So, you’ve taken stock and decided you want to lose a stone. It’s great to have a target, so good for you!
Trouble is, what often happens when we set goals – particularly ones related to weight loss – is that we become overly ambitious.
We try to do too much too soon, and that often means restricting ourselves, tracking every single calorie, and committing to gruelling workouts that feel more punishing than empowering.
So, if you’ve set yourself a goal of losing a stone how can you do it in the healthiest and kindest way possible without calorie counting or restricting yourself?
How can you do it in a way that feels good?
I’ll show you, but first things first…
It’s important to realise that the scales can’t tell you everything about your health. They aren’t even the best way to measure body composition. All the scales actually do is give you a numerical value for your physical mass.
And if you’re strength training (which you should be! More on that later) it’s totally possible to look leaner without seeing any change on the scale at all. (Sometimes the number on the scale can even go up as you gain muscle.)
(I wrote all about why the scales aren’t the best way to measure your progress here.)
Weight fluctuates all the time for lots of totally normal reasons, and that’s why I always advise my clients not to rely solely on those digits staring back at you.
If you want to lose a stone, make sure you’re not just stepping on the scales, but taking progress pictures and body measurements as well.
When the scale looks like it’s not budging despite all of your best efforts, take stock of how you look and feel – and trust the process.
And another thing…
I know, I know, there are so many quick fixes and fads out there telling you that you can lose 10lbs in 10 days. And social media has convinced us that we can totally transform ourselves in just a few weeks.
But know this: healthy weight loss is slow, not fast. It takes time and effort, and sometimes it might test your dedication and patience.
That might piss you off, but actually, it’s great news, because it gives you time to build sustainable healthy habits that will last you a lifetime.
A healthy rate of weight loss according to most health authorities is 1-2lbs a week, but don’t be surprised if the weight comes off even slower than that.
Think long-term and consider where you could be in six months rather than six weeks.
Good news: losing weight doesn’t mean going hungry. In fact, if you start upping your protein intake you might find you feel full more easily.
Not only does protein reduce hunger hormones and take longer to digest than other nutrients – so you’re less likely to snack throughout the day — when combined with strength training it also contributes to muscle growth.
In other words? Protein helps you become leaner and stronger. Not sure how much you should be eating? Most health authorities suggest 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day. (So if you weigh 140lbs, that’s 140g of protein.)
Try adding a protein source to every meal. Chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts, lentils, and cottage cheese are all good choices.
Don’t forget to pile your plate high with veg too. Veggies are low in calories and packed with micronutrients that are great for your overall health.
Consider yourself an avid snacker? It’s easy to graze all day long: a square of chocolate here, a handful of nuts there.
While you shouldn’t deprive yourself, it’s a good idea to get a handle on snacking by allowing yourself up to three snacks a day — like a piece of fruit, Propercorn popcorn, or a protein bar for example.
(Bonus point: if you’ve upped your protein intake as above, you might find you don’t really feel like snacking as often.)
For many of us, it’s relatively easy to eat well during the week because we’re in a routine. Then the weekend hits and that routine kinda goes out the window.
While it’s okay to treat yourself on weekends (every diet should have wiggle room), it’s a good idea to think of your weekend as 40% of your total week. (It’s three days out of seven after all.)
Plan ahead for the weekend. If you’re heading out for dinner have a healthy breakfast and lunch. Make sure you are stocked up on groceries so you aren’t grabbing on the go. And make time for movement if you can.
I’m about to tell you something you might not have heard before. You don’t need to exercise every single day to make progress. You don’t need to spend hours on end exercising either.
Short 30-minute workouts three to four times a week (opt for what feels manageable for you) are enough to make a difference.
The key is to make sure you feel challenged during these workouts. The last few reps of every set should always feel a little difficult. They should take a little extra exertion – and this is where the magic happens. So don’t be afraid to push yourself and achieve your full potential.
Most importantly, don’t let social media fool you into thinking you need to spend virtually every waking hour with a dumbbell in your hand.
Repeat after me: I do not need to work out every single day to get results. I don’t need to sweat for an hour to make progress. My best is good enough.
More good news: You don’t need to spend an eternity on the treadmill or spin bike (unless of course, it’s something you really enjoy). It’s better to give strength training a go instead. Think of it as your long-term strategy for improved health and weight management.
Why? Because strength training builds muscle and muscle burns more calories than fat. That means that your body will burn more energy while at rest — which is very good news if you’re trying to lose weight.
Some estimates suggest that strength training can rev up your metabolism by 5%. But weight loss aside, strength training has a tonne of benefits. It improves bone density, slows age-related muscle decline, and is great for your mental health too.
A pro tip? Don’t underestimate yourself. If you spend your day regularly picking up a small child, then you’re used to lifting around 15kg-20kg. Remember this when choosing a weight that challenges you.
Then there are steps to consider. Taking more steps than you normally do increases your TDEE: that’s total daily energy expenditure, FYI. Don’t worry, you don’t have to hit that elusive 10,000-step goal.
Just aim to take more steps than you normally would — even an extra 500 or 1,000 a day counts — and build on it from there.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase teamwork makes the dream work and that’s true of your fitness goals too. You’ll go much further when you have the support of others.
That’s why programmes with an in-built support group – like The Power Of Mum – are so effective.
In the Power Of Mum WhatsApp group, you get to chat through the challenges you’re facing, learn how others are overcoming certain obstacles, and get the one thing we could all use a little more of: encouragement.
You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, studies show that having an accountability partner makes you three times more likely to achieve your goal.
This tip is probably the most important one of all — and it’s a testament to why overly restricting yourself doesn’t work.
To achieve any goal you need to make sure it first matches your lifestyle. You need to find a way for it to seamlessly fit into your life, otherwise it will simply involve too much sacrifice.
Think of it like this: if you want a six-pack then you will need to calorie count and restrict and monitor macros. Are those commitments you’re willing to make at the expense of say having a social life, savouring occasional indulgences, or enjoying the odd lie-in?
If not, you need to set more realistic goals, ones that feel achievable and allow you to live your life.
That might mean giving yourself more time to lose a stone and taking a gentler approach: one that allows you to enjoy a slice of your child’s birthday cake, take a rest, and have time for all the other commitments in your life.
Need extra support to get your health and fitness back on track? Tried of being tired and ready to feel fitter and stronger than you ever have?
Join Power Of Mum: a life-changing health and fitness programme created specifically for busy mums like you.
This transformative six-week plan includes x4 PT-led video workouts a week, a 24/7 Whatsapp support group that will keep your motivation soaring high, a live Q&A with a nutritionist, and weekly check-ins to keep you accountable.