Sustainable weight loss is the key to success when losing weight.
It will make it easier to adhere to and thus make the weight you lose easier to keep off. It can be hard to find a regime that is sustainable to you because of everything society tells us about diet culture, like we need to cut out carbs, or fats, or only a grapefruit.
But the reality is you can eat whatever you want and as long as you’re in a calorie deficit – you’ll lose weight.
One of my favourite examples of eat what you like as long as you’re in a calorie deficit is The James Smith Cookie Diet. In this, personal trainer James Smith discusses how it is still possible to lose 17.5lbs in three weeks eating cookies everyday and without one visit to the gym.
This story is the definition of sustainable weight loss. James’ client got to continue to eat a food she loves, she didn’t have to go to the gym, which she hated, and she still got results.
And that really is the key to sustainable weight loss. Making small changes to your lifestyle to achieve your goals but not dragging yourself through hell to achieve it.
So what steps can you take to make your weight loss sustainable?
1. 80/20 approach
This is my favourite approach to life in general. You can use it for dieting, exercise and even work life balance.
The traditional 80/20 approach might be tracking and sticking to your calories and macros on week days but come the weekend you take a more relaxed approach, and this can work really well for most people but from experience I find that it has the opposite effect. It can lead to being overly restrictive during the week and then binging on weekends.
Personally the approach I adapt, when in a deficit and a surplus, is having some foods I enjoy throughout the day. For example, when in a deficit when I do a weekly shop I’ll buy food that I know fits my goals, (low calorie, high protein) but then get some bits that don’t fit into that low calorie high protein category which I normally would have of an evening, a favourite of mine being Ben and Jerries ice cream.
For me this tactic works really well because its not normally until the evening that I get cravings for less nutritionally dense foods (no foods are good or bad in my mind), so I’m able to eat to my goal during the day and then I have something I really enjoy in the evening.
2. Volume Eating
Volume eating is amazing. One of the hardest parts of being in a calorie deficit is that you can feel hungry a lot of the time, but with volume eating I don’t find I have that issue.
Volume eating is eating large amounts of foods that are very low in calories but can be very high in nutrients. A really great way of doing this is through nourish bowls. A nourish bowl combines nutrient-dense vegetables, carbohydrates, healthy fats and high quality protein. By mixing all of these things it’s a really great way to create an extremely filling meal that will also be low calorie.
3. Exercise to enjoy it, not to burn calories
A really important part of sustainable weight loss is exercising to enjoy it, not to burn calories. If you’re really focused on how many calories you’re burning every time you exercise it’s going to be hard to enjoy what you’re doing and you’ll burn yourself out pretty quickly.
If you’re new to fitness and exercise a great thing to do is try out some different types of exercise until you find one you’re really passionate about. Personally I’m a big advocate for resistance training because of the many benefits it has, but not everyone will find it enjoyable and there is no point doing something you hate for the sake of it. Try out classes, running, cycling anything that spikes your interest and give it ago.
Eventually you will find your thing and it will stop exercise being a chore and make it something that you’re really looking forward to.
Its also important to remember that exercise doesn’t need to be something intense, it can be as simple as going for a walk.
4. Set yourself a daily or weekly step goal
One of the easiest ways to create a calorie deficit is by increasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is everything that we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like activity. While it can be argued that steps are not NEAT because they are planned exercise, when they become a non-negotiable activity they can be included in your NEAT.
Giving yourself a step target also has a lot of benefits to your mental health as well. Walking is a really good way to ensure you are getting outside and getting fresh air, which during the winter months can be extremely difficult to do.
It also means you’ll probably spend longer in the sun and therefore get more vitamin D. Vitamin D helps keep your bones, muscles and teeth healthy, but in the winter in colder climates can be harder to get, by taking yourself on a walk everyday you’ll increase your exposure to it.
5. Still enjoy your life!
Something really important with sustainable weight loss is to make sure you’re still living a life that makes you happy and content.
You should still be able to meet up with friends and go out for dinner, drinks or coffee. Its so so important if you want to create a sustainable way to loss weight that you still do things you enjoy in life. If you make everything about your diet and you stop seeing the people you care about in order to adhere to it it will become extremely difficult to continue with it.
Remember that you only have one life and you should be enjoying it every step of the way regardless of what your goals are!