How to Lose Weight When You Don't Know Where to Start

Vanessa Pinto    Author: specialist in nutrition and obesity control.

There are attractive advertisements about losing weight everywhere, with headlines that say exactly what you want to read or hear, like "Lose 10 pounds fast" or "Get back into your jeans, or that dress that's been sitting on the hanger for years".

But, what if you feel you have to lose weight, but you just don't know where to start? You've tried detox, intermittent fasting, keto, celery juice, low-carb, low-fat diets, etc. and nothing seems to work.

Actually, maybe you are good at losing weight - the problem is that you can't keep it off for long. As soon as you stop that "special" diet you regain all the lost weight again, or sometimes even more.

If this sounds familiar, continue reading. "Thought is 90% of the work". That's what all the people who manage to lose weight and stay thin say - when you're not sure where to start your weight loss journey it's hard to be successful in the long run.

How to achieve long-term weight loss.

How to achieve long-term weight lossIf you want not only to lose weight but to keep it off for the long term, set realistic expectations. A safe and sustainable amount of weight to lose is about a pound to two pounds per week.

In reality, however, this may look more like 2 or 3 pounds per week at first, then maybe a pound the next week, then another pound the week after that, then maintain the same weight for a few weeks before starting to lose weight again.

Your weight loss chart will look more like a staircase up and down graph than a perfect, linear trend. If it is bouncing up and down, but trending generally downward, you are losing weight correctly.

There are 52 weeks in a year, so be ready to commit to a long-term change in your habits. Try only adopting habits that you think you can maintain in the long term.

Going on yo-yo diets, which are not sustainable in the long term, but which make you lose weight very quickly, only to gain it back again once you stop dieting, will get you nowhere.

Quick diets should only be used, interspersed with a well-planned long-term diet, when you need to lose weight quickly because of some event, like going to a party, a wedding, or a beach vacation.

Then, to continue losing weight sustainably you have to get back into your long-term diet routine.

Adopt the 80/20 philosophy.

Diet to Lose WeightWhat does this philosophy consist of? Think of the 20% as all the foods you limit when you are dieting, the ones you should avoid at all costs but always give in a touch - the 20%.

The 80% are the foods you should eat and abuse without any problem.

Sustainable weight loss is about abandoning the "all or nothing" mentality. Letting go of the idea that one meal can make or break your weight loss efforts, and embracing balance, where most of what you eat are healthy foods, but sometimes you are also allowed to eat some less healthy ones, as long as you eat them sporadically and in small amounts.

Try to eat the "good" foods 80% of the time throughout the week. That means trying to have at least two meals a day, most days, within this type: half a plate of vegetables and fruit, a quarter of whole grains, and a quarter of protein based on white meats, fish and eggs, with some healthy fat in the mix, such as olive oil. Then, don't stress about the rest.

It's a "flexible structure." There is no guilt for falling into the temptation to eat a less healthy meal, as long as it doesn't become a recurring habit.

To lose weight you need a balanced diet.

The body likes balance. The body temperature stays in a narrow range of about 36º. The pH of the blood is about 7.4. Your body has a weight range that it also likes to stay within – It is called its balance point.

Unfortunately, it is easier to break this balance upwards than downwards. This is why scientists are still trying to figure it out, because eating less lowers the metabolic rate (the number of calories burned at rest) which makes diets lose effectiveness and increases Ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, leading people with less control to eat foods that are not healthy.

However, it is not impossible to lower your weight and keep it down. But to do this it has to be through a long-term lifestyle, which allows the body to adapt slowly and not awaken the defense mechanisms pointed out above.

Follow the foods you eat.

Research shows that those who track their foods (at least at first, until it becomes a habit) are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Tracking shouldn't be done forever, but it can be a useful tool until new habits take hold.

A habit is an automated behavior. The more habits you create, the fewer decisions you have to make and the more brain space you have to think about other things besides what you should eat.

Follow the foods you eatYou certainly don't need to track your food forever, but it can give you a better idea of what a serving of oatmeal looks like in your bowl, or how many random handfuls of potato chips we eat while trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Those snacks and drinks that we forget to keep track of, but represent a lot of calories throughout the day.

You can track foods in a written diary, by taking pictures, on a calorie counting app, or a combination of all of these. If you've never tracked calories, it can be a good starting point to familiarize yourself with portion sizes and macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates).

But, calorie counting should not become obsessive and restrictive effects, leaving you out of touch with your hunger and satiety signals. You may be likely to turn to an app instead of listening to your body, which is also unhealthy.

If you have trouble resisting some addictions a weight-loss supplement can help you better control what you eat, without falling into unhealthy addictions.

Nobody likes to measure what they do and eat. However, like it or not, research shows that people who track their weight are more successful at losing weight and keeping it off.

Here's the caveat: weight should not be the only metric you track. You need to understand what the scale is measuring. The scale does not measure fat. Weight is a measure of everything in your body, primarily fluids, but also bones, organs, fat, and muscle. Think of your weight within a range of 3 to 5 pounds.

The scale goes up and down for various reasons: you poop, it goes down. You eat salty food, it goes up. In a strength workout it can go up.

You don't lose or gain fat overnight. So, stop focusing on a single daily number and focus on the medium and long term. As long as the weight keeps going down in the medium term, even with daily fluctuations, you are on the right track.

Can dietary supplements help with weight loss?

Yes, without a doubt. When it comes to weight loss, there is primarily exercise and eating healthy foods. Exercise smart and eat balanced and healthy. But, there is an often overlooked booster to help you on your weight loss journey or to get you started on a weight loss plan: supplements.

supplements help with weight lossBut, before you invest your time and money in these products, it's important to understand that no supplement can replace poor food choices or lack of physical activity. When my patients ask me about weight loss supplements, I explain that there is no substitute for controlling your diet and exercise. Supplements work by helping you achieve a better diet or exercise more, without having to work so hard.

Any effects that supplements have on the amount of calories you burn, the way you metabolize fat, or controlling food addictions (like sugars) are not a substitute for making mistakes. They only help you control the effects and achieve success more easily.

The supplement we recommend, in the code at the bottom, is primarily intended to help you more easily resist addictions to sweet foods (cakes and other sweets) and reduce your appetite overall. It can help you, but it cannot force you to eat right.

Can you imagine how easy things would be if you could take a supplement and effortlessly reach your weight loss goal? Goodbye gym membership, hello Netflix!

Unfortunately, these magic pills don't exist. The relationship between supplements and weight loss is more complex. But, if taken correctly, supplements can help your body get more of what it needs, which means you eat less and healthier.

If you're not sure which supplements make the most sense for you try our recommendation.

Bottom line.

If you feel overwhelmed by the weight you have to lose, start slowly. Don't try to do everything at once. To lose weight and keep it off, you need to adopt a long-term mindset and focus on making small changes in your habits.

Get help from a good supplement, so you have accountability and can focus on the habits that move the needle the most in the right direction.

Focus on having at least half on your plate consisting of vegetables, and eat protein at every meal to eliminate hunger for longer.

Finally, get some exercise most days; a simple walk can do a lot for your health.

Get out of the all-or-nothing mentality and celebrate your success along the way!

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