The journey of weight loss is a perilous one, filled with struggling. Don’t let that turn you off from your goal, though — it is also full of satisfaction and your little happy moments, like clothes that were too small for you now becoming too big.
Still, the journey itself can be quite challenging, both physically and mentally. A lot of people go in, thinking they’ll immediately succeed and finish it all in one go — not impossible at all, but often unlikely. Others go in thinking they’ll give up in a week, which is a mistake — you’re setting yourself up for failure before even starting.
Regardless, there’s a lot of things that may seem like good ideas yet actually really aren’t, and a lot of things that might happen unexpectedly and throw you off completely, making you abandon the initial goal altogether.
Here are some weight loss tips, problems you’ll encounter, and things to not do.
DO: Combine the effort
The process of weight loss is never just about the food, just about physical activity, just about—anything. You name it.
It is always a combination of efforts, and there’s a lot of different things you need to look after.
Do work out, do watch your diet, do sleep properly, do switch up your drinking habits and prioritise, first and foremost, pure still water, do watch how you party (seriously, there’s so many calories in alcohol), do a… whole lot of things, really.
It might sound dreadful but, honestly, it becomes a habit quite quickly — as soon as you start getting results it seems worth it. (And it is.)
DO NOT: Sleep like a potato
A lot of us have compeletely messed up sleeping schedules. Like, really — when I was in my first year of uni I would barely sleep at all, because I’m a dum-dum.
Well, that actually leads to weight gain. Not only are you more hungry when you don’t sleep enough (energy, duh), you’re also craving specific foods — carbs, to be precise, because they’re the foods that makes your brain work, and it’s the one suffering the most with not enough sleep.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with carbs and it’s an important part of your diet, BUT. But they make it easier to go over the calorie limit, and they won’t even give you too much lasting energy; a bar of Snickers will last you an hour or two before you crave something new again, while a proper lunch with all the macros synchronised will last you, like, five.
BEWARE: The plateau of horror
The ‘plateau’ is the point where most people get discouraged and drop out of the weight loss marathon.
The process of weight loss is very non-straightforward. At first it will drop insanely fast — that’s the excess water leaving your body. Then it will slow down, but still go — that’s the actual weight saying its goodbyes to you.
What happens during a plateau is your weight loss stops. To many people seems like the end of it all — like, they can’t lose weight at all no matter how much they try, and it makes them feel like shit. Understandable, of course, but incorrect.
It happens to everyone. Literally everyone. That’s how our bodies work. Persevere through it, and the process of weight loss will resume.
It can happen several times, and can pass by very quickly or last for a very decent amount of time. Don’t give up, seriously.
DO: Adjust your habits
Just because you’re losing weight it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some of your favourite things anymore. A glass of wine once in a whle never hurt nobody. When it comes to foods, too, instead of throwing your favourite things out, it’s much easier and more rewarding to find alternatives now.
Opt for konjac spaghetti instead of real spaghetti if you’re a real pasta lover, like me. Make vegetable-based brownies instead of the real butter ones — there’s two times less calories, while all the taste remains. There’s so many recipes for these. Black bean brownies have been my faves so far, but I’ve tried them at a coffee shop here in the UK, so I can’t tell you how to make them, or how’s the availability where you live.
There’s a lot of other things you can do. Air-fry instead of real deep-frying; coconut oil instead of other cooking oils; the easily available these days low-carb alternatives to all your favourite foods, from bread to soda…
In Russia we have a saying ‘Хочешь жить — умей вертеться’, which rougly translates to the ‘Improvise, Adapt, Overcome’ Bear Grylls meme.
DO NOT: Torture your body
No, it’s not okay to survive off eight hundred calories a day. No, it’s absolutely not okay to only eat cabbage. No, it’s absolutely not okay to puke up every meal you’ve had, that’s an eating disorder.
Controlling your diet and checking what you eat does not, in any way, imply going completely off in desperation. Yes, sometimes it seems like it’s easier and/or faster to do the thing we’ve been warned against, but, realistically, not only is it incredibly harmful in general, but all of the weight will come back and it will bite you in the ass.
BEWARE: The cheat day
Cheat days are important. They are important for the emotional well-being, because going on without your favourite foods for weeks and even months is truly tough. How many times have you had to pull yourself away forcibly from croissants at your local grocery store during your weight loss journey? I know I’ve had to, way too many times.
It is also, however, important to understand that cheat days will slow the progress down a little. It’s nothing to be scared of — as long as you’re dedicated to your journey it’s literally nothing to worry about. A lot of people freak out, though, start berating themselves, force themselves not to eat for the next day and god knows what else.
It’s your body. It wants you healthy and alive, and you should cherish it, too. Let it have treats, let it have fun, don’t freak out, don’t punish it. Weight loss should be done for self love and health, not as a form of obsessive self-control.