How to Stay Motivated for Weight Loss

How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight

How to stay motivated to lose weight is a topic that almost no one is exploring.

The reality is that it is something you should be looking at if you’re trying to lose weight. 

Most people are looking into what foods to eat and what foods to avoid instead of learning how to stay motivated to lose weight.

Obviously, nutrition plays a huge role in figuring out how to lose weight.  However, the real problem for most people is learning how to stay motivated to lose weight.

If it was simply a problem of what people were eating and motivation was a driving force you probably wouldn't see continual increases in the percentage of the population that is overweight or obese. 1

Stop and think about what you’ve experienced before. 

Is the problem with weight loss that you can’t lose weight?  

I mean really stop and think about this doesn’t your diet, program or whatever else you’re using to try and lose weight work up until you can’t follow it anymore?

In reality, the problem for 99% of people who struggle with weight loss is that they struggle maintaining the habits required (or that they feel are required) to lose weight.

Most of them look at this as a problem with staying motivated to lose weight.

What Most People Experience with Motivation & Weight Loss

Stop, think about a time in the past where you tried to lose weight. 

What happens? 

At first, you are doing well.  You are losing weight, you’re sticking to your diet.

All of a sudden, the number on the scale isn't going down any more.

Or a more accurate way to describe it.

The scale isn't going down fast enough to make it worth all the feelings of being deprived, not enjoying what you're eating and all the other parts of the diet and losing weight you hate.

Often it can start off innocently enough.


Usually someone has been doing great.

Then they see a chocolate bar at the grocery store calling their name.

Or they have a big dinner with friends or family.

Or maybe, a holiday is coming up.

Regardless, something comes up.

Then, you tell yourself. It's okay, I've been doing great lately.  It's just one chocolate bar.

Or it's just one weekend. Something similar to that depending on what triggered it in the first place.

Motivation Problems with Weight Loss

At the end of the day, it’s a sentence or thought that justifies and allows you to eat what you want to eat in that moment.

In that moment you have no doubt you don't know how to stay motivated to lose weight.

But, the problem isn't that one chocolate bar or dinner.

The problem is how you feel after you've eaten it.

You're suddenly overcome with feelings of guilt. Feeling like you've ruined all the hard work

you've put into your diet.

You feel like you're completely off track.  Those are the triggers that are making it feel like you

don't know how to stay motivated to lose weight.

The Realities of How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight

Alright, we’ve established the problem.  At least, one version this problem presents itself.

Weight loss and motivation can present itself in many different scenarios. 

For example, So, what do you do to help with this weight loss and staying motivated problem?

  • How to stay motivated to lose weight and exercise
  • I have no motivation to start losing weight
  • How to stay motivated to lose weight during the holidays
  • Why do I lose my motivation around certain foods?
  • How to stay motivated to lose weight for your wedding

These are just a few of the examples.  

But, the good news is that most of all of the different potential challenges you have with weight loss and motivation have similar strategies to help you stay motivated to lose weight.

How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight Infographic

Below, we have our do's and don't for how to stay motivated to lose weight infographic.

We created this list of do's and don'ts with accountability (big part of motivation for weight loss) based on our experience having worked with thousands of clients looking to lose weight over the last 12 years.

The do's are what we see our more successful clients doing.  And the don'ts are what we see from our clients who continue to struggle to stay motivated to lose weight. 

How to Stay Motivated for Weight Loss & Weight Loss Accountability infographic Part #1
How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight & Weight Loss Accountability infographic pt #2

These are examples of common things our successful clients do that can help you learn how to stay motivated to lose weight.

In todays article we are going to cover exactly how to stay motivated to lose weight by following two simple steps.

  • Understanding your real goal for weight loss
  • Set realistic expectations for weight loss

Step #1 : Understand Your Real Goal for Weight Loss

First, you need to understand your real goal.  Almost no one does this.

Okay, you’re probably wondering what does this mean.  I’ll walk you through this.

Right now, think about what your goals are.  Actually, stop reading for 5-10 seconds and think about them.

I bet you came up with some like lose 10 pounds (or some other number), get more fit, tone up, work on my core, improve my health, better quality of life. 

I’m guessing after having sat down with thousands of people over the years these are the types of goals that come up most often. 

These are the goals on the surface.  However, they aren’t your real goals.  I’ll use the weight loss example (since this is an article titled “How to Stay Motivated for Weight Loss.”

Jane says her goal is to lose 40 pounds so she weighs 150 pounds.  That isn’t really what their goal is.  

Pause, think about this.  Why does Jane want to weigh 150 pounds? 

That’s one of the first things we often do with our coaching clients who are looking to lose weight.  Actually, explore why they want to lose the weight. 

Common answers Jane might come up with:

  • “Before I had kids I weighed only 150 pounds, I felt so much more confident."
  • “I feel like I have this constant worry about my weight.  I feel guilty all the time like I can’t enjoy myself when I’m going out to dinner with friends or my family.”
  • "When I look in the mirror I hate the person that’s looking back at me, I don’t feel like myself anymore.”
  • “My energy levels are in the tank.  I can’t even play with my kids for more than 10 minutes without having to take a break.  If I weighed less I know I could keep up better.”
  • “When I’m out in public if I see someone, I know who I haven’t seen in a while I want to try and avoid them because I feel so self-conscious and worry about what they’ll think of me.”

These are actual response we have had from clients.  So, if they sound familiar to you I assure you that you’re not alone.

And a person could go even deeper and explore each of these answers more. 

At the end of the day someone wants to lose weight because they have attached a meaning to losing that amount of weight. 

It’s giving them a feeling or getting rid of a negative feeling. 

What Does Weight Loss Really Mean?

If you look at the above example.  With the first one the woman remembers a time before she had kids when she felt super confident and good about herself. 

She wants that feeling back.  She feels that weighing a certain amount will give her that feeling.

But, make no mistake about it.  That feeling is her real goal.  I know for a lot of people when we first start discussing this, it seems really nit-picky.  I mean what’s the difference?

Well, there is a huge difference in terms of motivation.  Losing 40 pounds doesn’t really mean a whole lot in terms of emotion (which is the real thing that motivates human beings). 

However, if you truly get behind what the feeling or emotion is that losing weight represents to you.  Then, you have something powerful in terms of motivation for weight loss.

Take your time and really figure out the “why” behind your goal.

Step #2 Set Realistic Expectations for Weight Loss

One of the biggest reasons people struggle with how to stay motivated for losing weight is they have unrealistic expectations.

I almost guarantee you that you have had unrealistic expectations for weight loss…….and not realized it.

First, understand there is a big difference in what’s realistic in terms of weight loss depending on the context.  People often look at what’s possible and substitute that for realistic.

A lot of this isn’t at the fault of people trying to lose weight.  You constantly see advertisements for weight loss that sound like this:

  • Lose 10 pounds in 10 days
  • Losing 1 pounds per week is a healthy pace to lose weight
  • Aim to lose 4-5 pounds per month that’s realistic

These are just a few examples that will often lead to people having unrealistic expectations of themselves when it comes to weight loss. 

There are numerous weight loss scams out there that are ruining your perception of reality when it comes to weight loss. 

What does this have to do with learning how to stay motivated for losing weight?  Everything.  I would say the biggest reason we see people feeling a lack of motivation with weight loss is their expectations of how quickly they should lose weight are not anchored in reality.

Unrealistic Goals Impact Motivation for Weight Loss

How often do I sit down with someone who has unrealistic goals for weight loss?  Constantly, a little more than 8 out of every 10 people we sit down with has unrealistic weight loss goals.

How can I definitively say that 8/10 people have unrealistic goals?  Well, after we begin coaching them we start to see where they are at in terms of readiness to change.   Although their goals may have been realistic for some people their goals were not realistic for what they were ready to commit to.

Again, there is a big difference between what is realistic in the real world compared to what is realistic in terms of physiology.

To begin, is your goal to lose weight over a short period of time or is your goal to lose weight and sustain those results for prolonged periods of time (ie. 2 years, 3 years, rest of your life).

There is a massive difference in what is realistic for one scenario vs. the other.  Most people don’t stop and think about this.  If you want to sustain the results you need to be capable of continuing to eat, exercise and live your life that way for the extended period of time.

I’m going to assume that you want to sustain your weight loss results long-term.  You want to have weight loss motivation that lasts for good.

What makes a weight loss goal realistic?

First, understand that it is impossible to have ONE standard for what’s realistic weight loss.  There are so many factors at play that will impact what’s realistic. 

When you don’t look at these factors and it leads to an unrealistic goal.  That is what creates problems with figuring out how to stay motivated for weight loss.

Examples of Factors in Creating a Realistic Weight Loss Goal for Motivation

  • Do you have 0 kids?  4 kids? 
  • Do you work 30 hours/week?  Or 60 hours per week?
  • Do you travel frequently for work? 
  • Have you dieted 1-2 times in your life?  Have you dieted 10-20 times in your life?
  • Are you going through menopause? 
  • Do you enjoy drinking 3-5 glasses of alcohol on the weekend?  Do you think 3-5 glasses of alcohol per year?
  • Do you have huge family dinners frequently? 
  • Do you eat out at restaurants 1-2 times/week? Do you eat out at restaurants 1-2 times every few months?

These are just a few of the endless factors that impact what’s “realistic” and sustainable to lose in terms of weight loss.

Having a generic number of what’s realistic or sustainable to lose is impossible. 

Here is a video that expands more on this area:

What No One is Telling You About Weight Loss

Alright, so how do you know what’s realistic in terms of weight loss and how to set those expectations?  Pretty simple. 

You stop and look at what you’re experiencing.  What happens with most people is that they don’t lose weight as quickly as they think they should (or as high as they’ve set their expectations).

Next, they draw the conclusion that it is hormones, slow metabolism, genetics or “nothing works” when it comes to weight loss.  Unfortunately, we see this time and time again. 

People keep looking for the next quick fix instead of slowing down and actually learning from what they’re experiencing.

Most people (in large part due to the media) think that if they start making better choices with nutrition and start moving more they should be able to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Although, this may be the case for some people who are morbidly obese.  Also, it might hold true for the first 2-4 weeks of starting to lose weight.  

In my experience, having worked with thousands of people trying to lose weight.  It does not cause people to lose weight at that pace.

Guidelines on Commitment Required for Weight Loss

If you want to lose 4-5 pounds/month for more than 3 months:

  • Exercising at least 4-5 hours per week
  • Adjusting how much you eat based on hunger levels
  • Getting the right serving sizes of: lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, smart carbs, and healthy fats (see our 21 Day Quick Fix Program for details on serving sizes…….no one that comes to work with us are doing this……many think they are, but they’re not).
  •  Make sure you’re getting enough water (at least 2-3 litres per day… water not other beverages that contain water)
  • Make sure you’re eating at least 80% of your foods from whole foods
  • Having a game plan with indulging that is adjusted based around the results you’re seeing...including alcohol consumption
If you want to lose more than 5 pounds/month for 3 months or longer:
  • You’ll probably need to track your food in-take and learn how much protein, fat and carbs are in different foods
  • Make adjustments to how much food you’re getting based on the results you’re seeing
  • You’ll have to carefully watch how often you’re eating: sugar, out at restaurants, family dinners, snack foods, and numerous other high calorie foods....especially alcohol consumption is a common one that is not monitored
  • Exercising and physical activity 6-7 hours/week
  • Make more adjustments as you go

The vast majority of people aren’t ready to consistently do the things listed in there of those scenarios for prolonged periods of time.  This includes vacations, birthday parties, holidays, etc.

Most people attempt to go through this process forcing themselves to follow through on these habits.  It is the biggest factor that leads to people feeling like their motivation for weight loss disappears. 

This is precisely why we focus on coaching people with a more moderate method of learning to lose weight with our online coaching clients with our Lean Living Coaching Program.

How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight

So, what do you do with all this information?  How does this change how you look at weight loss?  Hopefully, you start by shifting your focus away from the number on the scale.  Instead, start looking at the real goal.

That is, what feeling do you want to feel.  What is it that weight loss represents to you. 

Next, sit down and actually look at what habits you’re ready to commit to changing right now.  Start with one or two of those habits and consistently start performing those habits.

At first, this might not produce huge weight loss results.  However, if you continue making changes and focus your energy on your habits and working towards your real goal (not just the number on the scale). 

You’ll start having less struggles with figuring out how to stay motivated to lose weight.

Finally, understand that you will get off track.  That is how it works when you’re trying to reach any goal that is challenging.  Don’t think that you’ve completely failed when you do get off track.  Instead slow down and try to learn from the situation. 

Losing weight is a process not an end destination.  That is why so many people struggle with figuring out how to stay motivated to lose weight.

Here is another video that will help to give you some practical tips on how to stay motivated to lose weight:

How to Lose Weight a Complete Guide

How to Lose Weight

In this article, I’m going to walk you through and show you how to lose weight.

In fact, I'm going to share everything you need to know so you can start losing weight right now.

I’ve been a personal trainer coaching clients on weight loss for over 12 years now. 

Wait, you're probably wondering. Why am I going to share with you a step by step blue print to help you learn how to lose weight?

In all honesty, most people coming to our studio are working with us for the coaching aspects of helping guide them through the process of losing weight. 

That means, accountability, teaching them how to keep themselves motivated and how to make the adjustments necessary to stay on track.

The Nuts & Bolts of How to Lose Weight

In reality, the nuts and bolts of how to lose weight aren’t the main reason most people are actually hiring us. 

So, I’m more than happy to share with you all the keys to learning how to lose weight.

I’ll warn you this is a really long article.  It’s not really even an article. 

In truth, it’s a guide on how to lose weight. 

If you’re overwhelmed by the length you can download a PDF version which you can upload to your Kindle or other E-reader app.

Just enter your email address here and we’ll send it to you.   Or continue reading below.

Important, at Optimal Body Personal Training all of our articles are packed with practical “how-to’s.”

In general, most people love to skim articles (that’s how I learn personally).  

For those people, we have tried our best to break the articles down into quick headlines so you can find the info you are looking for on your journey to learn how to lose weight. 

Four Keys to Weight Loss

First, there are four different main sections to this article:

  1.  ​​​​Basics of How to Lose Weight
  2.  Exercise for Weight Loss
  3.  Nutrition & Weight Loss
  4.  Common Barriers Stopping Weight Loss 

Before we begin, I want to be clear on something.  If you’re wondering how to lose weight fast and easy……that’s not going to happen. 

Weight loss is hard work. 

If there was some secret to weight loss that was easy we wouldn’t have 65-70% of the population overweight or obese. (1)

Section 1: Basics of How to Lose Weight

First, let’s start with the most basic principle.  To lose weight you have to burn more energy out than you are consuming.

Now you’ll hear lots of different conflicting things on the internet about burning body fat.  Let’s face it, it can get confusing and overwhelming to be overloaded with information. 

We are going to simplify things for you.  Most people over complicate losing weight.

Is it Just Calories In vs. Calories Out?

Yes…..and no.  Okay, it doesn’t seem like I’m not following through on that simple promise so far.   But, stick with me.

To clarify, It is energy in vs. energy out.  It is that simple. 

However, the problem is that people wind up taking it way too literal.  

There are loads of inaccuracies in counting calories.  Counting calories is not an exact science.

Far from it.  As a result, we created an infographic to give you some clarity on the inaccuracies with counting calories.  

Why Counting Calories Doesn't Work #1

Why Counting Calories Doesn't Work #2

What Does All this Mean?  Simply means for most people counting calories isn’t a good long-term strategy. 

It’s also why so many people feel like they can’t lose weight.  They have done the math, and feel like they should be losing more weight than they are.  But, they don’t realize it’s not an exact science.

How Do You Lose Weight?

Create the energy debt.  For most counting calories is not the sustainable way to get there (doesn’t mean it can’t be a tool you use at times).

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to lose weight without counting calories.  We’ll get to that in the nutrition section of the guide. 

For now, understand that how much food you’re eating matters.  But, the quality of food matters greatly too.

The quality of the food you’re eating can change hunger levels, cravings, mental and emotional state.  All of which, play a huge role in how well you’re going to sustain losing weight.  Research has shown that food quality plays an impact on weight loss. (2)

It’s not just about how to lose weight. Also, how to lose weight and keep it off for good.

Is Having a Slow Metabolism Stopping You from Losing Weight?

Have you ever been diagnosed by a medical doctor with serious condition that impacts your metabolism?  If not, then your metabolism is highly unlikely to be stopping you from losing weight.

How do I know this without ever having met you?  Combination of practical experience coaching thousands of people to lose weight.  Also, published research tends to agree.

First, the published research.  I’ll use an example.

This study found a difference of about 5-8% in resting metabolic rate (how much energy you burn at rest). (3)

To put that into real world terms let’s pretend that you someone who has the same body weight/height/fat free mass is burning out 2000 calories per day.  You’ll be burning out between 1840-2160 calories per day.

From a practical stand point.  Everyone I’ve ever dealt with who thinks they have a slow metabolism isn’t showing any of the signs of slow metabolism.  Except for their perception of difficulty to lose weight.

This usually relates back to other mistakes their making which we will teach you how to avoid throughout this guide.

Keep an Open Mind When it Comes to Weight Loss

I’ll be honest, some of the information I’m going to share with you is potentially going to make you feel defensive (the stuff already about slow metabolism probably turned some people off right away).

But, I want you to try and keep an open mind.  I’m going to shoot you straight with no BS about how to lose weight.  However, you have to keep an open mind. 

If something seems to conflict with everything you’ve heard or “know” about weight loss.  Good.  If what you haven’t been doing isn’t giving you the results you want it’s time to try something new right?

Section 2: How to Lose Weight with Exercise

First, the basics on exercise and how to lose weight.  Obviously exercise helps with weight loss.  

Hopefully, you don’t just want to lose weight, but also want to be happy, healthy and have a body that gives you a high quality of life as you age.

If you are looking to do all of those things, exercise will be very helpful.

In this section, I’m going to be covering the following:

  • What type of exercise is ideal for weight loss
  • Why most people hate exercise and what you can do about that (I know it’s hard to believe, but you can enjoy exercise even if you think you hate it.  Most people who come to our studio start off hating exercise, but actually learn to love it.
  • How to lose weight at home without equipment
  • Is spot reduction possible? (this means can you lose weight in a specific area of your body with different exercises)
  • Best core exercises to help you get a flatter stomach
  • What should you feel when you’re exercising
  • How much of an impact does exercise have on weight loss?

Best Exercises to Lose Weight

First, I want to clear something up.  The best form of exercise is the type that you’re going to consistently perform.  Doesn’t matter what the exercise is consistency trumps everything with weight loss.  It's not just about how to lose weight, but also how to lose weight and keep it off for good.

In light of this, you want exercises that you enjoy.  If you’re someone that hates exercising don’t check-out on me here.  Stick with me I’ll talk more about this in a little bit.

The reason you want to enjoy what your exercise routine is giving you is that it will increase your consistency which is key to getting results past the initial few weeks.

Most Effective Workouts to Lose Weight

You want to make sure you’re enjoying your workouts because that is the most important thing.  However, what type of exercise in terms of actual physiology is best for weight loss?

Generally, higher intensity workouts are more efficient for weight loss.  With higher intensity exercise you will burn out more energy for every minute of exercise you perform.  Burning more energy is a big part of how to lose weight.

The higher the intensity of work you’re doing the more energy it requires.  Makes senses right.  I mean the harder you push down on the gas pedal in your car the more gas you’ll use, right?

Most people are spending all their time with lower intensity exercise (or what’s called the “fat burning zone.”)

This sounds good.  I mean fat burning, how could that not be appealing when you’re trying to you know burn body fat.

The lower intensity exercise is referred to as the fat burning zone because a larger percentage of the energy used during exercise comes from fat stores. (4)

Although this may be true, you actually burn out more energy with higher intensity exercise for every minute you exercise.

Remember you want an energy debt. Despite the fact that you burn more carbs with higher intensity exercise it won’t matter in the end because it’s all about getting into an energy debt.

If your body burns through all your carb stores do you know what it starts doing?  Dipping into more of your body fat stores to use those as energy.

Consequently, higher intensity exercise is a better option.

How to Boost Your Metabolism with Exercise

In addition, you won’t just burn more energy with higher intensity workouts.  You’ll actually increase how much energy you burn after the workout is complete.  Boosting your metabolism up is a big part of learning how to lose weight.

Essentially, researchers have found that you will continue to burn out more energy after your workouts is complete for a total of anywhere from 10-72 hours after the higher intensity workout has been completed.  (5)

Factors that can impact how much energy you burn out as a result of what is often call the “after burn” effect can vary based on:

  • Type of exercise (cardio or weightlifting)
  • Workout intensity
  • Workout duration
  • Gender
  • Training status

These types of higher intensity exercises can continue burning out more calories post workout. 

For example, this one study found 45 minutes of intense cycling caused the participants to burn an extra 190 calories in the 14-hour period post workout compared to at rest.  (6)

Although, it’s important to note that many people in the real world (that aren’t athletes) won’t hit the high intensity levels that studies using during after burn though.

However, you still will get a nice little boost. 

In addition, with this higher intensity exercise you’ll also help to build more lean muscle which will help to boost your resting metabolism as well.  Plus, that extra muscle will help you have a leaner looking body too.

Where to Start with Exercise for Weight Loss

Alright, having said all of this for many people starting off who are are confused about how to lose weight should be starting off with lower intensity exercise like walking.  Or, in some cases starting off with moderate intensity exercise is a great start for others.

It’s going to depend on your current conditioning levels.  Again, I want to stress this it will also depend on what type of activities you enjoy.

It’s been my experience that most people enjoy higher intensity exercise a lot more than long-slow cardio training.

Don’t be afraid to start slow and build up to the higher intensity workouts for weight loss.

How Hard is High Intensity Workouts?

When I’m mentioning high intensity workouts too boost your metabolism how intense are these?

Again, I want to stress this if you have been sedentary starting with going for walks or other lower intensity exercise may be the best fit.

On the other hand, if you are looking to get into higher intensity workouts to help boost up your metabolism how do you know how hard to exercise?

First, understand everybody is different.  But, there are some guidelines with heart rate to help you figure out approximately how hard you’re exercising.

Here are some charts that will help guide you on heart rate ranges for higher intensity exercise.  If you are in the green ranges you are going to be getting more of a boost in your metabolism post-workout.

If you are in the red heart rate zones you aren’t going to get as much of a boost in your metabolism.

Important, this is not an all or nothing thing.  Most people look at things like a light switch.  It’s either on or off.  That’s not how this works. 

If you are in the top range of the red you still will get a boost in your metabolism.  Just not as much as if you are into the green.  And the higher into the green the more of a boost you’ll get.

How to Lose Weight with Proper Heart Rate with Exercise

How to Lose Weight - Workout Don'ts

But, don’t kill yourself.  You should not be feeling nausea, you should not be sore for days and days after your workout.  You’re not an athlete, you don’t have to push yourself that hard.

Make workouts fun, enjoyable while still pushing yourself.  The most important thing with weight loss is consistency.  If you do not enjoy your workouts you will not consistently keep performing them.

If you don’t continue performing your workouts results won’t last.  

I can't stress this enough.  Having horrible workouts that leave you feeling drained, exhausted, nausea and sore for days is not how to lose weight.

How to Lose Weight with Higher Intensity Workouts

Here are some fat burning workouts you can do from home.  I want to make sure we cover not just how to lose weight.  But, how to lose weight from home without equipment.

So, here is an example of a fat burning workout you can perform from home.  You can find more on our Youtube Channel

Obviously, the longer you perform these workouts the larger the energy you burn in the hours after the workouts are complete.

Section 3: How to Lose Weight with Nutrition

Here, we have what is one of the most important and confusing parts of the weight loss equation.  What to eat to lose weight.

One of the biggest problems is information overload.  There are so many conflicting things out there about what works and what doesn’t. 

You hear things like:

  • A calorie equals a calorie
  • Calories don’t matter it’s all about quality
  • You’re eating too little you’re in starvation mode
  • Hormones are stopping you from losing weight
  • You can’t eat INSERT FOOD if you want to lose weight

These are a just a few of the things you hear about there about how to lose weight.

It gets really confusing trying to sort through it all.

Consequently, we are going to really try and simplify nutrition and how to lose weight.

What Are You About to Learn About Weight Loss & Nutrition?

Below, are some of the things I’ll be covering on how to lose weight with your diet.

  • Basics of portion sizes
  • How to get into an energy debt without counting calories
  • How a slow metabolism can impact weight loss
  • The most common road blocks that stop someone from losing weight and what to do to avoid them
  • Is starvation mode real? Can it stop you from losing weight?
  • How dieting, age, menopause, hormones and other factors impact weight loss

The Basics of How to Lose Weight & Nutrition

First, we are going to go through the basics.  Do calories matter?

Yes.  Is it a simple equation of calories in vs calories out.  Kind of.  I find it best if people think about it more as being energy in compared to energy out.

Why?  Simple, it gets people thinking about it less in terms of actual exact measurements.   Although it is all about energy in vs. energy out.  It is not a simple equation.

There are so many factors.  Your body isn’t just a bunch of numbers.  It’s incredibly complex.  You have all these factors.  Emotions, hormones, neurotransmitters, social needs, environmental factors.

There are a lot of different things going on that impact the calories in vs. calories out equation.

Yes, you lose weight by burning more energy than you consume.  But, you also need to understand that there are many factors.

Counting calories, the way that most people do is not a precise science.  Remember the infographic at the beginning.  It went through all the reasons counting calories isn’t an exact science.

But, don’t fall into the trap of thinking calories don’t matter.  They do.  A person can be eating all “healthy” food and still not lose weight as well.

Steps to Learn How to Lose Weight with Your Diet

So, how do you lose weight without counting calories?  We will walk you through step by step what you need to do.

However, I’ll warn you.  The what part of the nutrition is very simple.  On the other hand, how to integrate these changes into your day-to-day life is very challenging.  

This is where we spend most of our time coaching our personal training clients in our Lean Living Online Coaching Program.

This in reality is what most people are actually paying us for (whether they realize it or not).  

What you need to do with your nutrition to lose weight is create an energy debt in a way that you can sustain the habits you’re using to create that energy debt. 

Simple as that.  Now, just because something is simple, doesn’t mean that it is easy. 

How to Create an Energy Debt with Your Diet

With nutrition, there are five main points of importance for losing weight.

  • Proper portion sizes
  • Lots of whole foods
  • Eating to the proper hunger and satisfaction levels
  • Getting enough water
  • Indulging in a way that doesn’t diminish your energy debt you’ve created

Are there other important parts to nutrition?  Definitely.  And we will cover almost all of those in later sections. 

However, this is 95% of nutrition that will allow you to lose weight. 

We will now unpack and explain each point in practical how to terms.

1) Proper Portion Sizes for Weight Loss

Alright, everyone always talks about watching their portion sizes to help them lose weight.  But, where do you start with portion sizes?  

I mean it’s tough everybody is different.  How do you know how much is the right amount of food for you?

There are complex calculators out there that will tell you the “exact” number of calories you need to eat.  But, these are often inaccurate (especially o if you have a serious history of on again-off again dieting).

The way we teach our personal training clients how to lose weight is through starting with portion sizing guidelines.  Then, they adjust these amounts based on hunger and satisfaction levels to create the energy debt need to lose body fat.  (We’ll cover this in point #3)

Below, are the graphics we use with clients to learn proper portion sizes.

They are based on your own hand size so they have some degree of individualizing if you have a naturally larger or smaller frame. 

How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes for Protein
How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes for Vegetables
How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes for Fat
How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes for Carbs
How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes for Protein
Male Vegetable Serving Size for Weight Loss
How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes of Fats
How to Lose Weight with Proper Serving Sizes for Carbs

Begin, by trying to use these portion sizes.  Usually, most people do not get enough protein or veggies.  And they get too big a portion size of carbs and fats.

Try to get lean protein servings each time you eat (or as close to that as you can).  Same with vegetables.

Then, at most meals try to get the proper serving size of fats and carbs.  If you miss some meals that not a problem.

Finally, adjust the portion sizes up or down so you get the proper hunger/satisfaction levels (we’ll cover how to do this in step #3).

2) Whole Foods for Weight Loss

Before we get to proper hunger and satisfaction levels I wanted to talk about whole foods.  You’re not getting enough whole foods. Almost no one does in developed countries.

Most people are not getting enough whole foods in their diet.  However, most people think they are getting fat more than they are.

Typically, we will see a client in their first food log getting 20-30% of their food from whole foods.  But, they typically describe their diet as “pretty healthy.”

Why do whole foods matter?  A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, right?

Again, this is where people take the calories in vs. calories out thing too literal.

First, I want to note that it isn’t that a food is or isn’t processed. It’s far more beneficial to think of foods as being a spectrum.  On one end of the spectrum foods are highly processed.  On the other end of the spectrum is whole foods.

You have other foods in-between that are minimally processed.

Here is an infographic we share with clients that shows you the practical side of this spectrum and how it works.  This infographic is only using carbohydrate dense foods, but the same concept applies to other foods as well.

Infographic Good Carbs for Weight Loss

How do Whole Foods Impact Burning Body Fat?

Wait, before you blow right over this section because you “already know that.”  I want to break this down and explain why more whole foods is so important.

Generally speaking eating whole foods causes your energy expenditure (calories out) to increase when compared to more processed foods.

For example, one study found that a meal with processed foods required on average 73 calories to digest.  On the other hand, the whole food meal required an average 137 calories to digest. 

In real world terms, the processed meal 10% of the calories they consumed were burned to digest the food.  Conversely, the whole food meal 20% of the calories consumed were burned to digest the food.

Again, look bigger picture and real-world terms.  This adds up to quite a few calories. If you’re consuming 2000 calories per day that adds up to an extra 5600 calories burned per month. 

Side note, in the study their definition of “whole food” meal is actually what we would think of as processed or minimally processed foods.  If it was from actual whole foods it would probably be an even larger energy expenditure.

How to Use Whole Foods Help You Lose Weight

Obviously, the take-home from above is eat more whole foods.  How do you make this work for you?

Remember, the “how to lose weight” game isn’t poker.  You shouldn’t be “all-in or all-out.”

Meaning, you don’t have to eat all whole foods all the time. But, try to increase how much whole foods you’re getting.

Step #1 

First, take a food log for 1 week.  Highlight every food that is a whole food.  Whole foods meaning:

  • Meat
  • Lentils, beans, chic peas
  • Nuts & seeds (un-salted, un-roasted, with no oil added)
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains (still in their unprocessed whole grain forms ie. Not crackers, bread, pasta, etc)

These are your true whole foods.  Keep in mind, there are lots of other minimally processed foods such as sprouted whole grain breads, cheese, yogurt, etc.   But, the purpose of this is to find out how much whole foods you’re eating.

Step #2

Second, count the total number of foods that are highlighted (whole foods) and the total number of food entries that aren’t highlighted (processed).  See what percentage of your foods come from whole foods.

Most people are blown away by the results.  Usually, most of our clients start with 20-35% of their diet from whole foods. 

Ideally, it’s been our experience that most people do best with 70% or more of your food to come from whole foods.

Step #3

Finally, last step start integrating in more whole foods and working up towards getting at least 70% of your foods from whole foods.  This will help with hitting proper hunger and satisfaction levels on less calories.  

Whenever you get stuck you can always go back to step #1 and repeat all the steps.

#3 How to Lose Weight with Proper Hunger & Satisfaction

Another form of calorie control to help get you into and energy debt.

So, we want our starting portion sizes and getting most of those categories of foods from whole foods.  Next, we want to individualize and adjust those portion sizes based on your hunger and satisfaction levels.

Should you be hungry when you’re eating?  Is it better if you’re starving when it’s time to eat? Should you never be hungry? 

What’s best for weight loss?

I’ll keep this really simple.  Eat until you’re 80% full.  Then wait until you’re really good and hungry before you eat again.

Now, this may be simple.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Most people struggle to learn how to do this.  Although there is a slower start to this because it’s a learning process it will produce much larger return in terms of results for weight loss.

When it comes to how to lose weight, this is one of the most important steps.  We call this our foundational principle with our online coaching clients.

Here is a video that we used for another online course we used to offer.  It will walk you through exactly how to eat to proper satisfaction and hunger levels. 

#4 Drinking Enough Water for Weight Loss

This one almost everyone “knows.”  But, almost no one actually consistently follows through day-to-day.

I’m going to keep this section pretty simple and to the point.  If you aren’t getting enough fluids you can find yourself wanting to eat more often.

Getting enough water is important in helping to curb hunger levels.  Previously, we mentioned the importance of proper hunger levels.  If you are finding yourself hungry we suggest the first thing you do is drink 1-2 cups of water. 

Then wait a couple minutes and see what happens.  Typically, you’ll find your hunger levels diminish. 

We have had a lot of clients over the years who have found this to be one of the most helpful ways to decrease hunger levels and help get their body into an energy debt and losing weight.

Finally, make sure that you’re getting most of your fluids from actual water.  Make sure, it’s not coming from  other sugar or artificially sweetened beverages.  Try getting at least 2-3 liters of water per day (about 9-13 cups). 

One easy guideline to help you know if you’re getting enough water is to look at your urine colour.  Here is a chart that will help you with that.  If you’re hitting above the upper black line with your urine colour you’re doing good.

How Much Water to Drink for Weight Loss

#5 How to Lose Weight & Still Indulge in Your Favourite Foods

This is it, I can’t stress how important this topic is.

Most people trying to lose weight take all their favourite foods out of their diet.  No alcohol, no processed sugar, no desserts, no chips, no INSERT ANY OTHER FOOD YOU LOVE!

Don’t do this.  Unless, of course your goal is to lose weight and then shortly gain it all back again a few weeks later.

If you want to sustain the results you’re going to get using our blue print we’re giving you.  You must learn how to lose weight while indulging in your favourite foods.

Remember, it’s not just about how to lose weight.  It’s about how to lose weight and keep it off.

One of the most common trends we see in clients is that they are creating that energy debt that they’re looking for.  Then they indulge.  In their words, just a little bit.

They move from being into an energy debt and losing weight to sustaining their weight.  Their indulgence is pushing them out of their energy debt. 

The vast, vast majority of people don’t realize how many calories they consume when they are indulging, going out to restaurants, or drinking alcohol and sugary drinks.

My biggest advice in this area is this.  Stop trying to use will power to avoid eating your favourite foods and start integrating them into your plan. 

Most importantly, enjoy them without feeling guilty.  (I’ll talk more about this later on)

How to Indulge & Still Lose Weight

How exactly do you integrate it into your plan?  First, come up with a plan. 

  • How often do you want to indulge? 
  • What is the total number of calories you typically have when you do indulge?
  • How many calories sneak into indulging in really small amounts? (I’m talking about that small piece of chocolate at work, or that extra sugar packed drink from Starbucks)
  • If you over indulge past your plan what are the next steps you take?

These are the core questions that help you learn how to lose weight and indulge.

Don't Get Stuck Here

95% of people that read this article won’t take time to sit down and truly answer these questions.  Even a lot of our coaching clients will struggle to sit down and answer these questions in full.

The difference between successful and struggling comes down to getting out of your comfort zone and actually answering these types of question.  You want to know how to lose weight?  Answer these questions for starters.

Earlier I was saying how counting calories tends to be a poor strategy for most people.  Actually, in this case it can be a helpful short-term tool.  A really helpful tool to lose weight.

Most food logs we get from clients are incomplete.  They will not write down or track their meals where they eat what we call indulgent food (people often unfortunately refer to these as bad foods).

Only log your foods you consume that have sugar, artificial sweetener, deserts, snack foods, restaurant meals, large family dinner, holiday/special events, etc.  For the next month log only those foods. 

This is going to start giving you a clear indicator of how much you actually have at these.  It’s a little reality check. 

But, Then What?

Alright, next thing is to look to see if you are getting where you want to go.   Essentially, indulging should provide you with two main things. 

#1 You should enjoy yourself and not feel deprived

#2 You should be heading in the direction you want with your body composition

Most people think they can have one or the other, but not both.  You can have both.  This is how you lose weight and keep it off.

This is a learning process that we walk our personal training and coaching clients through step by step.

If you aren’t getting the results you want, but are enjoying yourself look at what you can change in terms of consumption (trying to decrease those calories in without losing nourishing foods). 

In addition to that, can you add in more activity (energy out)?

Here are some of the most common strategies that we find help clients:
  • Pick out the foods you really love to indulge in and pass on anything else that’s calorie dense
  • Try to find more nutritious alternatives to foods you enjoy (that doesn’t mean completely take out the less healthy versions).  If you can integrate in nutritious versions day to day it will help keep you satisfied more in-between indulging
  • Figure out what works best for you. Smaller indulgences more frequently or larger indulgences less often
  • If you know you have a larger calorie dense meal coming up don’t be afraid to skip breakfast that day or the next.  Or combine lunch/breakfast into one smaller meal
  • Instead of thinking of it as all or nothing think of it as let’s make a deal.  In order to say yes to some things, you’ll have to say no to others.
  • Remember, you can’t “ruin everything” with one meal, or even one weekend.  At least, you can’t if you’re truly making changes to your habits
  • Try to get in a workout in the 1-3 hours before larger meals where you are likely to over indulge

These are just a few of the strategies that work well.  Many people also have a lot of mental and emotional triggers around overindulging which can be a factor.  That’s a much larger barrel of monkey we work with our individual coaching clients on.  A little bit out of the scope of this article.

However, this gives you so many tools to start with.  In our years of experience, I can tell you that a big part of how to lose weight comes down to learning how to indulge.

Section #4: Common Road Blocks "Why Can’t I Lose Weight?"

Alright, in this section I’m going to cover the most common road blocks (some genuine, some perceived) that stop people from losing weight. 

Many of these often make people feel/think:

  • Nothing works
  • Why can’t I lose weight?
  • I must have a slow metabolism
  • It’s impossible to lose weight
  • I’ve tried everything, but nothing works

To begin, open your mind.  This is vital.  With many of these roadblocks I’ll be sharing a completely different point of view than what you have.  I will share views that are a full 180 degrees from what you hear in many books, TV shows, and out of expert’s mouths.

However, I want to remind you that you’re reading this because you’re not getting the results you want.  If what you’re doing isn’t giving you the results you want you need to try something different.

If you don’t believe something I’m sharing here.  I dare you to give it an honest try and see what happens.  Like double dog dare you.

Weight Loss Problem #1 The Pretty Good Problem

This is something we see all the time in clients.  They initially lose some weight and then all of the sudden the scale just doesn’t budge.  

When we begin asking them questions about how everything is going they usually give us response on how everything is going pretty good.

If you feel like you’re doing pretty good, but you’re not losing weight you are not getting into an energy debt.  There are numerous reasons why you may not be getting into an energy debt (we are going to cover the most common ones in this very section).

But, at the end of the day that energy debt isn’t being created.  Often what happens is that people are focused on eating “healthy” or “clean eating.”  A person can be eating incredibly “clean” or “healthy” and still not be losing weight.

Most people get catastrophic with this.  When they’re doing “pretty good,” but not losing weight they begin thinking hormones, slow metabolism, genetics or other factors are to blame.  Usually, they feel like their body is failing them and it’s impossible to lose weight.

If You're Struggling to Lose Weight Pause.....

Stop, if this is you take a deep breath in.  It’s not that you can’t lose weight.  It’s that what you’re doing isn’t working.  There is something off in your game plan or the game plan isn’t being executed efficiently enough.

If this is you it’s time to learn.  To discover what exactly you’re doing that isn’t working for you.  It’s usually simple things done consistently.

Look through the other problems and you’ll probably find the answer.  And if you’re really stuck comment below and I’ll help you out.

Weight Loss Problem #2 The Slow Metabolism

Maybe, the most common road block people feel is stopping them from losing weight. 

“I just have a slow metabolism.”

A lot of new clients coming into us feel like their struggle on learning how to lose weight has to do with their slow metabolisms.

First, let’s look at how exactly most people define metabolism.  The way that most people look at metabolism is essentially how much energy do I burn. 

Therefore, the idea of a slow metabolism is that you burn out a lot more energy than a typical or average person.

There isn’t that big of a difference between metabolisms from person to person.  At least, not the way that most people think (ie. I can’t lose weight because of my metabolism).

If you look at a person’s resting metabolism  research has shown that there is a variance of about 5-10% between individuals. 11 

Real World Numbers for a Slow Metabolism

To put that into real world terms, I’ll quote a well written article on the subject:

“Extending this into practical terms and assuming an average expenditure of 2000kcal a day, 68% of the population falls into the range of 1840-2160kcal daily while 96% of the population is in the range of 1680-2320kcal daily.

Comparing somebody at or below the 5th percentile with somebody at or above the 95th percentile would yield a difference of possibly 600kcal daily, and the chance of this occurring (comparing the self to a friend) is 0.50%, assuming two completely random persons.”  12  

 In addition, the same study found the following differences in other parts of the metabolic equation:

  • 1-2% difference in energy expenditure due to exercise (that equates to up to 2 calories for every 100 calories burned on exercise)
  • 20% difference in energy expenditure due to thermogenesis (energy required to digest food).  This equates to a little bigger amount. For most people, this would be about 40-60 calories difference per day.

Bottom line, there is some difference between metabolism from person to person. However, it’s not as large as many people think. (unless you have an underlying medical condition)

How to Lose Weight with a Slow Metabolism?

Alright, we’ve established you are highly unlikely to have a slow metabolism.  However, let’s pretend you do have a slightly slower metabolism than most people. 

How does metabolism impact your ability to lose weight?  What can you do to lose weight if you have a slow metabolism?

First, the good news.  I can tell you having coached thousands of people, many of whom felt they had a slow metabolism.  I have never had any of them consistently following through on the info I’m sharing with you in this guide and not lose weight.

On the other hand, I’ve had a whole lot complain about “nothing” working and not actually consistently follow through on taking control of the things they have control over with their metabolism.  Unfortunately, most of these people put in effort for 2-4 weeks and then give up.

Here are the most important things you can do to help keep your metabolism stoked:
  • Focus on eating lots of whole foods and making sure you’re getting enough fiber (fruits and veggies) and protein
  • Higher intensity exercise (build up towards getting 5 hours per week)
  • If you have a desk job get up on your feet more
  • Decrease how time you spend watching TV/computer/smart phone
  • Get at least 8 hours sleep per night (this plays a big role in weight loss)
  • Manage your stress levels (another one that plays a big role)

Start with these.  They may be really simple things, but they play a huge role in getting your metabolism up.

Weight Loss Problem #3 The Great Until the Weekend Problem

Wow, this is possibly the most common barrier getting in the way of people losing weight.  How to lose weight?  Don’t ignore your weekends or indulging throughout the week.

People do so amazing Monday-Friday.  Then they reward themselves on the weekend.  They feel like they’ve been crushing it so they can kick back and relax on the weekend. 

Typically, what happens is that they actually move themselves out of a calorie debt that they were in prior to the weekend starting.  This is usually a huge factor for most people struggling to figure out how to lose weight.

They were burning out more energy than they were consuming.  All of a sudden, the weekend hits and they go overboard.  Often, in large part because they are feeling so deprived from how they are eating during the week.

It goes back to enjoying how you’re eating day-to-day being part of your weight loss plan.

Usually when we suspect that this is what is happening to a client we get them to do a food log for a couple weeks.  We ask them that they include everything they’re eating not just their “typical” day-to-day foods.

Do you know what usually happens? 

Usually we will get a food log with a day or two missing.  Or a meal or two missing.  Or they will take 3-6 weeks to log one week of food. 

Why does this happen?  Usually they don’t want to acknowledge what they’re eating at those meals or on those days.

If Nothing Works to Lose Weight….DO THIS!

If you're really feeling like you don't know how to lose weight or like nothing works when it comes to weight loss.  Here is what you do. 

Log everything you’re eating for a four-week period. Not just the “good” foods, but everything. 

However, I want to make one important note clear.  And this is what stops most people from doing this and learning from it.  THIS IS KEY!

Do this from the perspective of not feeling guilt about what you’re eating.  Instead come at it from a perspective of just making observation without getting emotionally wrapped up in what you’re eating.

You want to do this so you can get an idea of how much you’re indulging in.  Most of the time, we do not recommend calorie counting.  It’s not a good long-term strategy for the vast majority of people.

However, it can be a helpful short-term tool in awareness. 

Normally, the patterns that we see from most people is not enough nutritious calorie dense foods throughout the week.  And too much calorie dense foods in too large an amount on weekends.

What happens when you aren’t nourishing your body with enough healthy foods throughout the week it will make it easier for you to overindulge on the weekends. 

Obviously, I can’t say for sure this is what’s happening without seeing what a person is eating.  However, this is incredibly common.

How to Solve this Weight Loss Problem

Start with the four-week food log and then start learning how to make adjustments based on what you’re seeing.  Make sure you’re not trying to starve the weight off Monday-Friday and then eating far too much on the weekend.

Weight Loss Problem #4 The Small but Big Problem

What’s this? It’s extra calories that on their own aren’t that much. But, add up to create enough of a calorie surplus that it stops the person from losing weight.  At least, losing weight at a “fast enough” pace.

Often people have really small habits that don’t seem that bad.  And, most of the time these habits aren’t bad at all.  However, these small habits slam the breaks on results.

I’ll use a real-life example to illustrate how this happens.

Our client Samantha, was doing well. She had lost about 3 dress sizes, but results had started to slow a little and she wanted to kick it back into gear.  When we looked through her food log I had a couple suggestions.

  • Cut down on the amount of cream on her coffee
  • Focus on being tighter with her serving size with dressings

Do These Calories Really Matter?

I’ll explain each of these.  First, she would often have 4 TBSP of cream in her coffee.  That’s about 80 calories. 13 

She would typically have 1 coffee per day.  From time to time, she would have a 2nd.

Probably, a total of 8-10 coffees per week. 

My suggestion to wasn’t to eliminate all cream.  She’d probably hate making that change which means it wouldn’t stick long-term. 

Instead, I suggested she just try a little less. And continue trying a little less until she hit a point where she could still enjoy her coffee.  But, have less cream coming in.

Why Did I Suggest this to Help Her Lose Weight?

In her case, it wound up being at 2 TBSP.  She still loved her coffee, but was getting ½ the calories.  I bet you’re thinking what’s the big deal.  That’s only about 40 calories less.  Who cares about 40 calories?

Well, here is the thing.  That small amount can add up to a big dent.  For her that was about 320-400 calories per week.  Which, still doesn’t seem that huge.  However, throughout a year that adds up to 16,640- 20,800 calories less.

If you look at 3500 calorie deficit causing 1 pound of weight loss (I know we’ve talked about calorie counting not being exact, but it will give you some perspective).

That translates to 5-6 pounds over the course of a year.  Remember, she didn’t enjoy her coffee any less by decreasing that cream.  It was one of those small habits she had just gotten into.

What Else Could Help Her Lose Weight?

Next, let’s look at the dressing.  She would have a salad for lunch every day she was at work.  She would have 2 TBSP of ranch dressing. 

I suggested she do the same thing and slowly bring that down and see where she was still happy.  She wound up having 2 TSP instead of 2 TBSP.  Again, she didn’t enjoy it any less she wasn’t feeling deprived. 

Just making a minor tweak.  This tweak added up to 97 calories less per day.  Or, 485 calories less per work week.  Or 25, 220 less calories per year.  That equals just over 7 pounds of weight loss in the course of a year.

Between the 2 habits that equals an extra pound or more of weight loss per month.

For habit changes that she didn’t hate doing.  Instead of being all-in or all-out.  She made moderate changes.

Small things add up when done consistently.

How to Lose Weight with this Habit

Find out what small habits you have like this sneaking in daily.  Make adjustments to them even if small.  Most people have at least 1-3 of these small things throughout their day.

Remember, big picture.  You want habits that you can continually do. 

Weight Loss Problem #5 Expectations

First, take a guess what gets more searches per month on Google each month?

  1. How to lose weight
  2. How to lose weight fast

I’m going to simply state this.  Most people have completely unrealistic expectations that they think are realistic.  Most people want weight loss results far too quickly for what they're ready to do.

Instead of searching for how to lose weight quickly, people should be searching for how to lose weight and keep it off long-term.  However, almost no one is searching for that.

But, it’s not entirely their fault.  Mass media has pounded into your head that losing 1-2 pounds per week is sustainable and healthy.

When a new potential client tells me about their goal and they want to lose 4-5 pounds per month or more because they know that’s sustainable I ask them a question.

What makes that number sustainable for you? They usually look at me like a deer in the headlights.  There usually isn’t a response or something to the effect of that’s what they say is sustainable.

Let’s take this concept away from weight loss.  Let’s pretend I told every single person with a job that is was realistic to expect 3-5% raise every year.  

Is that realistic for everybody?  Or will it depend on numerous factors: the economy, their education level, their position, years of experience, performance, just to name a few.

It’s ridiculous to create a realistic amount you should expect to get for a raise across the board.

Can You Determine Realistic Weight Loss Goals?

It’s just as impossible for weight loss. 

Do you have 0 kids?  4 kids? 

Do you work 30 hours/week?  Or 60 hours per week?

Do you travel frequently for work? 

Have you dieted 1-2 times in your life?  Have you dieted 10-20 times in your life?

Are you going through menopause? 

Do you enjoy drinking 3-5 glasses of alcohol on the weekend?  Or do you drink 3-5 glasses of alcohol per year?

Do you have huge family dinners frequently? 

How often do you eat out at restaurants? 1-2 times/week or 1-2 times every few months?

These are just a few of the endless factors that impact what’s “realistic” and sustainable to lose in terms of weight loss.

Having a generic number of what’s realistic or sustainable to lose in impossible. 

So How Much is a Realistic Amount of Weight to Lose?

Here is a video that will walk you through answering the question "what's a realistic weight loss goal?"

The big take home message I want to drive home is that having too large of expectations is a huge barrier for most people trying to lose weight.

They go in thinking it will be easy to lose 4-5 pounds per month.  It’s not easy.  At least if you’re looking to continue losing that amount for a prolonged period of time and keep it off.

If you don’t believe me stop and think about this for a second.  About 70% of North America is overweight or obese…..if it was easy this many people wouldn’t be struggling.

If it was easy there would be hundreds of thousands of searches every month on Google for "how to lose weight."

However, don’t be discouraged by the fact that it’s challenging.  How to lose weight?  Go into it with realistic expectations based on what you’ve experienced.  Not, what mass media has told you to expect.

Stop, actually take the time to figure out what habits you’re willing to change.  What habits you’re not ready to change.  And figure out what’s realistic to expect.

Often, people are losing weight, but they feel like they aren’t because of the pace they expect results at.

Weight Loss Problem #6  It’s Healthy……

Another, incredibly common weight loss problem.  People have the belief that eating healthy = weight loss.

I believe healthy foods are an improtant part of learning how to lose weight.

Nevertheless, it’s very important to understand that although these two things can be mutually inclusive of each other they don't have to be either. 

For example, The Hot Dog Diet .  Not exactly what I would call the picture of healthy eating.  

However, it does cause people to lose weight.

Conversely, I have eaten what most would consider very healthy for the last 365 days this year.  I haven’t lost a pound.

Eating Healthy Doesn't Equal Weight Loss?

You can eat healthy and not be in an energy debt.  That is why eating healthy does not equal weight loss.

It's actually much easier to eat healthy and not lose weight when compared to eating healthy and losing weight.

I cannot tell you how many people over the years have stated working with us at our personal training studio saying they want to lose 20-60 or more pounds, but their nutrition is already in their words "pretty good." 

They explain they just need to start exercising to drop the extra weight.

Unless you are morbidly obese you are highly unlikely to lose anything past 3-5 pounds at most.

I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to this. 

But, for the vast majority of people you need to make some serious changes to your nutrition if you want to lose weight.

Something you have to understand is that it is very hard to create an energy debt large enough with exercise alone to lose weight. 

Can You Lose Weight Just from Exercising?

Alright, let’s do some math here.  It will be interesting don't worry. 

How much energy do you burn while you exercise?

Let’s pretend you are a 50-year-old female who weighs around 180 pounds.  Using a simple calorie calculator for exercise here are the estimates on how many calories she would burn per hour given the varying level of intensities:

  • Maximal intensity: 575-700 calories (odds are unless you are an elite athlete you are not getting your heart rate in this range.  If you do you are going to throw up.)
  • Very high intensity: 485-575 (the vast majority of people will not push themselves this hard for the duration of an hour).  Out of our 70 clients at our studio we don’t have anybody pushing themselves this hard.
  • High intensity: 375-485 (this is the range that our everyday clients who work very hard would typically push themselves too.  About ½ our clients at the studio push themselves this hard with the added help of a personal trainer)
  • Moderate intensity: 266-375 calories burned per hour.  This is the range that ½ of our clients are in during their personal training sessions.

Okay, so realistically our fictional person above can expect to burn 250-500 calories in a one hour workouts.  With most people being closer to the lower to middle end of that range.

Assume that your typically in a calorie balance with your nutrition.  Your plan is to add exercise to lose 1 pound per week.  

Guess how many hours of exercise you would need to perform in that zone to reach that goal?

To lose 1 pound per week the calculator would tell you that you have to exercise 7-14 hours at the intensity we see the vast majority of our clients working at.

The Unfortunate "Secret" Your Treadmill Forgot to Tell You

BUT, there is something that the calculator and most experts don’t tell you.  

Don't worry I'll share this little secret with you.

When you use a calorie calculator (website, a piece of cardio equipment, or fit bit) to calculate how many calories you burn while exercising it includes your resting metabolism as well (how many calories you’d be burning if you were lying in bed instead of hitting a really hard workout).

What does this mean?  You're actually not burning that much more energy when you're exercising.  At least, not as much as you are led to believe.

Using our same make-believe 50-year-old female weighing 180 pounds she would burn about 71 calories per hour if she was watching TV, sitting at the office, or sleeping.

So, if she hoped on the treadmill at it tells her she burned 250 calories after walking an hour. She's actually only burned an extra 179 calories (250 - 71).  

So, factoring out the resting metabolism you actually need to exercise 8-19 hours per week assuming you make no changes to your nutrition to burn 1 pound of body fat per week.

Does Exercise Actually Help with Weight Loss?

Yes, but, not nearly as much as most people think it’s going to.  Exercise helps to increase the energy you’re burning, keep your metabolism up, build more lean muscle (very important for aesthetics), keep you healthier, and improves your quality of life.

So, don’t throw out exercise all together.  Just adjust expectations and understand it’s not going to stand alone for weight loss for you.

Also, I always make sure to note this to people.  From practical experience I can tell you that exercising (especially higher intensity workouts including strength training) lead to big changes in terms of how many inches you lose.

Remember, it's not just about the scale.  It's about your body composition too.

I can't tell you how many clients we have who have dieted and seen their weight go up and down over the years.  When they start working with us they are fitting into clothes that they normally had to weigh 15-20 pounds less to fit into without the dramatic weight loss.

This is how we teach people to transform their bodies in our Lean Living Coaching Program.

Weight Loss Problem #7 Is Starvation Mode Real?

This is a common thing you hear about.  If you eat too little your body goes into starvation mode and this can stop you from losing weight.

Is there any truth to this?  Is starvation mode a real thing?

Like many questions we’ve answered in this.  Yes……and no. 

The less you eat the less calories you burn.  This is how the human body works.  It takes energy to metabolize and store food you eat.  Roughly 8-10% of all the calories you burn in a day are due to digesting and metabolizing food. 13 

So, the more you eat the more energy it requires to store that food.  The less food you eat the less energy it requires to store that food.

Essentially eating less means you burn less calories.

Your metabolism never actually decreases enough to stop you from being able to lose weight though.

What Happens with Real Starvation?

One famous starvation study done back in 1944 showed that people did continue to lose weight for prolonged periods with insane calorie restrictions.  They also suffered numerous other negative sides effects. 14

I mean stop and think about this.  Do you ever see people in situations where there is a severe lack of food with extra body fat?  I mean think about starving children in 3rd world countries, prisoners of war.  Not pleasant things to think about.

However, you'll note that all of their bodies are burning through their stores of body fat.

Although starvation mode doesn’t truly exist in the way people talk about it there is something of important to note.

As you lose weight your metabolism will slow.  This has been shown in research.  First, you’re carrying around less body weight which requires less energy.  There are also some physiological adaptions that seem to take place that causes you to burn out less energy.

Again, it’s not something that prevents you from losing weight.  However, it can make things a little trickier if you had dieted numerous times and seen your weight go up and down several times throughout the years.

How Much Does Your Metabolism Slow Down?

“According to a large review study, this amounts to 5.8 calories per day, for each pound lost, or 12.8 calories per kilogram .

What this means, is that if you were to lose 50 pounds, or 22.7 kilograms, your body would end up burning 290.5 fewer calories per day.” 15 

There have also been studies which show these effects of decreased metabolism can last even if the weigh is regained.  16 

So, what do you do?

Go back to the things we have listed in earlier sections on keeping the metabolism up.  Focus on nourishing your body not starving it.   Get the right type of exercise to boost up your metabolism.

Weight Loss Problem #8 The Most Common Weight Loss Problem

Finally, our last topic on how to lose weight.  If you want to know the answer this one is the biggest key when it comes to weight loss.  It’s the biggest problem I see which leads to people feeling like they just can’t lose weight.

Lack of consistency and patience.

This is by far and away the biggest problem that we see at our personal training studio when people are struggling to lose weight.

Typically, this problem relates to people making changes to their nutrition that they don’t enjoy.  Which leads to the lack of consistency.

The patience end of the equation often has more to do with people having too high of expectations or losing sight of the big picture.

I’m going to use a real-world example to help you see where most people get into trouble. It has nothing to do with how to lose weight.  This usually helps people see the problem more clearly.

Pause on Weight Loss for a Second

This example involves our personal training studio.  We had operated successfully in the city of Ottawa for four years before we took a big risk and restarted everything in Sudbury to be closer to family.

Besides our family we had almost no contacts in Sudbury.  So, we were really starting the business from scratch. 

We created a 5-year plan.  In our first year our goal was to sell $100,000 in personal training.

In the first couple months, we set up a booth at a Rib Fest in town, we ran some Facebook ads, we got a huge road sign in-front of our building, we got to the top of Google’s search rankings, we reach out to some local business. 

After being open for 2 months do you know how much we had in sales?  About $2,000.

We were on pace to sell about $24,000.  A couple more months went by, lots of hard work. 

By the four-month mark do you know what happened?

We had sold about $12,000.  On pace to sell only about $36,000.

Things still were rough.  It was scary.  But, we kept plugging away despite many challenges.

At the end of one year we didn’t even hit our goal of $100,000.

We hit about $85,000.  And, the following year we were under our target. 

Finally, in year 3 we hit our target.  

Then in year 4 and 5 we surpassed our targets.

What Weight Loss Really Looks Like

Imagine if you had talked to me 2 months in and I told you we are only at $2,000……all my hard work isn’t working.  You would probably tell me it takes time to build a business.  You can’t expect things to happen overnight.

The same is true for weight loss.  I get it.  When we weren’t making the money we needed to make it was stressful…..okay stressful doesn’t do it justice.  It really sucked, but we loved what we did for a living. 

We enjoyed the day-to-day aspects and had confidence it would work if we stuck to it.

Patience and consistency.

The reason most people give up each time they’re trying to lose weight is that they don’t have the consistency with their habits or if they do they don’t have the patience to give those habits enough time to work.

You can lose weight, get healthier, tone up, have more energy and sustain those results.  But, it takes a long time to get there.  It doesn’t happen nearly as quickly as you’d like.

And do NOT get sucked in by all the marketing of the weight loss industry.  

“You can lose 30 pounds in the next 30 days with this easy diet and no exercise.”

Most weight loss companies are like get-rich-quick schemes.  They make big, unrealistic promises.  Pull back to reality and you can be successful.

I see clients do it all the time.  But, you have to have consistency and patience to get there. 

How to Lose Weight Wrap Up

Finally, you're done.  At this stage you should feel confident you know how to lose weight.  

It's one of those questions that no one actually asks us directly in person.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever had someone walk up to me and ask how to lose weight.

However, people asking me many of the questions we've answered in this article.  And to sum it all up that's truly what they all answer.

More importantly than looking at "how to lose weight."  I'd suggest looking at what steps with your nutrition, exercise and lifestyle you can take to start having more energy, feeling more confident, improving the quality of your life.

Don't get too wrapped up in the scale.  It's just data.  Enjoy the process of getting healthier, getting leaner and learning how to lose weight.

Hormones & Weight Loss

Hormones & Metabolism

How Does Stress Impact Your Metabolism?

So, I’ve mentioned that stress hormones impact your metabolism.  How do they do this?

Well your brain when it needs stress hormones tells your pituitary gland to release some chemicals that will cause your adrenal gland to release cortisol (stress hormone). 

The chemical that your brain sends to the pituitary gland to start the reaction to release stress hormone stops the pituitary gland from releasing the chemical that causes the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone.

This is a normal function.   Not a problem.  However, when you are chronically under too much stress and your body is trying to produce a lot of cortisol it can start to create problems with your metabolism.

I was going to make a video walking through exactly how this entire process works.  But, I came across this video which sums it up in a really easy to understand way (see below)

Manage Your Stress to Manage Your Metabolism

Yes, if you manage your stress it can help to boost up your metabolism.  It’s one of those things that most people usually don’t want to hear.  It’s much easier looking towards a supplement to help compared to making real changes in your lifestyle.

But, working on things like sleep, stress reduction, managing blood sugar and other techniques I’ll share with you have a major impact.

Good Carbs for Weight Loss

Good Carbs for Weight Loss (Learn everything you need to know about carbs and weight loss)

Are There Good Carbs for Weight Loss?

Some people think there is no such thing as good carbs for weight loss. 

When we first sit down with someone it's common to hear “I know I can’t eat carbs and lose weight.”   

Most people out there think that carbs are bad for them.  A lot of people think that they have almost no control over themselves around carbs.  Almost everyone will lose a lot of weight when they take all carbs out of their diet.

Do Low Carb Diets Work?

 Yes.  Yes, they do.  Next topic? 

Research has shown that low carb diets are very effective at causing weight loss.  I mean you’ve all heard of Atkins and I’m sure you have either been on it or know people that have lost a lot of weight on it.

There are other similar low carb diets like the Dukan Diet.  At the end of the day a true low carb diets goal is to get you in a ketogenic state.

These types of diets would have you believe there is no such thing as good carbs for weight loss. 

What is Going Keto Mean?

You are getting ketogenic when you consume less carbohydrates than your body would like to function.  So, it turns fat stores into something called ketones and uses them in place of carbohydrates.

Symptoms of ketosis include:

  • Breath smells (like fruit or nail polish remover)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth or increase thirst
  • Fatigue (often flu like symptoms)
  • Constipation
  • Problems focusing mentally
  • Tough time sleeping
  • Cold hands & feet

Typically, these symptoms last only through initially adopting a low carb diet.  It’s often referred to as “keto flu.”

And then most people have increased energy, better mental clarity and other positive things occurring.  One of them being losing typically losing weight quickly.  I mean really fast.

Are You Really Eating a Low Carb Diet?

Often people think they’re on a low carb diet when they are not.  I have clients tell me all the time that they’ve cut out all carbs.  What they actually mean is they’ve stopped eating bread and pasta.

Although they are decreasing how much carbohydrates they eat.  Most people are not having a truly low carb diet unless they are following one of the ones mentioned above.

So, I want to be clear when I say low carb diet what I’m talking about is someone eating so little carbohydrates their body goes into ketosis.

Need to know info

When I’m saying low carb diet I mean you’re consuming so little carbohydrates your body hit’s ketosis and has to turn stores of fat into something it can use in place of carbohydrates.

Most people that think they’re on a low carb diet aren’t. 

Is a Low Carb Diet Right for You?

Maybe, it depends.  But, probably not.  Almost every diet out there "works."  It works by having you burn out more calories than you’re consuming simple as that.

Low carb diets take out carbs to do this

Weight watchers has you count points

The Paleo Diet gets you eating lots of whole foods

And so on and so forth.  But, they are all just different strategies to help this along.

It’s not that low carb diets are necessarily bad.  However, there are a few negative side effects most people don't know about. 

Why I Usually Don't Recommend a Low Carb Diet

At least I don't recommend low carb diets for most people.  

The reason why is pretty simple. 

Prolonged periods of ketosis have a high chance of giving you metabolic adaptations that will slow your metabolism down.

Typically, I have found low carb diets often lead to people hitting plateaus getting frustrated and then giving up on their diet.  

Then, the problem starts.  Their metabolism is decreased from prolonged periods of being ketogenic.  In addition to this, they feel deprived having avoided a lot of their favourite high carb foods. 

The end result, they balloon back up quickly.

At least, that has been my experiencing having coached over a thousand people on how to lose weight over the last 12 years.

Here is What Low Carb Diets Do to Your Body

Here are some of the physiological adaptations your body makes with prolonged low carb dieting:

  • Decreased thyroid hormone
  • Increased cortisol (stress hormone)
  • Decreased testosterone (this isn’t good for females either)
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Supressed immune function

Once, I had a client named Brad.  Two years before working with us he dropped 60 pounds in just 3 months using a low carb diet.  

As well, he had the benefit of working a construction job for those 3 months.  Within 2 months of losing all that weight he had gained 50 pounds back.  And then another 15 pounds within 3 more months.

Besides feeling deprived are there any benefits to eating carbs?  Are there any carbs that are actually good for weight loss?

Need to know info

Although low carb diets are a great option for some people.  The vast majority of people will start feeling deprived and in my experience often regain all the weight they’ve lost.  

Low carb diets can decrease your metabolism which is a big part of the problem with regaining weight for many people.

Wait Are There Good Carbs for Weight Loss

Yes, there are good carbs for weight loss.  For the most part, no foods are good or bad.  All foods just have pro’s and con’s.  Just like all diets have pro’s and con’s.

Your body might not need carbohydrates to survive.  But, it sure would like them.

You can lose weight without eating low carb.  You don’t have to take them all out.

But, you do need to use some strategies around carbs.

Need to know info

We don’t recommend a true low carb diet for the vast, vast majority of people.  

The reason is that in our experience it leads to a decreased metabolism, people feeling deprived, and people binging and regaining all the weight they’ve lost back again.

Instead we recommend that people learn how to eat smart carbs.  These are the good carbs for weight loss.

How to Use "Good Carbs" for Weight Loss to Get Results

So, I'd suggest you don't look at their as being good foods and bad foods.  However, there are some foods that are superior when it comes to helping you lose weight.  Essentially, all foods have pros and cons.  

Let’s look at some of their pros and cons with carbs..  These will help you start to learn which carbs are good for weight loss.

Infographic Pros & Cons for Carbs

First, I want to note something important.  There aren't truly any good or bad foods.  However, there are foods that make it easier to lose weight.

Specifically, when talking about carbs we sometimes refer to these as good carbs for weight loss.  In general, we prefer the term smart carbs.  since we’ve established carbs aren’t really good or bad.

Most of the cons are entirely dependent on two things:

  • What type of carbs you’re eating
  • How much of them you’re eating

You can easily use some strategies and guidelines for carbs and weight loss to get results without cutting them out.

There are numerous different strategies you can use.  Some of these you can use on their own.  Some of these you can use in conjunction with each other.

Need to know info

Carbs aren’t bad.  Your body likes having carbs to fuel it.  However, many forms are easier to overeat and get access calories.  

You need to be strategic in how you eat your carbs.  For long-term success most people need to learn how to eat and enjoy carbs for weight loss.

2 Strategies to Make Carbs Help You Lose Weight

1) Focus on eating more smart carbs

Wait, what exactly are smart carbs?  The're sources of carbohydrates that are more likely to keep you satisfied on less calories. 

Generally speaking, whole foods or minimally processed foods will keep you satisfied on less.  You have to eat a larger quantity of highly processed foods to stay satisfied. (what most people think of as good carbs for weight loss).

Most people like things being black and white.  Either it's a good carb for weight loss or a bad carb for weight loss. In reality, it’s a spectrum from whole foods to highly processed.

Most people spend their time between the middle and bottom of that spectrum.  The more often you spend near the top of that spectrum the better.

The food at the top of the spectrum typically has more fiber which helps to keep satisfied.  Also, generally speaking whole foods actually take more energy to digest compared to processed foods.

For example, one study compared a meal that consisted of whole foods and one that consisted of processed foods. 

Despite having the same amount of calories in the meal the meal with whole foods took an average of an extra 64 calories to digest. 

Most people don’t realize that your body has to use energy to digest food.  Some foods take more energy to digest than others. 

The general rule of thumb is that whole foods take more energy to digest compared to processed foods.

Infographic Good Carbs for Weight Loss

2) Focus on eating better serving sizes of carbs

This is the other big problem.  People aren’t becoming overweight from having proper serving sizes of carbs.  People are having too large of serving sizes.  

A lot of this has to do with point #1 the sources of carbs that they’re eating the majority of the time.

The better you’re doing on the first point the easier this strategy is.  Here is a great starting point for most people:

For females focus on having 1 scooped out handful of carbs as a serving size.

For males focus on having 2 scooped out handfuls of carbs as a serving size.

Males generally speaking burn out more calories.  So, they have larger serving sizes.

The Mistake Most People Make with Carbs & Weight Loss

Essentially, it’s summed it with those two issues.  

  1. People eat too many carbs in a sitting
  2. Most of the time the carbs are from the wrong sources.  

Weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated it can be simple.

The problem with carbs is that most people are either all in or all out.  They either take them out completely or overindulge in them.

Basically, you need moderation.  Something that is much easier said than done. 

How to Use Good Carbs for Weight Loss to Get Results

Need to know info

Most people make the mistake with carbs of being all-in or all out.  Find moderation.  

This can be done by focusing on eating smarts carbs and focusing on portion sizes.

What if You Over Indulge in Carbs?

So, this is going to happen.  That’s part of life.  Everybody does this sometimes.  The bigger problem when someone is trying to lose weight is that once they overindulge they get into the mentality that they’ve “ruined” everything.

This causes them to get farther and farther off track.  Instead, what I’d suggest is having some tools in your tool box to help manage over indulging instead of feeling like you’ve ruined all your progress.

If you’ve been working hard at genuinely making changes in your life and you get off track for a meal.  Or a night.  Or a weekend.  You can’t ruin all the weight loss progress that you’ve made.

Strategies For Weight Loss & Overeating Carbs

Next, I’m going to share a few different strategies that can help you with controlling how much food you’re eating when you over eat on carbs.

But first, I want to stress this.  Don’t look at it as a bad thing when you overeat on carbs.  Or any other food.  That’s part of life and how it goes. 

I’ll use a metaphor to hopefully help you understand.  Look at it this way. 

Is it a bad thing if you spend more than your typical monthly budget around Christmas time?  No, not necessarily. 

But you should make changes to your other spending in December or January to balance out your increased spending for Christmas. 

If you don't then you're just piling up more and more debt.

Sometimes you want to spend more money (or in other words sometimes you’ll want to eat a lot more carbs).

The strategies I’ll share with you are to help you adjust the “budget” so to speak.

First there are typically 2 ways people over indulge:

  • They know beforehand that they will have a meal that they’ll be over indulging in
  • They have not planned and then have a meal that they over indulge in.

I mention this simply to point out that different strategies are often more beneficial depending on if you’re in scenario A or B.

4 Strategies to Overeating Carbs & Lose Weight 

1) If you know you are going to be overeating try to have a higher intensity workout in the 1-3 hours before that meal.  When you perform higher intensity exercises your body relies on stores of carbohydrates for energy. 

If you perform higher intensity exercises before the meal you’ll have more empty storage space in your muscles and liver to store carbs.

2) Get in an extra workout the day of or morning after you over indulge.  This can help to balance things out if you’re overindulging.  The morning after won’t take advantage of point #1, but will still help.  And remember it’s an extra workout over your usual routine.

3) Cut back on how much carbs you eat throughout the day of or after you overindulge.  Focus more on eating sources of protein and vegetables throughout the day. 

4) If you really overindulge the next morning skip breakfast and wait to eat lunch until you’re really good and hungry.  Often when people really overindulge they can use this technique and not get hungry until after 1:00 PM the next day.  It helps to balance out the surplus of calories.  Again, this is more typically when you really overindulge.

There are four strategies that our clients use to make weight loss work in the real world.  Instead of feeling like you’ve ruined everything enjoy yourself when you’re eating carbs.  If you overindulge that’s okay. 

You won’t ruin all your progress.  You just have to make some adjustments along the way.

Need to know info

If you find yourself overindulging in carbs or any other food for that matter you can try using the four strategies I’ve shared with you to make sure you keep progressing with your weight loss goals.

Try to make sure you’re not getting into the blame and shame game with overeating.  Give yourself permission to eat those foods.  You can ruin progress with one (or a few) decisions.  

Instead learn how to adjust your game plan without extremes.

Good Carbs for Weight Loss Wrap Up

Carbs aren’t good or bad.  Try to move away from the idea of there being good carbs for weight loss.  It leaves only two options.

If you start looking at it in terms of the smart carb spectrum it will make life much easier than the over simplified good carbs for weight loss and bad carbs for weight loss.

Instead of taking them all out of your diet learn how to make them a part of your weight loss plan.  Don’t over complicate things.  Don’t eliminate things. 

Stick to the KISS method (keep it super simple……okay I tweaked that a little to be more positive).  Here is an infographic we made to give you examples of your best options for smart carbs.

The Best Carbs for Weight Loss.  A list of Smart Carb Choices

Did you like our article on "Good Carbs for Weight Loss?"

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Elimination Diet for Weight Loss

Simple Elimination Diet for Weight Loss

Elimination Diet for Weight Loss

Have you ever heard of an elimination diet?  It’s something we have used with clients to help them drop 2-4 inches off their waist in just a 3-4 week period. 

The big draw to an elimination diet is that it takes stress of the digestive tract.  In addition to that it largely works because you’re eliminating calorie dense processed foods.

When you combine these two things it leads to weight loss.  There are many different versions of elimination diets out there.  We suggest a super simple elimination diet because it makes things easier for people who haven’t tried something like this before (or for those who have tried before, but failed to be able to follow through on it).

Important to note for most people this is not a long-term diet or lifestyle change.  The purpose is to identify if there are foods that are not agreeing with your digestive tract.  It doesn’t mean you should never eat any of these foods every again.

Why Are These Foods on the Elimination Diet List?

Why did we select these foods?  Some of these foods are supposed to be healthy foods, aren’t they?  Yes, many of the foods on this list are healthy foods…. if they’re agreeing with your digestive tract.

However, there is a huge percentage of the population who has issues with these types of foods.  We have selected the foods we find are most common to give people issues.

How Long Should I Follow the Elimination Diet For?

We typically suggest you do a minimum of 3-4 weeks eliminating the food 100% for that time period.  

You can do it for longer periods of time 6-8 weeks, but most people find they start feeling deprived when they go too long.

If You Don't Do This......You Won't See the Real Benefit

You must eliminate the food completely from your diet.  100% of the time for the set number of weeks you decide on.  Don’t invest your time and energy if you’re not ready to completely eliminate the food from your diet.  

Usually, we are all about moderation. However, for this diet to work in its goal of identifying what foods are bugging your digestive tract it must be followed 100% of the time.

Elimination Diet: List of Foods to Eliminate

Here is a list.  You can always do a modified version where you only pick certain foods off this list to eliminate.  Of course, it will be far more powerful if you eliminate all of them.

  • Grains (wheat, rye, rice, and all other grains products)
  • Dairy
  • Processed sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Soy

Wait....What Foods Can I Eat on the Elimination Diet?

This is the question we usually get after someone reads this list.  Here is a list of the foods you can eat (obviously not a complete list).

  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes, lentils, beans, chic peas, etc.

Essentially real whole foods not including a few from the groups listed above.

No Processed Food at All?  What's Up With That?

You have to watch for many processed foods that are healthy but still should be avoided on the elimination.  For example, peanut butter, almond milk or other similar products which although may be healthy are still to be eliminated to check for food intolerance. 

As well, processed foods are easier to overeat on.  So, it will help the elimination diet for weight loss.

Strategies to Make the Elimination Diet for Weight Loss Easier

Here are some easy tips to make life a little easier.

  • Figure out 3-4 different meals for breakfast, lunch & supper
  • Figure out some healthy treats that you will enjoy, but still fall in-line with the elimination diet for weight loss
  • Remember it will be hard for the first 2 weeks, but it will get easier and more routine after this
  • When eating out ask them about any ingredients you may be unsure about (especially added sugars or dairy)
  • Remember these foods aren’t necessarily bad for you.  The point is just to identify if any of these don’t agree with your digestive tract and eliminate calorie dense foods
  • Remember you have to 100% eliminate the food from your diet

How to Check for Food Intolerance

This is important.  Once you’ve eliminated the food for 3-4 weeks (or longer) you can check to see how you react to the food by introducing 1 food at a time in a normal serving sized amount of that food.  And see if you have any reactions over the next 2-3 days.

Make sure to only add in 1 food every 4 days.  Often some reactions like rashes or others are delayed.

Core Exercises to Flatten Your Belly

3 Core Exercises to Flatten Your Midsection

Are you still doing crunches and leg raises to try and target your abs?  If so these three exercises are going to completely change how your core functions and looks.

Your abdominal wall can be broken down into two types of core muscles.  What is referred to as the inner unit and the outer unit. 

Most people when doing different versions of crunch’s or sit-ups they’re working the outer unit.

The problem is that most people never work their inner unit of abdominal muscles. 

Part of the job of the inner unit muscles is to hold your stomach flat throughout the day.

Be working the inner unit (which takes some practice) you’ll actually flatten your stomach. 

As an example, the picture below the person hasn’t dropped any body fat, but there is a huge difference in the size and look of their stomach.

How to flatten your belly

Even if we have a client who isn’t looking to drop any body weight they will usually reduce their waste size by 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch in the first four weeks just by getting their inner unit functioning properly.

Really important you need to make sure you’re listening carefully to how to properly perform the exercises.  

The key is in the same details.  

To get the benefit of these exercises you have to make sure you’re feeling the proper muscles working and carefully listening to the details of how to perform the exercise.

3 Key Core Exercises

How Often Should You Perform these Exercises?

Perform these three exercises in a circuit 3-4 times/week.  

Perform 3 sets of 1 minute for each exercise.

If you take the time to perform these exercises properly over the next 2-4 weeks you’ll see a reduction in your stomach size from this one thing alone without making any changes to your nutrition.

How to Stop Cortisol Weight Gain

How to Stop Cortisol Weight Gain

Hormones, Stress, Cortisol & Weight Gain

You have a type of hormone called cortisol.  This is often referred to as your stress hormone.  Often people can refer to something people call the cortisol weight gain.

When your body is under some sort of stress (physical, emotional, environmental) your body will release cortisol (stress hormone).

Some published research has correlated cortisol with belly fat.  Scientists aren’t entirely sure why.  

I’m going to walk you through the basics on cortisol and what you can do to help manage your cortisol levels and help try to target belly fat.

Cortisol Weight Gain Start with the Basics

Before I explain cortisol weight gain I need to begin with the basics.  A quick explanation of what cortisol does. 

The larger the stress the more cortisol your body is supposed to release.

This is how the human body works.  Cortisol does important things like:

  • Normalize low blood sugar
  • Deal with inflammation (it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties)
  • Immune system function impacting white blood cells, and other important parts of the immune system
  • Impacts your heart, specifically the strength of heart contractions

Need to know info

Your body releases a hormone called cortisol when any type of stress occurs.  The higher the stress the more cortisol is released.

More Than One Type of Stress

Most people when they think of stress only think of 1 type.  Mental/emotional stress.  There are many forms of stress.  For example:

  • Exercise
  • Any type of physical pain
  • Extreme ends of temperature (ie. Canadian winter….you know standing outside in minus 30 degree weather)
  • Drops in blood sugar
  • Chemical stress (inhaling certain fumes or chemicals)
  • Lack of sleep

There are a lot of different stressors. 

Essentially anything that begins the stress response and causes a release of cortisol as far as the human body is concerned is a stress.  Your adrenal glands releases cortisol and it does not differentiate between good stress or bad.  Only the degree of stress.

Need to know info

There are a lot of different stressors on the human body, not just mental emotional.  

All of them will cause a release of cortisol.  Not just “bad” stress.

Do You Have too Much Stress?

Odds are yes.  Most people living the western lifestyle do.  Too much stress can make it really challenging to lose weight.  Specifically, through your midsection. 

Cortisol Weight Gain Stressing You Out?

We often find clients who carry high levels of stress will lose weight through their bellies at a much slower pace.

Here are some signs that your body is overly stressed and fatigued:

  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
  • Not able to function in the morning without first having coffee
  • Fatigue that isn’t cured by sleep
  • Craving salty foods
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Increased effort to perform normal daily tasks
  • You seem to take longer to recover from illness or injury
  • Light headed when moving from lying to standing
  • Increased PMS symptoms
  • Symptoms get worse if you miss a meal or you’re late eating it
  • Difficulty focusing mental thoughts or a mental haze
  • Memory problems
  • Low energy between 3:00-4:00 in the afternoon
  • Increased energy later in the evening after 6:00 PM
  • Increased body fat in the front of the stomach

Obviously, these symptoms can mean lots of different things.  However, if you’re noticing that you have multiple symptoms on this list.  There is a good chance you have too much stress on your body and it could be impacting your hormones.

Need to know info

Take a look at the list above and see if you have some symptoms of too much stress.  

If you do you’ll greatly benefit from some strategies I’m going to share with you.  

They’re going to help you target belly fat and lose weight.

Cortisol Impacts Not Just Weight Loss, but Other Hormones Too

If your body is chronically overly fatigued or you are perpetually needing more cortisol it will have an impact on your other hormones.

To name a few cortisol can impact:

  • Estrogens
  • Testosterone
  • Thyroid hormones

These are some important players in the body.  There are a lot of doctors out there who feel that before worrying about any imbalance in estrogen, testosterone or thyroid hormones you should first worry about your cortisol/stress.

Too Much Cortisol Can Decrease Testosterone

Chronically higher levels of stress can lower testosterone.

Obviously, impacting your testosterone will change your ability to develop muscle for both males and females.  This has a major impact on your metabolism.  Additionally, it’s an even bigger problem for you if you’re middle aged.

As you age your body loses muscle mass.  This is the biggest reason that your metabolism decreases as you age.  The more muscle mass you can maintain as you age.  The more your metabolism will maintain as you age.

This is one of the ways chronically high stress can have a seriously negative impact on your metabolism.

Too Much Cortisol Can Impact Estrogens

There isn’t actually a hormone called estrogen.  Interesting fact.  But, there are a group of hormones that are commonly referred to as estrogens (so I’ll keep calling them that to keep it simple).

This can have a major impact on health.  Many have theorized that this has a major impact on women starting menopause earlier.  As well as, the degree to which they have hot flashes.

Your body naturally begins producing less estrogens when you begin menopause.  If your body has had years of chronic stress you’ll already be at lower levels before your body begins producing less.

This makes the natural decrease hit even harder. 

This is a big factor in why so many women gain large amount of weight during menopause. 

Stress plays a MAJOR role in this.  I have had numerous clients struggle with weight loss during menopause.  And almost all of them have had a major stress in the 1-2 years leading up to when they began menopause.

Too Much Cortisol Can Decrease Thyroid Hormones

Odds are you know the gist of thyroid hormones job in laymen’s terms.  When thyroid hormones increase…..metabolism increases.  When thyroid hormones decreases……metabolism decreases.

Cortisol Weight Gain and Impact on Thyroid Hormones

I’m sure a physiologist would have a heart attack with this over simplification.  But, it will serve our purposes.

I’m going to expand on this later.  But, for now all you need to know if that when your body has to release cortisol it will actually cause a decrease in thyroid hormone production.

Need to know info

Chronically high stress will cause your body to have to release more cortisol which impacts testosterone, estrogens, and thyroid hormone production.  

Too much stress will have a negative impact on your metabolism.

How to Avoid Cortisol Weight Gain

At this point it should be pretty obvious, you need to manage your stress levels. 

Okay, that’s not very helpful. 

I’m going to share with you bullet points of practical how-to’s for how to improve your hormones for weight loss.

  • Sleep (quality and quantity matter……more on this later)
  • Blood sugar regulation (this means the right amount of protein/fat/carbs/fiber)
  • Create a daily stress relief routine that does not involve screen time
  • Focus on higher intensity workouts that last for shorter periods of time
  • Stop and identify which areas of your life you can decrease stress
  • If you have digestion issues start working to improve in those areas (this is a source of consistent stress on the body for a lot of people)

Need to know info

Hormones impact weight loss.  But, you want to avoid what we call the hormone blame game.  Instead, focus on what you have control over. 

I have had dozens, and dozens of clients over the years who started with us thinking “nothing” works to help them lose weight.

But, after focusing on consistently improving the areas we’ve outlined for you here.  They start getting results.  I have yet to work with a client that can’t get results.

On the other hand, I have worked with numerous clients who don’t get results because they continue focusing on the hormonal blame game instead of making actual changes in their lives.

Sleep Weight Loss

Hormones & Sleep

If you’re worried about hormones stopping you from losing weight.  Sleep is one of the biggest things within your control.

Most people do not understand what a huge impact sleep can have on your hormonal system.  Obviously, everyone knows sleep is kind of important, but how does it impact your hormones?

As we’ve established your stress hormones impact your ability to lose weight.  And research shows that there is a relationship between people having higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and belly fat.

Essentially too much stress = tougher time dropping body fat.

How Does Sleep Impact Body Fat?

Well your hormone system largely revolves around the sun (at least your stress hormones).  Don’t worry, I’ll keep it super simple.

As the sun begins to rise your body starts releasing more cortisol to get you ready to deal with the stress of the day.

It peaks at its highest levels between 9:00AM and noon.  And then cortisol slowly decreases as the day progresses and the sun sets. 

This is how your body is supposed to react. 

However, if you have a large amount of stress later in the day your body will produce more (or at any other time of the day). 

Need to know info

Your stress hormones operate based on when the sun goes up and down.  

Sun goes up……your body releases more stress hormone.  As the day goes on……your body releases less stress hormone.

How Does Sleep Impact Body Fat?

As we’ve established earlier stress causes more release.  And remember stress isn’t just mental emotional stress.  Coffee for example gets your body to release adrenaline (why it gives you energy).  This causes a release of cortisol.

Have caffeine later in the day, cortisol could get released.

Get to bed past 10:00-10:30 at night?  Guess what happens.  Usually, your body will release more cortisol.  Have you ever noticed you get a “second wind” around 11:00 at night if you stay up past that point?

If you eat a whole lot of sugar at a sitting in front of the TV late at night before bed.  Your blood sugar will drop drastically.  Which impacts your stress hormone release.

These are just two of the most common examples of things people do chronically that can disrupt cortisol.

Need to know info

Although your stress hormones operate based around the sun your lifestyle will have a huge impact on your stress hormones being released.  

Certain behaviours especially through the afternoon, evening and night will have a big impact on how much cortisol your body releases.

Prolonged Consistent Stress and it's Impact

One of the biggest things people under estimate when it comes to stress is often how much stress is on their body.  A lot of people associate stress with big life events (ie. Someone close to you dies, someone gets a life-threatening illness, etc.)

But, small amounts of stress (at least too much of it) for prolonged periods of time begins to accumulate.

Think of it like a small leak in your roof.  You put a bucket underneath of it it’s not a problem at first.  It’s not even a problem for a long time.  But, once the bucket has finally filled to the top you’re going to start having a problem.

Most people only think of stress as being a huge flood in the basement and ignore their small leak that’s overflowing the bucket. 

Often this leak has been there for years being ignored.

Need to know info

High levels of stress don’t just come from major stressors.  Small stresses on the body accumulate over time if you have too many of them and are not getting proper sleep to recover.

How Much of an Impact Can Sleep Have on Losing Weight?

Sleep is the only place where your body completely recovers from physical and mental activity throughout the day.  If you’re not getting enough quality and quantity your body has a slow leak happening.

Both the quality and quantity of sleep impacts your ability to lose belly fat. 

There have been numerous studies linking sleep (or a lack of it) to weight gain.  For example, one study followed 68,000 women for 16 years.  They grouped them into women that slept for 5 hours or less per night and women that slept for 7 hours or more. 

The women who slept less as a whole were 32% more likely to gain over 30 pounds compared to those who slept 7 hours or more per night.

Another study found a correlation between the amount of sleep someone had per night and the accumulation of both visceral fat (inside the abdominal) and subcutaneous fat (that’s fat below the skin).

Sleep is one of the lifestyle factors most often correlated in studies with obesity and being overweight.  These are just two quick examples.

Need to know info

Sleep is one of the lifestyle factors most correlated with obesity and being overweight.  Especially around belly fat.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Hormones with Sleep?

Here are the quick bullet points of what you can do.  Don't over look these just because many of them are simple.

  • At least 8 hours sleep per night
  • Quality sleep (use the exercise below to start…..there are many other tricks but it’s the best place to start)
  • Don’t drink caffeine after 1:00 PM
  • Go to sleep and wake up around the same time everyday
  • Try to get to bed by 10:30 PM at the latest (obviously if you work shift work it’s not happening)

A lot of our clients are going to bed around midnight or later and couldn’t imagine going to bed that early.  If this is the case, slowly go to bed a little bit earlier over the course of weeks.  For example, go to bed 15 minutes earlier every 1-2 weeks.

Need to know info

Try to improve your quality and quantity of sleep using the bullet points above.  

It will help you not only improve your body composition, but have you feeling a lot better too.  Also, try out the exercise below before bed every night.

How Does Sleep Impact Body Fat?

Intro to Hormones

What the Heck is a Hormone?

I can’t tell you how often I have had clients come in and explain to me they can’t lose weight because of hormones (typically women……okay I’ve never had a male client say this).

I’ll often ask them what are hormones?  And they’ll say you know estrogen and thyroid hormone.  Hormones.  I’ll press a little bit more.  Yes, those are types of hormones.  But, what are hormones?

And usually they don’t know.  It’s an interesting situation when you stop and think about.  They are convinced something (hormones) are stopping them from losing weight when they don’t even know what they are.

All too often I see clients getting into the “hormone blame game.”  They quickly brush of any challenges with losing weight on hormones.

Instead what we encourage clients to do is think of hormones as being a factor in the equation instead of ruining the whole equation.

Calories In vs. Calories Out and Hormones

You still have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight.  A lot of people have some confusion around this.  If hormones are creating problems for you with weight loss it’s because they’re changing the energy out side of the equation.

And in fact, they can be changing the calories in side of the equation too.  Which people often don’t think about.

For example, prolonged releases of cortisol (your stress hormone) will increase appetite and motivation to eat.

Need to know info

It’s not that the energy in vs. energy out formula no longer applies because of hormones.  

It still does. However, hormones can impact your energy in and your energy out.

So What is a Hormone?​​​​

I’m going to keep the science to a minimum and keep things very practical.  Hormones are essential chemicals that your body releases to regulate different tasks throughout the body.  For example, thyroid hormones are released and your metabolism increases. 

Another important thing to understand is that your hormones impact one and other.  Generally speaking increasing one hormone will decrease or increase other hormones.  Your body has systems that work together and impact on and other.

For example, when your body signals to release more stress hormone it typically decreases how much thyroid hormone it releases.

When you have imbalances in hormones it can start to change how your body is functioning.

Need to know info

Hormones signal your body to perform or not perform certain tasks.  Imbalances can change how your body is functioning.

Can You Change Your Hormones to Help with Belly Fat?

There are many things you can do to change which hormones you’re releasing.  Obviously, I’m not a medical doctor.  If you have a serious hormone imbalance you should seek the help of a medical professional.

On the other hand, if you’re finding you’re having a tougher time losing weight and you want practical things that deliver results.  I can help you with that.

There are many things you can do with exercise, nutrition and your lifestyle to start boosting your metabolism and start tipping the scales to the energy out side of the equation and start losing weight.

High Intensity Workouts for Weight Loss

How to Perform Weight Loss Workout from Home

I want to help you not just boost up your metabolism.  I want to help you burn out more calories in less time.  

I want to help you get a hormonal response that helps you burn the most body fat possible.  Specifically, the most belly fat possible. 

If you're looking to do all that you can perform this weight loss workout from home.  You can scroll to the bottom for the workout or learn more about how to boost your metabolism up with your workouts.

How to Burn More Calories in Less Time

I’m sure you’ve seen the graph on your favourite piece of cardio equipment.

 It shows you the “fat burning zone.” If you want to get the best results in the least amount of time possible. 

Don’t spend your time in that zone.

We want you in the zones that are way above that. Wait, what? Don’t go in the fat burning zone? I know that seems like it doesn’t make sense, but stick with me.

This is one of those things I talked about yesterday. Those “we take a different approach” things.

The higher the intensity of the workout the more calories you burn per minute during your workout.  The more energy you burn out…..the easier it is to create a calorie deficit (that that’s code for burning body fat).

Not only do you burn more calories, but your body releases different hormones compared to your cardio workouts in the fat burning zone.  

You will get a release of hormones that will help you to boost up your metabolism.  This is super important for someone who falls into one of these categories:

  • Going through or just having finished menopause
  • Your body isn’t burning body fat like it used to in your 20’s
  • You’ve recently had a kid…..or two……or three…….or…..four. (four kids, what are you crazy?)

These types of workouts are key if you’re serious about getting results.  Try something different. 

I can’t tell you how many clients over the years have told me their blown away by the results they get with less time invested in exercising. 

You are going to be able to really kick start your metabolism and start burning more body fat with these types of workouts.  No joke, serious results.

How to Lose Weight with Weight Loss Workouts from Home

And don’t get me wrong cardio isn’t a bad thing.   You just need to know how to perform it properly.  

We teach our clients how to do cardio.  You can get the same metabolism boosting effect from cardio.  If you do that cardio in the right way. 

We won’t get into that today, but start with the workout at the bottom and try to get your heart rate around the zone indicated in the image based on your age.

Now, important to note.  These are rough guidelines for the heart rate.  It will depend on your current level of conditioning, your genetics, your resting heart rate and many other factors.

Make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard and feeling nausea or other negative side effects of exercising too hard.

Target Heart Rate for Weight Loss Workouts

Heart Rate Zone for Weight Loss Workouts From Home

Perform This Weight Loss Workout From Home

I Don’t Care How Slow Your Metabolism Is You Can Boost It Up If You……

I don't care how slow your metabolism is.  You can boost it up if you perform these types of workouts.