There are all sorts of things you can do to be slimmer. The thing is, I know how hard it is to keep up with many new habits at once. This is why I have distilled all typical weight loss advice into just two simple rules on how to lose weight effectively (and fast). Let’s get started.
(Psst: There’s some bonus content at the end!)
It’s great to be in shape.
Aside from the standard health benefits (e.g. reduced risk of disease, stronger immune system, more energy, etc.), there are many other reasons why slimming down is worth it.
While we like to say that we treat everyone the same, the reality is almost the opposite – humans tend to respond much more positively to those who look stronger, fitter, and healthier.
After all, we’re ultimately in this thing to survive; the physically fit are not only preferred sexual partners, but also associated with health, vitality, and success.
In short, being fit means you will be treated better by just about everyone you meet. More attention from the opposite sex, more invitations to social functions, more inclusions in friend circles, more attention from family/relatives (especially those with trouble deciding which child to devote more attention, money, resources, or time to).
Have you noticed that the world is getting fatter?
It is estimated that 1/3 of Americans are obese (2/3 are overweight). By eating unhealthy food and not getting enough physical exercise, people in industrialized nations are putting themselves at risk. Obesity greatly increases the chances of developing chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Capitalizing on this, the weight loss industry rakes in billions of dollars a year by selling fat diets, weight loss pills and surgeries. New gyms are appearing every day, charging hundreds of dollars a year for access to “boot camps” and fancy facilities.
People are counting calories, buying up “super foods” and obsessing about the latest celebrity diet. Is it really that complicated?
Not at all.
You don’t need to join a gym to start losing weight. Or read any special books. Or join any six week long training camps, where impatient “instructors” will yell at you for staring too long at a pizza.
To lose weight, all you need to do is spend more energy than you take in. You take in energy by eating food, and spend it by doing work (moving around).
We can simplify this even more. It all boils down to:
- Cutting out all junk food
- Going for a walk every day
If you do this, you will lose weight. If you keep it up long enough and make it a habit, you will no longer have weight problems. The first half (not eating junk) is most important – think of weight loss as 60% diet, 30% exercise and 10% mindset.
Let’s break it down.
1.) Stop eating junk food
There’s no way around this. If you are serious about losing weight, you must make every effort to cut out foods that are low in nutritional value and high in calories/fats/sugar.
Junk food is popular, and it is everywhere. If you have been eating it your whole life, you will always be tempted. The craving will never fully go away. You will see others eating it, and they will offer it to you.
To make matters worse, people who are overweight themselves will try to shame you into giving in. Unless they are your closest friends and family, they will want you to fail. After all, you looking healthier will reflect poorly on them.
But you must not give up. You must make unhealthy food your enemy. It is addictive, harmful and completely unnecessary. It is a waste of time (and money).
Start eating healthy today. Stick to these guidelines:
– Do not drink ANY sugar. Absolutely no sodas, juices, ice teas, lattes or milkshakes.
– When possible, only drink water (eight glasses a day). Instead of a latte, try a shot of espresso. If you’re drinking alcohol, skip the mixed drinks (anything colorful) and opt for a vodka soda or gin & tonic instead.
– No more dessert. No ice cream, cakes, pies, tarts or muffins. These are just sugar and frosting, presented in a nice package.
– Eat a light breakfast every morning, within one hour of waking up. Go for something low in fat and high in protein: oatmeal (with nuts and seeds), low-fat yogurt (with fresh berries and fruits) and whole-grain cereals (high in fiber) are all great choices.
– Stick to a healthy, balanced diet. Try to eat vegetables and fruit daily – they are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Whole-grain, wheat pastas and breads. Brown rice instead of white. 1% (or soy) milk, low-fat yogurt and other dairy products. Fish, at least once a week. Buy only lean poultry (chicken breast, turkey breast) and always ask for leaner cuts of meat. Snack on nuts that are rich in good fats: walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts and cashews.
– If you are absolutely craving junk snacks, eat Tortilla chips with salsa.
These rules may seem ridiculous. If you’re used to Western diets, they certainly are. It may even seem silly to deny yourself any of life’s pleasures. People will ask why you’re being hard on yourself “for no reason.”
However, you do have a reason. A very good one. By eating healthy, you are giving your body the treatment it deserves. You will not only shed pounds, but you will feel energized every day.
Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.
If you adopt a habit of eating healthy, you’re more than halfway there. The other part (exercise) is making sure the extra weight stays off.
If you’re looking for examples of healthy and easy recipes, check out our post: Minimalist Cooking: 8 dead-simple, quick and healthy recipes.
2.) Walk for at least an hour every day
The best way to do this is to make exercise a part of your daily routine.
If you’re sitting in the office all day, find time to go for a walk in the middle of the day. Take the time to stretch and breathe some fresh air, all while helping your body burn off extra energy.
Aim to walk at least an hour each day. Once you are comfortable with that, start jogging. Make sure your body gets a good workout. Think of it as a machine that will rust if you don’t use it.
That’s it. Eat healthy and walk every day. It’s natural and only requires you to build new habits.
- Weird things will start happening once you internalize these habits:
- Your clothing will start falling off your body. At the very least, you’ll probably need new pants.
- Members of the opposite sex will give you more and more eye contact.
- People will go up to you, and (discreetly) ask for advice on how they can do what you did
- You will wake up with more energized, refreshed to start a new day
The world is getting more and more obese. Our standards for health, fitness and general well-being are slipping.
Don’t live in that world. Live in your own.
You must believe that you can change. Picture yourself with a new, healthier body. Then become that person.
BONUS: A Step-by-Step Plan To Get a Slimmer Figure in 6 Months (that anyone can follow)
Some important concepts to internalize before I get into the specifics:
- Your body is always active. Whether you’re moving around, sitting down, or resting, something is always going on inside your body. At minimum, you’re breathing in and out. Blood is flowing through your veins and arteries. Your hair is growing, while old skin cells are being shed. Don’t think of your health (or weight) as static – it’s constantly changing. In other words, being healthy is an ongoing commitment – you’re never going to be “done” with it.
- If you spend more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Most “weight loss” regimens can be boiled down to exactly this: your get calories (energy) from the food you eat. You are free to use (“burn”) this energy as you please. Any excess calories eventually get converted to fat (as “reserves” for your body to use later). That’s it. Of course, this is a severe simplification and there’s a lot of science behind it all… but it’s enough to get started.
- It takes time for an act to become a habit. The key to making healthy living a habit is to first do it for one day. Then another day. Then a few more days. For as many days as necessary until it becomes second nature. Habits can be good or bad – the trick is to devote more time and energy to the ones that will help you. We are what we do repeatedly.
Now for the fun part – the method.
The following weight loss routine takes six months (180 days). No overnight magic here.
The technique relies on you changing only one thing at a time, and practicing that change for a month before trying to change anything else. This way, your mind has enough time to conclude that this is your normal way of life.
There are six changes total – building cumulatively after each month.
Month 1 (starting today)
From now on, resist the urge to drink soda (e.g. Coke, Sprite), fruit juices, sweetened beverages, or energy drinks of any kind. These types of drinks are essentially liquid sugar, and must be avoided if your intention is to maintain a healthy body.
If Starbucks (or similar) is a part of your daily routine, don’t put any sweeteners or syrups in your coffee. If you’re given a choice of drinks to go with a meal, opt for water (or green tea). That’s all you’re focusing on this month – cutting out the unhealthy drinks.
If you’re used to drinking sugary beverages, or find yourself around people who do, this will be tough. In any case, you must resist. Learn to say no and stand your ground, no matter how much others try to pressure you into giving up. This it the honey badger guide, after all!
This stage is as much about building willpower as it is about slimming down. Remember: you’re only changing one part of your diet/routine at a time – don’t try to do everything at once.
Good habits take time to internalize.
After 30 days, this routine should become second nature. If all goes well, you will stop craving sugary drinks altogether.
Month 2: Strengthening Habits
Keep the same routine as before (no more sugary drinks!), but add one additional constraint: from now on, you will only eat healthy breakfasts. Just focus on eating a wholesome breakfast – don’t worry about the other meals for now. The idea is to start the day off well.
Examples of breakfast meals to avoid:
- NO doughnuts, muffins, and pastries (e.g. cinnamon rolls, Danishes, strudels)
- NO cereal with a high sugar content (check the back of the box!)
- NO sausages, bacon, or ham (opt for lean protein instead, like chicken and/or eggs)
- NO egg dishes (e.g. omelets) with too much cheese or sour cream
Healthy breakfast meal ideas:
- YES to oatmeal (ideally steel-cut, whole grain)
- YES to whole-grain toast with lean meats (e.g. diced ham, shredded chicken, lean turkey)
- YES to healthy egg dishes (hard boiled, fried with olive oil, or omelet with peppers and onions)
- YES to low-fat milk or yogurt
If this is a big change to your routine, just do your best. Tip: it’s a lot easier to avoid unhealthy foods if they are out of sight completely – don’t buy anything that could be used to make an unhealthy breakfast!
Month 3: Continue doing what you’re doing!
The task for this month is simple. Continue doing what you have been doing (avoid sugary drinks and unhealthy breakfast foods) – but also make sure to walk 30 minutes a day.
Daily walks are important, especially for those holed-up inside an office all day. If possible, go for a walk in the mornings and/or after meals. If you’re already walking at least 30 minutes a day, then nothing needs to change – just focus on maintaining the habits from the last two months.
At the end of this month, you’re halfway there! Resist the urge to keep weighing yourself – the priority is to build healthy habits. The pounds (or kilos) will come off!
Month 4: the Ultimate Challenge
On top of everything before this, you must take control of your alcohol intake:
- Avoid sugary cocktails of any sort
- If possible, avoid beer and opt for wine (or hard liquor) instead
- Limit alcohol intake to 1 drink/day
By this month, people around you will likely notice that you are making significant changes. They will comment. Some will laugh, try to deride you, or make a game out of tempting you to go back to your old ways. You have to power through it all, and be relentless in your pursuit. Shrug off any naysayers.
Month 5: Cutting The Junk
The change for this month is straightforward – cut out junk food and snacks.
No more of the following:
- Fast food (e.g. McDonalds)
- Candy bars (e.g. Snickers)
- Cakes and dairy desserts
- Crackers, chips, and similar
Given how obsessed our culture is with these “convenience foods,” I expect that some of you will think that cutting all this out is impossible. All I ask is you try it anyway. The more of the above that you cut out, the better.
Of course, you will be looking to replace these somehow. The trick is to buy whole foods whenever possible (e.g. vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats). If you feel like snacking, carrots and hummus make a great combination.
Month 6: Almost There!
The change here is much like in Month 3 – make sure you get enough walking exercise daily. This time, the challenge is to increase your walks to 60 minutes daily. It doesn’t matter if you do laps around your block – just try to get all 60 minutes in, every day. Explore some new neighborhoods on foot!
* * *
If you follow the above routine, you will lose weight. I guarantee it, or your money back! 🙂
Notice that this method is mostly about subtraction – saying no to the unhealthy and the unessential. There’s no need to buy any special equipment, and a gym membership is definitely not required. You can follow this routine wherever you are (unless all aspects of your meals are already decided for you, that is).
Finally, realize that this all takes time – there is no “magic bullet” solution to weight loss, despite what many product pitches out there claim. The amount of weight you will actually lose depends on many factors (e.g. your current health condition, level of activity in your existing routine, body type, environment, etc). With that said, I would expect that a moderately overweight person will lose at least 20 pounds after six months of following the above routine.
The best time to start a healthy routine? Today.
Do it – and don’t look back!
PS. I personally adhere to all the guidelines in the routine. In fact, I have been at it for so long that I can’t stand the taste (or even sight) of sugary and processed foods. Water has become my favorite beverage, followed closely by green tea. I’m sleeping better, and generally have more energy throughout the day. My focus now is on building muscle through body-weight exercises.