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Want to lose weight? Can’t find a diet that works for you? Not sure where to start?
Then this weight loss guide is perfect for you!
"I'm going to lose weight" is the #1 New Year’s Resolution that’s made every single year without fail and whether you’re here because it’s yours or you’re just plain ready to make a change, I'm proud of you. You’re in the right place and I'm going to help you do it. This isn’t one of those guides that passes off dubious “tips” like only eating 5 bites at each meal, only eating baby food, eating every color of the rainbow during each meal, or only eating cabbage soup for breakfast and lunch as gospel.
My name is Jimmy Hays Nelson and I’ve lost 100 pounds and kept it off for over 10 years. I am now a Beachbody Coach and in the best shape of my life. I’ve been there. I know how it feels. I know that the struggle is real, but I also know that you can lose the weight. It isn’t impossible. It isn’t complicated. It's just tough, but with a little bit of knowledge and some hard work, you can do it!
SIMPLE RECIPE ON HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Consume less calories than you burn.
- Exercise 4-5 days a week for more than 60 minutes.
- Stay consistent with your workouts and diet.
For some of you, this is going to be super easy to do and for others, it’s going to be really tough, but I guarantee that if you follow these steps, you will lose weight and you will do it in a way that will help you keep it off for years to come. Trust me, if I could do it, so can you.
Are you setting yourself up for success?
Before you can get the most out of this weight loss guide, you have to get healthy first and by “get healthy” I mean break bad habits like smoking, drinking booze, leading an unnecessarily stressful lifestyle, constantly snacking, partying on the weekends, eating unhealthy meals, living a sedentary life, and replacing them with new, healthier ones. If you don’t do that first, you’re going to have a rough time trying to lose weight and it’s going to be way tougher than it needs to be. You won't be satisfied with you progress, it'll kill your motivation, and you'll quit before you see the results you want. Call it tough love if you want, I care enough about you to just be honest with you.
Remember, I’ve been where you are right now. I know how tough it is if you're not in the right place at the beginning of your journey.
I strongly encourage you go read through my Guide to Getting Healthy first so you give yourself the greatest chance at success.
Let’s Start Your Weight Loss Journey
I’ll keep saying this over and over because I really want to drill this point home, losing weight is a journey and that means it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The whole idea here is to make a lifestyle change so your daily routine and activities are conducive to you losing weight, keeping it off, and leading a healthy life.
TAKE IT SLOW
Look, I love the enthusiasm. I love seeing people so pumped up that they can barely contain themselves, but don’t over do it. Don’t workout so hard in the beginning that you tear a rotator cuff. Don’t cut too many foods out of your diet overnight that you have intense cravings. Don’t lift like you’re 18 years old again. Don’t run five miles on your first jog because you ran cross-country in high school 15 years ago. (Yeah, I know a guy. Trust me, it was terrible. He couldn’t walk right for three weeks and he put on an extra 20 pounds in that time by self medicating with pizza and beer.)
Yes, fast is fun and slow is painful, but guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.
Making slow, gradual changes that result in slow, gradual gains are what will get you through this and make sure you don't put the weight right back on. I’ve known so many people that get into the gym and they bust their asses for two or three months, get some great results, they start to look amazing, and then they stop going or their bodies are just burned out. Fast forward to 6 months later and they’re back to where they began and all that work was for nothing.
Don’t be that person. Don’t put yourself through that.
Weight Loss Goal
Your goal here should be to consistently shed 1-2 pounds a week. That’s it. If you happen to get 3, 4, or 5 pounds in a week, great! That’s awesome! But don’t sacrifice the rest of your weight loss journey to lose an extra couple of pounds this week.
STOP FOOLING YOURSELF
Forget fad diets and flavor of the week supplements. You don’t need to chug 16 ounces of white vinegar mixed with half a lemon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper four times a day to align your chakras so you burn fat by the magnetic field produced by the planets being aligned and moving widdershins of the lunar cycle.
You don’t need to take a magical “fat-burning” detoxification pill that “incinerates fat” and purges your body of “toxins” while you sit on your butt watching TV for seven hours a day. They're placebos. They trick your brain into thinking you’re full so you don’t eat and you'll falsely attribute your weight loss to that dubious, unhealthy method.
There is only one scientifically proven way to lose weight. Are you ready for it?
Healthy, balanced diet + regular exercise + caloric deficit = weight loss
That’s it. That's the only formula that's guaranteed to work.
You get out of your body what you put into it. If you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight and you'll do it in a way that’s healthy for your body and state of mind. For your own sanity, ignore fad diets and those untested / unproven flavor of the week supplements that spout unprovable anecdotal "evidence" as fact.
MASTER YOUR DIET & CRAVINGS
Your diet is a huge factor when it comes to losing weight and if you’re wanting to lose weight, you’re going to have to change what you put into your body. What you do in the kitchen determines how much work you’re going to have to do in the gym. If you’re putting junk into your body, you’re going to feel like crap, but if you put in good clean fuel, you’re going to feel energized and maximize your gains from exercising.
Generally speaking, your body needs energy from protein, carbs, and fat (there are healthy fats). You’ll want to make sure that they’re included in all of your meals, but the percentage of each depends on your particular meal plan, activity level, and goals, my diet is a bit higher in fat than most because that’s what works for me. However, protein needs to take up the lion’s share of your intake because it helps with your satiety, builds muscle mass, speeds up recovery, and helps with weight loss.
Maintain a calorie deficit in your diet
This isn't to say that you shouldn’t eat at all, but if you’re consuming 2,500 calories a day and only burning 1,700, you’re going to gain weight (1.6 pounds / week to be exact) because your body stores extra calories as energy, i.e. fat, to be used later. It doesn’t matter where those extra calories came from, food is fuel and your body doesn’t want it to go to waste.
The generally accepted rule of thumb is that 3,500 calories is equivalent to 1 pound of fat tissue so if you’re looking to lose 2 pounds a week, you’ll need to burn 7,000 more calories than you consume during that time frame. By pairing regular exercise with a healthy, calorie deficient diet, you’re able to really dial up your progress. If you cut out 300 calories from your daily intake, you’re consuming 2,100 calories less a week than you were before and if you burn 700 calories a day exercising, that’s 7,000 calories and you’ve lost 2 pounds. Hooray!
The only way to know if you’re sticking to a calorie deficit is by counting your calories. It may sound like a pain in the butt and you may think you don’t have the patience for it, but get over it. If you want to lose weight, you have to watch what you’re eating and you’ll have to count your calories to make sure you stay on the straight and narrow. Ust this calorie calculator to find out what your daily caloric intake should be.
Weekly meal prep
The best way to stay on track with your diet is to prep all of your meals at the beginning of the week so when it comes to meal-time, the decision is already made for you. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to pick up on your way home from work or snag on your lunch break. You don’t have to struggle with the open refrigerator blues. You just break out that meal’s container and chow down. This way, you stay on track with your meal plan and you don’t eat unnecessary calories because you went to a fast food joint instead.
It doesn’t matter when you do it. If Sunday works best for you, do your meal prep on Sundays. If Tuesday’s your day, do it then, but what matters is that you do it every, single week. Get a list of all the meals you plan on cooking (yes, you’re going to cook), break down their ingredients, and go shopping. Spend a couple of hours to cook all of your meals and then pack them up in Ziploc® containers or any handy-dandy meal prep containers that work for your meals. Throw away all those take out menus, your meals are now set for the week.
You also need to keep healthy snacks on hand because you’re going to get hungry throughout the day. It happens to the best of us, but rather than going to the vending machine or stopping by the gas station, plan ahead so you have a banana, a bag of apple slices, or a tin of almonds at your desk so you can curb that craving right then and there.
Drink plenty of water
Water is one of the basic building blocks of our bodies and is critical in the healthy operation of basically every single one of our physiological processes. Being hydrated helps in the metabolizing and absorption of nutrients, maintaining proper brain functioning, reduces fatigue, suppresses appetite, helps metabolize stored fat, reduce water retention (counter-intuitive, I know), and improves circulation and your body’s ability to cool itself. So, water’s pretty damn important if you’re trying to lose weight. Drink it. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t thirsty, drink it. By the time you’re starting to feel parched, you’re dehydrated.
Dangers of Dehydration
- Impaired coordination
- Increased fatigue
- Decreased concentration
- Muscle cramps
- Lowered strength
- Water retention
Causes of Dehydration
- Drinking caffeine / alcohol
- Hot environments
- Physical activity
- Increased stress
- Getting sick
- Physical conditions like Diabetes
- Specific medications
How much water should you drink?
You undoubtedly know the rule of thumb to drink 8x 8 ounce glasses a day, but that’s basically the bare minimum if you’re not active. If you are active, that can easily double, if not triple, depending on your activity level. To put it into perspective, professional bodybuilders and endurance competitors can drink upwards of 2-3 gallons of water a day.
Personally, I drink about a gallon of water a day if I’m not going to be active and about 1.5 - 2 gallons depending on how strenuous that day’s workout is.
GET MOVING & BE ACTIVE
Eating right is only one facet of losing weight. Now, you can lose weight without working out, it is 100% possible, but it will go much slower because of the calories you aren’t burning by not exercising on the regular.
When I say “exercise”, I’m not saying that you have to sign up for a spinning class where you’re a completely soaked mess of sweat and gasping for air from the flat of your back or jump right into an advanced CrossFit class. That's asking for trouble. Exercise can be walking around your neighborhood, pedaling on a stationary bike while you watch the evening news, lifting weights in the garage, playing basketball with your kids, or basically anything that elevates your heart rate for 30-60 minutes a day.
Exercise can be anything that elevates your heart rate for 30-60 minutes a day.
I’m going to say it again because I can’t stress this enough. Check your ego at the door and start slow. If you haven’t exercised in years and you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, you need to build up your foundation before you even think about jumping into an advanced workout regimen like P90X, INSANITY, CrossFit, cross-country running, etc.
I have seen so many people get injured because they weren’t willing to swallow their pride or listen to their body that I have literally lost count. If this is your starting point, your muscles and tendons have atrophied over the years of inactivity. They’re not strong enough to handle the stress and strain that advanced training puts on your body and you will be at a higher risk of injury.
Do yourself a favor. Check your ego at the door. Listen to your body. Start slow. Ramp up as your body strengthens.
Make working out part of your routine
Chances are that you you watch a little more TV than you should or you’re on social media a little more than most people and you’re leading a mostly sedentary life. If you want to get into shape, that has to change. Losing weight and keeping the weight off means making a lifestyle change.
Make time for exercise
Take a step back and look at what you do with your time each day. Heck, don’t change a single thing, track your activity for a whole week, and then review it.
You’ll be surprised at how much time you actually have to squeeze in or substitute a workout rather than watching TV, playing video games, scrolling through Facebook, or whatever your thing is.
If losing weight is important to you, you’ll quickly identify the activities that aren't conducive to the healthy life you want to lead and replace them with exercise.
Exercise on a schedule
You need to be active for 60 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week and the best way to make sure that you’re hitting that mark is to schedule your workouts. Whether it’s every day after work, 30 minutes after you wake up, or during your lunch break, carving out time in your schedule so you have have a block of time dedicated to exercise is vital to your success.
I wouldn’t have lost 100 pounds and kept it off for close to a decade now if I only worked out when I felt like it or when it was convenient. Consistency is key here and it will help you hit your fitness and weight loss goals.
Don’t Forget Your Cardio
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, you’ll have to burn fat and aerobic exercise has to be part of your workout regimen. There really isn’t any other type of workout that gets you as big of a bang for your buck like good old-fashioned cardio. Whether it’s jogging a mile or two every morning, joining a recreational sports league, or following a DVD workout program, your heart rate needs to be sustained at an elevated level so you’re burning fat.
Fat Burning Heart Rate Zone = (220 - Age) * 0.6
So if you’re 30 years old, your fat burning zone would be ~114 bpm. Keep in mind though that this is the minimum sustained heart rate to burn fat and you should shoot a little bit higher so you’re not only burning fat, but calories as well. The more calories you burn, the more weight you will lose.
However, listen to your body. If your heart rate starts to feel uncomfortable or painful while you’re exercising, something more intense than regular fatigue, stop working out and get checked out by a doctor. You may not be ready for that level of activity.
Find out what you love doing
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a chore. There are so many different things you can do for exercise that you don’t have to do that thing that you hate doing. The only way to find that thing is to get out there and try everything. Go to a kickboxing class. Join a running club. Sign up for a spinning class. Go hiking. Get out there. Try things you’ve never thought you would do. Get weird with it.
Personally, I used to hate cardio and I used hate running even more, but I knew that I needed it to be part of my regimen to get the goals that I want. So, instead of doing an hour of jogging / running or cycling, I popped in INSANITY and went balls to the walls until I dropped and that was my cardio. I loved the challenge of it and it worked for me so I didn’t mind doing it when it was time to do my cardio.
Now that I’m in super good shape, cardio isn’t such a big deal anymore. I don’t mind jogging and I bounce between that and the stair climber to get my cardio in the for the week.
Basically, what works for you doesn’t always fit neatly into a particular workout regimen, but if you find that you prefer cycling over jogging or an aerobics routine, go all in on it. Pick up that bike and slap on the spandex. Get to pedaling son.
GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
So many people forget about how important it is to get 8-hours of sleep each night and how it’s even more important when you’re on a weight loss journey like this. If you’re not getting at least 8 hours of sleep, you’re severely handicapping your performance and progress. Your body uses this time to recover and heal itself and by shortening it, you’ll never be at 100%.
Sleep reduces stress
Getting enough sleep allows your body to recharge and improves your state of mind so you aren’t as intensely affected by external stressors.
Boosts your metabolism
Research has been shown that individuals that get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have slower metabolisms and are more likely to overeat because the lack of sleep affects the enzymes which signal when you need to eat and when you’re full, which causes you to consume more calories than necessary.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re stressed out, you have headaches, you’re irritable, you’re exhausted, and you’re plain tough to be around. Things that normally bother you are like a thorn in your paw, but after a good night’s sleep, you’re well-rested and you feel better. You’re friendlier, more fun to be around, and your body doesn’t ache.
Improves muscle recovery time
While you’re asleep, your body repairs your muscles and mind from the effects of fatigue and many of these repairs simply can’t be done while you’re awake. The rigors of both your daily life and workouts take a heavy toll on your body and it needs to repair itself. Starving it of this vital time elongates your recovery time from workouts and injuries.
Recharge your batteries
Getting enough sleep not only minimizes the effects of fatigue and improves your mood, it also boosts your energy because you’re well-rested.
Besides, you won’t have the energy to work out and stay motivated if you’re dragging ass from only getting 5 hours of sleep from the night before. So knock it off. Get more sleep.
Unplug & unwind before bedtime
As night settles in and it’s getting closer to you getting into bed, you need to unplug and let your mind unwind. Get off the computer, turn off your phone or tablet, turn off the TV, and let your mind relax. When you finally do get into bed, you’ll have a much easier time falling asleep than if you looked at Facebook until you turned off the lights.
Set a bedtime
Just like sticking to a schedule with your workouts, you need to consistently get a good night’s rest and the best way to do that is to set a bedtime for yourself. I know it sounds a bit juvenile and maybe even a little insulting, but it works. If you need to be asleep by 10:30 each night to be up in time the following morning, set an alarm for 10:00 to get ready for bed.
KEEP A POSITIVE MINDSET
Ignore the scale
It measures your weight. That’s all. It’s just a number. It can't quantify how hard you work or how much effort you’re putting in to improve yourself. It doesn’t understand how kind, compassionate, and caring you are. It knows nothing of your goals and dreams. You are not defined by a number.
The only thing a scale does is measure your weight and the only time you should look at it is once a week to do a pulse check on your progress, if at all. Looking at it every day is an awesome way to stress yourself out and make this journey far more mentally taxing than it needs to be.
Don’t forget, muscle weighs more than fat so if you’re on any type of workout regimen that involves weight lifting, you’re most likely going to gain weight before you start losing it. Don’t freak out, that’s supposed to happen.
Take the BMI with a grain of salt
Generally speaking, the BMI values are inaccurate and, in my opinion, unrealistic.
One of my good friends has been active all of his life. He played football, hockey, and rugby throughout high school and college. He was never “jacked” or “shredded”, but he’s always been fit and healthy. He’s still very active to this day, but his BMI says that he’s “overweight” because he’s 5’10” and ~185lbs. His “normal weight” band, according to the BMI, should be 129 - 173.5 lbs. so despite being in shape, he’s “overweight”.
If he were to conform to this “ideal” height to weight ratio, he’d be unhealthy. He’d have to force himself to be on an overly restrictive diet which would negatively affect his training, health, and state of mind to battle with keeping those 12 extra pounds off and not be “overweight”.
Heck, even with my height to weight ratio, I’m “overweight” by this standard despite being in the best shape of my life and happier than ever.
Bottom line, the BMI is just a number and a bullshit one at that.
Focus on your progress
Don't worry about getting ideal body type or shooting for perfection. You shouldn't be focusing on getting a six-pack or forearms like Popeye or getting so vascular that your veins have veins.
What you should be focusing on is how much stronger you are today than when you started, how many sizes your clothes have gone down, how much farther you’re able to jog, how much more energy you have, or how much better you feel.
If you prefer to lift weights and you started out curling 10 lbs. barbells and now you’re doing the same reps with 20s, you’ve improved! That's progress! If you could barely jog a lap at the track and now you’re able to do a whole mile without having to stop, you’ve improved! That's progress!
This is what you should be focusing on. Progress is what matters. Focus on pushing yourself to be better today than you were yesterday and that number on the scale will take care of itself.
Work towards goals & events
This not only acts as a deadline, but also gives you training goals to hit before the event. If you’re doing a Fun Run, cardio and jogging are going to be your main focus. If you’re doing a Tough Mudder, cardio and total body strength are going to play a big part in your training regimen because it’s an obstacle course for adults.
Focusing your training on performing well in these events gives you a better idea of what to train for, but it also mixes up your workout regimen so you’re not always doing biceps / triceps on Tuesdays or an hour on the elliptical every Thursday. It keeps your workouts fresh and doesn’t let your body acclimate to a set schedule so you’ll never plateau.
Keep a fitness journal
Just like counting your calories, you need to keep track of how you perform during your workouts so you’ll have proof of how much better you’re doing today than when you started. Reps, sets, miles, laps, calories burned, the more notes you take the better so when you look back to the previous week, you’ll be reminded of why you didn’t hit that last lap on your jog or why that last set of reps didn’t pan out.
Losing weight isn't some grand mystery. If you follow the easy steps in this guide, you will lose weight and you will be well on your way to leading a longer, healthier, and happier life. I know, because I've been there and I made it through to the other side.
SIMPLE RECIPE ON HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Consume less calories than you burn.
- Exercise 4-5 days a week for more than 60 minutes.
- Stay consistent with your workouts and diet.
Here's the great thing, if someone else has done it, so can you! It is possible and if you just follow the simple steps in this guide, you will lose weight, but you have to put in the work. It isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be quick. But, when all's said and done, you’ll know it was all worth it.
You may not know it yet, but you've just made one of the most important decisions of your life and I'm super proud of you for making it. You're on the road to success and I want to help make sure that you stay on track, which is why I developed a 5 day motivational video program that's completely free to help you find the motivation you need to keep those fires burning even when the going gets tough. All you have to do is pop over to 5DaysFire.com and you'll get an email each day to feed your motivation and help you achieve your goals. I can't wait to work with you!