Each year on the first of January and here-and-there around the year if you find yourself deciding to lose weight and still never getting to your goal, you’re not alone. It is time, however, for all of us to ask “why?” – ‘Why do I want to lose weight? Why am I failing to fulfill my resolution?’. If you’re here, this year will be different. 2021 follows the many reality checks that shook our lives in 2020 and you need just a few more reality checks before you’re on your way to progress.
It’s not you, it’s the world. You’ve learned from the world that weight loss is the answer to being beautiful, healthy and successful: Lies. Regardless of how much you weigh, you’re a beautiful human being with all the worth in the world. Secondly, your physical health is not summarized by your weight. Besides your mental health is equally (if not more) important. I hope you know that you don’t HAVE to lose weight. Evaluate the recommendations of your doctor through the lens of self-love, and try to ignore all the noise that surrounds you. If you have a satisfying answer to why you want to lose weight and you decide you want to lose weight, you will (with my help).
Don’t you dare fall for those diet and diet products advertised all over your feed. To your relief, you don’t need to spend half your salary on celery or drink juice for breakfast, lunch and dinner to be healthy. Your body needs a variety of nutrients (yes, carbs and fat too) in order to be healthy – to have the immunity to prevent and recover from diseases, to look good and to feel good. Besides, even if you pull off a crazy diet by suffering and starving for a week, you know you’ll find yourself eating chips at midnight by the end of it. The secret is don’t do the diets.
Your most powerful tool is simple maths. You consume and use calories everyday, the trick is to use more than you consume. This is what we call a calorie deficit. To lay out a simple plan: first, calculate your maintenance calories online and subtract a 100 to 500 calories from this number according to your weight loss goals, then, make sure to eat around this number of calories everyday consistently. This means, you can lose weight while also eating solid food, even pasta or cake or whatever you love, as long as you are maintaining your deficit by controlling your portions and adjusting whatever else you eat that day to still hit your calorie goal. If my maintenance calories is 2100 cals then I will eat around 1700 calories everyday.
If you’re a little suspicious of this simplicity, let me explain. Your body constantly uses energy to stay alive, this is the maintenance calories that we calculated. This very second while you might be sitting doing nothing but reading this, you are still burning calories. This means that if you eat as much as your maintenance calories, you will maintain weight; and if you eat less, you lose weight. This doesn’t mean you eat as less as you can. In fact, eating more than 500 calories below your maintenance for too long might compel your body to hold on to fat instead of burning it. Stick to a 100 to 500 calorie deficit. This energy deficit is compensated by burning the fat stored in your body. Then, you consistently and healthily lose weight.
When you think work-out, you might think of the gym. That’s as effective of an option as any, but it is a luxury that not everyone can afford. For financial, logistical, social or mid-pandemic-panic reasons, you might prefer to workout at home. Albeit with need to adapt and adjust, you can meet your fitness goals at home, especially with all the resources available online. In terms of losing weight, there are two different elements to it. First, there is the calorie burning and then there is the metabolism building.
The calorie deficit is simple enough but, what if you want to eat more than your calorie intake goal? Do it. The extra calories you eat can always be burned with a little cardio exercise. Walking, cycling, dancing, swimming, and all such activities burn calories. Either do those activities and calculate online or use gadgets to determine the number of calories burned. Here, the simple maths is, for example, that I may eat 2000 calories a day but by burning 300 calories through cardio, I can still hit my goal of a net 1700 calories. It’s important to be reasonable with cardio, don’t overdo it but don’t overlook its benefits either. You might be pleased to find your endurance and stamina increase in addition to fat loss if you plan and balance your cardio well.
Additionally, what if my maintenance calories were 2400 instead of 2100? That would mean I can maintain the same amount of deficit (and so, the same rate of fat loss) while eating more. But how? The answer is muscle mass. Your weight consists of both fat mass and muscle mass. Building muscles can increase your weight overall but help you decrease your fat mass so that you have a toned look. Plus a reminder to the women and gender-fluid, a muscular-built doesn’t make you more or less feminine! Furthermore, building strength can be empowering. I recommend that you do build muscle – do abs a few days a week, arms and legs on others. While these exercises do burn calories, they do so in small quantities that you should include in your calculation of daily net calories but remember that calorie-burning is not its primary goal.
Maintain a good balance of these two. Try working out thrice a week and increase frequency and duration as you go.
Along the way, be kind to your body – take days off, take cheat days, look in the mirror, and tell yourself you love all that you see. Remember also to pick yourself up – decide that you’ll eat the pasta but not the whole thing and with a side of salad to balance and satiate, push yourself to do the last set, feel proud of yourself at the end of it.
This year is different. You are now equipped with factual methods and with self-love. You are going to move ahead, not with self-loathing that necessitates change, but self-love that aspires transformation – whether that is losing weight, gaining weight, or losing the obsession with weight. Step one: Add self-love to your list of resolutions.