Weight Loss For Women Over 40: 101 Simple Things You Can Do TODAY
As a woman over 40, weight loss is frustrating – and the last 10 pounds can make you want to quit over and over.
It’s awful, right?
You don’t know what’s not working.
Is it menopause?
Is it something that happened after the second or third pregnancy?
Is it just a natural part of aging?
Well, what got you here, won’t get you there.
Here are some tiny daily strategies you can implement to help you specifically lose weight over 40.
Exclusive Bonus: Click here for a bonus download of all 101 things and more that you can take with you.
How to Lose Weight for Women Over 40
#1 Get a Little Fishy & Supplement Smart
Start consuming it.
Charles Polliquin is a fitness expert and loves fish oil, citing that people consuming fish oil supplements daily lost more weight compared to those who weren’t supplementing with fish oil at all.
The best part? In this particular study, they didn’t even exercise – they just added fish oil.
#2 Switch Your Motivational Source
Been relying on discipline, grit, willpower and, god-forbid, “grinding it out?”
Maybe it’s time to switch gears and stop the self punishment and self hatred.
In the early 1900’s, a psychologist known as B.F. Skinner found that rewards were much more effective than punishments when it came to actually changing people’s behavior.
So if you’re relying on punishing workouts or routines you hate – maybe it’s time to switch up the motivational source to do something you actually love.
Yoga? Gardening? Just walking (a bit faster) with the dogs?
Start doing that instead.
#3 Flip The Cortisol Switch
Let’s face it – maybe you were eating the right stuff and exercising the right amounts.
But maybe you aren’t sleeping enough, or maybe that high stress job (and parenting routine) is killing your weight loss.
Stress elevates the levels of a hormone known as cortisol – and excessively high cortisol is linked to everything from inflammation to belly fat gain. Yup, you read that right.
What that means is simple: maybe it’s time to actually start paying attention to that stress management routine. Maybe it’s time to work less and live more. Or maybe it’s just time to sleep more. You be the judge !
#4 Kickstart Your Thyroid
Stress wrecks your thyroid.
In fact, there’s a inverse relationship between how much stress you’re under and how horribly your thyroid functions: the more stress, the worse the functioning of the thyroid.
So following up on point #3 here, addressing lack of sleep, addressing the seven cups of coffee a day habit, and addressing the hair-pulling freak outs is going to go a long way towards helping you make progress.
#5 Rebalance Estrogen (& Other Wacky Hormones)
One hormone commonly out of balance in overweight people is Estrogen – which tends to be too high.
A common thing I hear from clients too is having PCOS – which is associated with high Estrogen as well.
Here are a few really high level ways to help lower estrogen levels and regain some “oomph” (and energy).
- Have a higher protein, lower carb diet.
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Supplement with fish oil (#1)
- Lose a bit of weight
We’ll talk more on specific hormonal balancing later.
#6 Eat More Calories (yes…)
I once got on the phone with a woman who told me she was struggling to lose weight.
After we got to talking a bit more about what her daily routine looked like, she dropped a bomb.
“I’m eating around 1,200 calories a day, and working out 1 hour a day, five days a week.”
I was speechless.
This brought starvation diet to a whole new level, and explained her low energy, messed up hormone levels, and extremely grouchy approach towards life.
I had her start adding back in calories – a lot – and for the first time in months she started losing weight again (and her husband thanked me).
Sometimes the tendency to just “keep eating less” can get a little extreme.
If you’re really burning the candle at both ends (excess exercise with not enough calories) you’re really putting a lot of pressure on the body to perform when you’re not giving it the resources it needs to function.
It sounds logical: want to lose weight? Follow the cliché advice to just eat less.
Except, at a certain point, it stops working.
One study wanted to examine the effects of a low calorie weight loss diet on resting metabolic rate and T3 levels in obese kids.
(Note: T3 is an important thyroid hormone, also important for metabolism).
The children in the study had a BMI of an average of 29, and they were measured in a 6-week study after undergoing dietary changes.
The weight loss in the study actually resulted in a 10% decline in resting metabolic rate.
So the less these children ate, and the more weight they lost, BUT the lower their metabolism became.
#7 Add Weights… And Don’t Freak Out
Toning is a huge myth.
And seeing as how I get “how do I get toned?!” questions every day, let’s flesh out how you really look amazing and get the “tight” look you want.
It’s from lifting weights.
That’s the truth. Lifting weights – not running, not grueling cardio – give you that tight look.
It gives you the Michelle Obama’s arms.
It gives you the fit legs and butt.
It gets you the tight stomach and waist that you want. And toning is really simple, and just revolves around two things: losing a bit of body fat, and building a bit more muscle.
Also, if you’re a woman over 40, adding weights is even more important to offset the loss of muscle mass and bone density that naturally happens.
(Side note: No you won’t get all muscle-y. Read my thoughts on toning here.)
#8 Remove Environmental Estrogen Sources
Xenoestrogens as they’re known, are compounds that mimic estrogen in your body, but come from sources other than your body.
Some of the most common ones you probably interact with on a daily basis are:
- BPA. A chemical found in plastics and plastic bottles; it’s pretty common for plastics to list “BPA-free” now.
- FD&C Red #3. A food additive.
- Parabens. Typically found in cosmetic and beauty products.
#9 Bump Up The Thyroid By Ditching The Pesticides
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that exposure to fungicides and organochlorine pesticides increased the rate of hypothyroid among women by up to 20 and 40 percent.
And a well-functioning thyroid is critical to having the body’s metabolism firing on all cylinders and working properly (among other things).
This one is a bit insidious – it seems obvious to just change how much we eat and how often we exercise, but chemicals, pesticides, and many other factors play a huge role in metabolism and health too.
Food quality is just as important as food quantity.
#10 Stick to ONE Plan For at Least 6 Months
Especially with losing the last 10 pounds, this can be extremely tempting to do.
You try a plan for a week or a couple weeks, and it doesn’t work (or doesn’t work fast enough).
Then you switch plans because you realize you probably have a bad plan.
So you try the new plan for a week or for a couple weeks. Then the same thing happens – slow progress, or no progress.
So you switch plans.
On and on it goes, until we eventually get fed up and quit.
Here’s how to avoid this: The best way to prevent this from happening is to realize the proper timeline: losing the last 10 pounds takes time.
Realistically, it may take you a few months to lose a few pounds – which could mean it takes anywhere from 3 – 12 months to lose the last 10 pounds. And often what happens is we find ourselves quitting – even if we DID have great advice – before staying on it long enough to actually see any results.
Pick one thing, do it for a solid 30-100 days, then evaluate. Did it work?
#11 Use the “HandShake Technique” To Exercise More Consistently (or Become an Exerciser)
Up to this point, you may have gotten away with not exercising, or not exercising as intensely and as regularly as you’d like.
But if you’re stuck at the last 10 it’s “different” – and will require slightly different strategies to get there.
Around this phase, I would recommend at least 30-45 minutes a day for 4-5 days a week, which includes weights.
And if you haven’t been able to get yourself to be consistent with exercise, use something I call the “Handshake Technique.”
This technique is simple: we often find ourselves procrastinating because we’re doing too much, too soon. It’s the classic new year’s syndrome where we say, “this year is going to be different, I know it” and then we proceed to do five hours of exercise in the first week.
The second week, we quit.
It just doesn’t work like that.
The solution is to make things so small that reaching the goal is easy – so if you’ve been procrastinating going to the gym, then just make yourself go for 5 minutes.
And if you are procrastinating on five minutes, just go for one minute.
And if THAT doesn’t work – just drive by the gym and count that as your workout. Yes. I’m serious. Read more here on how a top coach got his clients to exercise that were “too busy” for it.
#12 Become a Mini Buddha
We talked earlier about how stress offsets the functioning of the thyroid (among other things) which is really important for regulating your metabolism.
The excess cortisol hormone produced from stress also is linked with myriad other health issues including belly fat gain.
I profiled many of the other negative problems (like weight gain) that come from stress here.
So start putting that meditation and yoga routine right up there with eating healthy.
#13 Create a Miracle Morning Success Routine
I’ve previously talked about how having an eight minute morning routine was the turning point for my dad to lose over 40 pounds.
And I didn’t fully ever have a morning routine in my life until I read Hal Elrod’s site, and particularly his book The Miracle Morning.
He talked non stop about how successful people had morning routines where they reflected, visualized, exercised, and more. And even though I knew these things intellectually, I had never actually consistently done them in my life before, ever.
And once I did, big things started changing.
I don’t know if it’s just the daily focus – reviewing my goals reminded me what I wanted – or if it was something else, but incredible things started happening.
Not only did I make quantum progress towards all of my major life goals, including my health, finances, and relationship, but I was WAY happier on a daily basis.
Thanks Hal! I highly recommend checking out his book here.
#14 Master Your Cravings Once and For All
We all get cravings. But have you taken the time to figure out what’s consistently triggering your cravings, and then mastering them?
If you get cravings because of nutritional reasons, here are the three easiest ways to control them day to day:
- Eat more protein. This will help you stay fuller, longer.
- Eat every 3 hours. This will help keep a stable blood sugar.
- Watch out for food cues. Beware of the “availability” principle – if food is there, you will eat it. It’s probably the simplest, most easy to implement principle out there. So that means making sure that 100% of the food around you (as best you can control it) is the right food.
I talked plenty more on how to stop sugar cravings here.
#15 Beware the 3 Major Food Additives Companies Use To Hook You
Food companies deliberately engineer food – and spend time researching how to engineer food – in order to make it more addictive.
That’s just a sad truth about the nature of our food industry.
So those cheetos we’ve been eating probably have been through quite the ringer when it comes to testing which flavor tastes best.
The point here is simple: food companies often have a few key additives that they add in order to get you to eat more without realizing it.
- Sugar. Sugar is added to almost everything from pizza sauce to bread, and it obviously makes anything taste better!
- Fat. Fat leads to the creamy texture in many foods. Think about avocados – they are super high in fat which gives them that amazing, creamy texture. Usually it’s a dairy or mayo-based fat source added.
- Salt. Salt is usually added to meats, breads, and virtually all sauces (even things like canned corn) to make them more palatable
Watch out for these “big three” if you want to make sure you’re actually eating healthy food (since healthy food can have these added too).
#16 Blow Your Mind With This Fact About “Timelines”
Ever feel like you HAVE to have some kind of crazy timeline to actually get started with your fitness?
Maybe there’s an event coming up, or it’s beach season or whatever, and you’re realizing “Crap, I gotta DO this… pronto!”
And then it’s that mad dash to try to lose 10 pounds by next week… something that just induces stress, frustration, and sometimes starvation?
Yeah, well that’s not going to work if you’re working on the last 10 pounds.
It just doesn’t work like that at all.
A “realistic” timeline here is 3-12 months, and that depends on a LOT of factors.
So breaking that down, this looks like around a pound a month, or even .75 or .5 a pound a month.
Yes, you can’t see that on the scale.
Yes, you don’t seem to be making progress,
But yes, you ARE making progress, and you WILL get there. Don’t lose sight of the realistic timeline.
#17 Approach it With the “Fine Tuning” Mindset
You are testing, tweaking, adjusting, and most of all, fine tuning your progress.
At this point, sleeping five hours a night is going to have to be something you stop doing or improve upon.
At this point, it’s time to maybe get a bit strict on that 1-2 beer/wine/cocktail a night habit and leave it for the weekend (or remove it for a short period of time).
At this point, you’re going to have to take things up a notch – and focus on pushing it in every major category: exercise, nutrition, and recovery. Figure out your core daily habits, and start pushing the envelope.
#18 Remove White Flour and Sugar 100%
By far, the quickest, healthiest win you can make for your health and your weight is somewhat obvious – consume less flour and less sugar.
That means making sure breakfast means eggs, or fruits, or a parfait, or some other good protein and veggie/fat source, rather than the bagel with butter.
Try thinking about new combinations, since a carb source is typically common for breakfast (bagels, doughnuts, pancakes), and try to emphasize protein, fats and veggies with each meal.
#19 Add in Adaptogenic Herbs to Offset Stress
Check this out – in one study, Zucker diabetic fatty rats were treated with Rhodiola root powder (100 and 500 mg/kg once daily for 4 weeks).
The root extract reversed insulin resistance, and lowered triglycerides (all very important markers of heart health and longevity).
And the researchers eventually concluded that this herb in particular showed plenty of potential for treating metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
#20 Try Going On A Spartan Diet For 30 Days
Sometimes when you can’t lose weight, there are underlying medical reasons or even potentially food allergies.
When in doubt, go spartan.
And when I mean spartan, I just mean avoiding the major sources of food allergies and things that make people feel worse.
Alcohol. Try removing alcohol because it influences hormones (like estrogen), can mess up your sleep quality, and is another source of liquid carb calories.
Stimulants. Try removing all coffee, red bull, etc. because stimulants can increase the cortisol (stress hormone) levels of your body, which also affects the functioning of your thyroid.
Sugar. Because you’ll feel 100x better.
Yeah, unfortunately that means no red wine for 30 days, and no morning coffee, but try it and see how it goes for you.
Worst comes to worst, just try it out for a week.
#21 Focus on The Right 20%
The 80/20 rule states that a very small percentage of what we actually do – around 20% – actually results in the majority of our results (around 80%).
Well, I can tell you upfront: the right 20% that gives you 80% of the results is nutrition here.
So take a quick look at what your daily habits look like, as well as your weekly routine – is it reflecting the right 20% that is going to give you the majority of your results?
Make sure you’re focusing on food.
#22 Change Your Sabotage Narrative
We often sabotage ourselves without even knowing it.
Sometimes we say things to deliberately make our lives harder because dealing with the truth hurts.
“Aliens are sabotaging my weight loss” or (more realistically) “Nothing I do seems to give results quick enough” can turn into full blown internal narratives that prevent us from keeping going.
What’s your narrative saying?
Are you telling yourself that this is going to take 2 hours a day?
Are you telling yourself that because you’re a woman over 40 this is impossible?
#23 Don’t Forget About The Golden Trifecta Principle
The golden trifecta is simple.
If you don’t know how to get started, combine three habits that produce massive rewards: One exercise habit, one accountability habit, and one nutritional habit.
Then you make sure you’re progressing in each of them, making them harder, upping the ante, etc.
Do you have habits in each of these three categories?
#24 Eliminate Your #1
All of us have one big, mean #1.
The #1 is simple – the #1 thing we blame for our lack of results.
Sometimes it’s genetics, sometimes it’s time, sometimes it’s our own energy or happiness, and sometimes it’s friends or family.
But consider this: if we want to feel infinitely better, and look better too, none of those really mean anything – we still have to figure out how to reach the goal regardless of the frustrations, limitations, and excuses.
So what’s your #1?
And how can you eliminate or overcome it?
How can you take 100% responsibility for the results that you see?
#25 Figure Out Your Narrative
Each of us has some kind of negative story going on within our heads.
I always fail, so why bother trying again?
My mom said I’d always be like this.
There are so many other priorities I have right now.
And ultimately, our success or failure comes down to whether or not we are aware of our own narrative, and then address it day-to-day.
#26 Add In a Morning Green Smoothie
Breakfast can be an extremely rushed, impatient time of the day where you don’t really want to take time to cook anything since you’re in a rush.
One of the things that I’ve seen work really well for numerous people is instead adding a breakfast smoothie that’s a green juice.
I do consider juicing a fad, but when you include it as part of an overall set of awesome habits, it can be a HUGE benefit, especially if you can’t find yourself eating more vegetables.
There’s also a cool study I highlighted on how adding a smoothie a day can really help with weight loss vs. just solid healthy meals alone.
#28 Use this Tiny Habit to Quit Soda
I once had a roommate in college that drank 6-12 sodas per day.
In fact, his soda consumption was so high that anytime he tried to quit, he would get severe withdrawal migraines from the lack of caffeine (and honestly, lack of sugar too).
That’ll make it pretty hard for a person to quit, so if you’re a mean soda drinker, take time to scale back the consumption slowly by figuring out when (and why) you drink soda, writing down the most common scenarios, and then re-writing your soda drinking habits with this video.
#29 Learn The Science of Habits
Rather than trying to force and grind your way to feeling better… why not learn the effortless power of habits?
Once you build them, it’s a million times easier to sustain them rather than trying to fight tooth and nail every day.
Start with my tiny habit friday series videos here:
- Addicted to Soda? Use This One Simple Habit to Quit (For Life) (Read it here)
- How to Psychologically Trick Yourself Into Meditating by Using the “Linking” Method (Read it here)
- The Really, Ridiculously Simple Guide to Creating The Habit of Drinking More Water (Read it here)
- The 60 Second Habit That Can Turn You Into An Exerciser For Life (Used By CEOs and Olympians) (Read it here)
#30 Learn The Core Reason Why All Diets Fail
Many of us fail because we think that the magic solution just lies in finding “the right diet plan for me.”
Unfortunately, that’s not true – ever.
It’s not about finding the perfect diet.
It’s about becoming a better person.
When we become the kind of person that can show up 7/7 days a week and make progress towards our health goal, we make progress.
But if we’re a 1/7 person, even the perfect diet doesn’t mean anything.
So if the results you’re getting aren’t great, or you’re stuck on the last 10, become the next level version of yourself FIRST.
Read more here on why all diets fail.
#31 Figure Out Why The Heck You Actually Want This
There’s an old saying: “He/she who has a WHY to live for, can bear almost any how.”
Translation: if there’s a powerful reason for you wanting to look and feel better, you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes, especially when the going gets tough.
So, beyond just looking great on the beach and just feeling amazing day to day, why do you want this?
Seriously dig deep.
Do you want to be around for your kids?
Do you want to spend the summer hiking in Europe, and your hip is hurting too much to do that right now?
Are you afraid of dying prematurely like a friend, or a parent?
Get a BIGGER why, and your HOW will be infinitely easier. Review it daily.
#32 Turn Off The (AL) Lifestyle Eating Habits
At some point, most of us wake up and think:
“Wow, how did it ever get this bad? How did I even get here?“
The painful truth is that we got caught up in the Autopilot lifestyle.
It’s easy to go about daily life, smoking when stressed, getting that muffin in the morning, drinking six cups of coffee a day, and neglecting sleep.
But the sad truth is when the breakdown occurs – diabetes, being 30 pounds overweight, getting high blood pressure – we actually act surprised.
See, the truth is that it was building this whole time, but we had no idea how. We forgot that life is made up of the small things – both the bad things, and the good things.
So as you go about your daily life, start being 100% conscious:
Muffin in the morning – is it bringing me closer or further from my goal?
Smoking when I’m stressed – closer or further from my goal?
Watching TV right when I get off work instead of doing that walk – closer or further from my goal?
If you feel like you woke up in someone else’s body and life, it’s time to end the nightmare.
#33 Quit Trying Altogether
“I’m trying the best I can!” we sometimes tell ourselves.
But maybe it’s time to do something different.
Seriously – quit.
Quit TRYING… and COMMIT.
Promise yourself that you’ll do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes, to reach your health goal.
Promise yourself that you’ll keep going.
Make a 100% unwavering commitment that you’ll keep going no matter how hard it is, no matter how many times you quit.
#34 Ignore Your Obsessive Goal Focus and Just Do Something Every Day
At some point, we can hit the wall.
What’s the point? This is so frustrating, plus I’m not even getting that much closer.
If you find yourself ignoring the scale, not checking in on yourself, and just going into denial, here’s a new philosophy.
Ignore your goal, and just do something every day.
Something every day.
It’s the simplest philosophy that has also made a massive difference in my life.
And once you’ve done a little something every day, make it a bigger something.
Increase the walk by a minute.
Increase the weights in the gym by 2.5 pounds.
Eat a bit more veggies, and a bit less carbs.
No big changes allowed.
#35 Start Walking 10 Minutes a Day
Maybe you’ve known for a while that you need to exercise, and it’s been tough.
And maybe you know that you like walking – and you can physically do it – but scheduling time to do it is tough.
What if instead of going for a half hour walk, you just walked for 10 minutes today?
And what if 10 minutes was too much, so instead you only did 1 minute?
Follow this tiny habit routine I call the “bag drop method” to regularly do it.
#36 Track Your Daily Habits
By far, one of the biggest habits that improved my life in 2014 was tracking my daily habits.
It’s actually a simple way to fix virtually any problem in life: if we aren’t getting the results we want, track daily habits.
It’s literally that simple to see what’s not working.
Spending too much money? Track daily spending habits.
Eating the wrong foods? Track daily eating habits.
Once you track them for 24 hours, you’ll immediately see what isn’t working and what needs changing.
#37 Decide to Try a 30 Day No-Flour No-Sugar Challenge
Want an easy and fast way to lose weight in a healthy way?
Remove sugar and remove all flour from your diet.
Not only will you feel better and lose weight, you also might see some health conditions improve themselves like constipation, G.I. issues, or even acid reflux.
#38 Try The 1 Minute Challenge
Any time I have a client that has a hard time exercising or going to the gym, we make it super small.
In fact, we make it so easy that it’s hard not to do it.
Walk for 1 minute?
Run for 1 minute?
Meditate for 1 minute?
Yoga for 1 minute?
If you are struggling to really make it happen, just do a minute. Tomorrow, do two.
#39 Stop Being Such a Freaking Perfectionist
I’m a nutjob perfectionist.
And interestingly enough, lots of my clients are too :-).
The sad truth is that we THINK that by trying to be perfect, we’ll see better goals.
10/10 is better than 5/10 right?
The problem is that we almost never hit 10/10, unless we have the time, resources, and energy to do that.
So usually, 10/10 results in 5/10 anyway, plus guilt and disappointment.
Perfectionists are less likely to achieve their goals anyway, but they have the added burden of beating themselves up.
So loosen the noose a bit, will ya? Give yourself the enjoyment of having a beer or some wine, and instead, focus on PROGRESS.
Note: Perfectionists, right now you’re saying, “Lolz, progress, I got that. Please. I got 7/10, forget this 5/10 stuff.”
Shut up, no you don’t. Give yourself a break from the self hatred.
#40 Boost Your Willpower 500%
This really cool study was done on the Israeli parole system to see if there was a link between the time of the day of a parole hearing, and the chances of a prisoner being granted parole.
What they found was kinda crazy: the earlier in the day the hearing was, the better the chances of being granted parol.
But the later in the day the hearing was, the less likely a person was to be granted parole – and the researchers ultimately concluded that this was because the judges’ willpower reserves were lower later in the day, so they reverted back to the “default, safe” answer which was no.
The same happens to us throughout the day. We end up making hard decisions (like whether to go to the gym or whether to cook), at the end of a long day when our willpower stores are already much lower.
But just by aligning the harder decisions with times when we have more willpower can help a ton.
#41 Eat Low FODMAP To Heal Food Allergies
The low FODMAP diet was designed to help people avoid most of the known food allergens, let possible bacterial overgrowth in the gut subside, and heal the G.I. tract.
Ultimately, if you feel crappy or aren’t quite losing as much weight as you want, there’s only one way to ultimately know whether or not you’d benefit from eating low FODMAP: do it!
I included a list of the low FODMAP foods here for healing IBS and gut issues.
#42 Be More Successful By Doing LESS
When I talk to people, it’s funny how often perfectionism comes up in conversation.
It’s almost like we would rather THINK about exercising five days a week… but when it comes time to do one day (instead), I hear, “Well, is that going to really do anything?”
It’ll get us to actually DO something…instead of pretending like we’re actually going to exercise five times a week 🙂
One strategy I’ve found to work quite well is literally limit yourself to 3 key habits you can implement on a daily basis (similar to #23, the golden trifecta), or, just one habit.
If you had literally only 40 minutes a day to do everything you had to do for your health, what 1, 2 or 3 habits would you limit yourself to?
What habits really produce the biggest results? Think about that, do less, and achieve more.
#43 Eat More Satiety-Inducing Foods
Not all foods are created equal when it comes to the calorie content, the awesomeness of the levels of their nutrients, and how well they keep you full.
And it really sucks getting stuck hungry with your stomach growling all day.
The solution is simple: maybe you’re trying to starve yourself, and you’re eating less, but you haven’t changed what you’re eating. So maybe you’re eating less food – but you were eating low satiety foods anyway that didn’t leave you feeling full.
Emphasize protein with each meal, low GI carbs, and make sure to eat more regularly.
Ditch the white, refined flower, the bagels, the bread, the pastas and more. They’ll spike your blood sugar (and your waistline), and they’ll leave you bloated, and then hungry not too long after.
#44 Burn Your Diet Books and Remember the “Real Secret” To Health Success
I once had a person on the phone who asked:
“Alex, PLEASE can you tell me what the secret is? Is it carbs? Is it fat? Is it calories?”
I felt so guilty when I cringed and responded, “There’s no secret, it’s just daily success habits applied daily over time.”
What else was I supposed to say though? That’s the real secret to success – but no one wants to hear it.
The real secret to getting the health, body and life we want lies in doing small things daily, doing them over long periods of time, and staying consistent. This is also known as the “compound effect.”
Are you remembering this, or are you falling prey to silver bullets?
#45 Say Sayonara to All Processed Foods
Sometimes we can think we’re eating healthy, but in reality, we’re consuming loads of hidden food additives like sugar, fat and salt, that are wrecking our bodies without even realizing it.
Make sure that even if you’re eating healthy, you’re avoiding all processed foods as best you can, which means:
- Nothing in a box, as much as this is realistic and practical
- Food that is freshly cooked, when you can
- Cooking the food you eat personally
I talked more about the damages of processed food here.
#46 Remember The 5 Differences Between Successful Weight Loss Maintainers vs Relapsers
A study was done to assess five of the biggest psychological differences between successful weight loss maintainers versus relapsers, and here’s what they found:
- Exercised | Maintainers: 90% Relapsers: 34%
- Were conscious of behavior | Maintainers: 90% Relapsers: 70%
- Used social support | Maintainers: 80% Relapsers: 35%
- Confronted their problems directly | Maintainers: 95% Relapsers: 10%
- Used personal strategies (maintainers came up with some whereas the average relapser didn’t).
There’s more on that study here.
#47 Heal Yourself from Pesticide Consumption by Eating More Organic
In my article on eating organic foods, I talked about how pesticide consumption in some people is linked to lower thyroid levels.
And since we know that thyroid is suuuuper important in regulating metabolism, that’s not a good thing.
The other problem is that some pesticides (most are banned now) contain xenoestrogens that mimic estrogen in the body.
This is more bad news since most of us that are overweight already have high estrogen levels which can lead to other problems (for example, PCOS in women).
If you’ve been struggling to get the weight off (and keep it off), maybe now’s the time to try going organic.
#48 Double, Triple, and Quadruple Check That You’re Eating Real Food
Two years ago, I did a home experiment to show the power of eating real food.
I did some pretty cool cross comparisons to show that when you just eat real food, you stay fuller, longer. You also eat fewer calories without realizing it.
You get more nutrition without taking a multivitamin. You feel infinitely better too.
And this I usually classify as a “big win” – something that virtually anyone can do to look and feel better, no matter where they are now.
Go read that article and double check that you’re eating real food.
#49 Beware of The Most Common Fitness & Nutrition Myths
Precision Nutrition has a great article where they talk about some of the most common myths related to health.
Without me reproducing their entire article, here are some great (counter-intuitive) myths that hold people back:
1. Eating eggs leads to higher cholesterol.
Truth: Dietary intake of cholesterol doesn’t really accurately reflect a big increase in cholesterol.
2. Aerobic exercise (cardio) is best for fat loss.
Truth: A combination of high intensity, weights, and cardio is best.
3. Protein builds big muscles.
Truth: Generally, after 1.5g /kg of weight, it doesn’t do much for muscle building.
#50 Remember That Weight Loss is About Life (Not Just “eating less and moving more”)
I’ve been asked more than once the following question:
“Alex, why is weight loss and being healthy so hard?!”
… And here’s my answer: it’s because being healthy has almost nothing to do with eating less and moving more, and everything to do with LIFE.
How effective is the perfect diet plan when everything hits the fan and you work a 12 hour day?
How effective is that same plan when you get into a fight with your spouse, friend, or family member, and you’re losing your mind for a few days?
How effective is that perfect eating plan when you have a horrible, sleepless, five-hour-of-sleep night?
Doesn’t work very well, does it?
Health is about life at its core. A life out of balance will lead to health out of balance.
#51 “I Know What to Do… But I’m Not doing It” Here’s Why
Another great article over at precision nutrition talked about the phenomenon where we KNOW what to do… but just can’t get ourselves to do it.
Don’t we all feel like that, especially when it comes to our health?
We kinda have a pretty accurate idea of what eating healthy looks like. And you probably even know most of the obvious weight loss tips already. So if you know all of those things, why don’t you have your dream body?
They talked about a few awesome strategies here:
- Do less (or more). Some people aren’t seeing results because they are OVER committing to doing way too much stuff, which flat out doesn’t work. It’s the classic new year’s plan of “religiously going every day” which results in something like 92% of people quitting in the first few months.
- Get a bit of help (or a kick in the pants). If you aren’t holding yourself accountable… there’s only one other option: get someone else to hold you accountable.
#52 Stop Worrying About How Much You’re Eating – And Do This Instead
In #48, I talked about the power that eating real food can have on your body (and life).
And I also talked about how just eating real food is the ultimate in portion control – if we theoretically avoided all sugar and junk, it’s actually kinda hard to overeat.
If you follow this three-part checklist, you’re virtually guaranteed to eat the right amount of calories and not have to worry about it.
Aim for 30g protein with each meal – around the size of a deck of cards, the palm of your hand, or a large iPhone.
Fill half of your plate with plants.
Fill the remainder with low G.I. carbs.
Voila! You figured out how much to eat… without counting calories and hating life.
#53 Shift Your Fullness Ratios
Not all calories are created equally – and I’m not just talking about good carbs or bad carbs.
I’m talking about how full certain foods make you feel.
If you haven’t seen my “shocking: in pictures” study I referenced above, read it here.
But here’s the thing: you can eat two things with the exact same calories, while one will stuff you, and one will make you still feel hungry.
Not surprisingly – stuff that is processed, as well as junk food, is LOWEST on the satiety index – you’ll eat a lot more of it, and feel less full.
- Croissant – 47%
- Cake – 65%
- Doughnuts – 68%
- Candy Bar – 70%
- Chips – 91%
- Potatoes – 323%
- Oatmeal – 209%
- Oranges – 202%
- Wheat bread – 157%
- Eggs -150%
- Lentils – 133%
The Fix: Focus more on the foods that will keep you fuller, while eating less total calories (you won’t even realize you’re eating less).
Coincidentally, these also tend to be the healthiest foods. More on the study here.
#54 Don’t Ignore The Rule of 5
There’s an old success quote that goes something like this:
“You are the product of the 5 people you hang around with the most.”
Here’s the thing: this is also true of health and weight loss.
Don’t believe me? Just look at your friends. We are shockingly similar to them in every way, from our health, to our weight, to our financial success, and even our happiness.
And unfortunately – our friends and family are sometimes the worst things imaginable when we’re trying to make sustainable health changes.
John has cookies on the counter.
Jill has potluck dinners with tons of desserts.
Mark has liters of soda in the fridge.
Janey keeps ice cream constantly in the freezer.
It’s not rocket science – but it’s often a lot less fun to do in real life – start surrounding yourself with people you want to look like. So sometimes that might mean avoiding getting happy hour drinks every day, and instead, twice a week going to a yoga class – and maybe hanging out with those people on the weekend instead.
#55 Stop Being Afraid of Fat
A few months back, I showed a study where a Yale researcher was tasked with the mission of figuring out which diet, of all the diets out there, had shown the best results for people long-term.
And he found a few interesting trends:
- The emphasis on real food
- Fats – which fats you ate, rather than avoiding fats
- Carbs – which carbs you ate, rather than avoiding carbs
That makes your life a lot easier right?
The right fats are the ones you find in nuts, avocados, coconut oil, naturally in meats, etc. The wrong ones are the seed oils that are processed and refined.
This is one of the old nutritional myths that just won’t die.
The Fix: Just go back to my core principle #1 – focus on what you’re eating, rather than just how much. And then watch this video:
#56 Ditch The Liquid Cocaine
Sometimes we begin eating all the right things, but we forget the fact that we might also be drinking a lot of excess, like this:
- The morning orange juice at work: ~150 calories
- The morning frappucino from the coffee shop: ~200-500 calories
- The afternoon or evening soda to de-stress: ~150 calories
Right there is an extra 500+ calories – enough to significantly bump up how much we’re consuming throughout the day leading to weight gain.
The fix is simple: scale down how much you’re drinking your calories. And read this article for more ideas on the quickest, easiest habit to change to lose weight.
#57 Don’t Remove Carbs – Just Eat The Right Ones
A study I mentioned above, on simple real food principles for health, talked about a Yale professor that studied a number of different diets to see what really worked.
He found that it wasn’t a matter of removing carbs or not – it was a matter of whether or not these people were carb selective – so whether or not they ate the right carbs.
What are the right carbs?
Low G.I. ones, like brown rice (instead of white) and whole grains (instead of refined white flour).
I’ve included an epic article on which carbs to really eat here.
#58 Spend Way More Time in Flow
Let’s be honest: if you’re at work right now, what percentage of the time are you really working and in flow?
One of my favorite books ever written is called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and the author talks about how his lifelong research has had one simple conclusion: we are happiest when we’re in flow.
Flow is that state where time passes by effortlessly, in a pleasant way.
Flow is the feeling we get when we played with legos as a kid, or were engrossed in a soccer game, or had a great conversation with someone we loved.
But sometimes as we get older, flow becomes less common. And sometimes it disappears altogether.
Are your health habits, your exercise, and your life flow-producing? If not, how can you get more in flow to enjoy it more?
#59 Flip The Nutrient Ratio To Get 1000% More Vitamins… Without a Multivitamin
This one is super simple: the easiest way to 10x the amount of nutrients in your diet is to shift from eating refined grains… to whole grains that are unrefined.
That means shifting from white rice to brown rice.
That also means shifting from white bread to whole wheat bread.
Just by shifting to the whole version, you can get up to 20x (20,000% more) vitamins and nutrients. Crazy huh?
#60 Seriously – Stop Being So Serious
You’re doing this to be healthier, and live a better life (ultimately to be happier) right?
So why are you doing things you hate?
#61 Realize That a Detox is Not a Sustainable Life Plan
Detoxes are the “hot new thing” now, and everyone thinks they hold the promised secret to “sustainable and lasting” weight loss.
What a joke.
Unfortunately, detoxes are yet another gimmick in a sense.
They aren’t sustainable – how well does it work to avoid all the good stuff in life?
They aren’t even needed – your body constantly is detoxifying and has entire organ systems to be detoxing you from life and your environment 24/7.
Despite those two things, I’m still cool with them.
But I’m not cool with detoxes as a sustainable plan when people think that drinking liquid calories all day is supposed to be sustainable, or eating a 500 calorie liquid green juice diet is practical.
C’mon people. We’re better than that.
A detox might “help” in the short run, but then what? What’s the long term game plan?
#62 Stop Letting The Demon in Your Head Win
There’s a voice in your head making you fail.
Most of you will immediately know what I’m talking about. But some of you will have no idea.
You know the little voice that says “Eh, maybe next time” or “I’ll say yes (or no) just this once” or “I’ll start that project next week.”
It’s the voice of resistance – the little demon that makes us choose what’s easy now and sacrifice our long term success.
It’s what happens when, even when you know exactly what you should be doing, you don’t do it anyway.
It’s the little devil on your right shoulder that talks you into doing something you shouldn’t do, or not doing something that you should do.
But here’s something that I hope will change your life: do an experiment. For 30 days, don’t listen to a single word that your head says.
Do whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish for your health, or just your life – fix your relationship, lose 10 pounds, sleep a little more, spend more quality time with those you care about. And IGNORE whatever your head says. Just keep following your plan.
30 days is long enough for miracles to happen.
#63 Do Just One Thing On This List
There’s a horrible irony here, and I apologize.
The more choices we get, the less likely we are to take action.
So pick ONE thing from this list, and commit to doing that for two weeks.
Then pick something else, and add that to the list.
The less you do, paradoxically, the more you do.
#64 Remember the Pygmalion Effect
A team of researchers led by Robert Rosenthal went into an elementary school and gave school kids intelligence tests.
The researchers then told teachers in each of the classrooms which students the data had identified as academic superstars, who were the ones with highest potential for greatness and achievement.
So they actually TOLD the teachers, “Hey, Jack, Jill, Sally and Ron are the smartest kids in the class.”
The researchers then asked the teachers not to mention the results of the study to the students, and to not treat them any more or less preferentially.
At the end of the year, the students were tested again, and sure enough, these main students tested off the charts for intellectual skills.
Here’s the crazy part:
When these “top students” were originally tested at the beginning of the experiment, they were actually found to have extremely ordinary levels of intelligence.
Yup, they were 100% normal.
No special intelligence.
No special gifts.
The researchers actually randomly picked the kids and lied to the teachers about their “gifted” abilities.
But after the study, the kids had in fact turned into academic kings and queens – top performers and high achievers.
And it’s the really long way of saying this: if you think you can’t succeed, or you aren’t smart, or you can’t do something, it’ll show up in your life.
And if you keep the self talk positive and supportive, it’ll help you.
What we believe, we become.
#65 Figure Out What’s Really Stopping You
Take out a pen and paper, and pour yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea.
What are the top 3 things stopping me from being healthy?
Then write them down.
“Well, there’s lack of time.”
“And cooking is annoying.”
“I don’t like exercising for an hour, or running.”
“Going low carb sucks.”
Write down every objection you can find to getting healthier. Then systematically figure out how you can plug in new ways to overcome those.
No time to cook food? Cook in bulk on monday evenings.
Hate running? Then do yoga.
Figure out what’s stopping you, and systematically overcome each objection.
#66 Be 100% Honest About What’s Out of Control
It can be tough to admit it:
Something isn’t working… or else we wouldn’t be here.
So what isn’t working in your life?
What really needs fixing?
What fears are keeping you up late at night?
What is really, seriously, 100% out of control?
Food? Your marriage? Your work? Your happiness? Your family life?
It’s tough to start taking action unless we’re 100% clear on where the wrench is jammed in the system.
What needs to change?
#67 Don’t Ignore The 2-Week Rule
Too many of us make huge sweeping changes we can only maintain for a few weeks. In fact, I would say this is where most of us fail.
The “2 week rule” is this: when “that day” rolls around that we decide to get healthy, we’re often over-estimating what we can realistically maintain (habit-wises), for more than 2 weeks.
So we often start working out four hours a week, or we start saying “I’m never having sugar again!” when in reality these are pretty silly decisions.
Realistically, the million dollar question is, “Can I do this for the next 30 years?” not “Can I do this for the next 30 days?” Remember: the process never ends.
Anytime you plan on making a new habit or going through a new routine, ask yourself if it’s realistic beyond 2 weeks. If it isn’t, chances are you won’t stick with it.
#68 Heal Your Leaky Gut
Chris Kresser has a fantastic guide on gut health, mentioning that 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates already uttered words we are now realizing to be truer than ever:
“All disease begins in the gut.”
So if you’re also experiencing IBS, gut symptoms, constipation, bloating, low energy, fatigue, in addition to difficulties losing weight, come check out his guide that talks about:
- Research linking gut health to overall health
- How a modern diet contributes to poor gut health
- How to optimize digestion with supplements
- And lots more
For me, focusing on a few simple steps (like low FODMAP), as well as eating mostly SCD has dramatically helped me feel better.
#69 Rid Yourself of Stupid People
There are people that judge you, are jealous, don’t support you, or are indifferent.
Seriously, are they really helping you to reach your goal?
Or are they making it THAT much harder?
In the back of your mind, do you know you should be running away from these people? If so, what’s stopping you?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, or people that are who you want to be in 6-12 months.
#70 Realize There’s No Perfect Time – And No, Mercury in Retrograde Doesn’t Count
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
It’s really, really easy to rationalize our health and say “I’ll get to it soon.”
But someday never comes.
Someday is a colossal lie we’ve been spoon fed.
If it’s important to you, it has to happen now. Otherwise it won’t.
One of the greatest lies in the world is that there’s a perfect time to do anything – get healthy, get married, travel the world, start a business, write a book.
You just have to wake up today and take step #1 – or it won’t happen.
#71 There’s Nothing Wrong With You: It’s Not About Willpower… It’s About Biology
See the above two brain scans?
One is a cocaine abuser.
One is a food abuser (a binge eater).
They look pretty similar, right? Well that’s because they are pretty similar.
It can be easy to blame others or blame ourselves for giving in, caving, or quitting. But it’s not really about willpower – it’s understanding that food can function like a drug.
Once we get this, we can stop blaming ourselves and start taking more action.
Figure out what causes your cravings, and use these jedi mind tricks to regain control.
#72 Use This Motivational Insight From a Cool 2007 MIT Study
A cool study was done at MIT to figure out why some students procrastinate, and if there was any way to get them to procrastinate less.
What the researchers found was interesting: They broke students into two groups, where students could submit their paper at the last minute, or have checkins multiple times throughout the semester.
In other words, group #2 had deadlines regularly — and the researchers found that their performance and scores were much better than the students that waited until the last minute.
How does this relate to health?
If you’re really struggling to get healthier or lose weight, and particularly are finding yourself unmotivated, give yourself a challenge by introducing a deadline: an event you need to be fit by, a personal bet with friends, a beach season that’s approaching in 3-6 months.
If nothing has worked, a deadline will. Make it short, and make the deadline less than 90 days.
#73 Pay a “Millionaire” To Have Lunch With Him/Her
We’re so afraid to ask people how they did what they did.
Whether it’s because of ego and admitting we don’t have all the answers, or it’s because we’re not sure what advice they’ll give us, most of us tend to avoid this.
This piece of advice is simple.
Ask someone – how did you do it?
How did you lose 30 pounds as a single mother?
How did you lose the last ten?
#74 Stand For Half of The Day At Your Work
Spend all day sitting at your desk?
Not only does a standing desk really help quite a lot with my own back pain, but it also helps people burn more calories.
Personally, I’ve found it to be a really effective way to increase my productivity too (and I sleep better).
#75 Start Doing Affirmations (Yes, I Just Went There)
When Erin Stutland and I had a podcast interview, she told me about an exercise that helped her that I’ve been doing ever since:
When she moved to New York City and found herself in a dance choreography where she found herself really stretched (and filled with self doubt), each morning she would write “morning pages” to spill all her fears onto one page.
And then she would write affirmations to counteract those fears.
When she talked about not feeling good enough to be performing with the other people as a small fish in NYC, she wrote affirmations that she is a world class dancer and performer – and sure enough, that year her performance skyrocketed.
Erin has a fantastic article and video on affirmations and whether or not they really work. You should go check it out, since this is a practice I’ve introduced in the past year and have really grown to like (and I believe they work).
I also talked about the power of affirmations in my own book Master The Day.
#76 Fix a Broken Diet With These Steps
Precision Nutrition put together a great guide and infographic on how to fix a broken diet, which involved:
- Nutritional Deficiencies. Figure out what nutrients you’re deficient in, and either supplement with them in your diet or add supplements. They’ve included a sample list of things different groups of people are most deficient in.
- Your protein, carb, fat ratios. Based on your activity levels, your goals, etc. adjust your fat, carb and protein intake. They’ve given a few intuitive suggestions for how to do that as well.
- When to eat. It largely doesn’t matter when we eat for non-competitive athletes, but for others, you might want to follow simple rules like eating starchy carbs on workout days, and avoiding them on days off.
#77 Stop Thinking Mathematically: It’s Not About Eating 500 Less Calories a Day
It’s really easy to just think linearly and mathematically: if I eat 100 less calories a day, I should lose xyz pounds per month.
Except it really doesn’t work like that.
When the “500 less calories a day” thing was tested, it didn’t pan out at all.
Instead, focus on just making progress and staying consistent.
#78 Get The Dirt on “Getting Toned”
Toning doesn’t exist.
The toned look most of us want comes down to two simple things:
And yes, women, that means it’s time to stop being afraid of the weights (you won’t get bulky anyway).
I talk more about the toning myth here.
#79 Wake Up Earlier Using The Benjamin Franklin Technique
Having trouble doing that morning routine you swear will change your life?
Exercise in the morning? Read in the morning? Meditate in the morning?
Working late, peering into a bright, glowing cellphone or computer screen and then being unable to sleep earlier sucks.
Use the Benjamin Franklin technique to effortlessly sleep earlier, and wake up feeling refreshed so you can master the day.
#80 Stop Telling Yourself You’re Lazy – You Aren’t
Laziness is a myth.
I’m a big believer that the reason we feel lazy when it comes time to exercise or do anything we know will improve our lives is simple:
1. We do stuff we hate
2. We do too much
So just by the very act of doing more things we actually like, and by making the daily habit smaller (10 minutes instead of 30), that mental, psychological feeling of “laziness” magically vaporizes.
Where did it go?
#81 Remember The 2 Daily Health Habits of Millionaires
I did a little bit of research on some of the top, daily health habits of millionaires, and I found that a large percentage of them engage in two daily habits.
Can you guess what they are?
Meditation and exercise.
Hey, if millionaires are doing them daily in their busy work schedule, there’s no excuse for why we shouldn’t be doing them too.
#82 Make Sure You’re Nourishing The Holy Trinity of Hormones
Sara Gottfried, M.D. talks a lot about the holy trinity of female hormones: Estrogen, Cortisol, and Thyroid.
In her clinic, she talks about how a common imbalance is the levels of these three energy and “oomph” hormones, especially in women.
High cortisol from not sleeping enough, stressing out and drinking too much coffee? That affects thyroid.
Thyroid not performing well? There’s also likely something going on with Cortisol and Estrogen.
Estrogen levels too high? It all has an effect on something else.
So if you think there’s some kind of imbalance here, besides obviously seeing your doctor, check out Dr Sara’s book, or her hormonal assessment.
I highly recommend it to every one of my female clients.
You can check out her book The Hormone Cure here.
#83 Eat a Diet That Makes You Happier
One study tested several thousand people aged 65+ over the course of several years to see if there was a correlation between depressive symptoms and diet over time.
Over a 7 year follow-up, the people on the Mediterranean diet had a decreased incidence of depressive symptoms. The rate of depressive symptoms developing was 98.6% lower among people in the top 1/3 versus the lowest 1/3.
(The Mediterranean diet is essentially veggies, fruits, whole grains, fish).
Another study found that the Mediterranean diet can lower the chance of depression… while fast food increases the chances of depression.
#84 Use Your IPhone to Kickstart Results
One of the apps I use every single day is called Strides (you can see it on the app store here).
Here’s how I use it:
I know what some of my key goals are: meditation, a weight goal, and then a “go to sleep earlier goal.”
So each night, what I do is simple: I track the daily habits that lead to those goals.
And just by tracking each daily habit I’ve made quantum leaps in achieving my goals in less than a year.
#85 Turn It Into a Challenge – A Diet Bet
A great service I found recently is called “Dietbet” – where you actually can challenge your friends to a dieting goal (or strangers), and you win money if you win the challenge.
They’ve apparently offered up over $13 million in rewards (yes, million), so if you’re looking for something that’s a bigger, more fun way to lose weight – try it out.
#86 Figure Out Your “Vital Few” Lifesavers
What things do you really have to do?
This is a concept that has totally changed my life – if I’m stuck with an hour a day, what do I absolutely need to do to see the health results that I want?
Maybe it means sleeping more, walking for 30 minutes, and having a home cooked dinner. When I do these things, I know that I’ll get the results I want, and I feel good.
What are your vital few?
If you only had an hour a day, or 30 minutes a day, what few things would you do?
#87 Stop Thinking You Can Get Your Dream Body With Exercise Alone
I recently shot a video on a big, big health and wellness myth: that exercise alone is the way to lose weight and feel better.
Unfortunately, it isn’t.
And a study done in the British Journal of sports medicine proved it.
They found that when people exercised without changing what they ate – 50% lost around 5 pounds after three months.
But the other 50% lost two pounds.
That’s sixty (60) hours of exercise for two pounds lost.
#88 Set a Better Physique Goal (Those Women Are Photoshopped)
One of the toughest things to combat is the constant feelings of comparison.
“Ugh, she looks that good at that age? What am I doing wrong?”
Well, unfortunately (or fortunately), almost every single one of those magazine covers is photoshopped to help women and men look way better than they really are.
I profiled a few of these case studies here in celebrity photoshopping.
#89 Fire Your Inner Sass
Ever find yourself messing up, watching someone else strike it big, and then the inner critic gets loud: “You’re so dumb, how did she get that and you didn’t? Why do you keep failing at everything you do?”
Well, maybe it’s time to fire her.
Erin Stutland has a fantastic video where she talks about a technique she learned from a very famous celebrity that involves firing her inner sassy talk.
Here’s how it goes:
- See how you’re feeling inside
- Notice the thoughts going on
- FIRE THEM (tell ’em to shut it)
Easier said than done, but if you find yourself overcome with stress, anxiety, self-doubt and tons of negativity, maybe it’s time to fire the inner critic.
I talk a lot more about “The Narrative” right here.
#90 Start Treating Your Body Like a Cell Phone
Another great article from Sara Gottfried, M.D. talks about treating your body like a cellphone.
I love this because health (and medicine) can sound complex, but sometimes it’s really pretty simple what the next step is: chill out.
She talks about three primary steps here if you’re feeling fried:
- Plug in: See what’s going on. Get a hormonal assessment. Ask yourself literally how you’re feeling.
- Respond: Start paying attention to how you feel now – if you’re drinking coffee too late and it’s messing up your sleep, stop drinking coffee.
- Recharge: Make sure you’re sleeping enough! Lack of sleep also influences stress hormones like cortisol.
#91 Treat Supplements Like Supplements
It amazes me that companies like GNC exist. No offense GNC.
Supplements are called SUPPLEMENTS for a reason – they aren’t intended to be 90% of our health and weight loss plan.
They are supposed to go in addition to the game plan.
So if our weight loss plan looks like this — Take pill 1, take supplement 2, take herb 3 — and not this: Cook dinner, go for a walk, and meditate — then maybe it’s time to change how things have been going.
Supplements are not a game plan.
#92 Wedding Day Syndrome
Wedding Day Syndrome, as I call it, is this:
We assume weight loss is an event, rather than a process.
All over the world, people spend YEARS or DECADES preparing for the wedding day itself, which is overly romanticized in movies and in books – and not the marriage which lasts (ideally) decades. In other words, all the hard work is the marriage – not the wedding.
But we emphasize the wedding.
The same is true of weight loss – many of us have event-based thinking. We think about ‘that day’ where we look great in the mirror, we go to the beach and people admire us, or the week where we finally lose those 30 pounds for good.
… But nothing ever sticks around forever without work.
What happens once you reach that 30 pound goal? If you stop, it all comes back. And that’s because health and weight loss never end – they’re processes that are forever ongoing.
Once you fully understand that health is a process – not a one-time event – you are already ahead of 99% of people.
#93 Constant Fatigue? Check Your Gut Function
Chris Kresser brought up a great point in his article “5 causes of fatigue your doctor may not be looking for.”
And in particular, the last one (#5) is something I want to draw your attention to.
Certain infections can manifest fatigue years after recovery, stool samples that have had higher levels of candida are linked to fatigue, and gluten intolerance is also linked to fatigue.
So if you’re feeling crummy, try getting your gut health checked!
A gut-recovery plan is usually a good idea in addition to whatever health and weight loss plan a person is working on.
#94 Ditch The Magical Pill Found on Unicorn Poop In the Amazon
It’s really tempting.
Somewhere over the rainbow, there’s gotta be something that’ll work for me, right?
Unfortunately, hoping for the latest magical pill found on unicorn poop in the Amazon is guaranteed to disappoint you and kill your results.
Not only do these things not exist – even though GNC wants you to believe they do – wanting one of these pills can lead you down another dead end: waiting for the perfect time.
There’s no perfect time, there’s no perfect pill, there’s just tiny habits, applied day, given time.
That’s the real secret, and that’ll always be the real secret.
Sorry – no fairytale solutions are going to magically show up to make it a million times easier.
#95 Follow These Surprising “Anti-Truths” About Fat Loss
Dr. Mark Hyman brought up some really interesting points here in his article on “automatic weight loss.”
He talks about some key truths that I think we sometimes forget due to their simplicity:
- It’s not just about calories
- Eating a higher protein and higher fat diet will help you stay fuller longer, eat less, and crave less
- The idea of “just eating fewer calories” is becoming a scientifically outdated myth
- Refined carbs and sugar alter hormones that increase hunger and fat storage
I love this.
I recently talked about the low calorie myth and why eating 500 fewer calories a day doesn’t come out as neatly and nicely as we think it mathematically will.
And this is a great reminder to focus on food quality, and not just its quantity.
#96 Conquer The Narrative Sabotaging You
Some time ago, I highlighted a case study on Reddit of someone who lost a lot of weight, and something they said really caught my attention.
They talked (even if it was in undertones) about the real thing holding them back.
Can you guess what it was?
Actually, it wasn’t any of these things. It was the narrative. This person’s piece of advice was simple: just keep going, we need you, don’t hate yourself, it’s a lifelong battle, and make sure to enjoy life.
That’s why the entire foundation of my book is simple: half of the battle exists within our own minds.
Conquer the mind, and you’ve already won.
#97 Get The Dirt On Eating Out at Restaurants
The sad truth is that you can eat “healthy” food out at a restaurant, and still gain weight.
I once had a client who swore she was eating healthy and was still struggling – so I had her write down exactly what she was eating and where.
I realized that because she was eating out, she was eating a lot of processed sugar/fat added foods (even though they were in “healthy spots”), and as a result was eating 200-400 more calories per meal than she thought.
I later did a home study to show how dramatic this can be.
#98 Get Healthy (And Save $650 This Month) With This Cool Study
A study was done to try to figure out what the key characteristics were of “savers” versus people that didn’t save.
Personal finance is strangely similar to health – we know what to do, but doing it is a lot more difficult.
And in this one particular study they had a very interesting conclusion:
The people that relied on discipline and willpower were less likely to be successful savers, compared to people that automated their savings, which bypassed willpower altogether and thus was a more sustainable strategy.
Gee, that sure sounds a lot like effective weight loss too right?
Relying on willpower is a failing strategy – it’s much easier to be healthy (without the guilt and self punishment), by just focusing on doing something every day.
#99 Conquer The Toughest Part of Nutrition
When surveyed by my own audience, and the audience of others, cravings consistently come up as the biggest issue in nutrition and dieting.
Fortunately, I’ve written quit a few guides on the subject.
Check out this guide on 3 proven ways to regain control over cravings.
#100 Psychologically Trick Yourself Into Exercising
This might surprise you.
Many of the long term exercisers you see in the gym don’t do it because they have iron discipline and willpower.
They do it because it makes them feel better.
But how do you get yourself to the point where you actually crave exercise?
1. Do less.
2. Do more of what you like.
3. Use the handshake method to overcome that “ugh” resistance.
#101 Ignore Stupidity Like The Biggest Loser Diet Plan
I wrote an in-depth piece last year talking about how some scientists and researchers analyzed the biggest loser contestants, and found that around 90% regained their weight after the show.
These participants were on severe starvation diets – as little as 500 calories per day – and were doing olympic athlete levels of exercise (4-5 hours a day).
Worst of all?
No calories, tons of exercise, and then they were putting themselves through the ringer to win an award… to see who could starve themselves the quickest.
And the USA is in the middle of a freaking health epidemic.
Piece of advice #101 is to avoid anything that you deep down intuitively know is not good for you.
Sounds crazy that we need to even bring it up… but you’d be surprised how many people have approached me only after taking pills, supplements, or surgery for weight loss and wanting to “do it right” this time around.
What Else Would You Add To This List?
Whew, over 11,000 words later (that’s 1/5 the length of my book!), that should keep you occupied for awhile.
Personally, I would treat these as success principles: apply one per week, and that’ll keep you busy for almost two years.
Are you ready to make this the best year ever?
Then go ahead and get started.
Sources: Some images from freedigitalphotos.net; Brain scans – Drugabuse.gov | Phys.org;
Thank you for this mammoth post! I had no trouble with my weight until I hit mid 50s and then it became harder and harder to not gain weight. Besides all the excellent points you mentioned I’d like to add 2 things that helped me.
I largely stopped snacking. I got this idea from reading about how the French eat. They eat enough at meals and wait til the next one — even small kids! This has been my #1 strategy for keeping the weight off.
Another thing I do is never sit more than 30 minutes. I set a timer and every 30 minutes I get up and walk, stretch, or do a small house hold chore like throwing in a load of wash or cleaning some vegetables (I work at home).
And lastly I quit freaking out about the fact that I weigh more now than I used to. My goal now is to be the healthiest not the thinnest I can be.
“Thank you for this mammoth post! I had no trouble with my weight until I hit mid 50s and then it became harder and harder to not gain weight. Besides all the excellent points you mentioned I’d like to add 2 things that helped me.
I largely stopped snacking. I got this idea from reading about how the French eat. They eat enough at meals and wait til the next one — even small kids! This has been my #1 strategy for keeping the weight off.”
Love this Deane! So do you typically just eat larger meals, or do you eat meals more regularly then?