The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Weight Loss
So, you’ve decided to start on your very own personal weight loss journey. Congratulations! Now for the hardest part: forget everything—every trick, every shortcut, every terrible food blog—you’ve ever read. There’s only one thing you actually need during this journey to be successful, and it’s not another bad detox or wasted gym membership. It’s a goal. The rest will come with a little discipline, a little self-love, and a little bit of time.
At Jersey Strong, one of the most common reasons our clients seek personal training is because they want to lose weight. The only problem? They don’t know how to make it happen. We can’t blame them: with so much conflicting information out there, new fitness studies coming out seemingly every day, and the challenge of fitting a lifestyle change into already-packed schedules, it’s no wonder that people need a little guidance. Plus, there are so many things that can stand in the way of your goal: self-doubt, inconsistency, unhealthy dieting and detoxing, a less-than-supportive support system...the list goes on.
Fear not, goal setters. To help you dive into your own fitness journey (and avoid the bumps along the way), we’ve
pulled together the ultimate, no-nonsense, make-it-happen healthy weight loss guide. Here you'll find:
- Diet Tips for Weight Loss
- Everything You Need to Know on Today’s Most Popular Diets
- The Best Exercises to Get You Back on Track
- Inspiring Stories Straight Out of Our New Jersey Gyms
- Personal Training Tips, Classes to Join, and more
We don’t know about you, but we’re excited to get started. Are you ready to finally take control of your health?
Weight Loss 101: General Diet Tips to Shed Pounds
They say weight loss is 20% exercise, 80% diet. It’s true: fitness starts and ends in the kitchen. But this is where a lot of goalsetters get tripped up: nutrition science isn’t simple or exact, and what didn’t exist yesterday is today’s food fad and tomorrow’s dieting sin (read: the juice cleanse craze of the 2010s). While sifting through the conflicting information out there is half the battle, there are a few things that have stayed true over time. Below, we broke down the most important general tips you need to follow in order to lose weight, no matter what diet you’re on.
Plan It Out
You could dive straight into your diet…or you could take a little time to research what will work, plan out your fail safes, get your support system on board, and make sure you know what you’re getting into. Planning is proven to help you meet goals and hold yourself accountable. Don’t take the pre-dieting stage for granted: some of what you need to do might feel like a waste of time, but it’s important that you not only set specific goals for yourself, but also be realistic about your time. Here’s what you should be doing as pre-diet prep to set yourself up for success.
Determine Your Motivation
You need to determine your Why. What got you into this in the first place? Was it pure weight loss? Was it the desire to keep up with your kids? Was it to feel comfortable in your own skin? Was it to help you live longer, fuller, and better? Really think deeply, and then write down your Why. You can go back to it when you need motivation to make it through a plateau or a day when your cravings are off-the-charts.
Hang Your Goals Up
Once you determine your motivation, write down your short term and long-term goals. Make them specific (hint: “I want to lose X number of pounds by this date” is better than “I want to lose weight.”), and then put them somewhere you’ll see every day (your mirror, your dashboard, as a daily reminder in your phone). Creating reminders will keep your goals top of mind—and that will help when you need reinforcement.
Talk to Your Support System
Surround yourself with people who know your goals and who can help you achieve them. Ask: would they be willing to keep junk food out of the house? Can they help hold you accountable? Could they help identify recipes that are healthy and work for the kids, too? Would they want to eat healthy alongside you? Studies show that great support systems will help you lose weight, so recruit yours now.
Look at Your Schedule
If you have long commutes that include a coffee run each morning because you hate getting up early to make breakfast, resolve to prepare breakfast the night before. If you have kids and need to bring them to and from after-school activities that might limit dinner-making time, resolve to get in the habit of Sunday meal prep (see below!). If work is right next to an amazing pizza place, resist the temptation to run over to it on your lunch break and break out the lunch box you prepared instead. Dieting, more than anything, takes time—to prepare meals, to buy right, to eat early instead of getting out of bed late—so make time.
This is your most major planning requirement, and it should become habit as you continue into your weight loss journey.
Meal prepping helps you lose weight a couple ways: first, by helping you be more intentional about what you
eat when you eat it, and second, by helping you manage your portions. Plus, with a little practice, it’s totally fun and
easy...and you get to make meals you can get excited about every week.
If you want a guid to meal prepping according to your diet, you can find one here.
The Food Basics
There are certain tenets of nutrition that will stay true throughout your weight loss journey. No matter what eating plan you decide to stick with, keep these food commandments in mind.
The human body evolved digesting fresh, whole foods—and it’s a master at using them for its own good. In fact, fruits and vegetables are so important to our mental and physical health that doctors in some areas of the U.S. are prescribing them like medication. Processed foods and refined sugars are not just bad for your gut; they wreak havoc on your brain, too. Plus, they hide a lot of bad stuff, like additives and unnatural chemicals—so having them in your diet makes it harder for you to shed pounds.
Water before meals helps you feel fuller, water during and after workout helps you recover faster, and water in general makes your skin better, your energy better, your mood better...the list goes on. During (and before and after) your weight loss journey, make sure you have a dedicated water bottle by your side...and drink half a gallon (or eight 8 oz. cups) a day.
Track and Plan Your Protein Intake
A healthy diet should have protein; a weight loss diet simply won’t work without it. Why should you care? Tons of reasons: protein lowers your appetite (so you can kiss midnight cravings goodbye), it makes you burn calories while you metabolize it, it helps you burn more calories in general, it reduces obsessive thoughts of food, it helps you build muscle, and more. For optimal weight loss, about 30% of your calories should be coming from protein (for example: a 2000 calorie diet should have you eating about 150 grams of protein)
If you want a guide to meal prepping according to your diet, you can find one here.
There are a few basic best practices you should follow in the gym, too. Before we dive deep into exercises and the amazing benefits of personal training, here’s what you should know.
Incorporate Resistance Training
Resistance training, like lifting or free weight practice, needs to be part of your weight loss routine. Cardio is
important, too—it encourages heart health and speeds up your metabolism for a few hours—but strength training boosts your metabolism over the course of a day. When you’re engaging in resistance training, you’re putting your body under healthy stress. In recovery, when your body is repairing your muscles and reinforcing your tendons and bones, it’s working in overdrive: your metabolism is cranked up, your body is expending energy to repair itself, and, you guessed it, it’s burning calories without any effort from you.
Join a Gym
A home gym is great, but it’s lonely. Study after study shows that having a community to hold you accountable increases your chances of meeting your goals. At Jersey Strong, we pride ourselves on community and family…and we have the stories to prove it. Get a personal trainer to help you come up with a fitness plan or use our facilities to run your own program. Anything good takes a village—so don’t be afraid to come into your nearest Jersey Strong location and see what we’re about.
Everything You Need to Know About Today’s Top Diets
And How to Choose the Best One for You
One big part of choosing a weight loss diet is learning to respect what your body responds to. Did you try that (insert name here) detox and lose 10 pounds, only to gain it all back a week later? Did you give keto a go but find that it wasn’t sustainable for you? Did you get on Weight Watchers only the fall off the bandwagon? It’s totally possible your heart wasn’t in it—It happens!—but it might also be true that that diet simply wasn’t the one for you. Here, we’ll outline some of today’s most popular and visible eating plans so that you can choose the one that will work best for your preferences and body. We’ve broken them down into two categories: dieting methods and the nutrition plans themselves.
In some cases, a weight loss plan might not be in what you eat, but in how you eat it (or how you track it). Still, it’s about a balance: intermittent fasting won’t work if the only thing you’re eating is junk food when mealtime comes. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can structure your food plan:
- Intermittent Fasting. The research on whether or not this method of eating—which requires you to go certain long-ish periods of time (anywhere from 16 to 24 hours) without food—is actually good for your health long-term is sparse. But fasters swear by it, and some studies show that it can be good for your heart, help you lose weight, knock down your blood sugar levels, and increase cellular repair processes. The most common form of fasting is the 16:8 method—16 hours of no eating between 8 hour periods of eating as normal (i.e., lunch and dinner and a snack).
- Calorie Counting. Calorie restriction used to be the classic way to lose weight. There is a right way to count calories, and that’s to calculate the base amount of calories your body needs to lose weight according to your goals—without starving itself. When you eat too little, your body will react the exact opposite way you want it to: in starvation mode, your body hangs on to weight and stores fat. If you’re tracking calories in a healthy way, you should be losing no more than 1-2 pounds a week. Apps like My Fitness Pal can help you determine what a healthy goal should be.
- Macro Dieting. Macro dieting is a more food science-y way to look at your diet. It’s mathy like calorie counting, but more informed in terms of the makeup of your food. On a macro diet, you count the grams of protein, carbs, and fats in each food and calculate the ratios you need to meet your weight loss goals. One of the benefits of this diet is you know the molecular level of your food…which helps you understand exactly where your calories are coming from. It also helps you ration out your food in a more positive, informed way, because it helps you determine exactly what kinds of nutrients your body is getting Collapse
The Mediterranean Diet
What is it:
The Mediterranean diet is meant to help you build healthy eating patterns that will last a lifetime. It’s consistently rated as the healthiest and easiest diet to adhere to on the market right now. That said, it allows for some fattening ingredients—avocados and olives, oils, the offhand glass of red wine, etc.—so it’s worth noting that weight loss on this diet requires a little bit of planning. That said, it blocks processed foods and sugars and requires recipe experimentation (and cheat meals—like the occasional whole grain pasta dish or dark chocolate—are not only allowed, but encouraged on occasion).
- Vegetables & Fruit (including starchy ones!)
- Seeds & Nuts & Spices & Legumes
- Seafood and Poultry
- Eggs & Dairy (in moderate amounts)
- Whole Grains
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Who it's Good For:
Someone who wants to ditch processed foods without ditching flavor or sugar entirely. While paleo is similar to the Whole30, it allows for natural sugars like honey and maple syrup. Whole30 doesn’t allow for any sugar at all. And while paleo cuts grains, it does let you have nuts and seeds, and encourages you to cook with herbs (but to go easy on the salt).
Best Exercise for Weight Loss
As the old adage goes, weight loss is 80 percent diet, 20 percent exercise. To lose one pound per week, you need to have a deficit of 3,500 calories…and you can bet that’s made a whole lot easier when you’re combining what you’re eating with how you’re moving.
The key with weight loss workouts is simple: any exercise is good, but the best kind is the kind that will encourage EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption…otherwise known as afterburn. When you’re doing exercises that ramp up your EPOC levels, your body is in overdrive even after you’ve gotten out of the shower (And sometimes even full days later!). That’s good for you: your body will be burning through energy (food and fat stores) like there’s no tomorrow…and that puts you on a path to weight loss much faster than simply changing the way you eat.
Below, we’re outlining some personal-trainer approved fat-burning exercises geared towards helping you lose weight and tone up. Because EPOC is most encouraged by HIIT, we’re giving you exercises to mix and match for your next interval session and for when you need to pop in and out of the gym in a flash.
Best Fat-Burning Cardio Workouts for Your Next HIIT Circuit
HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training,” and HIIT exercises are meant to kick your butt.HIIT exercises vary, but great weight loss workouts will include a mix (depending on that day’s fitness goals!) of compound exercises to engage all parts of your body.Here are some of the best HIIT exercises for weight loss.
Who knew that jump rope would come in handy in adulthood? Jumping rope is highly effective—you can burn up to 900 calories per hour (though to be clear, no one is expecting you to jump rope for an hour at a time). Pro tip: get a weighted jump rope to engage that upper body.
Your Circuit: 1 minute on, 30 seconds off for 10 minutes.
The kettlebell is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can work out with. It’s also consistently rated high on the EPOC scale, and can increase afterburn for dozens of hours. When you’re working with a kettlebell, it’s extremely important to hone in on your form—bad form will give you a bad time.
Your Circuit: 15 kettlebell swings, 15 kettlebell squats, 15 kettlebell push presses as many times as you can in 5 minutes. Have your personal trainer watch your form.
Cycling is a killer workout. Consider this your most major cardio partner. A riding session can be a HIIT workout in and of itself—adding resistance and bursts of speed will make your heart rate spike and help you burn off calories at a rate of up to 750 calories per hour.
Your Circuit: Feeling a hard cardio workout? Pop onto a bike for half-an-hour with 1-minute sprints every 5 minutes. Don’t forget to ramp up the resistance for a tougher workout. Work with a trainer to hold you accountable.
Treadmill Hill Climbs
Hill climbs target your glutes, calves, and thighs, and give you a cardio boost while you’re at it. Ramp up the incline on one of our treadmills and get ready to sweat. Just make sure you don’t rely too much on the handrails.
Your Circuit: Climb with intensity for 1 minute. Lower, recover for 2 minutes, raise, and repeat
Weight Loss Workouts on the Go
Sometimes you can’t fit in a full gym session. No sweat! Instead, pop in ready to do a quick circuit. Try rotating through the following four exercises three times and walk out of the gym quickly, without that no workout guilt.
Push-ups are another example of an exercise whose benefit you will feel more with great form. For your quick-hit workout, do 10, and move on to jump squats.
Jump Squats or Jump Lunges
They’re squats with a twist—cardio. Do three rounds of 15 squats with 30 seconds of rest in between.
Curtsy and Split Squats
Squat variations are a great way to target your lower body. Do two rounds of 15 squats each with a 30-second rest between.
Everybody’s favorite exercise! Do 10 burpees, focusing on the height of your jump each time you pop up.
Work your middle for all-day burn. Do 20 mountain climbers on a mat before you roll over and then get straight into push-ups for a bonus burn.