Beginner Weight Loss
Are you a dieting dummy? A total nutrition and exercise beginner? Or are you a coach who constantly encounters people like this? If you’re a beginner, this article will help you better understand how to start your journey into a healthier lifestyle. If you’re a coach, this will help you have greater success with this type of client and allow you to increase your client base.
I usually write a lot of articles for people already in good shape who want to look even better. I’ll talk about recent research, nutrient timing and bunch of other things that are meaningless, unnecessary and unimportant to a beginner. I do have clients who come to me with no real knowledge of nutrition.
Clearly, they must be approached differently than someone who has been exercising and eating “healthy” for a few years. Working with bodybuilders and athletes, who are already highly motivated, is usually pretty easy. Working with beginners who have little knowledge or experience can be much more of a challenge. Here’s what you need to do if you are that beginner.
For The Client:
1.) Overeating – If you are overweight or gaining weight, you my friend, are overeating. It doesn’t matter what you feel, think or assume about what you’re doing. If the scale is consistently going up, you are eating too much. In a simplistic manner, you are taking in way more energy than you are expending, leaving you with a surplus of calories each day. You are giving your body no other choice but to continue storing excess fat and weight.
What to do? Stop it. Portion control needs to be your new best friend. If you are very overweight and have been for a while, this may not be enough to get the results you want, however, it is certainly a start. How can you do this? It’s simple, if you normally have a bagel, orange juice and cereal at breakfast, cut out the bagel to start. At lunch and dinner, make an attempt to leave some of your meal. Do not eat every meal until you’re completely full. Make a conscious effort to start reducing your intake so you can start shedding lbs and get your transformation started.
2.) Eat More Quality Food Choices – Try to make some “better” choices. Protein is something that you should try to get more of. It’s too early on in the process to focus on a set number. Instead, just start being conscious of protein intake and look to increase it. I would recommend that you have a protein source in each one of your meals. Things like chicken, turkey, eggs, whey protein, fish, steak, beef, etc are all good sources of protein.
There are numerous benefits to increasing your protein intake but the most important being it’s great for satiety (feeling full), which then helps prevent you from #1 above, overeating.
You should also try to increase your intake of vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. Please understand one thing. These foods aren’t magic. Eating them doesn’t necessarily equal weight loss. They are useful in that they generally make it harder to overeat and supply a lot of micronutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals). However, if you overeat all of these foods you can and will gain weight.
3.) Limit Poor Food Choices – *Most* people that are overweight eat an abundance of sub-optimal food choices. These are generally highly refined, processed foods that are calorically dense and loaded with fat / sugar. They often pack a ton of calories and do a poor job of stimulating fullness to the brain. Because of this, it’s very easy to overeat with these foods.
Let’s say you need 1,600 calories a day to lose weight. Maybe you grab a chocolate chip bagel (380-400 calories) and then throw some cream cheese on it (100-200 calories), it likely didn’t fill you up and now you have little room for error moving forward the rest of the day. Chances are, after dinner you will have far exceeded your daily required intake.
If you’re eating enough of the protein, vegetables, fruits, etc mentioned in point 2 and not overeating, you can still indulge in some of your favorite foods without hindering your overall goal, weight loss. However, be honest with yourself here. Your progress will let you know how much you can get away with.
4.) Write Your Food Down – You don’t need to track any amounts or anything…yet. That is for later on in the process. Just write down what you eat for 2-3 days. This is for two purposes. One, it makes you AWARE of what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. Two, it gives your coach a better idea on what you currently struggle with. Whether it’s overeating or making too many poor food choices, writing it down makes it REAL and inescapable.
5.) Do Something – Sure I’m biased in that I believe resistance training is the optimal way to change your body. However, if you do zero exercise, you just need to start by doing something! Find some form of fun physical activity and implement it a few times a week. Maybe you like rollerblading, playing tennis, riding a bike, etc. Just get off your ass and start moving. Do this and you are off to a good start.
There it is, five simple things to help you get started in losing weight. None of them are excruciatingly difficult but it will require a bit of a change in what you’re used to. That’s ok, clearly you need a change. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be looking for ways to lose weight. If your way was working, you’d be at or headed towards your goal. The next installment of this series will be more intermediates. Once you have started the process and get a handle on points 1-5, I will share with you what’s next.
For The Coach:
1.) Keep it SIMPLE – I cannot stress this enough. Simple before complex. You wouldn’t take someone who has never lifted before and immediately teach them a clean and jerk, would you? I’d hope not. The same way I’d hope you wouldn’t recommend a total beginner to count calories, macronutrients and have their Tupperware meals 6 times day. That is a surefire way to confuse and overwhelm them. Your main goal is to get them to limit total caloric intake and start thinking more about food choices. If you start them off on a complex restrictive diet you can be sure they will often feel confused and when they mess up they will feel helpless. It will only be a matter of time before they say screw it and quit all together.
2.) Know Your Client – Generally, this person is already very hesitant to give this whole exercise and nutrition thing a try. They are admitting they need your help and it is your job to treat them as an individual, not a clone. Ask questions and most importantly LISTEN to their responses. Their responses should dictate where you take them next. What foods they enjoy, when they are most hungry, any intolerances, how they feel after certain foods, how motivated they are etc. These are just a few. I ask diet clients as many questions as I need in order to develop the best plan I can. Not everyone will be as motivated. Not everyone wants a six pack. Their diet should be custom fit to them.
3.) Be Honest – The last bit is you need to make sure they understand that nothing is easy. Dieting isn’t magic and weight loss isn’t linear. It will require some thought, discipline and consistency, just like everything else in life. Under-sell and over-deliver. Make sure they understand that the first few pounds may come off quick but to expect plenty of plateaus. It’s your job to be there for them on this rollercoaster of emotions as their weight will fluctuate a lot. Whether they gain, lose or stay stagnant for a week or two, remind them that this is a long-term process as much as it is a lifestyle.
This may be difficult for you as most coaches want to flex their muscles and tell you all these fancy things about nutrition that 99% of people don’t give a shit about. If you want to be able to help people it’s your job to make sure they follow proper progressions, the same way you would with weights. Progress their diet slowly and their adherence will be much greater.