Weight loss can take time, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait months to start seeing results. I’ve been working on my own fitness for years, and have also worked with personal training clients for a long time. Since this time of year is generally a time when many people focus on losing weight and getting fit, I thought it might be a good time to share some of what I’ve found to be best practices and tried and true ways to lose weight, build muscle, and stay fit. Here are some ways to modify your lifestyle and get started on being leaner and stronger that won’t make you too crazy. Even better, they’ll help you start losing weight and getting fit tomorrow!
Also read: 6 Health Resolutions that are Smarter than “Lose Weight” for more on this topic.
Step on the Scale
Your first step in losing weight and getting fit is to find out how much you want to lose. This requires knowing what you weigh now. Get a baseline weight by weighing yourself in the morning, and then be sure to weigh yourself on a regular basis throughout your weight loss journey—whether it’s daily or once a week. Personally, I prefer weekly weigh-ins, but that’s up to you.
Get Out the Tape Measure
This is critical and something that most people don’t understand. Your weight as reflected on the scale is just a number. But here’s the thing—muscle weighs more than fat. So as you start modifying your lifestyle and focusing on building lean muscle mass and shedding fat, chances are good you might ultimately weigh more, not less. That can discourage some people but it shouldn’t. Get out that tape measure from the very first moment you begin and document your measurements. Also take some “before” photos that you can use to document your journey. Instead of watching the numbers on the scale, watch those measurements—chances are good they’ll be going down, which is exactly what you want.
Eat More Lean Protein
Protein provides a myriad of weight loss benefits and is really a critical part of losing weight and getting fit. It slows digestion so you feel full longer, and it also boosts your metabolism and the fat burn in your body. Protein can also help keep cravings at bay, making it a little easier to stick to your diet. Some great sources of protein include lean ground beef, turkey, skinless chicken, tuna, salmon, shellfish, and pork tenderloin. Granted, you don’t have to eat meat to get protein. Other sources of this nutrient include eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, and tofu.
Cut Out Soda
Soda not only has tons of sugar in it, but it also can make you look and feel bloated. Cutting soda out of your diet today can help you start slimming down pretty fast. Look at it this way—Cutting soda out of your diet will reduce your yearly calorie intake by more than 200,000 calories, assuming you’re used to drinking about one soda per day right now. 200,000 calories—that’s a whole lot of calories!
Read more on cutting out soda: Bye-Bye Sugary Drinks: What Happens to your Body When You Stop Drinking Soda
Drink More Water
Weight loss and building strength and increasing fitness are all fueled by one thing—hydration. I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times and there’s a reason—it’s true. Water is what you need when you’re focused on weight loss, and lots of it. Water hydrates you as you’re working to get fit, it helps move food through your digestive system and, as a bonus, studies show when people drink water before every meal, they eat less. So how much water should you drink each day to start losing weight tomorrow? The rule of thumb is 4 cups for every 50 pounds of body weight.
Stick to the Right Snacks
Losing weight and getting fit doesn’t have to mean no more snacking throughout the day. Just make sure you’re eating healthy snacks. Some of the best low-calorie, high protein snacks that will fill you up include almonds, peanut butter or almond butter, hard-boiled eggs, veggies dipped in hummus, and Greek yogurt. These snacks are high in calcium, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and will keep you going when you need it.
Swap Saturated Fats for Healthy Fats
Not all fats are bad. Sure, saturated fats and trans fats aren’t good for you, so be sure to limit them today if you want to start losing weight tomorrow. But unsaturated fats are fine and can even help you maintain a healthy weight. Nut butters, salmon, and avocado are some examples of good fats to keep in your diet.
Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Fiber is what keeps you from feeling hungry when you’re dieting. When you get enough fiber, you can eat less food overall and lose weight while still feeling satisfied. That’s why foods like quinoa, brown rice, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grains are great when you’re losing weight and getting fit. Check out this amazing recipe for Healthy Quinoa, Carrot, and Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies (which we eat for more than breakfast in our house) that will deliver on fiber in a big way.
Eat Foods That Are High in Water Content
Another way to stay full for a longer period of time—and therefore eat less—is to consume foods that are high in water content. Some foods that fit the bill on this front include soup, stew, tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruits, and cucumbers.
Reduce Your Carb Intake
Studies show that low-carb diets are effective for many people, so reducing your carb intake can help with your commitment to start losing weight tomorrow. Plus, decreasing carbs can also lower blood pressure and blood sugar. Start by cutting out any foods with added sugars and refined wheat—which means you need to be a label-reading freak. Once you get in the habit of paying attention to added sugars and eliminating them from your diet, you’ll become a pro in no time. Work to limit your carbs to 50 grams per day.
Add More Veggies to Your Plate
No weight loss diet is complete without extra vegetables. If you want to feel full and get more vitamins and minerals than usual, find ways to sneak vegetables into your diet. Start by adding bell peppers and onion to your breakfast omelet, and then make sure you eat a big salad every day for lunch or dinner. If you still eat the occasional sandwich or bowl of pasta, add your favorite vegetables—with avocado, mushrooms, and broccoli being some great options.
Want some ideas? Check out Morning Nutrition: 10 Breakfast Ideas to Boost Energy and Build Muscle.
Have Smaller Servings
People often eat too much for a variety of reasons. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, sometimes we don’t understand best practices as it relates to serving sizes, and sometimes we’re just not paying attention and doing what we’ve always done. Serving sizes can make a huge difference in your journey to losing weight tomorrow, and your first step is to buy a food scale and start weighing your food. Try to stick to 4 to 5 ounces of protein for your meals and 4 ounces of veggies. You can also use smaller plates for your meals, which will help keep serving sizes under control.
Schedule Your Workouts
The hardest part about working out is getting around to doing it. Once you get started, you’re likely to keep going, sometimes even longer than you planned! So stay motivated and squeeze workouts into your day by scheduling them ahead of time. I treat my workouts like a business meeting and physically add them to my calendar on a daily basis. That keeps me accountable and helps me build my work day around my commitment to losing weight and getting fit. If you want some other ideas for integrating more fitness into your daily routine, check out: Workout Hacks to Get Your Steps In Even When You Aren’t Counting.
Follow these tips, and then let me know in a few days how much weight you’ve already started to lose!