6 Things You Don’t NEED to Do to Lose Weight
Starting an exercise routine and changing eating habits can be downright daunting. Change is hard, especially when there’s so much information bouncing around about what is the best way to lose weight. Not only is there a ton of information, but there’s so much misinformation out there! It’s almost impossible to figure out what direction to go in order to get where you want to be.
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People have their own ideas about what fitness is, means, and requires. Everyone equates certain actions and behaviors with being “fit.” Whether those beliefs stem from past experiences, observing others, or being bombarded by the media. I’ve been told to “eat a cheeseburger.” I do eat cheeseburgers, and I’m fit. It’s been assumed that I’m anorexic/bulimic, and that my calorie intake must be severely low. I eat an average of 2,000 calories per day (without purging), and I’m fit. I’ve been asked if I’ve cut out carbohydrates. I pay my carb intake basically no attention whatsoever, and I’m fit. I’ve been asked if I workout for hours every day. I train for less than an hour per day, 4-6 days per week, and I’m fit.
It’s staggering how much people assume this and that about someone else’s life based on their own misconceptions about health and fitness, in general. There’s so much out there that works for weight loss and fitness that there is absolutely no need for a one-size fits all approach. What works for them may not work for you. Not that their method is wrong, but maybe it’s unenjoyable for you, and therefore impossible to do consistently.
Weight loss hopefuls are confused into thinking they must do what “everyone else” is doing, whether they like it or not. Unfortunately, this dooms them to fail from the very beginning! Doing something you hate, and therefore unable and unwilling to do consistently, in the name of weight loss is discouraging, unenjoyable, and makes you feel like you don’t have what it takes to change your life. But I promise you, you do.
Weight loss is achievable in many different ways! Below is a list of a few things you can do if you want to. I’ve found from personal experience, however, that these weight loss tactics are completely unessential for weight loss. However unnecessary these tactics are, their prevalence runs rampant among the fitness community.
This is more of a myth-busting than a list of what not to do. If you love any and all of these activities, by all means DO THEM. Finding something you love and can consistently do is what it’s all about! It’s easy to let @Lil_Miss_Fit_As_Hell on Instagram influence your behavior. But just because she’s doing it doesn’t mean you need to, too. You can reach your goals on your own terms. And, honestly, that’s the only way you will achieve your goals and sustain them in the long run.
I bought a jogging stroller. In fact, I bought two jogging strollers. I felt soft, wanted to get in shape, and had children, so naturally I needed a jogging stroller. It seems so silly now. I mean, this would make total sense and be the opposite of silly for someone who actually likes to jog. I am not that someone. Running is not my jam. I’m slow, check my watch constantly hoping it’s almost over, and feel like I want to die the entire time. Why on earth did I feel the need to have a jogging stroller?
Because…I thought in order to be “fit,” I had to run. In order to lose weight, I had to run my fat ass all over hell’s half acre. Geez Louise, I couldn’t have been more wrong! I don’t like running. I dreaded it every day I was “supposed” to do it. When you dread something it’s incredibly easy to put it off and put it off and end up not doing it – or anything – at all!
Eventually, I just started walking for my cardio. I like it, and I do it often between walks to the parks and school, and on my treadmill when I’m reading, studying, or scrolling. It fits my schedule and preferences. I’m on team #EverythingCounts. I’m just as happy with random stop-and-go strolls with the kids as I am with planned, dedicated LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) walks. Actually, in my opinion, it all counts. If you’re moving your body and being active, check that shit off your list rather than constantly trying to fit in and do more. If you hate running, you absolutely do not need to do it to get in shape!
To piggyback on number 1 above, I’d like to note that HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts are also completely unnecessary for weight-loss. I used to kinda like HIIT because it took half the time as a LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) cardio session. I’ll admit I would feel pretty badass when I was done with my treadmill sprints, too. But eventually, I grew tired of them and the thought of doing sprints would put me in a bad mood. Then I started jumping rope for HIIT, and that was slightly better. After a while, though, I just stopped doing HIIT altogether because I flat out didn’t want to do it. I just don’t care for it these days.
Most days of the week I lift fairly heavy with Kelsey Wells’ PWR program on the SWEAT app, and I stay fairly active with a step goal otherwise. Eventually I noticed weeks would go by without me doing a formal cardio session, and it didn’t affect my progress whatsoever. Cardio is, of course, important for overall health, so I’ve been making an effort to incorporate it into my routine more. Recently I’ve been working through a back injury. On top of that, I’ve been doing some reading for another project I’m working on, so I’ve spent a bit more time walking the treadmill lately. Life is full of seasons and so is a fitness journey – you’ve just gotta roll with the punches and make it work.
Bottom line, if you hate it don’t do it. Find something you don’t hate and you’ll be much more likely to keep up with it consistently and therefore, see progress.
- Bake Things with Protein Powder
You see recipes pop up all over the internet for high protein confectioneries. And sure, they always look and sound amazing. And sure, you wanna give them a go because you’ve got both goals and a sweet tooth to satisfy.
Unless experimental baking is your jam, don’t waste your time. Making protein brownies, cookies, cakes, etc. is completely unnecessary for weight loss and/or hitting protein goals. Plus, they usually taste like ass. *disclaimer: no asses were tasted in the making of this comparison*
I’d say 9.9 times outta 10 (okay, maybe just 10/10) I’d rather have less of “the real thing” than its protein-infused, sickly-sweet imposter. Unless you find the taste of artificial sweeteners and protein powder delectable, and you’ve got spare time to make your own oat flour and grate zucchini (wtf?), just grab yourself some cottage cheese, lunchmeat, or a protein bar (these bars are my favorite! Discount code SQUATTO saves you $ + free shipping), or throw a scoop of protein powder in a blender bottle with a shot of espresso and call it a day. Chances are the calories will be lower and the macros will be way better anyway, leaving room for a small, real, non-ass tasting treat.
Sometimes the nutrition information for “protein treats” is appalling. Sure, maybe there are a few more grams of protein per cookie, but usually the fat and calories are just as high as if you just ate an actual cookie. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the real damn cookie and then eat a heaping spoonful of cottage cheese to more than make up for the protein difference.
- Eliminate Carbs, or Anything Else for that Matter
This one….is huge. I don’t know anyone who hates eating carbs. In fact, let’s say I took a poll asking participants to choose between CARBS ARE GROSS and CARBS ARE LIFE. I’d be willing to bet close to 100% would choose the latter. Now let’s say I did another poll, with choices CARBS ARE THE DEVIL and CARBS ARE LIFE. Unfortunately, I bet the results would be very different. I always think of the Southwest Airlines commercial when they’re yelling at other airlines, “Why do you hate bags??” regarding other airlines charging for checked baggage – WHY DO YOU HATE CARBS?? (Okay, I actually took the time to link and watch the commercial and they don’t even say “why do you hate bags?” It’s “why do you charge for bags?!” HA! But whatever, you get it.)
Sure, if your carbs are in the form of multiple cupcakes and doughnuts all day every day, you may not see the results you’re looking for. That does sound heavenly, however. I’ll grant you that. It won’t seem so heavenly, though, when you feel like a sluggish, slovenly blob – so write that down. You may not experience weight loss if all your carbs are full of sugars and accompanied by all the fats in the form of frosted and sprinkled baked goods. Sorry, but NEWSFLASH – it’s not the carbs’ fault. It’s the calories. It always comes down to calories. ALWAYS.
A gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, which is less than half of the 9 calories found in a gram of fat. So, before you go all Keto on your ass, please remind yourself how much you love carbs, in all its forms – pretzels, fruits, veggies, bread, sugar – and ask yourself if cutting out those things is worth it and sustainable long-term. If it is, more power to you – run with it (or walk with it if you hate running like I do – see #1). You do you. But if it isn’t, don’t touch that diet with a 10-foot pole!
If it’s not worth it or sustainable, it’s a torturous, deceiving, miserable diet you will undoubtedly quit – not a lifestyle. And a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate goal. Find a sustainable weight loss method that fits your life as comfortably as you want your jeans to fit your body, and you will have discovered your own, personal secret to lasting weight loss success.
I just picked on Keto as an example. Don’t fully eliminate anything unless it’s recommended by your doctor, you’ve got underlying health issues or allergies, or because of your own personal convictions. Don’t eliminate entire food groups or ingredients on a whim only because you’re trying to lose weight. Chances are once you lose the weight (if you can deprive yourself long enough to see weight loss success, that is – I’m guessing you can’t/won’t but I’m kind of a bitch. But also, this bitch is right) and reintroduce your “forbidden” food(s) you’ll gain some, most, or all the weight back…maybe even more.
I’m not saying that cutting back on certain things here and there is a bad idea, I’m saying cutting out things entirely may not be the most sustainable route to take. Set yourself up for success through moderation and balance instead of relying on deprivation and restriction to get you anywhere.
- Count Calories/Track Macros
Okay, okay, if you know me at all or follow me on Instagram, you know I do both of these things. I do both of these things…now. I enjoy doing both of these things…now. And I can do both of these things without going down an unhealthy road, mentally or physically. I know some personalities and tracking don’t mix.
And if you have one of those personalities, or simply hate counting, tracking, and logging your food, you’re in luck! Because it’s totally, completely, 100% not necessary for weight loss! Simply start by increasing your water, fruit, and vegetable intake. Prioritize lean protein. Pay attention to portion sizes. Be mindful about snacking. Choose lighter options. Make meals at home more often. Read labels and nutrition facts.
It’s more than possible to see results this way. For the first 14 months of my own fitness journey I weighed and tracked NOTHING, and lost nearly 30 pounds. I had tracked calories in the past and lost weight…but hardly ate healthy. I had even attempted macro tracking in the past, prior to my current successful journey as a macro-tracker…and failed miserably. I just wasn’t at the point in my life where I knew enough to do it right. Fueling my body properly, with adequate calories and protein – in a way that also satisfied my taste buds and cravings – took time.
I’m there now, though. It’s taken an incalculable number of baby steps, ever-evolving goals, and so many seasons of life changes to get here. I’ve changed and grown into this place over time of testing the waters, taking risks, and seeing what happens. Someday I may be doing something completely different, but for now this is what is working for me.
If you just wanna get a feel for what you’re eating and get a baseline, jotting down what you eat in a food diary for just a few days (including a weekend day) can help. Same goes for weighing your servings and portions for 2-3 days. This will raise your level of awareness of how much a serving size is, and this knowledge comes in handy when you’re dishing out food when you aren’t actively weighing or logging.
- Buy Meal Plans or Fancy Cookbooks
Guilty! I have purchased a number of PDFs I’ve never printed, hardly opened, and cooked or baked zero things out of. What a waste of money. To be fair, it was when I was caught up with the idea of baking protein goodies. *eyeroll* Come to find out, dry protein doughnuts with frosting made out of Greek yogurt and protein powder are not the answer. Unless the question is What tastes 1000x worse than an actual doughnut?
Every Tom, Dick, and Harry on Instagram is selling a cookbook or meal plan, but like…have you ever heard of Pinterest? Or Google? Literally every food imaginable is there! Food bloggers are just itching to tell you what color the sky was the day they made the recipe, too. *eyeroll* They always, eventually, share the recipe, though. And for free! Just keep scrolling or click “printable recipe” or “jump to recipe” to breeze past their pointless banter. You’ll probably have to click on a few Xs to get rid of stupid pop-ups and relentless how-to videos, but it’ll all be worth it. Hang in there. You’ll get through it.
You don’t need a meal plan filled with 70% crap you don’t like and countless ingredients you never have on hand. You don’t need a cookbook dedicated to crunchwraps. Seriously, throw some shit in a wrap, fold it up, and lightly pan “fry” it with a lil non-stick cooking spray – voilà! All you need is to decide what sounds good, and search the internet for a recipe. Then read food labels, choose lighter options, and make swaps for ingredients to fit your nutritional goals. Get cooking!
I find eating to a set plan only adds stress to my week. What if the grocery store doesn’t have this? Or I run outta time to make that? What if I don’t like or just don’t feel like eating what’s on the menu? The rigidity of a meal plan can feel too strict and overbearing, when sometimes I just wanna eat what sounds good or what I can throw together in a pinch.
As overwhelming as the whole concept of change can be, it’s 100% worth it. The key is to not let yourself fall victim to subscribing to someone else’s way to weight loss rather than first looking inward for answers. You know yourself and your personality better than anyone. What do you like to eat? Which activities do you enjoy? Identify what is convenient for you. There are so many paths you could take – and even forge for yourself! – when it comes to health and fitness. Pick the one that’s right for you.
It’s important to also allow yourself the time and grace to figure out what is right for you. Failing forward is okay, and is not actually failing. Every time you find you’ve “failed,” just be thankful you’ve learned something new about yourself, and can move on to find something that’s a better fit. Once you find the weight loss method that fits your preferences and lifestyle, you will be unstoppable and well on your way to absolutely achieving your goals.
What anyone and everyone else does isn’t necessarily gonna be your cup of tea. And that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Nor does it mean they’re wrong. All it means is the methods just aren’t a good fit for you. And you are what this is all about, so pay attention to your wants, needs, and emotions. What you want and need matters. How you feel matters. You matter.
What did I forget? Is there something you used to think you had to do to lose weight, but later discovered it wasn’t necessary at all? Or are you currently forcing yourself to do something you hate in the name of weight loss, and are now rethinking? Let me know in the comments!
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