Have you ever tried a diet and then stopped because it was too hard, you were too hungry, or something came up? Don't feel bad if you have -- it's something that a lot of us have done.
If you're looking for something new to get your fat-loss journey started, try the "minimum effective dose" approach, a well kept secrets of successful weight-loss coaches. Unlike your typical diet, which starts "on Monday" and sweeps your kitchen like a hurricane, leaving a couple of low-fat, low-carb and low-satisfaction items behind, the minimum effective dose approach introduces small, incremental changes to your diet and lifestyle that have a tremendous effect on your progress.
You don't starve yourself and your metabolism won't slow down to a halt. The "minimum" effort puts less strain on your willpower, because you're making small, manageable, but effective changes. This means the stress on you is low, so you aren't as likely to give up on your plan (and your progress). And when, or if, you hit a plateau in your weight-loss journey, you still have plenty of tools and tricks available to kick things back into motion.
First, you need to know your starting point so you can monitor your progress. Weigh yourself, count your belt holes, and take some "before" pictures. Now, you can move on to Step One. (With this method, you'll add one step a week)
Step One: Start A Food Log
You don't have to count calories, and you don't have to change your diet. Just write down whatever you eat. Everything. Somewhere. Recording your food makes you aware of what you eat, and many people lose weight from this step alone. Check to see if you're making progress after the first week. If you are, keep going for another week before heading to Step Two.
Step Two: Start Taking Fish Oil.
Many dieters have found that the mere addition of 3-5 grams of fish oil a day kick starts their fat loss. Fish oil is also prescribed to help with motivation and energy, to reduce inflammation throughout the body, and for a healthier heart, making fish oil almost seems too good to be true.
Step Three: Start Taking A Daily Walk
Walking is overlooked when it comes to weight loss, but those who keep up their steps lose more weight and keep it off. Aim for about 10,000 steps a day, to start. A pedometer is a cheap and easy way to see how well you're doing.
Step Four: More Vegetables
Make sure to add vegetables to every meal if you aren't already. (Hint: Most of us don't eat enough. Veggies fill you up and keep you full longer. They also take longer to eat than many other foods, so there is more time for your brain to realize that you're no longer hungry and tell you to stop eating. A helpful tip: Start your meal with veggies, raw or cooked, and then eat the rest of your food. Feeling great with your progress after the first four steps? Let's move on to Step Five.
Step Five: Refining Step One
Do a review of Step One, picking the low hanging fruit out of your diet. Go back through each day and circle the items that are big in calories and/or low in satisfaction. See what you can drop or change for big calorie savings, whether it's snacks during an afternoon meeting or simply swapping out your 1,400 calorie lunch burrito for a 700 calorie burrito bowl.
Remember, small changes can mean big results if you're committed. For some people, a few of these minimal steps are all that it takes to lose the weight they want. If you find that you need more, take another look at steps three through five; pick up the pace on your walks or borrow a dog that needs walking, make sure you're eating enough veggies, and there's almost always more low hanging fruit.
-- Roland Denzel is a certified Precision Nutrition Coach and author of a forthcoming book about men's fat-loss lifestyle titled "Man on Top."