During a typical weight loss journey we work our way through a multitude of tools. We are hit by a wave of motivation and decide to buy all the perceived necessities: A weight loss shake, some supplements, some new trainers maybe and then we hit the gym or tarmac.
At this point things can go super well there is an initial drop in weight and we are overwhelmed with joy. Why wouldn’t we lose weight, we are busting our arses day in and day out.
Then it happens…the wall. It’s emotionally like running full pelt into a lamp post that someone placed on the treadmill without permission.
Ah, you know what, the solution is to go to the gym a little more maybe lift some weight or have more of the weight loss shake.
Finally, as we are invited out for a meal with friends we give up. This is the what most people go through.
Everything has been tried and tested but to no avail, destined to be fat.
The problem is that focus is often on the wrong aspect of weight loss. There are certain parts within a weight loss journey that are more important than others, unfortunately we are often shown the wrong things.
The products that will make you believe that you will lose weight, hence why they are marked it so heavily, but in reality either make you gain weight or don't help at all.
Unfortunately it doesn't help that as human beings we like to find things that will make everything as easy as possible, looking for a solution in a pill if you will.
In addition, we are also commonly tempted to believe things we read on the internet that seem logical because they fit our narrative. An example being “I can't lose weight because I'm eating too little”. It seems logical to say that because you're not fuelling your body enough it will not lose weight, but in reality it doesn't work out that way.
If it did people going through starvation wouldn't get thinner, but would in fact just gain weight.
Or to make the example little clearer, if you wanted a dog to lose weight we would just feed them more rather than just halve their portions, which is what we do now without thinking. The same rules apply to humans.
To give you as much power as possible in your decision-making I've created a pyramid of importance. This pyramid will layout exactly what your main focus should be and what your secondary focus should be.
If your main focus is currently towards the top of the pyramid, then that's your problem and now you know how to fix it. Move your focus to the bottom of the pyramid, the widest part, as this will have the biggest impact of overall.
Here is how to go about using this pyramid of importance as efficiently as possible:
- Work on the bottom part until it feels fairly easy.
- Move up to the next level and focus on this while making sure that step 1 is always in place.
- Move up to step 3 when 1&2 are in full control etc.
The further you move up the pyramid the less importance the things become, and the smaller their over all impact. The most important part will always be the bottom of the pyramid. With that said, let’s have a look.
You may be wondering why lifestyle factors rank higher than calories. This is because calorie control is extremely hard when sleep is insufficient and stress is high due to increased cravings and reduced satiety. It's easy to skip over the section and immediately focus on things like food and supplements, but like I said trying to control the rest with a poor lifestyle is practically impossible.
I have yet to meet someone who manages to lose weight successfully long-term while sleeping 4 hours a night and spending a lot of time in a high stress environment. If I wanted to become overweight I would combine those two things with a high calorie diet. Although chances are, that I wouldn't even have to focus on increased calorie count as that would happen automatically.
Calories are the most important thing to control after lifestyle. It's easy to skip over the section and pretend like calories aren’t important or that something like the Keto Diet will somehow make the idea of calories void. The research has shown over and over again that calories are king.
To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit. You can do this by counting calories, which can be extremely useful, or use another method to inadvertently reduce calories doesn't matter. Many people lose weight using some sort of fasting approach as a way to control calorie intake. The problem with this, is that once a plateau occurs people are often lost because they forget that a reduction in calories is what made them lose weight in the first place, not the fasting itself.
It’s also nice to have an understanding of what different foods are made up of as this is knowledge that you will maintain for life, making maintenance once the goal has been achieved easier.
Protein is the next step in the pyramid because it plays a multitude of important roles during weight loss. It allows one to maintain muscle mass, which is crucial to keep metabolic rate high, as well as increasing satiety. In other words, making you feel fuller for longer thus reducing the desire to eat, resulting in an easier time controlling calories (again, calories are king).
You may have noticed that both lifestyle and protein have an impact on calories consumption, hence why these 2 sections are so important.
To recap, keep an initial focus on lifestyle, in other words sleep quality and duration, as well as stress levels. Most of the time you can combine this with calorie control. However if your life is extremely hectic and you're not sleeping much at the moment, it may be worth focusing on that first. Keeping in mind that weight loss is a long-term goal not something that will be over and done with in four weeks.
Once these two things are in place and you're happy you can focus on your protein intake. A good starting point is around 1.2 g/kg or 0.6 g/pound of bodyweight. You can go way higher if you like, there is no real limit. Some people will say protein is bad for you because it will place too much stress on the kidneys, there is no real evidence showing that besides in people with pre-existing conditions, so don't worry, the Internet loves drama.
You're now in a great place and chances are your weight is coming off no matter how old you are or what situation you're in. Just continue working your way along the path of success and you will inevitably get there. It takes a while but the results are worth it.
If you want you can work your way up the pyramid, although this isn't necessary for everyone and you can achieve amazing things just focusing on the bottom three parts.
Any questions? I’m all ears and happy to help.