Foundations of Fat Loss:

How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind – Nutrition Expert Kristin Ames

Diet and fitness are more top of mind for people than they ever have been.  With many of us trapped at home for the last 6 months with nothing but the refrigerator to keep us company, the COVID 15 is no joke.  And fitness?  It’s been a slippery slope to the couch.

So, you’ve decided it’s time to reign it all in, drop some body fat and get back in shape – fantastic! You’ve started researching the best way to reach your goals but have quickly become overwhelmed with all the options: Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Intermittent Fasting, and the Juice Cleanse.

You’ve heard accounts of how your coworker’s uncle’s cousin lost 40 pounds on Keto, and your best friend swears she can eat whatever she wants on using Intermittent Fasting and not gain weight!  Compelling for sure, but before you go all in on MCT oil or the ’16:8 plan’, I ask you to consider one question  “Can I do what this diet asks of me for the rest of my life?”. 

We tend to over complicate things when it comes to our diet.  There are definitely situations that call for precise weighing and measuring, attention to meal timing, and detailed macro-nutrient tracking, but unless you’re a bodybuilder or training for the Olympics, those protocols likely won’t apply to you.

The key to changing your body lies in adopting habits and practices you can sustain for life: a balanced program that makes room for dinners out with friends and celebrations with family, includes all the food groups, regular exercise, and whole unprocessed foods most of the time … unsexy yes, but effective.  

For most people, most of the time, simple wins the race. One of my favorite quotes is from a fellow online trainer Ren Jones at Fitness Jones Training:

“If we don’t have the basic habits established for our nutrition choices, why would we think a more complicated method is the solution? “I can’t get the hang of driving a car, so I think I’ll try flying a helicopter instead?”

And yet most of us are standing in line to fly the helicopter.

Kristin Ames' Healthy Choices
Kristin Ames’ healthy choices for Thanksgiving dinner

So what are the basics?  What is the 4-door Toyota Hybrid of the diet world?  The following guidelines are the foundation for all our programs focused on fat loss:  

Eat until you’re 80% full.   We’ve been taught from a young age to ‘finish your dinner’.  Eating until we’re full is comforting and makes us feel happy – if we’re eating a tasty meal we want to keep eating because the pleasure receptors in our brain tell us to keep going! But this also leads many people to eat in a calorie surplus.  The simple practice of stopping when you’re satisfied instead of when you’re full will yield surprising results.  Studies show it takes about 15-20 minutes for most people to feel full, so if you don’t stop eating until you’re full, you’ll likely be stuffed in 20 minutes.  Put the brakes on at satisfied, and there’s 20% fewer calories in your day, easily.

Eat protein with every meal. Protein is the most filling macro-nutrient and is the least likely to be converted to fat in the body.  When you’re not hungry, you’ll stop thinking about food all the time, and as a result eat/snack less. It’s also critical for muscle growth and repair – a priority if you’re exercising regularly. There is literally no downside to eating protein.

Exercise 3-5 days a week. Workouts will vary depending on your goals and where you’re starting from, but some form of activity on a regular basis is part of every program – from a daily walk for some to an intense lifting session for others.  In addition to the physical benefits, its shown people usually make better food choices when exercise is part of their day. 

Be clear on your ‘Why’. If you’re just trying to ‘get back to’ a number on the scale that you once were, you’re likely not going to have the motivation and discipline for stick with your program for long.  Dig deep and figure out why you really want to lose weight. Nothing wrong with wanting to look better if that’s the reason, but why do you want to?  Put it down on paper so when you need some extra motivation you can remind yourself, in your own words, exactly what your goal is.

That’s it – pretty simple, and yet not necessarily easy.  But simple is a great place to get started despite what we think we want. None of these principles require you to clear out your kitchen, buy a bunch of books or expensive equipment, or lock yourself at home for fear of eating something that isn’t ‘approved’ on your diet.  Everyone can do this – if you’re thinking of losing some weight, I encourage you to give these basic principles a try.  And, when you can do these things consistently, 90% of the time, we’ll talk about the helicopter.

Kristin Ames of Fit Life Coaching is a certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer, PNL1 CPT, living in North Vancouver. If you would like to know more about her, you can visit her Instagram page.

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