How to Lose Weight Easily: Set a Modest Target

When it comes to weight loss, the biggest mistake many people make (in my opinion) is to set ambitious goals (such as losing 3lbs per week). Such goals are difficult to achieve at the best of times, and once you have a single off-day or discover that you’re not quite on target, the inevitable chipping away of your drive and enthusiasm begins, which typically leads to failure.

On the other hand, if you set a very modest target (such as any ongoing weight loss – even if it’s only 0.5lbs per week on average), you’ll find success far easier to come by. Furthermore, you may find yourself surprised as to how far such “modest” goals can take you – after all, half a pound a week is equal to a whopping 26lbs per year.

If you allow yourself to consider the prospect of losing weight slowly but steadily (which makes it far more likely that you’ll keep that weight off, incidentally), it opens up some pretty exciting opportunities. In other words, you may discover that losing weight doesn’t actually have to be that hard, and doesn’t necessarily require a great deal of sacrifice.

Let’s break down some simple numbers to make my point. I don’t claim that the following numbers are precise – because they aren’t – but they work well enough as approximations.

A pound of fat is often said to be equivalent to 3,500 calories, which means that if you consume 3,500 calories less than your body needs over any period of time, you’ll lose a pound of fat. The simple weight loss equation, therefore, is to achieve a calorific deficit that is equal to the amount of fat you wish to lose.

The rules of the game are made simple if you set a modest goal. If you shoot for say an average loss of just 0.5lbs per week on average, your deficit needs to be 1,750 calories per week – or 250 calories per day. That kind of deficit can be achieved with relative ease. By making just a handful of small, barely noticeable tweaks to your eating and exercising habits, you can make that weight loss happen (and stick).

For example, here are a few potentially easily executable strategies you could use to achieve such a calorific deficit:

The key is to find the strategies that you can implement with little effort or willpower required. Different strategies will work for different people. The point is that you won’t have to do much, because you’ve not set a huge weight loss goal. Start tracking your weight loss trend, and as long as that trend points downwards, you’re doing all you need to do in the long-term.

I believe that throwing ambitious targets out of the window and focusing instead on steady, gradual progress is the single most impactful step you can make to long-term sustainable weight loss. The process is simple: set the lowest possible goal (i.e. any ongoing weight loss), then do the bare minimum to achieve that goal (by cherry picking simple strategies that work for you). You’ll experience no feelings of hunger, deprivation, or frustration – just results. That’s the kind of balance that will eventually get you to where you want to be, and keep you there.

How to Track Your Weight Loss

I recently explained why I believe you shouldn’t set a time-sensitive weight loss goal. My alternative philosophy is that any consistent weight loss caused by sustainable habit change will eventually get you to where you want to be, without you putting undue pressure on yourself or setting yourself up to fail. (That, in a nutshell, defines the Healthy Enough approach.)

More specifically, I discussed the concept of “statistically relevant” weight loss, and that you should be observing the general trend of your weight loss, rather than what you weigh from one day or week to the next. In this article, I want to go into more detail regarding the above, and provide you with the tools you need to track your weight loss in a way that is both useful and informative.

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How to Set a Weight Loss Goal

I’ve previously discussed whether you should weigh yourself. In short, you probably should, because it is an objective yet simple means of determining whether you are losing weight or not.

That being the case, how do you go about setting a weight loss goal?

The simple answer is that you don’t. At least, I wouldn’t advocate setting a weight loss goal in the way that most people do. Specifically, I wouldn’t recommend that you (for example) set a goal to lose ten pounds in four weeks, or get down to 160lbs by Christmas.

Why? For two key reasons:

  1. Realism. When people set weight loss goals, they don’t typically first consider (to any level of accuracy) how realistic their goal is. And more often than not, in my experience, such goals are unrealistic – they’re not representative of what is reasonably possible. If you accept the above to be true, then by creating a weight loss goal, you are setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even begun.
  2. Pressure. The concept of putting pressure on yourself to lose weight is anathema to the Healthy Enough way. And yet, by setting a specific goal, you’ll feel pressured to ‘perform’ from day one.

You may argue that setting an ‘unrealistic’ goal and putting pressure on yourself will help you to lose more weight than if you’d set no goal at all. You may be right, but at what cost? Life is too short to stress yourself out unduly.

Besides, you’re more likely to be wrong, in my opinion. You’re more likely to fail to reach your goal, and quite possibly fall off the dieting wagon as a result and put back on the weight you lost. And if you do reach your goal, what then? Set a new goal, perhaps? Or possibly slip back into bad habits, and watch the pounds creep back on.

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On Doing What’s Good For You, Not What You Enjoy

I recently read a particularly thought-provoking article in which the author, in a nutshell, says that in order to live a truly fulfilling life, don’t do what you like – do what’s good for you.

That may seem rather daunting or even unrealistic, but before we cross that bridge, let’s first explore why this is such a blindingly good idea.

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Why You Should Never Say No to Your Cravings (and How You Can Still Lose Weight)

Few people would describe me as an optimist, but when it comes to weight loss, I can’t help but look on the bright side.

I firmly believe that you can eat just about everything you want and lose weight. That may sound crazy, but consider that all your eating habits are just that – habits. And habits can be changed.

In other words, if you can become an habitually healthy eater, you’ll eat what you want and lose weight. One day, you’ll suddenly find yourself a little bit baffled that you’re happily choosing healthier food options – not out of obligation or guilt, but out of a genuine desire borne of habit.

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How Considering Your Eating Habits More Carefully Can Help You to Eat Less

I typically eat food in one of two ‘states’:

  1. For the pure enjoyment of it. I love the taste of food, and I enjoy the act of eating more than most things in life.
  2. Out of sheer habit. Eating food also scratches an itch for me; it’s something I do habitually. Sometimes I catch myself not enjoying food per se, but simply eating it out of habit.

One of the keys to being Healthy Enough is to eat food ‘habitually’ as little as possible – the upshot of which means you’ll enjoy what you do eat more.

How so? It’s all to do with the diminishing returns found in eating food.

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How to Combat and Conquer Gluttony (in 4 Steps)

Before we begin this post, we want to draw your attention to our ​COVID-19 article, which provides answers to the most important health-related coronavirus questions.

I am a glutton.

For as long as I can remember, I have felt most rewarded by eating in volume. Given the choice (and putting dietary concerns to one side), I’d choose a big dish of adequate quality over a small yet sublime meal. To an extent, I don’t feel truly satisfied by a meal unless I’m a step beyond comfortably full.

I have managed to succeed in being Healthy Enough despite my predilections, however. I’d largely put this down to my adoption of intermittent fasting (which enables me to eat a big dinner), and it says a lot about how there are many different approaches to losing weight.

That said, avoiding gluttonous behaviour is the ideal; I don’t think anyone’s going to argue that gluttony is a good thing. With that in mind, I’ve recently been putting a lot of thought into how to curb my own gluttonous behaviour – more specifically, how to control the temptation to eat huge portions. I came up with an effective four step approach. If you find yourself succumbing to gluttony at times, follow the steps below, and you may find your appetite far more controllable.

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How to Make Meals from Scratch Quicker and Easier (6 Key Tips)

I know that many people are put off making their own meals from scratch (or doing so more often) because it can seem like such a time suck.

And it can be, in fairness. You can quite easily spend hours in the kitchen producing just one meal. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Healthy Enough approach to cooking focuses on simplicity, efficiency, and enjoyment. With that in mind, this article offers some key practical steps to making cooking a simple, efficient, and enjoyable process – perhaps even something you’ll actively want to do.

Let’s get to it!

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One of the Most Important Things You Can Do to Promote Long-Term Weight Loss

If you can control what you eat, you can control your weight.

While I’d be the first to say that the practical reality of the above statement isn’t so simple, it is nonetheless valid in principle.

A clear corollary of that statement is if you don’t know what you’re eating, you can’t control your weight. Therefore, an important step when it comes to weight loss is to know what you’re eating.

When I say “know”, I don’t mean on a superficial level. Being aware that a Big Mac is a Big Mac isn’t the same as knowing what is actually in a Big Mac.

And that brings me to the main point of this article: one of the best things you can do to promote long-term weight loss is truly know and appreciate (for better or worse) what you’re eating.

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How Being More Mindful Can Help You to Be Healthier

I’m a practical kind of guy. When it comes to health and fitness, I tend to rely on what makes intuitive sense to me, rather than what the latest study or trend has to offer.

I believe this has served me well. After all, trends change, and ‘findings’ from any given study are often subjective, and sometimes debunked at a later date. Meanwhile, I believe the human mind and body has evolved to serve its best interests quite faithfully (even if we don’t always listen to what it says).

Obvious examples of what might make intuitive sense include:

  • Stop eating when you’re full.
  • Don’t eat too much rich food.
  • Don’t drink caffeine before bedtime.

I’m sure you recognise the validity of these truisms. However, how do you know they’re valid in terms of promoting good health? Simple – you can personally observe the effects of adhering to them (or not):

  • If you keep on eating beyond fullness, you’ll eventually feel unwell.
  • If you eat too much food, you’ll feel nauseous.
  • If you drink too much caffeine before bedtime, the quality of your sleep will suffer.

Understanding the cause and effect of poor eating habits can compel you to avoid taking such actions again. However, I invite you to move a step beyond simply understanding – because the more you appreciate and feel the negative effects of poor eating habits, the more likely you are to avoid them in the future.

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