By Anubhav Srivastava (Register for his Confidence Building Workshop Here!)
Have you been struggling to lose weight? Do you want to know how to lose weight and keep it off. Do you sometimes wonder whether it is even possible, after having tried everything? I am here to tell you that unless you suffer from an incredibly serious genetic disease (which most of us do not, even those who are very overweight, we suffer from lifestyle problems more than genetic ones), you can lose the weight and keep it off. I am going to tell you how to do it because I have been there and done that myself.
First of all, I would like the readers to know that I am not a certified nutrition or weight loss “expert.” However, I am someone who has successfully lost around 25 kgs (That is 55 pounds. 1 Kg is 2.2 pounds) over a course of several years and most importantly I have been able to keep it off for the most part, so I am qualified to at least give some general advice on this matter. So if you are pumped up to lose weight, read through this article, my history and the steps I recommend to lose the bulge. This article is going to be quite long so read it only if you are serious about losing weight.
I have always been relatively thin since childhood. However, around the age of 15 there were a number of things that I started doing that quickly piled on tons and tons of weight, without me even being aware of it. It wasn’t until friends or relatives who saw me after an year or two remarked about my drastic transformation for the worse, did I even become aware that I had a problem. Just to let you know the kind of transformation I had, I weighed somewhere around 55 kg in March 2001 at the age of 15 and by March 2005, I weighed around 92 kg. That is a weight gain of 37 kg in 4 years! In lbs that was a gain of 81 pounds.
Thankfully I plateaued after that and stayed at that weight until the end of 2006. However, ask anyone who has been more than just overweight, how badly it affects all aspects of your life. It affected my confidence, my self esteem and it surely did not make me very attractive to women. In fact I was so embarrassed during those years that I mostly avoided getting my pictures clicked. This is one of the reasons why I am unable to find a “Before” picture for this article, however whenever I can find one, I will update this article with it.
However, just to get things into perspective, please take a look at one of my pictures with the former president of India, the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam ( I was surely going to get this picture clicked!) at the end of 2007 when I had already lost 15 kgs! Imagine what I would have looked like after adding 15 kgs or 33 pounds!
Here are a few pictures of how I look like now. It took time to get to this point and it has taken effort to maintain it, it is still no cakewalk and requires consistent dieting and exercise but I am here to tell you it can be done.
If you want to learn how to lose weight and keep it off yourself, follow these steps that will teach you how I did it.
Before you read them, please do understand that while I am certain these steps do work, the pace at which they work will depend on how intensely you practice them and on your body type. Do not be frustrated if you do not reach your goal within the time. Keep following these steps in addition to what you are already doing and you will slowly but surely become a new you.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 1) Understand that Weight Loss is a Marathon not a Sprint.
Do you know why most of us fail to have sustainable weight loss? It is because we want everything super fast and are not patient. If it has taken years for you pile on all those pounds, you are not going to lose it all in weeks, at least not permanently.
In the beginning of attempting weight loss, most people want it off them as quickly as possible. So they go through extreme diets and workout plans and quite possibly some people are able to drastically reduce their weight within a short period of time. However, how many of these people tend to gain that weight back? I would say a large percentage of people who drastically reduce their weight in a very very short period of time, gain it back.
The motivation levels are high in the beginning, and when they see the weight coming off, they start pushing harder. Initial weight loss is always the quickest but after that the process gradually slows down and hits a plateau. When they see it is not producing results any more, or at a much slower pace, they become demotivated. So slowly the bad habits they were avoiding start creeping back in and in no time, they gain weight again.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 2) Understand that consistency is more important than intensity.
This is an extension of treating weight loss like a marathon, not a sprint. If you are both intense and consistent, there is nothing like it. But if I had to pick one that is more important, it would be consistency. If you are intense for a few months but not consistent, you will gain all the weight back. On the other hand even if you are more gentle with your approach but keep doing it, over time you will undergo a huge transformation.
I had this experience in late 2004. For a while I was able to get my weight down several kg, but when I hit a plateau it demotivated me. Also, I was exercising and dieting so intensely that I simply could not cope up with the workload. I was doing unrealistic things. I was only having protein shakes and almost no other food. The weight loss I was experiencing was primarily through dehydration and it was affecting my mood terribly. So when I hit a plateau, I became demotivated and couldn’t take the extreme stress anymore simply because it ws becoming unsustainable.. I started eating the carbs and fats again and in no time I was back to over 90 kg.
The next time I seriously attempted weight loss which was after 2006, I decided that I would take things slow and not go through extreme diets or exercise. I would only do things that I knew I could handle in the long run and then keep doing them. I would not go through 3 months of intense exercise that I could not sustain, then see the results go, then be demotivated further and then gain all the weight back.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 3) Be inspired by those in the fitness industry or the drastic transformations movie stars go through, but do not have unrealistic expectations.
Movie stars and Fitness models have a few secrets. Number one – Photoshop. Number 2) Lighting. 3) Tanning and for those who genuinely build an amazing physique, most of them are unable to maintain it all year round. They may still have a good physique but it is no where near the peak condition you see in movies, or photo shoots or competitions. If your goal is to be in show business or the fitness industry, aim for that physique but understand maintaining is much more harder than getting to it. If it is easier for you have a reasonable level of physical fitness with great consistency, aim for that instead of being ripped one year and fat the next and jeopardising your health.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 4) You do not need supplements to have a good physique.
There I told you. If you wish you can have a basic protein supplement but I believe there are enough foods in nature that can fuel your progress instead of the health supplements popular in the fitness industry. They too have their merits and maybe to have that kind of elite level physique you may need supplements and you need them consistently. If you stop using them you are back to the same. But just to have a good physique, there are plenty of foods in nature that are enough.
In fact the only time I used supplements was when I was fat, I was using a lot of protein supplements, creatine and also some weight loss supplements. However, because my basics were not right which was inculcating the right habits, they did not make a difference. This is not to say I will never use them in the future, I just don’t see the need as of now. The supplements are just what they are called – SUPPLEMENTS. They are not replacements for daily lifestyle habits that will result in weight loss and general fitness.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 5) The calories you consume have to be less than the calories you burn in a day.
Now we begin with the practical tips of losing weight. There is something called a resting metabolic rate which means you do burn calories all day long even when you are not doing anything. They keep burning at rest in order to fuel the bodily functions that keep you alive and active. You can calculate your resting metabolic rate relatively accurately using any of the calculators on the internet.
Then there are calories you burn through actual physical activity. It could be weights, aerobics, jogging or just walking around the house. In order to lose weight your total calories burned ( Resting Metabolic Rate + Calories Burned) have to be higher than the calories you consume in the day.
This is the basic formula to losing weight. Eat less than what your body burns. Keep this in the mind all the time. None of the micro details the experts recommend like eating 6 meals a day or having high protein diets will make ANY difference if you eat more than you burn!
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 6) Set an objective as to how many calories you can lose per day consistently.
As mentioned before there are calculators on the internet that can let you know your RMR, the calories burned through physical activity, and the calories you consume through the foods you eat. Also know that 1 kg of fat contains somewhere around 7700 calories. Use that information to set a goal. Let us say the total calories you burn everyday is 2000 and the calories you consume everyday is 1500. The calories you burn everyday is going to be 500.
So in order to lose 1 kg of fat, at 500 calories a day it will take you approximately 15 days. Now do keep in mind that even during this period you will see your weight go down more than just one kg because when you eat less, your body will start using glycogen from its reserves. Water is required to store glycogen so when it starts being used, your body will quickly shed water and thus you are going to see the scale go down rapidly but to actually lose the fat it will take approximately 15 days. At the end of the 15 days you may notice that you have lost more weight than just 1 kg, maybe you have lost three kg. But do realize all that extra weight can come back as quickly as it went if you resume your normal diet because it was mostly water. But as long as you stick to a sustainable caloric deficit you will slowly also lose fat.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 7) Excessive hunger makes weight loss so difficult so you need to trick the mind to feel less hungry.
Do you know what triggers hunger? No it is not necessarily eating less calories. What triggers hunger is when the stomach does not feel full. This is the reason why so many people exceed their caloric intake on a regular basis. They eat foods that maybe very heavy on calories but do not fill the stomach, for example junk foods. Then when they eat it and realize they still feel hungry because the stomach doesn’t feel full, they eat more and more and more until they start feeling full. In the process, they just consumed twice the amount of calories they burned and then wonder why they feel hungry but do not lose weight.
If you want to make weight loss possible in the long run you will have to figure out a way of feeling less hungry when you are eating less. There are two main strategies to this. You eat a lot of foods such as veggies that fill the stomach but have very few calories or you drink a lot of water. Now you may use whatever strategy you like but I often see people even making salads unhealthy by using a lot of salt and fatty dressings. If you use the veggies strategy, ensure you do not use any salt or mayo with it.
I personally drink a lot of water and use it as a primary form of keeping hunger at bay, even today when I feel like I have gained a couple of kgs and want to get rid of them. I drink a lot of water before the meal, then I eat a small meal to the point that I start feeling relatively full and then drink water again to fill the rest of my stomach. This strategy has worked unbelievably well for me and I recommend you try it too. A side effect of this is obviously more frequent bathroom trips but you will have to put up with that. Or you can just eat a lot more veggies without heavy fat layered dressings or salt.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 8) You do not need to give up junk food. You just need to have everything in moderation.
I still eat junk food from time to time. I do not eat foods every single day that everyone defines as very healthy, simply because it is unbelievably boring to have the same healthy food to eat day after day after day. Life is meant to be enjoyed at least to a certain degree.
So I decided to find a balance. Even during my weight loss, I ate the traditionally unhealthy things, but I drastically reduced their frequency or quantity. When I had the cravings to eat something I ate it. When I had to go out for dinner where there was food I wanted to enjoy, I ate it but I ate it in moderation and then drank a lot of water to avoid the craving to eat more. The next day if it seemed I had put on some water weight, I shed it off by eating less that day.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 9) Eat less salt.
Ever had a huge meal and then see your weight climb by a kg or two the next day? No it is not fat, at least not to a significant extent. Most of that weight is water retained because of the carbohydrate and salt content of your food. When you cut down on your calories, you will automatically cut down on the carbs. But at the same time try and ensure you cut down on salt. The Sodium in salt has a tendency to retain the water and yes that water will make you look fat too because it is stored just under the skin and makes you look puffy or bloated.
A noticed a huge difference when I started lowering my salt intake. I also noticed a huge difference for the worse in terms of gaining weight and looking puffy, even if it wasn’t fat, every time I snacked on things that contained a lot of salt for just two three days. Try the same.
A lot of experts also recommend eliminating sugar. For me personally, not only does doing that make my mood cranky, it also does not seem to make a huge difference. But I am sure doing that might work for you. As always, I suggest you try different things and stick with whatever works for you.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 10) Check Weight everyday in the morning on an empty stomach wearing light clothes.
Some people will recommend checking weight only once a week, for me my best results came when I checked my weight everyday. I am very well aware of the fact that you wont gain one kg in one day because of fat nor will you lose it, but your body shows signs of excessive food intake the next day by retaining water. That water is not retained because of drinking excessive water, but because you have been eating a diet high in carbs and in salt and have probably consumed more calories than you burned the day before. This is your body’s way of letting you know, hey if you continue this way you are going to gain weight. The scale is where the minutest changes are noticed.
When I did not use the scale, it took relatives that saw me after a month or two to tell me I had gained considerable weight. Even my parents took a long time to realize I had gained weight because they were seeing me on a daily basis. You see the problem with not relying on the scale is by the time you and others realized you have gain weight, you are already 5 to 6 kg or 12 pounds heavier. Wouldnt it be much easier to control the process the moment you saw the scale shift by even one kg?
The reason I recommend it to do at the same time everyday on an empty stomach while wearing light clothes is because it eliminates false variations in weight because of the amount of food you have eaten or the water in your stomach or the heavy clothes you are wearing. The best time I recommend is to do this in the morning.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off: Tip 11) Lift Weights and do Cardio at least 3 times a week.
You don’t need to lift heavy weights, just lifting enough to keep your muscles active is enough. The reason behind this is that when you lose weight, you don’t just lose fat, you also lose muscle. If during this process you do no weight training, you may become thin but you will look sickly because your muscles will shrink tremendously. Keep a moderate amount of weight training a part of your exercise routine in order to maintain the muscle mass, that helps you get a lean or fit look when you lose weight instead of a sickly one.
Also do Cardio. Cardio means exercises like jogging, running, fast walking and cycling etc. Cardio helps in two ways, first it burns off calories but more than the amount of calories burned, it performs a very important second function that helps you get a “fit look”, which is it makes you SWEAT. When you sweat the water stored under your skin flushes out and that will help you reduce the puffy look tremendously. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Try losing weight with dieting alone, versus losing weight combining it with strength training and cardio. In both cases you may still reach the same weight, but in the latter, you will have a much more fit and attractive look.
You may have noticed that I mentioned the actual exercise portion last because diet really will dictate 75 percent of your results. You can do all the exercise you want but if you are eating a lot you will gain some fat for sure. But at the same time, don’t leave it all to diet. Maintain a balance in order to get the best results and the best possible look.
The above tips are a general set of practices I followed that worked for me. I am very sure they will work for you too, but at the same time if you find that different things work for you, go for it! At the end of the day, what works for you matters more than general guidelines, but these general guidelines will also produce results for sure!
Over the years, while I lost most of my weight, there were times when I gained a few kgs back. But because I had been relying on the scale regularly, the moment something was going wrong, the scale let me know. So the maximum weight I have gained after dropping it all off is probably around 5 kg. When I realized that too had happened, I went on a strict diet and exercise routine and shed it off again. Today, I weigh somewhere around 66 kg. The numbers may keep shifting up and down in the future, but because I treat my physical health like a marathon and not a sprint and because I have for the most part, inculcated habits I should be able to more or less maintain my weight.
The same applies to you, you cannot treat weight loss like a goal that you reach and forget about. Your weight is not like a building you have constructed that is going to stay the way it is once you have constructed it. It will keep fluctuating and the moment you slip up and get into unhealthy habits again, you are going gain it back. Treat your fitness as an ongoing process as a journey, as a practice that you will follow for the rest of your life. Treat it with great importance. I would go on to say that your fitness is more important than your career goals. Do not compromise on your health, your exercise and your diet for your career. Without good health you won’t even be around long enough to enjoy the fruits of the hard work you put into your career! Respect your body and you will see how life starts respecting you much more. Good luck with your journey.
About the Author
The author of this article, Anubhav Srivastava is an author, motivational speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields, who teach the viewers how they too can make all of their dreams come true. The movie itself has been seen on Youtube by close to 600,000 people. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
Email Anubhav Srivastava for coaching, consulting or motivational speaking queries at email@example.com. Facebook Profile: http://facebook.com/anubhav981
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