Fast and unhealthy weight loss is one of the most widespread obsessions in our culture today. Why wouldn’t it be? On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with unrealistic body messages in the media, we’re part of social conversations and judgments focused on physical appearance, plus we put pressure on ourselves to be a size “perfect” every time we see our reflection in the mirror.
I know how harmful this can be. In my teens, I was deeply dedicated to ballet. At dance school, my weight was constantly scrutinized by teachers and peers. I became so obsessed, I weighed myself twice a day and developed an eating disorder! Those scars stayed with me into my early thirties. It wasn’t until my cancer diagnosis inspired me to take care of myself—inside and out—that I healed my relationship with food and my body and started building a positive self-image.
How many of you were raised in a family where the adults were constantly dieting, saying they were “fat” and putting themselves down because of the numbers on the scale? Raise your hand if you start sweating when you think about how you’ll look at an upcoming high school reunion, wedding, holiday party or beach vacation. The pressure we put on ourselves to drop pounds fast is not only bad for our hearts and minds, it also takes a toll on our bodies. Frankly, the lose-weight-quick promises on books, products and infomercials are ridiculous and dangerous.
Let’s get one thing straight before moving on: You are gorgeous, valuable and totally amazing just the way you are. What I’m about to share is for those of you who want to lose weight in a balanced way. The weight loss process can actually be a healing experience when you focus on your overall wellness and accept that it will take time to reach your goals.
When it comes to sustainable, long-term weight loss, slow and steady is the name of the game. Approximately 3,000 people participated in my 21-Day Total Wellness Program, Crazy Sexy You, in the fall of 2016. And, they lost over 10,000 pounds in addition to reaching countless other health goals.
The average weight loss was 6 pounds over the course of those three weeks. Six! That may not sound like a lot to you, but keep in mind that these pounds will most likely stay off. And, that’s because Crazy Sexy You includes healthy whole grains and plant-based protein, fruits and veggies, lots of water, proper rest, meditation and simple exercise.
I’ve kept up with our program participants and those who have continued to follow the principles of the plan are still losing weight in a sustainable and healthy way. No deprivation, harsh inner critics, yo-yo dieting or obsessive weight checks. Just good food, self-care and movement.
So, if you’re ready to approach weight loss with a self-loving attitude, read on…
How to Lose Weight in a Healthy and Sustainable Way
1. Shoot for no more than 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week
Again, I know it might sound like a snail’s pace, especially if you have 50 or 60 pounds you want to lose, but shedding 1-2 pounds per week is going to get you to your goal and help you stay there. One pound is equivalent to 3500 calories. So if you lose 1 pound in a week, that means you’ve eaten 3500 fewer calories that week or burned an extra 3500 calories (or a combo of the two). Here’s a fun way to think about it: If you were to hold a pound of fat in your hand, it’s about the size of a small butternut squash. Oh, my gourd! At that rate, you will have lost 25 squash in six months. Bravo!
2. Weigh yourself no more than once a week
Your weight can fluctuate 3-4 pounds from day to day due to sodium intake, water loss, dehydration and even hormone levels. If you’re stepping on the scale each morning, you may feel on top of the world one day, only to find yourself frustrated the next. Avoid this roller coaster by picking one morning a week to weigh yourself, and do it before you eat or drink anything. These numbers will be much more reliable. There’s a caveat, though. Don’t panic if you’ve been eating a veggie-loaded healthy diet, guzzling H2O and exercising regularly and your weight is going up. You’re likely building muscle. Just keep up the great work and read tip #3. In time, the number on your scale will fall.
Our Crazy Sexy Dietitian, Jen, sometimes recommends skipping the scale altogether, especially in the beginning. Instead, wait until your clothes start fitting more loosely. In the meantime, just focus on getting in touch with your body’s hunger and satisfied cues, as well as your energy level. Since you know that eating healthy plant-powered foods, skipping the junk and alcohol, prioritizing sleep and exercising more will get you to your goal, Jen recommends developing habits that will support sustainable weight loss and health first. The scale can come later when you know you’re moving in the right direction and just need a motivational boost.
3. Consider taking your body measurements and tracking body fat percentage weekly
It can take a few weeks for the scale to reflect overall weight loss, especially if you’re exercising and eating a balanced, non-fad diet. Again, this often means that you’re building muscle. So, your fat cells are decreasing in size while your muscle cells are growing and getting more dense. If you’ve taken your “before” hip, thigh, waist and arm measurements, as well as your body fat percentage, you’ll likely see all those numbers drop on a weekly basis. This lets you know that you’re on the right track at a healthy pace. Plus, seeing improvement through this lens boosts your confidence and commitment. Crash diets and fad diets typically result in fast weight loss, but you’re losing muscle, not fat. So, you may be getting thinner, but your body is less toned. And, I assume that’s not one of your goals!
4. Beware of the things that can hinder weight loss success
Stress is probably the biggest block to weight loss, and being stressed about your weight can really slow down your progress. If you’re feeling this way, consider using some relaxing essential oils, routinely getting a good night’s sleep and meditating daily. Practices like these will help calm your nerves and promote balanced and long-term weight loss.
A slow metabolism can also make weight loss more of a struggle. Check out my metabolism-boosting tips here for ways to help your metabolism work in your favor. Most of them are easy things you can incorporate into your everyday life.
And get this, rapid weight loss is—believe it or not—a weight loss killer. Losing more than 3 or 4 pounds a week is OK for a week or two if you have a great deal of weight to lose, but keeping up this pace not only lowers your metabolism significantly and permanently, it also lowers your nutrient reserves. This often leads to energy crashes and cravings, but it can also mean that your weight will be quick to return and more difficult to lose next time.
Creating a clear-headed and well-paced approach to weight loss is the first step in developing a healthy relationship with your body. Now that you have the building blocks, I hope you’ll shift your attention to giving yourself more love and giving your body more time to achieve its goals.
Want extra guidance to reach your weight loss goals? My 21-Day Total Wellness Program, Crazy Sexy You, is exactly what you need to find success. It only happens once or twice a year, so sign up today to get on the waitlist for our next enrollment period!