Ours is undoubtedly a world of “instant gratification.” Unfortunately, it’s one of the main reasons we fail to lose weight. Too often we derail our efforts by succumbing to temptation rather than staying focused on our long-term weight loss goals. In fact, our tendency to cave during those tempting moments has a profound connection to serious consequences such as obesity, substance abuse, and even higher levels of debt!
Fortunately, we talked to several personal trainers around London and learned that we can achieve our weight loss goals sooner and more sustainably if we would only adopt a few lifestyle changes that support healthier living. After all, it’s a more effective approach than, say, trying to stick to a rigid diet that we’re unaccustomed to or suddenly trying to commit to an extra 45 minutes of strenuous exercise once a day.
Here are five simple lifestyle changes that can help you achieve your weight loss goals safely and sustainably.
Make Protein a Priority
A chat with one personal trainer working out of a popular gym in London revealed a lot about the importance, and neglect, of protein in our modern diets. Not only does this crucial macronutrient play a vital role in building lean muscle mass (which can turn our bodies into fat-burning machines), but protein can also be a powerful weapon against weight gain because of its ability to curb our appetites.
"We see clients making a lot of dietary choices that don’t include enough protein. Many of them complain of feeling hungry all the time, which results in the consumption of more high-calorie foods. Eating more protein sources is a solution because it helps us maintain that fuller feeling longer." said on personal trainer at a fitness spa in Canary Wharf (London).
However, the advantages of protein don’t end there. The thermic effect of protein is also very high. That means our digestion process must burn more calories to process protein than it does for the other major macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats).
Studies show that we should aim for 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. In other words, a person weighing 75 kilos should aim for 60 grams of protein each day to cover their bases. Remember, protein comes in many sources that are easily consumable, including powders.
Try Using Resistance Bands
Make no mistake about it - strength training is catching on as a weight loss strategy. Rather than focusing on boring cardio routines, personal trainers are having enormous success using strength training techniques to help their clients lose weight. The science? Strength training builds muscle mass, and this new muscle tissue demands that our bodies burn calories at a higher rate. That means an elevated metabolism that can lead to a trimmer figure. Voila’!
The appealing thing about resistance bands is that they’re ultra inexpensive (after all, they’re just giant rubber bands for crying out loud) and they’re equally as effective in strength training when compared to conventional fitness routines that are done using clunky machines and dumbbells.
As a lifestyle change, the real advantage of resistance bands is that you can use them almost anywhere. That means in your home, your office, or even a nearby park! The next time you want to binge your favorite series on television, try squeezing in a few resistance band exercises during the commercials.
Try Using a Fitness or Healthy Living App
American business visionary, Peter Drucker, famously stated nearly 40 years ago that “what gets measured gets managed.” And while that idea is still furiously debated in some circles, there’s plenty of research to suggest that Drucker was onto something. In the case of weight loss, just through the act of tracking the amount of physical activity we get in our lives, we can make considerable progress in achieving our fitness goals. Fitness and healthy living apps have made this possible.
After all, technology permeates every facet of our lives, and physical fitness is no exception. Look on your favorite app store and you’ll find swaths of innovative fitness apps available for download. Most offer a free trial period so you can test different apps to see which suits your lifestyle. Best of all, many offer a selection of quick 10- or 15-minute workout sessions that you can do from the comfort of your home or office. In most cases, without the need for any equipment.
Use Smaller Plates
Sometimes the simplest changes can have the most profound impact. Consider the size of the plates that we use for our meals. By using a smaller plate, we can make the same amount of food take up a larger portion of the plate. It’s a nifty diet hack that plays on optics. With smaller plates, we create an illusion that any given portion is much larger than it truly is, and that can lead to a pleasant full feeling because of the way our minds interpret our food serving(s).
One personal trainer who reached out to me from Delta, Utah (U.S.) told us that smaller plates are always the first recommendation that she makes to her weight loss clients. In many cases, they’ve reportedly told her that “downsizing” on plate sizes has been one of the most effective weight loss strategies they’ve ever tried.
It's a simple, but oh so effective, lifestyle change that can yield remarkable results if done consistently.
Set a Sleep Schedule
Research shows that, on average, Brits are getting scarcely 6 hours of sleep a night. That’s one full hour shy of the recommended 7 to 9 hours that we need to function at optimal levels. There is abundant research demonstrating just how highly the cards can be stacked against us if we want to lose weight, but we’re not getting enough sleep. For example, insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of certain hormones that can increase our appetite.
Fortunately, there are several small changes that personal trainers recommend for getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours). For beginners, you need to be consistent by going to bed (and waking up) at the same time. In doing so, our bodies naturally become sleepy around the same time every night.
It’s also recommended that we douse unnecessary bright lights later in the evening that aren’t being used. You should also minimize the use of electronics like TVs, laptops, and tablets within 2 hours of bedtime. Such lighting has been known to suppress melatonin in our bodies which is a chemical that helps us sleep.
Lastly, explore the world of “sleep tech” – a booming business! Sleep tech runs the gamut from special headbands to “smart beds.” More than 1 out of every 3 Americans have used some form of sleep tech to help them get better rest, and most have reportedly found the tech to be very helpful!
If weight loss is your goal, personal trainers advise us to always be wary of online information. The internet is loaded with bad information about dieting, exercise, and weight loss. It’s always best to connect with a fitness industry expert or a personal trainer before adopting any new weight loss strategy to be sure that what you’re doing is not only safe, but also effective.