5 ESSENTIAL WEIGHT-LOSS TIPS FOR MEN: A HOW-TO GUIDE
For us guys, losing weight (and keeping it off) is not an entirely different beast than for women. On the surface, many of the key factors remain the same.
To start, both men and women need to maintain a calorie deficit in order to shed pounds, meaning you need to consume fewer calories than you burn on a given day. And for both cases, this is best achieved through a combination of establishing healthy eating and exercise habits.
Here, men and women begin to differ on what they should eat and how they should exercise to achieve their weight loss goals. Most women want to slim down to the coveted hourglass figure, while most men want not only to shed pounds but to trim their bodies to a fit and muscular V-shape.
Fellas, this one’s for you. The road to weight-loss is never an easy one, so we’re here to provide our take on some of the classic keys to weight loss for men. The difference is that we’re not simply going to regurgitate them to you, as you likely already have some idea on what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Instead, we’re going to give some guidance on how best to tackle them.
HOW TO: SET REALISTIC GOALS
“Baby steps.” Those two words seem to pop up without fail in the sphere of weight-loss advice, and for good reason. You’re not going to achieve your dream body overnight. To get where you want to be, you must set realistic goals and consistently chase after them.
Visualization is an indispensable tactic here. Try to picture what you want yourself to look like vs. what you can achieve in the space of a week. The former is your long-term goal, the latter your short-term. Consistently achieving short-term goals is what will inevitably lead to achieving long-term ones.
We recommend starting small. (Yes, this is where “baby steps” come into play.) Try not to set goals that chase numbers, like “I want to lose ten pounds this week,” because there are many paths that lead to that outcome and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Focus instead on the paths themselves, but only one of them at a time. Some good weekly examples are:
- I won’t drink any soda this week.
- I’ll go for a 30-minute walk every day this week.
- I won’t eat any fast food this week.
- I’ll hit the gym at least twice this week.
You’ll gradually see how these little goals move you towards reaching bigger ones. Eventually, when they become habitual you can begin increasing their intensity, and progress will snowball.
HOW TO: ESTABLISH HEALTHY HABITS
Many find that when they ride the initial burst of motivation that lasts two or three weeks after they make the choice to begin losing weight, they quickly start to burn out and fall back to their old ways. That makes sense because these new, healthy behaviors are not yet habitual, and so they are not yet second nature to you. They, therefore, require much more mental effort than, say, brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
The good news is that eating healthy and exercising regularly can be as virtually effortless as taking a shower. It’s just a matter of doing it consistently up to a certain point. Going for a run every morning might feel like a slog at first. But embrace the initial wave of motivation and fight through the slog, and after a month that run will seem as easy as making your bed.
A common pitfall here is the tendency to throw everything and the kitchen sink onto your list of habits to develop. This typically sprouts from the desire to see drastic results as quickly as possible. (See: Baby steps.)
Now, we’re not saying you can’t begin cleaning up your diet, consistently hitting the gym, and keeping an in-depth progress journal—all in the space of a single week. But if you’re new to one or all of these healthy habits, chances are juggling them will become taxing and burdensome, and few, if any, will actually stick.
Keeping goals in line with habits, try to work towards developing one habit at a time, or two at the absolute max. Another effective way to do this is to replace one bad habit with a healthy one, e.g., consistently grabbing an apple instead of your daily bag of BBQ Lays, or a bottle of water instead of a bottle of soda. Once you’ve gotten the hang of one, begin layering another on top of what you’ve already established.
HOW TO: CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
Cleaning up your diet begins with the realization that “diet” is not something you “go on” to lose weight. A healthy diet should be something we all adopt for the rest of our lives, for the simple reason that it improves our quality of life. Better energy, better focus, and more confidence.
In other words, make a plan to live healthy for good instead of until you lose the weight. This ensures not only that you’ll lose the weight, but that you’ll keep it off too. Again, don’t expect to alter your entire lifestyle after a month. But keep replacing unhealthy foods with healthier ones at a steady pace, and you can see for yourself what a difference it makes.
Now, down to the external side of things: what to eat vs what not to eat. This is all about nutrition. We’ll start with what you shouldn’t eat, which boils down to three things: simple carbs, sugars, and excessive calories. These contain a disproportionate number of calories relative to their poor nutritional value and are present in foods like sodas, snacks, white bread, and fried foods.
As for what you should be eating, aim for fruits, veggies, proteins, and a moderate amount of complex carbs. Fruits, veggies, and complex carbs contain fiber, which will keep you fuller for longer, meaning you’ll be less inclined to snack throughout your day. You may even consider trying oatmeal after exercising to ensure you are fueling your body with healthy proteins and nutrients after a hard workout.
Fruits are sweet and contain low amounts of natural sugars, so if your sweet tooth is on the prowl, satisfy it with some fruit. If you’re looking for some tasty complex carbs, both oats and whole-grain bread are excellent choices, especially for breakfast. Oats Overnight is a great place to start if you’re looking to add complex carbs to your morning.
HOW TO: EXERCISE PROPERLY
The other vital habit to develop is a regular exercise routine. As we’ve discussed, making it a routine and not an intermittent activity will make working out easier, more effective, and more enjoyable in the long run.
Strength training is an excellent way to shed some pounds. This type of workout increases metabolism and builds muscle mass, which may take the place of fat in the body. However, because muscle mass may accumulate, you may not see the drop-off in weight you’d see if you were only doing cardio. But don’t be discouraged, as putting on muscle mass will have you looking more and more muscular as you continue to shed pounds.
To ensure that that happens, combine your weight training with some cardio. Going for a daily walk is a perfect place to start. It’s easy, enjoyable, and won’t put you in great discomfort straight away. Gradually work your way up to running, biking, jump-roping—whichever form of cardio appeals most to you is the one you should make part of your workout routine.
HOW TO: MAINTAIN MOTIVATION
The web is brimming with articles describing inspirational weight-loss stories, in which the interviewee loses all their weight and transforms their life in the span of a paragraph.
Drawing motivation from these can be quite helpful to boost you out of a slump. And finding a relatable role model to follow can certainly be a great and lasting factor in maintaining motivation.
But sometimes we can end up comparing our stories to others’ and getting caught in a bad frame of mind in the process. One might also find that while the initial high of a motivational story feels good, the inspiration quickly fades, and what’s left are all the challenges one still has to face.
The surefire way to maintain motivation is to learn to draw it from within yourself. This is why it’s so imperative to keep a weight-loss journal (or some other system for tracking progress).
Crack open a journal (hand-written or typed) and go back over your goals and motivations. Try to be matter-of-fact about. Take the mentality that scientists and researchers use: analyze your successes and failures in equal measure—being able to recognize and accept both is an invaluable tool for maintaining progress. What led you to success yesterday? What’s making you fall off the wagon today? Develop a habit of congratulating yourself for successes and looking objectively at failures. You deserve to feel good for your successes and should never feel discouraged when you fall off the wagon (as we all do). Get back up there and give ‘em hell.