Everyone wants to lose weight — right? No, maybe not. But if you’re reading this, you probably do.
So, I’m here to tell you some of my favourite and most effective ways to lose weight. Of course, I’m only speaking from personal experience.
Really, the most effective way that I’ve found working for me is relaxing. It may sound odd, but I did some research as to why that is.
The reason is the hormone cortisol. When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol and you’re always a bit on edge. I don’t know if the cortisol itself is what causes it, but what I’ve noticed is that high levels make me eat more, and that’s the opposite to what you want when it comes to losing weight (usually — there are exceptions).
How to avoid high levels of cortisol
- Don’t exercise too much.
- Make sure to find a way to relax after a stressful day — it builds up.
- Avoid refined carbs and processed foods.
What you can do to lower cortisol
- Take a lavender bath/light an aroma lamp with essential oil.
- Stretch/do yoga (not power yoga — hatha and yin are calming).
- Eat vegetables and fruits + drink lots of water or herbal teas (chamomile, passion flower).
- Lay on an acupressure mat (affiliate link) — this is the best thing ever!
Tip: If you don’t have a bathtub or aroma lamp, you can just smell the lavender essential oil right from the bottle. That’s what I do. Also, make sure to get pure essential oil, not scented oil.
While sleep is related to relaxation, they don’t necessarily equal each other.
I often find that if my body isn’t relaxed, I don’t have a restful sleep — either I find it hard to fall asleep or I sleep restlessly. It’s also hard to relax if you haven’t slept enough, because a lack of sleep heightens the body’s stress levels.
So the two of them do go hand in hand.
As for how much sleep you need, I usually hear about 7-8 hours. Or is it 9? I tend to need 9, but it has changed since I started using the spike mat. Everyone are different, that’s why the numbers aren’t important.
What helps me, an intermittent insomniac, sleep well:
- Acupressure mat
- I’ve been needing less sleep since I started using it.
- Not focusing on breathing
- Ever since yoga, I’m always overly focused on breathing, and this is actually quite annoying even throughout the day, as it makes me breathe wrong — thus not relaxed enough to fall asleep. Can you relate?
- Exercise makes me sleepy.
Which brings us to the next point.
When it comes to exercise, it’s important to find a balance between exercising too little or too much. Ideally it should be just enough.
Too little exercise will not get you that much closer to your goals, if at all. Too much will exhaust you and result in a rebound or quitting.
How much exercise is too little?
It depends. Everyone are different.
In general, once a week may be too little, but it depends on the type of exercise.
If you’re lifting heavy weights, once a week should be enough — definitely don’t do more if you’re not used to it.
If you’re only working with light weights or body weights, starting with 3-4 times a week is generally fine.
Again, it depends on you. If you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes, you might need to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program, as it could have adverse effects on your blood sugar.
However, if your exercise is something like 30 minutes of walking, it’s better to do it at least 5 times a week, so it also depends on the intensity level.
For motivation to exercise at home, I recommend this cute pump set from Amazon.
How much exercise is too much?
Anything that leaves you excessively sore and exhausted.
Starting with 5 times a week on something intense if you’re a beginner is too much, but walking 5 times a week is probably not, if you’re healthy in general.
If you’re sore for several days after a single workout, it’s probably too much.
- Your exercise should be challenging, but not exhausting or keep you sore for days.
- Consult with your doctor/trainer if you have concerns.
- Challenge yourself (I have to admit, I’m bad at this one).
What type of exercise is best for weight loss?
I’m currently in the middle of experimenting with my own exercise schedule, but what my ideal one right now would look like is:
- Monday: Barre
- Tuesday: Stretching session
- Wednesday: Yoga
- Thursday: Stretching session
- Friday: Barre
Granted, that isn’t happening, but the best exercise that I’ve found helps me lose weight is actually none of the above. It’s HIIT.
What is HIIT and why is it good for weight loss?
HIIT stands for High Interval Intensity Training. It’s a combination of cardio and strength that is designed to require fewer minutes of workout for awesome effects.
You can do this for 30 minutes 3 days a week and you will see effects.
Don’t overdo it, though. Sometimes you feel like it’s ok to do another HIIT session the day after, but you will likely find out the next day that it was a bad idea, and that has the potential to ruin your entire workout schedule (it happens to me).
Another thing that happens if you overdo it, I mentioned above, but I might as well repeat it: You start eating like crazy. Yes, your muscles need fuel, but often not as much as you think. However, the eating might be beyond your control, at least if you’re like me.
Even though HIIT is good for weight loss, it’s not my favourite exercise.
What is my favourite exercise to get in shape?
A couple of years ago, I took pole dancing lessons, and nothing has ever been as good for my body as that was. No exercise I’ve ever done, and I used to be a figure skater.
Why? Because it worked out a lot of muscles that I don’t usually use, such as my inner thighs and upper body, and it trained my core in a much better way than situps.
It was a pain to do — literally — but the results were amazing!
When I was doing pole, I had a much better posture (perhaps the best in my life, and I used to get compliments on my posture before I started sitting in front of a computer all day — life changes, we have to adjust to the fact that we’re not who we once were…)
My waist was the smallest ever, I had a nice booty, my boobs looked bigger… yeah, I’m going to start again at some point. Hopefully right after I move, so I can get into it before I get pregnant.
If you’re interested in getting a pole for your home, I recommend X-Pole. I’m not affiliated with them, but they are a high quality brand that is very popular at dance studios and competitions. A quality pole is crucial in pole dancing — you don’t want to risk getting hurt by buying something unreliable. The one I used was X-Pole Xpert (45 mm), but I have small hands, so next time I’ll get 40 mm.
My second favourite workout
This is the one I’ve been doing a lot lately, and it’s barre. I wrote a post about why I love it, which you can read here if you’re interested.
Essentially it’s a combination of moves inspired by ballet, yoga and pilates. I love the dancy aspect, because it works out muscles that I need strengthened — it’s a struggle, but we’re all in it, right? We can do it!
Lastly, I’ll say a few words about cardio.
Why I don’t recommend cardio for weight loss
It’s true what they say, that cardio doesn’t work for weight loss. Well, it’s better than nothing, but it won’t shape your body.
If you want to change your shape, you need to work on strength, otherwise you’ll end up with a smaller version of your current shape.
Strength training is what makes you sexy.
Another reason why I don’t recommend to overdo it on cardio, is that it will probably tire you out and make you less likely to do a strength training session even if you’ve planned it out.
However, it is recommended to do 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week (which I don’t do, but we’re all trying to get there).
And now, to the last point.
4. Eat lots of Fiber and drink lots of Water
Fiber slows down your digestion, which makes you less hungry, and fiber rich foods often have less calories, too.
Some of the foods I eat and recommend:
- Lentils and beans (rich in protein, which you need after working out).
- Broccoli (rich in vitamin C and low in calories).
- Chia seeds (to add fat in your diet, if you avoid oils like I do).
- Peanuts (one of the most protein rich nuts — I sometimes add these in my lentil/bean mix).
- Cacao powder: Why eat chocolate when there is the more potent cacao? I combine it with dates and make brownies. Cacao is good because it contains magnesium, which helps you relax.
Lentils are so amazing. They keep you full, even though they’re low in calories. You think that you’ve eaten a lot more than you have, especially if you add vegetables.
So I’ve read that dates are bad for weight loss, because of all the sugar in them, but I eat dates every day and still managed to lose a bit of weight.
They’re better than refined and processed sweets, because they keep you satisfied longer, and personally I need something sweet in order not to crave bad foods.
My metabolism is pretty fast, so I need more calories to sustain me, or else I get all moody and depressed and want to give up on life — it’s pretty drastic, and maybe this is the reason why I need all those dates.
If you’re like me, don’t avoid dates just because people say they’re bad for weight loss. See what your own body says.
- Relax your way through stress, even just a little.
- Don’t neglect sleep.
- Exercise enough, but not too much or too little.
- Eat fiber rich foods, such as lentils and vegetables.
Do you have any favourite ways to lose weight? Write it in the comments to help future readers! 🙂