We all know that 80% of our weight loss success lies in what we eat.
Except that, we all know that eating the right foods to lose weight is pretty darn hard to follow.
But what if I tell you that eating the right foods to lose weight is actually pretty simple? Okay, you probably won’t believe me right out the box but here’s something worth pondering:
Most things in life are simple. We just make them complicating.
That is why in Part 2 of the Pretty Awesome Fitness Beginners Guide To Losing Weight, we will talk about the most important thing that will help you in achieving your goals… and that is, feeding yourself.
Are you ready to change your nutrition and lose weight for good?
In case you missed it, today’s post is the continuation of last Monday’s post – The Beginners Guide To Losing Weight: Getting Started (Part 1). If you haven’t read that already, I suggest you do. It’s the only way you can set your mindset to the right frame. I’ve also included a DIY template for the tasks I’ve given last week so you can print it out and put it up somewhere visible.
That said, this is not a quick guide to losing weight. I do not condone such stuffs, that is why I don’t name this post 12 Weeks Fat Blaster or Losing 5kgs in 4 Weeks. I could but it doesn’t work that way. If you’re serious about losing weight, this is a good starting point. I will be guiding you in making lasting, lifelong changes that fits you.
Most importantly, I will be helping you from the start… literally. So once again, if you missed the first part, here’s the link. It is my honour to help you make awesome changes to your body composition, performance and health so stick with me and I’ll feed you with all the right stuffs (pun intended).
Ready? Here we go!
WHY IS NUTRITION SO DIFFICULT?
Can we all agree on something? Exercising is actually pretty easy. But changing our diet isn’t. In fact, for most of us starting out, it’s easier to stick to a workout plan instead of eating the right type of foods. Yes, I had that problem too.
Nutrition is difficult because we make it difficult.
Nutrition is difficult because we surround ourselves with unnecessary sources that leaves us confused.
Nutrition is difficult because we just don’t know what is right and wrong.
I mean, where do we go? Do we calorie count? Do we take in lesser carbs? Do we stop eating sugar? It’s an undeniably complicating dogma and confusing ourselves do not bring us anywhere.
Which is why, before we go on, and IF you really want results, I want you to erase every single thing you’ve heard and learned about nutrition, whether or not it’s from approved sources or your neighbour’s cousin, and start from scratch.
Sounds good? Let’s go!
HABIT BASED NUTRITION
Ok, Aqilah. I get it. We tend to overcomplicate things. It’s human. How do we do this then?
Enter habit based nutrition. It’s not a diet plan, it’s a lifestyle changer.
Do you know why it’s hard to stick to a diet plan? Because we try to change too many things at once. Say for example you’ve been eating without having a care in the world how much calories, carbohydrate, protein and fats that food contains and you try to cut your diet down to a 1200-calorie intake per day, trying to look at the calorie count of every single food you’re eating and at the same time, hit the gym five times a week because you desperately need to lose weight.
Unless you’re the Amazing Spiderman, you probably will find yourself failing halfway through. Worse if you’re doing it yourself.
Even if you have successfully lost a lot of weight following a calorie controlled diet, like I have before, have you ever questioned yourself on how and what you can or should be eating once you’ve lost all that weight? No? I thought so.
I didn’t ask myself that when I was following a 1200-calorie diet and after I’ve lost 20 kilos, I was stuck as hell, feeling sucky and at my very worse, start to binge eat because I felt bad about everything.
I wouldn’t want you to go through what I did. Which is why habit based nutrition is by far a research-backed lasting dietary change you should try and pick up if you are serious about losing weight for good.
Sounds awesome? Here’s how it works.
Whatever your poor, old and bad habits are, accept it and focus on moving on. We’ll be focusing on developing new habits while acknowledging the old. Instead of trying to cut down on processed carbs (old habit), we’ll try to keep a nutrition diary (new habit). Focusing on picking up new habits puts you on a clearer frame of mind, ensuring success in the long run.
Over the next 24 weeks, I will be presenting to you six new habits for you to pick up. They may look easy and they’re pretty basic but I consider them to be the most powerful ones you can give yourself to help you lose weight.
Each new habit can take up to a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of eight weeks before you can successfully stick to it, however this is just a ballpark figure. Depending on you, yourself and no one else, it might take you a shorter or a longer time before you can successfully adhere to a habit and only you can decide that for yourself. If you’re finding it hard to stick to it, then by all means give yourself another week or two.
Until you can adhere to the new habit 80% of the time, you should give yourself more time. Most importantly, do just one habit at a time, as taught by my favourite habits man Leo Babauta. If you do more than one, you’re setting yourself up for failure so go easy on yourself, enjoy the process and see the weight come off for good.
YOUR 24-WEEK HABIT TRACKER SHEET
Now because you mean a lot to me (yes, you do :)), I’ve made it easy for you to track your new habits.
All you have to do is click here (or the link below) and download the file, and print it.
Right click, save as –> 24-Week Habit Tracker Sheet
You will see that the 24-week Habit Tracker Sheet have multiple boxes in it. If you successfully finished the habit on say Monday, put a tick in that corresponding box. At the end of the week, calculate how what your adherence rate is (in percentage), giving you a rough idea of whether or not you’re ready to move on to the next habit.
It’s quite simple and there’s instructions on the sheet so check it out.
Done? Great. Let me introduce the tasks to you!
WEEKS 1-2: KEEP A NUTRITION DIARY
The very first thing I tell my weight loss clients to do is to keep a nutrition journal. It is the only way you can consciously remember what we’re eating. As humans, we are one forgetful creature. As much as we think we have supersonic memory, we don’t. At least not about what we put into our mouths. In fact, if you want to set yourself up for success, I recommend you to choose three different days of the week and record everything that you ate on those days.
You can even use this template right here (exact same ones I use for my clients) to help you track and record your meals.
Download –> Three Day Nutrition Record (right click, save as)
Go on, download it and print it out. Take today (Monday) as your first day to track and record. Choose two other days (it doesn’t have to be consecutive but it has to be different), e.g. Thursday (because it’s after-work drinks with colleagues day) and Sunday (because it’s the weekends). Record every single thing you ate including the time of which you had them and be honest to yourself. You will be surprised.
Now once you’ve done that, get yourself a small little notebook and continue journalling what you’re eating for the next two weeks and beyond. A study in the Journal of the Academy and Nutrition and Dietetics has proven that completing food journals can result in a greater weight loss so start writing it down, stat.
Tick the boxes in your 24-Week Habit Sheet Tracker and focus on this habit for the next two weeks at least 80% of the time before moving on to the next one.
WEEKS 2-4: FISH OIL AND MULTIVITAMINS
Done with writing things down? Great. Once you’re ready to move on, consuming fish oil and multivitamins will be the next habit you’ll try to pick up.
In today’s world, it is extremely hard for us to have a perfect diet full of natural, unprocessed foods devoid the contaminated soils and such. So in the next two weeks, we will be focusing on taking some good quality multivitamins (for general well-being) and fish oil (especially if you don’t consume enough oily fish).
I personally take Swisse Women’s Ultivite for my multivitamins and Blackmores Odourless Fish Oil for my Omega-3s but I will leave this entirely up to you to decide. Follow the dosage for the multivitamins and take at least 2000mg of fish oil a day for the next two weeks.
Tick the box on the days you’ve completed this task and focus on this habit for the next two weeks before moving on to the next one.
WEEKS 5-8: ELIMINATE SUGARY DRINKS AND DRINK WATER
For some of you, this might be a little hard to deal with, but it’s now or never and we’re going to face this head on. If there’s one thing I want you to remember over the next four weeks is to not drink your calories. That’s right, we’re going to try and cut down on your sugary drinks, cola and juices and increase your water intake.
Here’s what you need to do:
1) Cut down on sugary drinks (anything that is NOT water, including sports drinks). You can do this one at a time. Say you’re drinking three cans of Coke a day — cut it down to two for a week, and then one the week after and so on. You’re not expected to cut it all at one go.
2) Drink water. A general rule of thumb is eight glasses a day but it’s not enough for me, and it could be too much for you. The best to do is to listen to your body. If you’re thirsty, drink. If the weather is hot, drink. And if you’re exercising, drink even more.
Back to the 24-Week Habit Tracker Sheet, only tick the box on the days that you completely did not have any sugary drinks and you had enough water. This simply means that if you’re having even 1 can of Coke a day, don’t tick it. Until you can stop drinking those sugary drinks then you start ticking. Adhere to these 80% of the time and then you’re ready to move on.
WEEKS 9-12: 5 QUESTIONS
You’re keeping a nutrition diary, you’re taking your supplements and you’ve finally eliminated sugary fluids and increase your water intake. Excellent! Week 9 onwards can be a little overwhelming but I trust you can do it.
Coming from the guys at Precision Nutrition with their 5 Habits Cheat Sheet, these 5 questions below is one of the most excellent tool in healthy weight loss. I use it, my clients use it and we’ve had some amazing results out of it so I’ll be happy to pass it on to you.
All you have to do is to ask yourself these 5 questions at every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and if you can answer yes to all five questions on all three meals of the day, give yourself a tick in the box.
The questions are:
1) Are you eating slowly?
Listen to your body and check in with yourself and your hunger. Take at least 15-20 minutes to finish up your meal and stop eating when you’re 80% full.
2) Are you having at least 1 palm size (women) or 2 palm size (men) of protein dense food?
Protein dense food includes – eggs, chicken, lean beef, lean turkey, salmon, white fish, tuna, sardines etc. For the vegans/vegetarians, tofu, tempeh and soy bean curd are excellent.
3) Are you having 1 large portion of veggies?
Yes, even at breakfast. Spinach is great at breakfast time. For the rest of the meal times, make sure you have as much veggies as possible.
4) Are you having your carbohydrates?
I’ve spoken about carbohydrates quite deeply in this post right here but to summarise it, carbohydrates are not bad at all. In fact, I will never tell you to eliminate any food groups off your daily dietary intake simply because it is not lasting.
When talking to my clients, I generally introduce to them two sources of carbohydrates — the starchy ones and the non-starchy ones. Below are examples of each.
Starchy carbs – wholegrain bread, pasta, sweet potato, pumpkin, rice, oatmeal etc.
Non-starchy carbs – all kinds of veggies
With that, try and include carbohydrates to every meal. Below is one guideline you can follow when it comes to carbohydrates.
Breakfast – Fist sized of starchy carbs
Lunch – Fist sized of starchy carbs
Dinner – Unlimited non-starchy carbs
Simple. Straight-forward. And effective.
5) Are you having enough fats?
Do not try to eliminate fat from your diet. As a general rule of thumb, try to add fats from natural food sources such as eggs, oily fish, almonds, olive oil and seeds.
That’s it. 5 questions to ask at every meal. No calorie counting. Simply looking at your plate and making changes from there. This might take some getting used to so give yourself four weeks before you try and pick up the next habit. Some of you might do it sooner than this but I advise you to stick with it until you can adhere to this 80% of the time. It’s worth it and over time, you’ll make awesome food choices my mum will be proud of.
WEEKS 13-16: EAT REGULARLY
Once you’ve got your nutrition diary, supplements and five questions in place, eating regularly is your next habit to be picked up.
You’ve probably heard it before. Eating regularly can help elevate your body’s basal metabolism but perhaps you don’t know how it works. By eating regularly, and I mean snacking between meals, your body’s blood sugar will remain consistent throughout the day. If you allow your blood sugar to dip low, chances are you might feel hungry and start to crave for foods that does not do you any good. I’m sure you know how that feels.
From week 9 onwards, we will be trying to eat every 2-3 hours by snacking on high-protein and high-fats food. Think almonds, natural peanut butter, hard boiled egg, seeds, cottage cheese and so on.
For all the days that you eat regularly, put a tick in the box. Adhere to 80% of this habit and then move on to the last task. You’re nearly there.
WEEKS 17-24: ELIMINATE ARTIFICIAL AND PROCESSED FOODS
Last but not least, we have to try to eliminate artificial foods and processed foods from our diet. These things don’t do you any good especially if you’re eating it every single day, which most people are. It’s a worldwide epidemic but we can change this.
Are you serious? So I can’t have any cakes or chocolates?
Easy, tiger. I’m not worried about the occasional treats. It’s what you do 80% of the time that counts. Worrying about the one night you went crazy is not worth it. Focus on the bulk of your week, that’s where your progress lies.
Like every single habit we’ve been through, adhere to this 80% of the time and trust me, your journey to your weight loss goals you set last week will come faster than you think.
For those of you who needs it, here are a list of artificial and processed foods you should try to eliminate from week 17 onwards.
Artificial sweeteners, highly processed meat, pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, Pop Tarts, Oreos, all sorts of ice cream, all sorts of chocolates, desserts, fast food, store bought savoury or sweet bread etc. You get what I mean.
We’ll be doing this for the next 8 weeks and by this time, you should’ve lost a good amount of weight, feel better, more energetic and healthier but stick to it for the next 8 weeks and after 24 weeks, you’ll be armed with nutrition skills you can bring with you for a lifetime (and pass down to your entire generation, I hope!)
24 WEEKS AND BEYOND
Wow, Aqilah. That’s quite a lot to take in. Where do I go from here?
Say you’ve successfully adhere to all 5 habits 80% of the time for 24 weeks (less or more depending on you) and you’re getting excellent results. Seriously, mate, congratulations. That is a HUGE SUPER AMAZING BIGGA DEAL. I take my hats off for you and perhaps make you an amazing breakfast if I do see you.
Seriously though, if you have done all this and you’re wondering what next, I would be honoured to help you out one-on-one for free for at least a month. Why? Because I know you’re committed. I know you’re not saying you want to lose weight just for the sake of it. And I know you’re a man or woman of your words.
After 24 weeks, we will make more changes to your nutrition, adding in some more habits and perhaps tweak it to your specific goals and needs.
That being said, if you’ve done all of what is written here for 24 weeks, please, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Show me your 24-Week Habit Tracker Sheet (which you should’ve downloaded, printed and follow through) with 80% adherence, and your goals and measurements (which you should have set from last Monday’s post).
If everything looks good, I’ll take you on as my one-on-one coaching client for a month for free, helping you supercharge your weight loss goals more than what you have achieved.
And I’m serious.
Because I’m passionate in helping you and it is in my honour to help you get there.
HERE’S TO YOU…
Wow, that’s quite a bit to take in right? I know, I can write a book. Jokes.
All these information can be truly wasted if you don’t apply them so here’s a summary of all the 6 habits we’ll be picking up over 24 weeks.
1) Keep a nutrition diary (Weeks 1-2).
2) Fish oil and multivitamins (Weeks 3-4).
3) Eliminate sugary drinks and drink water (Weeks 5-8).
4) 5 questions (Weeks 9-12).
5) Eat regularly (Weeks 13-16).
6) Eliminate artificial and processed foods (Weeks 17-24).
My advise to you is to look back on your goals you’ve set from last week and download the 24-Week Habit Tracker Sheet I’ve included with this post. You can start this right now or you can wait for all four parts of this series to end so it’s completely up to you.
I will appreciate it too if you tell me by leaving a comment below telling me what you think about this and if you’re accepting this 24-week challenge in changing your lifestyle for good.
Stop taking in unnecessary information and do not complicate things, and trust me, you will lose weight. All the best and I’ll check in with you next week for Part 3 of The Beginners Guide To Losing Weight where we take a look at the exercise part of things.
Oh, and you’re awesome and you can kill this. I know you can. Now let’s start recording your daily food intake!
Have an amazing week! :)
Don’t miss out on Part Three of the Beginners Guide To Losing Weight! Click here to get notified (plus a free eBook and special tips only for you!)