Weight loss is simple. But it is not always easy.
It can feel lonely at times, as everyone around you seems to enjoy their unhealthy lifestyle choices. Weight loss can be frustrating, especially on the days you step on the scale and don't see the number change.
To lose weight, you not only have to know what to do, but you have to stay motivated, week-after-week, to keep doing it.
If you're nodding your head, a weight loss contest might be just what you need. Especially if the contest includes community, support, and guidance.
I have a special passion for weight loss contests, as I created the Life Time Weight Loss brand for Life Time Fitness, and the extremely popular Life Time Weight Loss 90 Day (now 60 Day) Challenge many years ago.
I just wanted to mention this to let you know, that I know, what I’m talking about.
5 Tips to Win a Weight Loss Contest
The following are my five most important tips to win a weight loss contest. Actually, I’m including a bonus tip, so you really get six tips!
Tip 1: Increase your protein and decrease your carbs before you focus on cutting calories.
People lose more weight when they’re allowed to eat as much low-carb, high-protein food as they desire, than when they follow a strict, low-calorie diet. They’re also far more likely to keep it off.
Weight loss is not just about calorie-in, calories-out. It is about maximizing your metabolism, and giving your body the signals and nutrition it needs, to shed fat, while keeping muscle. The type of food you eat affects your metabolism in different ways.
Those who eat low-carb, high-protein foods get to eat more food than those who eat high-carb, low-protein foods.
Low-calorie diets are more likely to make you “skinny-fat.” They make you more thin, but you still end up with a high percentage of body fat. Your arms and legs get smaller, but squishier too.
Constant cravings are often the downfall for those on a low-calorie diet. Eating more protein, and eating it at every meal or snack, helps you avoid most of those cravings.
Eat fewer carbs and your body burns more fat.
When you eat carbs, it raises insulin. Insulin tells your body to stop burning fat. You can eat a high-carb, low-calorie diet, and not get leaner because your body can’t burn fat when insulin levels are high.
Finally, when someone starts their contest by eating a very low-calorie diet, they typically lose weight for two to three weeks, and then the weight loss stops.
Your metabolism quickly adjusts to a low-calorie diet. The only way to keep losing weight after that, is to lower your calorie intake even more, or to exercise more. At least until you hit your next plateau again.
Tip 2: Strength Train at least Three Days Per Week
Your body is very smart, so if you don’t give it a reason to keep your muscle, it gets rid of muscle to conserve energy. Strength training tells your body it needs muscle, so it sheds the fat instead.
Muscle is metabolically active tissue on the body. It burns calories. Body fat, not so much.
Muscle loss on a low-calorie or even a low-protein diet is very common which slows metabolism making it even harder to lose weight.
Optimal amounts of protein in the diet and weight training prevent this.
I could give you many other benefits for strength training, but in the context of a weight loss contest, maintaining your muscle will help you maximize fat loss, and help you maintain your new body once you achieve your weight loss goal.
When I explain this to people, I often get this question:
“Is weight training more important than cardio?” For weight loss, in my opinion, it’s a big and loud “YES!”
Cardio didn’t make the top five list here. That doesn’t mean it’s useless. It just means that it’s not as important (in my opinion) as these five six tips.
If you need somewhere to start, here's a good gym workout routine for beginners and intermediates.
Tip 3: Sleep it Off
Sleep is an extremely potent weight loss tool. And it’s free!
Based on my experience, I would estimate at least one out of four people get sick when they start a weight loss program.
The new exercise and nutrition changes, on top of too little sleep, stress their body and compromise their immune system. They get a cold, the flu, or something worse.
Although you can lose a lot of weight from the flu, that’s not the kind of weight loss you're looking for.
At least seven hours of quality sleep maximizes growth hormone levels. Growth hormone helps your muscles recover and grow stronger. It’s also a primary fat-burning hormone.
Just one night of insufficient sleep makes you insulin resistant the next day. That just means that your body will be in sugar burning mode instead of fat burning mode. And you'll crave carbs like there's no tomorrow.
That's just from one night of poor sleep!
Most people walk around in this state and think it's normal. It's not.
Tip 4: Optimize Your Nutrition with Foundational Supplements
Supplementation is awesome because you can easily, quickly, and significantly improve your nutrition. Supplements don't make up for poor nutrition. They enhance your diet.
Even if you ate a “perfect” diet, which I would say is nearly impossible, you would still fall short in your intake of optimal levels of micronutrients. Think of nutritional supplements as filling in the gaps.
When you embark on a weight loss journey those gaps get bigger.
In my opinion, these five supplements form the basis of a solid nutrition plan. Additional supplements could be based on your individual needs, goals, and state of health. Vanessa and I certainly use more.
- A high-quality multivitamin/mineral (we use Multivitamin Elite from Thorne and Master Formula from Young Living)
- Fish Oil (we use Thorne Research Super EPA)
- Vitamin D3/K2 (we use Thorne Research Liquid Vitamin D)
- Magnesium (we use Pure Encapsulation Magnesium Glycinate)
- Digestive Enzymes (we use DiGize, Essentialzyme-4, and/or Allerzyme from Young Living Essential Oils)
Tip 5: Maximize Your Mood and Emotions
Emotional decisions are often poor decisions.
Your mood, or emotions, fluctuate with your circumstances. They come from your thoughts. And your thoughts are the result of your beliefs.
This is the most important principle to understand when you want to change any aspect of your life.
Your beliefs form your thoughts. Your thoughts trigger your emotions. Your emotions influence your actions. Your actions create your results.
We all have beliefs that work against us. We all have beliefs that aren’t based in truth. We all have beliefs that keep us from becoming our best selves.
It takes a lot of work, to uncover the beliefs that hold you back, and then change them.
You might need a professional counselor or coach to help you through all of that. I have one. Vanessa has one. It’s the best investment we’ve ever made.
You can also do something in the short-term, as you work on your beliefs.
Disrupt your regularly scheduled pity-party with a deep inhalation of essential oils.
Knowing what I know today, if I were still training clients, essential oils would be my secret weapon.
Inhalation of essential oils, more than any other natural products I’ve researched or experienced, have a positive effect on emotions and motivation.*
If you maintain a more uplifted mood, it’s less likely you’ll reach for junk food to self-medicate.
We have a lot of personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and dietitians on our Healthy Living With Essential Oils team. I love hearing about the impact they’ve had with their clients from using essential oils.
BONUS TIP: Commit to a program for three months longer than your contest.
There is one danger to weight loss challenges and contests: the end date.
The end date suggests there is an end to your “healthy way of eating, exercising, and living.” From day one, your subconscious mind starts counting the days until the end.
For example, on Day One of a 60-day challenge, you tell yourself, “I’ve only got 59 more days, and then I can go back to eating cereal for breakfast, or drinking wine every night, or sleeping in rather than going to the gym.”
You think about all the unhealthy stuff you can do at the end of the contest. Crazy isn't it?
You take part in the contest to get healthy. Yet, once you start the contest, you count the days until you can get back to the unhealthy choices that got you where you are.
So, what happens after the contest? You gain the weight back.
I don’t want that to happen for you. Once the weight comes off, keep it off.
Plan your program for three months longer than the contest. By the end, you won't want to go back to the old habits, because the new ones will make life so much better.
Is there more?
Is there more to winning a weight loss contest? Sure. I could write about cardio, meal timing, hormones, metabolism, and more. However, in my opinion, these
five six tips are the place to start. They form the foundation of a successful weight loss program.
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