When I first started trying to lose weight, I struggled for a long time.
I didn’t know where to start.
There is so much information out there and half of it contradicts the other half.
I’d spend weeks trying one thing or another just to find out it didn’t work.
It was so frustrating at times that I wanted to give up. I started to doubt if I could even do it.
I’m writing this guide to be exactly what I wish I had the day I started trying to lose weight..
A no BS, no gimmicks, no fad, step by step guide on how to lose weight when you’re just starting out.
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The 7 Steps to Start Losing Weight
1. Figure out your macros.
Whenever anyone asks me how or where to start when wanting to lose weight, the first thing I suggest is flexible dieting.
I’ve been following flexible dieting (aka IIFYM, aka If It Fits Your Macros, aka Macro Counting) for the last 5 years now.
I’ve tried others just to experiment in between, and I always come back to it… because it works and well, it’s flexible!
What is flexible dieting?
It’s pretty simple. You can eat whatever you want, as long as you stay within a certain number of macros.
What are macros?
Macros is short for macronutrients. It’s the amount of fats, carbs, and protein that make up our food and determines how many calories are in them.
Why Macro Counting?
When you’re first starting out on a weight loss journey, one of the hardest parts is staying consistent with your diet – ironically it’s also the most important.
That being said, we want something maintainable.
- Nothing is off limits. Want a donut? Go for it! Just track the macros.
- Hitting your personal optimal levels of macronutrients is extremely effective for weight loss
- You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel and how much more energy you have.
This is not to say that you can eat whatever you want all day long and lose weight.
You’ll quickly realize that in order to hit the correct macro levels, the majority of your food choices will need to be healthy, nutritious options.
What flexible dieting allows for is those small cravings throughout the day.
The idea is that on a very restrictive diet, you’ll get fed up with it over time and eventually end up bingeing.
If you allow yourself small bit here and there to keep your cravings at bay, you’re much more likely to stick with it long term.
Take keto for example.
If you don’t know what keto is, from a very high level, it’s a diet where you eat high amounts of fat, and an extremely low amount of carbs – like 5%, which works out to roughly 20-30g of carbs per day.
To put that in perspective, that’s 1 banana worth of carbs. You can eat ONE BANANA and then you get no more carbs that day.
How long can the average person last eating that way before they cave and binge on all things carby goodness?
I have no idea, but I wouldn’t last long at all, nor do I want to find out.
How to figure out your macros.
The easiest way to figure out how many grams of carbs, proteins, and fats you should aim to eat in a day is with a macro calculator.
It will ask you a few simple questions and then spit out your numbers.
For example, your macros will look something like this 150g carbs, 40g fat, 130g protein.
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2. Track your macros.
Okay, so you have your macro number goals, now what?
These are the numbers you want to aim to eat every day.
How do you know if you’ve eaten the levels you need to?
By tracking your food (it’s quicker and easier than it sounds, I promise).
The easiest way to track your food is with an app or website like MyFitnessPal.com (they also have an app).
Just search for your food and enter your portion size.
The app even has a barcode scanner so you don’t even have to type in the food.
It will keep track and calculate your totals for you throughout the day.
For example, at the end of the day, your macros will look something like this:
3. How to make sure you’re burning enough calories.
The way the macro calculator works is by asking you lifestyle and body composition questions to estimate how many calories you are burning in a day.
Based on your goal (we’re assuming it’s weight loss for this post), it will calculate how many calories you should eat compared to how many you burn to reach that goal… then it uses a formula to break that down into an optimal level of macros.
It does that because the rules of weight loss are simple:
- Weight Loss = Eat less calories than you burn
- Weight Gain = Eat more calories than you burn
- Maintain Weight = Eat about the same calories that you burn.
The reason that matters is because it can only estimate how many calories you’re burning based on how accurate your inputs are.
This will be accurate enough for about 90% of you.
If you really want to kick it up a notch and be sure that you are burning more calories than you eat, invest in a fitness tracker.
Some are more accurate than others, but most importantly, make sure it has a heart rate monitor.
I personally use and recommend a Whoop strap, but if you already have an Apple Watch that will work too.
Burning 20% more calories than you eat is generally the range we’re shooting for.
4. Pick an exercise.
Remember when I said that when you start a weight loss journey, part of the most difficult thing to do is stay consistent with your diet?
Up there with it is staying consistent with your workout as well.
The typical workout plan when you’re starting to lose weight is a mixture of cardio and resistance (or strength) training.
This is great for some people.
Others hate it.
Similar to why people enjoy flexible dieting over other ways of eating, if something is miserable, you might do it for a bit, but eventually you’re going to stop.
If lifting weights, running, and doing burpees is absolutely miserable to you, find something else you enjoy.
If you’re doing steps 1-3 correctly, as long as you are moving your body, you don’t need to stress about which specific exercise you’re doing.
It’s more important that you enjoy the exercise so that you stay consistent than it is to do a specific workout.
That being said…
The reason most programs include both strength training and cardio is because combined in the right way, they produce excellent, rapid results.
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5. Plan, Plan, Plan.
The biggest downfalls to weight loss come in the moments when you give yourself a chance to think.
The moments when you’re starving and wondering what you should eat.
Or when you get home from work dead tired and wonder if you should workout that day.
In those moments, our brain is wired to want to fix the problem at hand as quickly as possible.
In those moments, it’s not thinking about our long term goals.
You are not going to be motivated to workout and eat right every single day.
Most people do not have an iron will power.
If you plan correctly, you don’t need one though.
Doing this removes the need to think, instead you just DO.
What specifically are you planning?
- What you’re going to eat the next day.
- What days you’re going to workout and when.
- What you’re workout is going to be.
Here’s a full list on all the tricks I’ve learned to keep myself on track.
6. Track Progress – the right way.
Most people track their weight loss progress via a scale, which is.. Okay-ish.
If you’re going to do this, only weigh yourself in the morning, this will be your truest weight.
The thing is, weight does NOT tell the whole story, especially if you’re gaining muscle mass.
The scale will fluctuate a lot, and if you’re not mentally prepared for it, it can be extremely discouraging.
Much more so than using a scale, I highly suggest taking pictures.
Take a picture the day you start. Take similar pictures at the end of every week.
They may not be huge differenced week to week, but when you put your start next to the end of a mont.. OMG will you feel excited and motivated!
7. Reward Yourself. Repeat.
Sometimes big goals can feel overwhelming.
They can make us feel discouraged and want to give up.
Instead of focusing on 50 or 100 lbs, break it up.
First just focus on losing 5 or 10lbs.
Give yourself a reward each time you reach a small goal to keep yourself motivated.
Pro tip: Try not to make your reward food based. Instead make it something else you like, such as a new outfit or a massage.
TL;DR – How to Start Losing Weight in ONE Step.
If you skimmed through all that and your feeling:
- Like it’s too much to read.
- Too much to figure out
- Too high level and you don’t actually know where to start or what workouts to do.
The easy one step answer one how to start losing weight is to just get a pre-made weight loss program that includes both workout and nutrition plans.
Getting a program will do all of this work for you so that you don’t have to think about it or wonder if you’re doing the right things.
You just look at the day, and do the plan for that day.
There are plenty of plans out there, but of course, I’m biased towards my own!
I have a few different options, depending on if you like to workout at home or the gym!
They all include everything you need from workouts to nutrition and the nutrition is customized to you!
You can find the full nutrition and exercise programs here! 🙂
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Weight Loss FAQs
1. Can I eat carbs?
Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not the enemy!
Eaten in the right ratios, they can be extremely beneficial.
2. Do I need to stop eating at a certain time?
No, as long as you hit your macro goals, eat whenever you like!
Not eating after a certain time does not matter and won’t make a difference.
You may notice a difference first thing in the morning if you eat late, but in the long term, it won’t matter.
3. Should I lift weights or do cardio?
A cardio workout burns more calories than a weight-training workout.
After weight lifting, your metabolism may stay elevated for longer than cardio
Weight lifting is better for building muscle and giving the “toned” look many are after. That being said, the ideal exercise program includes cardio and weights.
4. Do I have to do cardio?
No, but it will expedite your results.
If you really hate cardio, try HIIT.
HIIT workouts can burn the same amount of calories in half the time as a regular jog.
5. How much cardio should I do?
If you are doing HIIT to supplement a weight lifting routine, you only need 15-20 minutes.
6. I want a flat stomach and a big butt, how do I do that?
Break those goals up.
With about a 5% exception, you cannot lose weight and gain muscle at the same time.
If you want both, first focus on eating in a caloric surplus and building your glutes.
Once they reach the size you’d like, switch to a deficit to shed fat and flatten your stomach.
7. I only want to lose weight in my [insert any body part here], how do I do that?
Can’t be done. Sorry.
You cannot spot fat loss.
I don’t care how many articles you find online claiming you can burn JUST your belly fat or JUST lose weight in your face, you can’t and they’re lying.
This has been proven in many scientific studies.
You can’t choose where your body decided to burn fat from.
The good news is, overtime, whatever area you want to see fat loss in, will eventually slim down.
8. Can I drink alcohol?
Yes, just make sure it fits into your macro plan.
9. I’m doing this stuff but I’m not seeing results, what’s going on?
There are a lot of different factors that could be coming into play.Take a look at this list of 15 possible reasons.
That’s it! That is literally everything you need to know to lose weight!
Unless you have a medical condition, I guarantee you will lose weight and reach any goal you have by following these steps!If you have any questions, leave a comment or message me on instagram!
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