Tips from a Personal Trainer: How to lose weight permanently

Are you tired of the yo-yo effect?

You know the one, you diet and lose weight pretty quickly but as soon as you go back to normal you gain it back. Since it ‘worked’ the first time, the next time you feel the need to lose weight you do it again…and the cycle continues.

Now, you’ve dieting more than 10 times and it doesn’t seem to work like it used to. More than that, you’re tired of just gaining the weight back and are looking for a permanent change. For real this time.

So what’s the problem with permanent weight loss? Why haven’t you been able to do it?

First off, it’s not your fault. It’s the fitness industry’s fault. 

The reason why so many people fail to lose weight and keep it off is because the way weight loss is marketed. Fitness companies know exactly what buttons to push to get people to buy: the urgency button. If you think about it, the decision to lose weight is often made with a sense of urgency. Not because you gained the weight over night, but because perhaps one day you really notice your clothes are too snug, or perhaps you have an event coming up that you want to lose weight for and you realize time is counting down.

Companies play on those emotions with ads that say ‘lose 20 lbs in 10 weeks’ or even 12 weeks, and they deliver on the results in most cases…just not in the healthiest way. They drastically cut calories and increase exercise exponentially so someone who wasn’t eating right and wasn’t exercising shocks their body into losing weight. The problem is that this tempo that causes drastic weight loss is unsustainable…at some point it’s not fun any more, at some point you start losing your energy, and at some point you want to go out to eat with your family and not order chicken and vegetables. So when you go back to normal you gain the weight back…and in most cases you gain back  more than you lost in the first place. 

The problem with dieting is that if you do it enough (which most people do. The average woman started dieting before she turned 18), your metabolism slows down. It does this because your the hypothalamus in your brain doesn’t want your body to gain weight and it doesn’t want it to lose it, so when you drastically cut your calories warning bells go off in your hypothalamus. It thinks that if you keep going at that rate your body is going to shut down so it slows down your metabolism as a survival technique. So you diet over and over again, and your metabolism slows down even more until eventually no matter how much you cut your calories you can’t seem to lose weight.

The less someone has dieted throughout their lifetime the easier it is for them to lose weight faster, and in a healthier way.

So what is a healthy rate of weight loss?

Healthy weight loss is .5% to 1% of your total body weight per week. So for example, if you are a 200 lb person you’d be looking to lose 1 lb (.5%) to 2 lbs (1%) per week.

When they first hear this, many of our clients are discouraged because everything they’ve seen throughout their life when it came to weight loss was the equivalent of a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. If you put it in perspective however, you’ll realize that even the people you know who have lost a significant amount of weight rarely keep it off. Let’s use the 200 lb example. If a 200 lb women stays consistent and on the low end loses .5% (1 lb) a week, by 6 months she’s down 24 lbs. By 12 months she’s down 52 lbs. Considering 75% of Americans are either overweight or obese, who do you know that lost that significant amount of weight and kept it off?

The answer is probably none.

So if you had to pick slow and sustainable (lose 50 lbs in a year and keep it off for the rest of your life) or quick (lose 20 lbs in the next two months and gain it back by Fall), which one would you choose?

Other factors that contribute to how fast someone can healthily lose weight is skill set: not everyone starts in the same place.

There are some fundamental skills that are required for most people to lose weight successfully, things like knowing what macronutrients are, how to track them, how to weigh and measure food, how to exercise at the right intensity, how to exercise around physical challenges. For some people, they have to learn these skills before they’ll see progress at the .5% to 1% per week. If that’s you, don’t be discouraged because you will see some progress as you make minor tweaks, it just may take longer to reach your ultimate goal. If your desire is sustainable weight loss, and we’re playing long ball, that small amount of learning time is worth it in the end.

Now, let’s get into the 3 biggest things that are going to help you lose weight and keep it off:

1. Set realistic goals

2. Make small changes- don’t try to do everything at once! Pick a few things to focus on and stick with them; once you’ve mastered the skills move on and keep adding more.

3. Stay consistent- if you’re committed to your goals, the most important thing you can do is stay consistent. A car on a road with no stop signs or stoplights will get to their destination a whole lot faster than someone who is stopping every few minutes.

You may feel a little underwhelmed with these three tips, but trust us–THEY WORK! It’s not all the big things you can do right this second that will get you to your goals, after all you didn’t gain the weight over night and you aren’t going to lose it overnight either.







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