When it comes to slimming down, words like fight, battle, and combat usually come up. It’s no mistake, because losing weight can be one of life’s most difficult struggles. What starts as a few additional pounds around a holiday can build up over a number of years until it becomes a pretty substantial problem, and one that tons of people are facing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70.7% of the adult population in the U.S. is overweight, and 39.7% are obese.
Some people are more prone to having difficulties keeping the scale in check, but nobody’s immune to gaining weight. Even professional athletes find themselves carrying around unwanted pounds when their glory days are over. It’s not all bad news, though. Plenty of people have dropped their extra weight and managed to keep it off for years, sometimes even decades. We spoke to seven different health professionals who faced their own weight-loss battles at some point. Though they’re experts these days, they all relied on a little bit of help to get there. Here, they share the advice that helped them lose the weight for good.
1. Shake things up
A friend told me, ‘the best way to shed fat is to do something you’ve never done, and do it often.’ I had never taken up swimming, so I decided to heed his advice. It was hard, but it taught me to truly push myself. The weight began to fly off.
Darin Hulslander, CSCS, CPT, and owner of DNS Performance & Nutrition
2. Hit the weight room
The best advice I ever received is that lifting weights helps you to lose weight. I lost eight stone [112 pounds] in a year from running on a treadmill, but it was only when I started lifting weights that I actually began to love my body. The more muscles you have, the more fat your body will burn, even while resting. Plus the muscle makes your skin look defined and toned, so you look leaner. Clients always admit to overworking themselves with cardio, but don’t lift a single weight and then they complain that they don’t have a toned physique. It’s simple — mix small amounts of cardio with strength moves, and you’ll see a transformation in no time.
Lee Pickering, personal trainer
3. Make your meals colorful
The best tip for weight loss I ever got, which I always like to pass on, is to never eat anything white. By doing that, you’re avoiding things that lead to weight gain like sugar, white bread, white flour, white pasta, and white rice. All culprits in obesity and disease. A simple tip, but one of the most effective things you can do in your diet and weight-loss pursuits.
Jamie Logie, CPT, certified nutritionist, and creator of Regained Wellness
4. Get in the kitchen
My younger sister and I were sharing a town home at the time when she begged me to do Atkins with her, so she’d be more likely to stay on track. Up to that point, I had never gone on a diet or made any attempt to lose the weight. I found a forum specifically for low-carbers and, if memory serves me correctly, I basically whined about the diet in my first post.
I can’t remember their username, but someone chimed in fairly quickly with this golden nugget of advice: ‘Learn to cook. The more you make your own food and the more comfortable you get cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, the better you’ll do on this.’ Up to that point, I largely relied on convenience foods, and you know what? That was the best advice I ever got. I bought low-carb cookbooks, more kitchen utensils and cooking gear, and learned how to cook for myself. It helped me to shed 90 pounds in a little over a year, got me to, shockingly, save money, and it’s a skill that’s made maintaining my weight easier, even when I’m trying out other nutritional schools of thought. And the stuff I make in my own kitchen tastes worlds better than the meals and snacks that were my faves as a former fat chick.
Petrina Hamm, online fitness coach
5. Cut back on cardio
The best advice I ever received was from a trainer while working at a weight-loss resort together who told me to get off the elliptical and treadmill, and to start lifting heavy weights. As a female, like most, I thought the more calories I burned, the better off I would be. I was running marathons, but still wasn’t happy with my body. When I stopped focusing on cardio and started building strength, I didn’t get ‘big,’ like a lot of girls might fear. I finally started seeing my hard work pay off.
Megan Ware, RDN and owner of Nutrition Awareness
6. Say no to junk
My coach at the time told me to completely eliminate all processed foods, including dairy. I also eliminated all trigger foods — foods you eat for fun, not hunger. I only ate nutrient dense, whole foods. It was the first time I saw the magic and power of food, and how efficiently it can serve your body. In just three weeks, I watched my body transform and it created the foundation for my Fit To Feast 21-day palate reset, which I now offer to my clients.
7. Enjoy yourself
The best advice I’ve ever received for weight loss is you must have a positive relationship with food, and enjoy eating those foods if you want your weight loss to be successful. I think people believe that if they want to lose weight, food has to be bad tasting and not satisfying. Healthy weight loss will only be successful and maintained if the foods you eat are enjoyable and fulfill your appetite.
It doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, this miserable, daunting task where you’re starving or think food is the enemy or a foreign substance you have to stay away from. Getting your weight to a place where your health is at its best should be a rewarding experience if your relationship with food is where it needs to be. Eating healthy foods that you look forward to, eating until you’re satisfied, and always looking at food as something that is helping you will be your best approach to losing weight, and enjoying it while you do.
Maurice Buchanan, personal trainer and owner of UGO1 Fitness