Whether you’re on a weight loss journey or simply want to maintain your current level of fitness, staying motivated can be challenging. I have come up with some tips to help you stay on track.
1. Track your steps
If you need the extra push to be more active, consider tracking the number of steps you take every day. The World Health Organisation recommends that we take 10,000 steps a day. There are many mobile phone apps that have a step tracking function (some of which are free, such as Walk Tracker and Google Fit) or you can invest in a tool specifically designed for this purpose, such as a Fitbit. This measures other things such as calories burned and your heart rate. If you’re using the calorie counting app My Fitness Pal, you can connect it to your pedometer or step counting app, so it tells you not just how many calories you have consumed but also how many steps you have taken.
2. Read health and fitness magazines
While you have to take what they say with a grain of salt, reading health magazines in your spare time is a great way to stay up to date with fitness developments and increase your knowledge of health and fitness. As an avid runner, I really like Runner’s World.
3. Subscribe to sports events emails
While not much is taking place at the moment due to Covid, being on the mailing list for running and other events is a great way to stay informed about what’s happening and may even inspire you to participate. I receive emails to notify me when 10k running races are taking place in Auckland, which I enjoy competing in.
4. Buy some new exercise gear every season
There’s nothing to inspire you to exercise more than the thought of having new gym gear! Update your exercise wardrobe each season, even if it’s just adding a t-shirt or some new socks to what you already have if everything you wear is still in good condition. Sports stores have good sales from time to time so keep an eye out.
5. Weigh yourself more regularly
This might be a little controversial, but I actually find weighing myself more regularly helps me stay focussed on my weight loss goals. I used to weigh myself once a week during my personal training session at the gym and believed that weighing any more often was obsessive and unhealthy. Prior to lockdown, I purchased some new bathroom scales as my gym was closed and I couldn’t train with my PT. I found myself weighing every day in the morning. It became something of a ritual. Over the past eight weeks that I have been doing this, not once have I strayed from my meal plan and I managed to exercise nearly every day (I might have had a couple of days off here and there when I felt really drained). If weighing more regularly than once a week helps you to stay motivated and on track, I say go for it. I wouldn’t want to be weighing myself any more than once a day though. That might be too much.
As many of you will be aware, I am currently on a weight loss journey. This time around, it is much harder and I hope to blog regularly to help me stay on track and update you all as I make progress. I have put together a list of 5 top tips to help other people lose weight, too.
1. Make sure you have a calorie deficit
One of the mistakes a lot of people make is that they don’t realise their consumption exceeds their output. If your calorie intake is greater than what you are expending, you will gain weight! Don’t get me wrong, macros are very important but this is the starting point. If you get this right, everything else will follow. If you’re unsure of how much you are consuming, you can record your intake with an app such as My Fitness Pal, which is what I do. This means that you must weigh and measure all your food to ensure that you are inputting the correct values for every item you eat. Don’t forget to include any activity, as exercise burns calories. While this sounds like a chore, you do get used to doing it after a while. It depends on how much you want to lose weight. For me, the promised results outweighs the hassle.
2. Eat enough protein
Protein is your friend on your weight loss journey as it leaves you feeling full for longer. It’s found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu and legumes. The amount of protein you should have every day depends on a lot of factors such as gender and your age, but it’s hard to get the required amount you need even if you eat meat. I find having a serve of protein powder in the morning helps me reach my goal. Meal replacement shakes also contain a serve of protein, so if you’re having one as a substitute for a meal, you can be assured that you’re not missing out.
3. Set a final goal, but have mini goals
To keep you motivated, it can help having a final goal weight. But it is just as important to set some mini goals, that is, key milestones along your journey. This breaks up the journey and makes the end goal seem less daunting. My starting weight this time around was 87.4 kg and my mini goals are 80 kg and 70 kg, before I hopefully reach my goal weight of 60 kg by the end of the year.
4. Track your progress
Weigh and measure yourself at regular intervals and record the results somewhere. That way, you’ll be able to look over your progress and see how far you’ve come. Whenever I’m feeling a bit down, I always look at my previous results to make myself feel a bit better and help stay on track to my target. Recently, I have started taking photos of myself at different stages so I can actually see the results, too.
5. Don’t be afraid to get help when you need it
Some people are happy to be on their weight loss journey alone and get the results they are looking for, but sometimes you need support. Seeing a personal trainer at the gym is one of the most common ways of receiving help and can be beneficial. With the help of my personal trainer Alice at Les Mills in Howick, I managed to reduce my weight from 93.3 kg when I first started seeing her in July 2018 to 79.9 kg (my weight yesterday). In slightly under two years, I have managed to lose 13.4 kg with Alice’s help.
If you lack the motivation and know-how to lose weight on your own, you can join a weight loss programme such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. You’ll meet with an expert who will coach you on the tools you need in order to lose weight. Weight Watchers also has support in the form of a community of people who are on the same programme, working towards the same goal of losing weight. I haven’t done Jenny Craig before but used to belong to Weight Watchers and did manage to lose quite a bit of weight on the programme. Jenny Craig supply you with food, so everything is pre-portioned and packaged. There’s no excuse to overeat! You just need the willpower to avoid going off-piste and snacking outside the programme. If you follow Jenny’s programme, you should find that you have the calorie deficit you need in order to lose weight. In time, they will wean you off her meals and encourage you to cook on your own. So, unfortunately, you’ll eventually have to get used to weighing and measuring your own food. In saying that, I think it can be very helpful in the beginning, especially if you are struggling to get started or are very busy and don’t have time to prepare your meals.
On 4th March this year I embarked on another weight loss journey and over the past eight weeks, I have managed to lose 5.8 kg. A couple of weeks ago, I hit a plateau and not only found it difficult to progress beyond 82 kg but I also noticed that the weight started creeping back on! I thought it would be timely to write a post with some ideas for losing weight. With many countries still in a state of lockdown, facilities might not be completely operational but there’s no time like the present to start giving thought to a weight loss plan so you’ll be in great shape for summer.
Meal replacement shakes
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have recently started having an Optislim VLCD shake as a substitute for dinner. The chocolate shake which I have been having contains 153 calories. I have been having this for a week now and it’s working out really well. In that time, I have lost 1.6 kg. It’s possible to take it as a substitute for breakfast or lunch, but dinner suits me best. I’m very active in the early part of the day, exercising and gardening intensively, so I need food for fuel for breakfast and lunch. I eat a big lunch, so a light dinner consisting of just the meal replacement shake seems to work well for me. Everyone’s different, so if you’re keen to give it a go, experiment to find out what works best for you. It is possible to replace every meal with a shake, but I wouldn’t really recommend this. It’s not sustainable in the long term and you’re very likely to put any weight lost back on quickly.
With the gym shut, I am still exercising at home. This week, I started doing a Kayla Itsines 4 week total body workout which I read about in Women’s Health magazine. This workout appealed to me because it requires no fitness equipment. I do have a few bits and pieces at home but I’m getting sick of using what I’ve got. I’m new to Kayla Itsines’ workouts, but the one I’m doing is 28 minutes in length and consists of four seven-minute circuits, where you superset two sets of four different exercises. This one is meant to be done three times per week. On Monday you do abs and arms, on Wednesday you work the lower body and on Friday you do a total body workout. It’s too soon to say how effective this workout is but I have done two workouts so far – abs and arms and the lower body. My abs were so sore for days after the abs and arms workout! What I really like about Kayla Itsines is that she doesn’t talk a lot. She is like a machine and you just get into it. It really annoys me when presenters talk too much during their exercise videos and puts me off doing them. I would prefer to just get on with it and focus on what I am doing.
Now that the free Les Mills exercise classes are no longer screening on TV, I had to come up with some alternatives. I have done a couple of virtual Les Mills classes by Josie and Issac from One More Rep Fitness, which I really enjoyed. I also managed to find a few Les Mills Balance classes on You Tube. It’s hard to find Les Mills classes on the internet as they want you to subscribe to Les Mills On Demand, which gives you access to a huge range of their exercise classes. However, I have been having trouble subscribing as the system won’t accept my credit card and this issue is still being sorted out for me.
Push up challenge
Some of you will have seen that there is a push up challenge going around on Facebook, where nominees are invited to do 25 push ups for 25 days to raise awareness for mental illness. I was nominated by my gym friend Stacy Guttenberg and started the challenge 12 days ago, so I am about half way through it. If you are invited to participate, I strongly urge you to give it a go. Don’t worry if you can’t do any on your toes. When I first started the challenge, I did them all on my knees and each day, did one on my toes, adding another each day as I went along. I can now do 12 push ups non-stop on my toes! It is a great way of building upper body strength and like the Kayla Itsines workout above, it can be done without any equipment.
Instagram page or Facebook page
To give yourself a push, why not set up a personal Instagram or Facebook page dedicated to your health and fitness journey? I created an Instagram page tracking my weight loss journey and invited my personal trainer and some close friends to follow me. Although it was never really designed to attract a large audience, I have a modest following of 50 people, some of whom I don’t know who were inspired by my posts and decided to follow me. I post photos of meals and workouts, write an exercise diary and provide updates on my weight loss progress. I try and post every day and I find it really helps me to stay on track by making me accountable. I receive a lot of positive comments which makes me feel good about myself and encourages me to continue on my journey.
There are some many healthy recipes on the internet, but some of our favourite ones come from Weight Watchers. Now that we’re a bit freer to shop at the supermarket without undue restrictions, it’s possible to get the ingredients you need to try out a new meal.