Posted on January 30, 2024 by Jenny Cromack

Our personal training clients work with us for many reasons

  • To be strong
  • To be healthier and more active
  • Not to get out of breath when running up a flight of steps
  • To have enough energy to chase around after their children or grand children
  • To fit into their favourite outfit or pair of jeans

Whilst weight loss isn’t the primary motivation for some people, it can still often feature high on the agenda as a reason to work with a personal trainer. During a client’s consultation we will often hear about how new clients have lost weight in the past, but once they have stopped ‘dieting’ and then the weight has crept back on. Today I’d like to talk about sustainable weight loss, losing weight forever, keeping it off for good! And why just ‘dieting’ isn’t the answer, but instead exercise and healthy eating are the perfect recipe for sustainable weight loss.

Some of the information I talk about below is factual, but some of it is from years and years of experience and understanding what our many personal training clients have experienced and learning from them. One thing to note, when I talk about weight loss, I’m actually referring to fat loss. We don’t want to lose good healthy muscle mass, but ditch the body fat instead. So for the purpose of this blog you can assume that weight loss equals fat loss.

Weight Loss Through Diet Alone

Many of our clients will have followed popular eating plans or programmes and will have experienced phenomenal weight loss results, only to return back to their previous eating habits and put it all back on again. Some may even have gone through this process several times, yo-yo’ing between weight loss – weight gain – weight loss – weight gain…and so on.

So why doesn’t dieting alone keep the weight off in the long term?

  • Most forms of ‘dieting’ are restrictive. You cut calories, cut out a food group, live on cabbage soup, survive on shakes, count points, etc. This is not sustainable. What is sustainable, is understanding the fundamentals of healthy eating – which foods should you be eating in abundance? Which can you enjoy but in smaller amounts? Which foods support a healthy, active lifestyle and are going to sustain your energy levels throughout the day?
  • Some eating programmes / diet plans do nothing to educate you about what is a healthy diet. You might understand you can have ‘x’ calories per day or ‘x’ points per day, but do you understand where these calories or points come from? Let’s say you can eat 1,500 calories per day ….you could eat 1500 calories of chocolate, fast food, etc or you could opt for 1,500 calories of healthy slow release carbs, good protein, healthy fats, etc …..I know which one would keep you feeling fuller and less likely to snack and it’s not the first option. The first option is more likely to lead you to overeat because you are not fuelling your body correctly.
  • Don’t we all love a cheat or a short cut?! Unfortunately, some diet/nutritional programmes around will encourage this. You can have ‘x’ treat because it’s only got 100 calories in and 0g fat…..but what about the added sugars and sweeteners? Eating excess sugar, can contribute to weight gain and once your muscle and liver glycogen levels are full, then your body will convert the glycogen to fat which isn’t useful if your goal is to lose body fat.

Benefits of Exercise

  • Exercise, especially strength training, can increase muscle mass which in turn will increase your metabolic rate. Consider this scenario, you’ve been hitting the gym 3 times per week religiously for the last 3 months, it’s likely your metabolism is now higher than it was 3 months ago, which means even at rest you’ll be burning energy at a higher rate. This increase in metabolism will help with that sustained weight loss.
  • Exercise not only helps to increase your metabolism long term, but will also increase your metabolic rate post workout, anywhere from 4 – 72 hours post workout. So keeping that regular exercise routine, helps to keep that fat burning furnace going….again contributing to sustained weight loss.
  • Whilst aerobic based exercise may not have as much impact on your metabolism long term, it will burn a good deal of calories during a session which will help contribute to a calorie deficit….again do this several times per week and you’re on to a fat loss winner.  
  • Research has shown that regular exercise may also help to regulate your hunger hormones and help with less overeating and excess snacking.
  • From experience, I find that those people who exercise are more likely to eat well as they understand the importance of eating the right types of food to fuel their workouts, and also the importance of eating the right types of food post workout to aid with their recovery.
  • I’ve also had feedback from clients that they don’t want to ‘undo’ their good work in their PT sessions and other workouts and so this keeps them focused with eating well.

What Do We Recommend?

  • Nutrition wise – get educated! You don’t need a degree in nutrition but do get a basic understanding of what a healthy diet looks like and how different food groups can support a healthy lifestyle and sustainable weight loss.
  • Get a good understanding of how to read a food label. Not the traffic light system (this can be misleading as it’s based on portion size) but get a good understanding of how to read the nutritional label on a food and the ingredients list.
  • Change your mindset about food. Choose what you eat to nourish and fuel your body and mind. Fuel your training sessions, fuel your day to day activity so you have sustainable energy throughout the day (and are less likely to grab unhealthy snacks) and nourish your body post workout with the right food and rest.
  • Make sure you are getting your nutritional information from a credible source, especially if you are in social media. A good personal trainer should have a good nutritional knowledge to help support with the above.
  • Exercise is a must, aim to include 2-3 strength training sessions per week which focus on increasing your lean muscle mass and therefore elevate your metabolism over time. These sessions could be as little as 30 minutes if you structure them well.
  • Include some cardio in your workouts, focusing on high intensity interval training for a great calorie burn during your workout but also some epic impacts on your metabolism post workout too.
  • Finally, and possibly most importantly, don’t measure your progress on the scales only, there are so many more benefits to exercising and eating well
    • Your clothes will fit and feel better – measure this through progress photos and inches, much more motivating than the numbers on the scales
    • You’ll have more energy not only for exercise but for your day to day activities too
    • Your skin will glow
    • You’ll sleep better
    • You will have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing and often be able to cope better with daily stressors.
    • Ultimately you will feel amazing.

We wish you all the best on your fitness journey, let us know if we can help in any way.