes. With this, there should not be anymore excuses through your weight loss journey.
2) Set SMART Goals
The second step, is to set your SMART goal. Your goal has to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART).
Don’t expect to lose 10kgs in a couple of weeks. You did not put on the weight overnight, hence it will take time to lose the weight too. If you are ready to invest your time and effort and to stop looking for short cuts, then do this with me.
The safe and sustainable weight loss is between 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg) per week. The heavier you are, the quicker you will loss the weight especially in the early stages because you have more fat to burn. The lighter you are, the longer it will take, because your body has less fat to burn.
So what is your goal? Be Specific, for instance I need to lose 30lbs. Now let’s calculate realistically how long it will take us to lose 30lbs, it will take an estimate of 4-5 months.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, it can be overwhelming and seem almost impossible. What I like to work with is to aim for short-term goals. Instead of getting panic because you have 60lbs to lose, just focus on losing some weight on a monthly basis, which will be more manageable. Tell yourself, my goal is to lose 8lbs this month, once you have achieved that, celebrate your success (not with food), and then move on and set your goal for the 2nd month. Little by little, you will be a step closer to your ultimate goal.
To lose weight, you need to create an energy deficit by eating fewer calories and increase calories burned through exercising.
3500 calories equals one pound of fat, that’s the estimate. So if your goal is to lose 1lb per week, then cut 500cals daily, you can burn 300cals from exercising and cut 200cals from food or vice versa. If you intend to lose 2lbs per week, especially if you are on the heavier side, then cut 1000 cals daily. Again you can burn 500cals from exercising and 500cals from food.
Remember this figure is just an estimate but it’s a good bench mark to kick-start your weight loss journey. You can use this video here to start calculating how many calories you should be consuming to lose the weight.
Take it step by step. If you are someone who is used to eating a huge portion, it will not make it easy if you were to cut your calories drastically. So, start by making subtle changes, for instance consume 1700-1800cals in the initial stage, then as you progress together with your workouts, reduce your calories by another 150-200cals, the following month. Don’t ever go below 1200cals a day, because starving yourself will only cause your metabolism to slow down and your body will hold on to precious fat instead of burning it.
3) Eat Mindfully
So now that you have a SMART goal. We want to look into the 2 most important aspects to losing weight – your food intake and physical activities. Let’s start with Food & Nutrition.
To lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle, you will most probably need to make some changes to your current food intake. Losing weight does not mean dieting. “Going on a Diet” is usually short-term extreme changes you make to your eating habits. Going on a diet can help with weight loss but it is only temporary. Most people tend to put the weight back on or put on even more weight, once they stop ‘dieting’ and eating normally again.
So stop the mindset of ‘going on a diet’, instead focus on permanent lifestyle changes, which is good for body. And more importantly it will help you to sustain your new weight.
Most people tend to ask, can you give me a list of what I can eat and what I can’t eat? For me, that’s just a lazy approach. Instead of just being given a list or meal plans and follow blinding, you need to start educating yourself on food that’s good for your body.
A clean diet in short means eating ‘Real Food’ – food that’s in its purest form and you know what’s in it. Simply put, ask yourself, do you know what’s in a chicken breast? Chicken meat. Do you know what’s in a chicken nugget? Well small percentage of meat, the rest fat, blood vessels, nerve, connective tissue and ground bone. If you don’t know what a food is made of, best to stay away from it.
So what is a balanced diet?
To keep it simple, just think of having these 4 groups of food in your meals. Whole grain Carbs, protein, healthy fat & vegetables / fruits. Aim to have all these food in all your meals and you will be feeding your body with the best nutrients.
How much should you eat and what should be in your meals?
For an easy way to eat, just divide your plate into 3 sections: ½ of your half should be filled with vegetables, ¼ of whole grains and another ¼ of lean protein. By making this portion changes and eating more veggies, you will already be reducing your calorie intake significantly. Nowadays, our portion sizes are much larger. What we think is one portion, might actually be 2 or 3 portions.
How do I know how much calories is in my food?
Calories come from fat, protein, carbs and alcohol. You can know calorie content by reading the food label. If it doesn’t have a food label, you can always google it up and calculate the calories according to the weight of your food.
It’s worth noting that healthy food doesn’t mean low in calories. For instance nuts and olive oil are good for you, and you should have them but they are high in calories, so consume them in moderation.
Please do also take the time to watch my other “Food & Nutrition” video on my website for more useful tips, meal plan ideas and recipes.
4) Start a Workout Plan
Now let’s move on to physical exercises. Let me just clear this common question up before I move on. Poeple ask, Can I only eat healthily and not do any workout to lose weight? Well the answer is yes but not by a significant amount. Exercising will turn your body into a fat burning machine, which means more calories being burned in a day, which also means quicker and better results.
For instance, if you exercise and burn 400cals in a session, it doesn’t just stop there. Exercising will help build lean muscles in your body, and the more lean muscles you have, the higher your metabolism will be, so your body will burn fat more efficiently after your workouts and even on days where you are not exercising. Besides helping you to lose weight, staying active boosts your health, energy and even happiness level.
What workouts should I do?
So assuming you are a beginner and have never done any workouts before, whatever exercises you do will be tough initially. Your body is still adapting. Keep doing the workouts and keep practicing the moves, you will only get stronger and leaner. Don’t rush through the exercises; getting the right workout technique is crucial in targeting the right muscles.
To burn fat, no matter from which body parts you intend to lose, whether your thighs, belly fat, arms or back, total body workouts are crucial. We need to understand that we cannot spot reduce areas we want. For instance thinking that by doing 200-300 crunches daily will burn your belly fat is not true at all. It is the total body exercises with combination of abs workout that will help you to burn fat from your belly. Focus on total body exercises, and you will start to tone up on your problematic areas and other parts of your body too. (Please click here for more common fitness questions you might have).
A combination of both Cardio and Strength training is the most effective for weight loss. My workout videos are mainly combination of both cardio & strength. You can kick start your workout plan with my “Beginner Fat Burning” video for the first 4-6 weeks and then move onto the 90-Day weight Loss challenge workouts plans, which are all available on my website.
And can I just make it clear that strength training or lifting weights will NOT make you big nor bulky. In fact, any form of regular exercises will not make us ladies bulky because we just don’t have the hormones to. Useless you were to train hard for a competition or you have the intention to bulk up, my workouts, will not make you bulky. Well at lease I hope I don’t look big and bulky to you. So start lifting weights and do more strength training, you will only look leaner. =)
How long should the session be and how many days should I workout?
This comes down to your personal schedule. Ideally I would say workout 5 days a week, between 45-60mins per session and try to stay active most days. If you really cannot do 5 days, that’s fine, workout 3 days instead. If you don’t have the time for 45mins, go for shorter session, even it if it’s only 15 mins or 30 mins. Or break your workouts up, for instance 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. The key is here is to stay active. No matter how short your workout is, you will still burn calories and build lean muscles. A short intense workout is better than none.
How many calories should I aim to burn?
How many calories should you aim to burn from doing physical activities in a day? If you have a lot to lose, I would say between 400 – 500cals, if you have less to lose (below 15pounds), it would be about 300 – 400cals per day.
Calories burned in a workout session varies individually based on gender, age, height, weight, and most importantly your heart rate.
An intense workout session will help you to burn more calories within a short period of time in comparison to a moderate workout session. Doing a 30-minute intense workout is far more effective at burning more calories in comparison to a long moderate workout like slow jog. Hence, my workouts are not easy, they are meant to elevate your heart rate in order for you to see results.
When you are exercising, from the scale of 1 – 10, 1 being very easy and 10 being completely out of breath, you should feel like you are working at a 7 or 8. This will roughly give you an estimate of 8-10cals being burned per min. Again, this won’t be accurate, you will need a Heart Rate Monitor to know exactly the amount of calories burned.
You might be saying, but I don’t like to go to the gym or to do any home exercise, that’s absolutely fine. Choose another activity you enjoy. Whether it’s joining a dance class, kick boxing or even just brisk walking, choose an activity you know you will be able to sustain and enjoy yourself whilst doing it. It’s important to enjoy your workouts, and to look forward to it, instead of forcing your way through.
The main point here is to stay active on a daily basis. So even small positive habits like choosing to walk to places, walk up the stairs, standing up more often, which doesn’t require much effort will help to burn an additional 150 – 200 calories per day.
Another question asked is should I eat back the exercise calories? The answer is yes and no. We are encouraged to eat back exercise calories because when we workout, especially after an intense session, our body will be hungrier and we will need extra food for the muscles to repair and recover. If you were to burn 400cals, it doesn’t necessarily means you have to eat all the 400cals back, you might find that eating only an additional of 200cals is enough.
Then the next concern is if I were to eat back the workout calories, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of my workout to burn the 400 calories. No. Exercising and burning 400cals during your workout doesn’t just stop there. After an intense workout session, your body will keep burning calories more efficiently for the next hour, and your metabolism will be increase for the next 24hours. So the benefits of workout and burning fat continues.
What you should not practice is the idea of exercise calories and food calories as trade off items. For instance, oh I’ve burned 400cals, that means I can have a doughnut. Not only are you really wasting your sweat and effort, you might be consuming more than your workout calories in a single doughnut.
Don’t workout because you hate your body, workout because you love your body.
5) Keep Track of Yourself – Food Diary & Workout Diary
Step 5 is to keep track of yourself. Now that you have your workout and meal plan in place, keep track of your daily food and physical activities. Self-awareness is self-motivation; by keeping track of your behavior, you motivate yourself to change by becoming more accountable.
Keeping a FOOD DIARY is the first and most crucial step towards weight management. It is an excellent way to asses your positive and negative habits – this self-awareness will help you to find trouble areas which can be changed, eat less, to educate yourself on the calories in food and perhaps to also deal with emotional eating. Record EVERYTHING down and I mean EVERYTHING. Most people tend to write down what they have for their main meals but forget about the few nibbles they might have munched on or the endless amount coffee with milk you might have in a day.
Almost everything that goes into your mouth has calories. By recording every single piece of food, you might find that it is those small nibbles and coffee that is adding extra 400-500 cals in a day. Knowing this information will help you to be more aware of your emotion towards food and help with the food choices you make for your body. Write it right after you eat or you will tend to forget.
Next is to also keep an Activity Diary. Write down the activity you did, time of the day and length, intensity, calories burned and how you felt after the workout session. You can even be more specific and record the weights you used and repetitions. This will track your workout progress, and to increase the weights and repetitions, as you get stronger.
Your aim is to be able to fill up your Activity Diary 6 days with 1 rest day in a week. This will also help you to make a conscious effort to build up more activity into your days.
Weigh yourself right
Next is to keep track and measure our weight loss progress. Most women are obsessed over the scale and the numbers really do affect us. Basing your progress solely on what the scale tells you is not accurate.
Our weight can fluctuate greatly from day to day, so do not weight yourself everyday. You should only weigh yourself once a week at most if you really have to and measure your progress only once a month. This way, you will see a more significant change and feel motivated. DO NOT make the scale the only measure of success.
6) Get Support
The sixth step is to get support. Can you go on a weight loss journey on your own, well you can, but it can be tough. It will be of benefit to you to have a support network around you; either a workout partner, or a family member who cheers for you, professionals like your personal trainer or even be part of an online network where you can share your journey with – like my YouTube Channel here. You are always welcome to share your weight loss journey, ask questions and even support each other, that’s what we are here for.
It is important to surround yourself positive people through your journey and stay way from the ‘negative’ people who can directly or even indirectly sabotage your weight loss goals.
To avoid this from happening, let’s start by identifying your indirect ‘saboteurs’. Usually these will be family members or close friend who might unintentionally sabotage your plan. For instance, your parents or partner might buy you your favourite cake or even bring you to your favourite fast food restaurant. They don’t really mean harm because chances are they might not be aware of your plan to lose weight. So talk to them and tell them your intention to lose weight and eat healthier.
Understand that you cannot expect them to change their eating habits because of you, but both of you can work out a solution that can work. For instance if you don’t have control over your mum’s cooking, you can suggest to your mum to cook more vegetables, prepare smaller portions for you and perhaps separate the sauce or topping, which is usually high in calories. This way you can exercise portion control and reduce on the calories. Tell your mum not to buy your favourite snacks and make the change to buy more fruits instead. If you don’t tell her, she wouldn’t know. If you are dining out with your partner or friends, find a balance where you can make healthier choices and both of you can enjoy yourselves too. Don’t be tempted to have what they have, make your own choices, control your portion and stick by it.
Some of you might be faced with ‘direct’ saboteurs, people who intentionally want to see you fail. My advice to you is to be selfish. This is your life, your body and your goal, if they are not offering any support, instead they make you feel unworthy and a failure, you best bet is to stay away from them. Don’t waste your time trying to share or explain your weight loss plan. You don’t owe them an explanation, neither should you feel guilty if you choose to avoid them.
These people are usually jealousy because you are losing weight and getting in shape. They are not. To see you fail means they can feel good about themselves and their ego.
Getting outer support is important but most importantly is self-support. Supporting yourself starts from your internal thoughts and emotions and this has a huge impact on your progress. If you love yourself and treat your body with respect, you will naturally start nourishing your body with good food and give it the workouts it deserve. So start practicing self-love by saying positive words of encouragement to yourself and reward yourself (not with food) every time you achieve your short-term goal.
7) Take Action
The last step is to Take Action. Now that you have all these knowledge and tools needed, you are ready to go on weight loss journey to a new you. Take action and don’t look back. One day at a time, one step at a time, be consistent with your workouts, eat healthy most times and I can assure you, you will see the results you deserve.
All success stories come with willingness to change, determination, taking action and to keep trying and trying again when you fall. Now that you are at the end of the video, grab a pen and paper and start mapping out your weight loss journey. Start now, not tomorrow, not next week or next month, give this gift of love to yourself this year, right now.
All the best! xx