Tired of feeling hungry and failing at low-carb diets? Say goodbye to fad diets and learn how to build a weight loss game plan that will improve your health and get you results that last. This step-by-step 90-day action plan will teach you where to focus your efforts and how to build goals that work for you!
What is the Best Way to Lose Weight?
The best way to lose weight is to learn exactly what changes you need to make to get results and to make them a habit.
This is easier said than done.
The science behind how weight loss works is actually not that complicated - if you eat fewer calories than you burn every day, you’ll lose weight.
Where most of us get hung up is in the execution of this method. After all, we can’t live in a bubble and avoid temptation, stress, hormones, and all the other things that inevitably derail us from time to time. Not to mention the right place to focus our energy can differ for each of us.
The goal of this twelve-week plan is to practice building habits and learning what steps you need to take to get results. It's not about doing each day perfectly.
If you set your expectations at an “all or nothing” mentality from the get-go, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. First, failure is part of the process - it's how we learn, grow and get better.
If you give up every time you fail, you’ll never figure it out.
That’s why the first step to any successful weight loss plan, is getting your mindset correct.
Why 90 Days?
Real change takes time. We aren’t in the business of quick-fix solutions that over-promise and under-deliver. We want to help you overcome your obstacles and get meaningful results that stick around and become a part of your lifestyle.
Commit to 90 days for yourself and see where it takes you.
Step 1 - Get Into the Right Mindset
There are only two things you need to make this work: patience and consistency. Along with some self-love to top it off.
This is the hardest part. So many of us want to lose weight quickly and jump right to the end result. But the truth is, it's the lessons learned along the way that become the building blocks for the new you.
Moreover, results take time. You didn’t get to where you are now overnight, so you can’t expect to change it just as quickly.
Weight loss diets may feel temporary, but the only way they are truly successful is if you are creating real change and building the habits needed to maintain your results. Eliminating everything all at once does not set you up for a sustainable approach. It is small changes that can create the biggest impact.
Think of the next three months as practice for long term success.
The more consistently you work at it, the better you get. And the more time you give yourself to be successful, the more successful you’ll be.
This means being kind to yourself. And being okay with finding your own way. What works for others may not be the best path for you. Sometimes you gotta try a few things before you find what fits you best.
Put this into Action
Try as hard as humanly possible to stop comparing yourself to others and start learning what your body needs, from the inside out.
Then stop thinking about results, and start thinking about the person you need to become to get those results.
You see most of us get goal setting all wrong. We focus on outcomes, like getting abs, and not on the type of person we need to become to get there. If you want your results to stick around, this requires real change. Outcomes are merely a side effect of becoming a better version of yourself.
Take a minute and think about your big goal. Who is that person?
Are you a runner?
Is someone who meal preps lunch every week?
Write it down. “I am the type of person who…..”
Now believe it. And tell yourself you are that person. And keep telling yourself this over the next 90 days as you prove it with your actions.
Step 2 - Make a Plan
A lot of people will credit willpower or a strong motivation to their success, but that’s really only part of the story.
Your underlying determination and resolve are definitely important and will help keep you going when you’re getting results, but what happens when you inevitably fail?
Sometimes it just boils down to sheer determination.
But the more systematized you can make your habits, the less you need to rely on personal grit. Research suggests that having a pre-planned strategy could help double your chance of success (1).
This means creating goals to work on and planning or preparing your meals for each week. As well as thinking about how you will deal with temptations before they are in front of you.
If you know there is a food-related event coming up, make sure there are options on hand that fit your diet - check the menu in advance, pack a healthy option, or eat beforehand. Or if you are planning on indulging, still consider what you are going to have and set limits for yourself in advance.
So where do you start?
I could easily sit here and tell you the direct pathway to weight loss is as follows:
Figure out how many calories per day you need to lose weight and eat this amount. Keep doing this until you finally get results.
Yes, these are the fundamental steps needed, but the execution can vary. For some, just changing up food choices - like cutting out soda or ice cream - can help decrease calorie intake. For others, it’s decreasing portion sizes or increasing their calorie burn with exercise works.
The trick is to find a small behavior change that will have the biggest impact on you - this can take some trial and error.
Start your weight loss journey by taking a hard look at your existing health behaviors and really ask yourself, “What change will make this biggest impact?”. Then figure out what actions you need to take to make this change.
Still not sure? Here are some evidence-based weight loss tips that work for a lot of people:
1. Track your food intake.
Holding yourself accountable and paying attention to everything you eat and drink can do wonders. Plus, tracking is by far the easiest way to make sure you are sticking to your calorie goals.
Get started on tracking your intake today and download the free Trifecta app.
2. Eat more vegetables
Swapping in more veggies in place of other foods is an easy way to shed calories without feeling it. Non-starchy veggies are high in nutrition and super low in calories - a cup of cauliflower has only 30 calories compared to a cup of brown rice which has over 200 calories. Cauliflower rice anyone?
3. Eat breakfast
In reality, how many times you eat a day doesn’t matter as much as how much you eat each day, but some studies do suggest that a high-protein breakfast can help you control your appetite later in the day (2,3,4). Moreover, one study showed a healthy breakfast may support blood sugar control (5).
4. Eat more lean proteins
A good amount of research suggests that eating more protein can help you feel full and reduce cravings (6,7,8,9). Moreover, high protein weight loss diets are associated with improved body composition, helping to protect your lean muscle mass.
5. Cut back on sugary foods
Not only can high-sugar meals cause insulin levels to spike, many added sugar and sugar-rich foods (like refined grains and fruit juice) tend to be a source of empty calories. Meaning they provide energy but not a lot of nutrition and are a great option to trim calories from your diet!
6. Move more
Any form of movement, including just fidgeting more throughout the day, can increase your calorie burn and support weight loss. So, depending on where you are in terms of fitness, just getting started by walking or bodyweight exercises can be just what you need.
Put this into Action
Ease into the change and start with one or two small goals at a time.
This is important.
Don’t try to overhaul your entire life all at once. Small changes can create a huge impact if you choose strategically.
Pick specific behaviors instead of general commitments. For example, instead of committing to eating less sugar, try something like this:
- “I will swap my nightly ice cream serving for a cup of strawberries”
Or instead of telling yourself you will workout more, try this:
- “I will walk for 30 minutes at lunch, five days a week”.
Smart goals are attainable and measurable. Plus you get all the feel-good endorphins when you set yourself up for a clear “W”.
You can also include positive and negative feedback.
- Reward progress (in non-food ways). Whether it’s getting a massage, taking a day off work, posting a personal win on social media, buying a new outfit, etc. Find a few golden carrots you can dangle to incentivize yourself.
- Set up obstacles to make bad habits harder. Unplug the television, keep unhealthy food out of sight or don't buy it, brush your teeth when you’re done eating, or leave your wallet at home so you don’t go out to lunch.
Write down your goals.
I will (what), (how often), (by when).
Then, after a couple of weeks, if you’ve conquered your goal(s), take things up a notch by making them a little more challenging or adding another small goal to the game plan. If you’ve still got work to do, consider changing your goal or keep at it until it gets easier.
To become an official goal-getter, repeat this process every two weeks.
Stick to your calorie goals and maximize results with this free meal prep toolkit for weight loss. An RD-written guide complete with a macro meal planner, food lists, and expert advice to help you lose weight quickly.
Step 3 - Track Your Progress
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of any change is seeing results. So how can you tell if you’re on track?
Theoretically, in order to lose one pound a week, you would need to cut 500 calories a day. Knowing this, you can roughly estimate how much weight you can expect to lose over time.
However, when it comes to losing weight, there is more to success than the number on the scale. Sometimes weight fluctuations can make you feel off course, even though you are doing everything right.
As perfect as the calorie model appears on paper, it doesn’t always work perfectly in practice. There are many things that can interfere with this basic principle, like changes in water weight, hormones, stress, sleep, and human error.
We like to imagine our weight loss path as a straight line, but in actuality, it looks more like a series of wins and fails that trend towards a desired outcome.
When the results don't come right away, or worse, the scale shows weight gain, it can be super discouraging. Knowing what to expect and how to tell if your hard work is paying off is a huge part of keeping you moving toward your end goal.
Weight fluctuation is 100% normal and not completely in your control. As long as you consistently aim to hit your calorie goals, you will be moving the needle in the right direction.
Put this into action
Focus on consistency, not perfection. Remember any progress is progress... no matter how small.
To keep yourself from getting frustrated, learn to focus on results over time, not just daily progress. Weigh yourself at least twice per week, around the same time of day, and log it. This will provide you with a chart of your weigh-ins and more clearly show gradual decreases or increases overall.
You can also keep yourself extremely motivated and show your progress using photos. Take a daily or weekly progress photo to visually show how well your hard work is paying off.
Other ways to measure your progress:
- Increased energy and endurance
- Improved mood and mental clarity
- Improved strength and performance
- Clothes fitting differently
- Physical measurements
- Body fat measurement
Step 4 - Make it Sustainable
Having a well-thought-out plan is only half the battle. How will you maintain your results for the long haul?
The key to being able to maintain your hard work is learning to love the process and figuring out what balance looks like for you.
Find ways to improve your nutrition and get more exercise that you actually enjoy.
If you’re hating the food, opt for a meal plan style with the types of foods you do enjoy eating. And if you hate the gym, get outside and find a hobby that burns calories - like hiking, skiing, or swimming.
Don’t forget to splurge. Contrary to popular belief, dieting and deprivation do not need to go hand in hand. It is possible to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and still splurge from time to time.
Follow the 80/20 rule and strive to keep 80% of your intake on track, while giving yourself 20% wiggle room.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the impact of social support. Join a gym with a community feel or find yourself an accountability buddy to do it with you.
Put this into action
Keep at it! Don't be afraid to try different types of foods and exercise until you figure out what works best for you.
The moment it stops feeling impossible and you start to enjoy taking care of yourself, is when you realize you’re on to something!
Download this free meal prep toolkit for weight loss to get started on your goals now!