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How I Lost 11lbs (4.6kg) in 1 month (December 2023) 

I know what you are thinking – ‘big deal’ yeah? 

You are thinking – ‘what’s so special about losing just 11lbs in one month that you have to write about it and share with the world?’ 

You are right. Kinda. 

Depending on who you are talking to, even the tiniest amount of weight loss can feel so good, especially if the person has had several failed weight loss attempts. 

That is not the case for me though. 

I have managed to stay in decent shape most of my life, except for that time I ballooned to over 92kg. That’s a story for another day. 

So even though I have never really been seriously overweight or struggled to lose weight, setting a goal to lose 3kg in December and then actually doing better felt great. 

Random Thought: don’t get me wrong. I have been coaching and helping clients lose weight for well over a decade now. In that time I have seen 100s of men and women lose much more than 11 lbs in 30 days or less. So it’s not like I was surprised. This is what I do!

What makes it feel even more special, at least to me, is the approach and timing.

This happened at a time of the year when most people typically gain weight – December. 

As for my approach, I did it without: 

  • Excessive dieting, starvation, or hunger
  • Avoiding any food groups – yes I ate bread, rice, swallow, pasta, and even cake. 
  • Pills, teas, or powders
  • Waist trainers, waist kidnappers, waist bandits, or whatever other fancy name it’s called these days.
  • Spending several hours each week on grocery shopping and meal prep 
  • Counting my calories or tracking my macros
  • Fasting for several hours at a time – not deliberately at least 
  • Of following any of the common diets and eating plans – keto, paleo, carnivore, etc
  • Traditional cardio – running, aerobics, etc

So you now know what I didn’t do, and if I have managed to intrigue you a bit, you are probably wondering how I did it. 

Jeez, I will tell you. 

For the record, I am not saying any of the approaches above are inherently bad or ineffective. I am just stating it because a lot of people believe you must eat, move, and live a certain way to lose weight. I am here to tell you that there is more than one way and the belief that this is untrue is one of the reasons people struggle with long term weight loss. 

If you just want a short gistless list then just check the bullet list below but if you want more detail and how you can apply these strategies to help you lose weight too then read on. 

5 Simple Things I Did To Lose 11lbs in 1 Month

  • Ate smaller food portions – I cut my portions by about 50%
  • Ate fewer meals across the week – I went from eating 2-3 meals per day to eating 1-2 meals daily
  • Working out – I completed 6 strength training workouts each week
  • Walking – I walked about 12k steps each day
  • Tracking & Monitoring – 

That’s the short time-friendly version, read on for the full gist 

It was the first week of November and I had not seen the inside of a gym or worked out consistently for several months. Considering that I am a fitness coach, this was just unacceptable. Yes, I know and I am not going to bore you with why I had taken this long break. 

However, it was time to get on the horse (I would say treadmill but I am not really a fan). 

Fast forward a few weeks and workouts later I decided it’d be cool to drop ‘about’ 3kg (6.6 lbs) in the month of December. I kinda liked the challenge of trying to get in better shape at a time when most people log out for the year – detty december baby. . 

As for the 3kg goal, there was nothing special or scientific about it. My weight at the time was 85.9kg (189 lbs), and since I wasn’t willing to completely overhaul my diet, I settled for the 3kg target. Honestly, it just felt realistic and doable. 

Plus I know, from coaching experience, that aiming for warp speed weight loss is not always the best strategy long term.

Starting Weight = 85.9kg 

Date/Time: = 4:30am, December 1, 2022

Target Weight Loss = 3kg 

Actual Weight Loss = 4.6kg (11lbs)

Goal Achieve Date = January 1, 2023

Some Background Information: 

For any diet or exercise program to be effective at helping you lose weight it has to help you consistently create and sustain a calorie deficit. That is, you have to expend more calories than you consume or vise versa – insert CICO image here

Research has shown that most diets, when equated for calorie deficit and protein intake, result in about the same amount of weight loss. This means that any diet plan or eating style (keto, low carb, paleo, intermittent fasting, etc) has the potential to help you lose weight as long as (I am beginning to sound like a broken record) it helps you consistently create and sustain a calorie deficit. – insert study graphic here

I think this is incredibly helpful. It means you get to choose your path based on your preferences, values, and what you feel you can adhere to. 

Talking about adherence,countless studies have demonstrated that when it comes to dieting for weight loss – adherence is the most important factor. We will cover it in a future article, for now, just know that there is no diet success without adherence. Also keep in mind that adherence is not absolute or a yes-no dichotomy. The question is – how adherent were you? A diet plan that’s easy for one person to adhere to may be impossible for another. Even with the same individual, a diet plan can be easy or impossible to stick depending on several factors. 

To recap, weight loss happens when there is a calorie deficit. There are nuances but this is the underlying principle. You can achieve this calorie deficit by – reducing your calorie intake (via food and beverages), increasing your physical activity (general activities of daily living, workout, sports, etc), or both. 

5 Things I Did To Help Me Lose 4.1kg in one month

Armed with this calorie-in vs calorie-out principle, I decided I was going to create the calorie deficit by making small adjustments to my diet and increasing my physical activity. I like to keep things simple because, as they say, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. 

My diet approach: as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t willing to avoid any food groups, do a detox/cleanse (mostly unnecessary for weight loss), or starve myself. For the plan to work it had to be sustainable and relatively easy to stick to for 30 days.

Ordinarily, when working with a client, we would first figure out their daily calorie intake target and then translate that number to macros (carbs, fats, protein) in whatever split or percentages  – all based on their goals and preferences. 

I, however, chose to skip this step. My thinking was – I already knew how (quantity, macros, timing) I had been eating for the last several months so all I had to do to create a calorie deficit was reduce my intake, simple. 

Let me explain … 

Most people, even you, have a pretty good idea of how they’ve been eating for at least a few weeks if not months. You know the approximate portions you eat and drink of different foods and beverages, you know or at least have an idea of how much of different ingredients are in the foods you eat, you know what times of the day or days of the week you typically eat certain foods or drink alcohol. 

Let’s get even more specific with some examples/For instance

You not only know how many times (on average) you eat rice each week but you also know how much of it you eat each time. You can tell just by looking at the plate if it’s significantly more or less than what you typically eat in one sitting. This is true for other foods too and even when you  eat out. 

You have an idea of how many slices of bread you eat in one sitting, you know how many handfuls you eat each time you have peanuts (groundnut), you know how much fruits and vegetables (if any) you eat daily, you know how much protein you eat with each meal, and you know how much alcohol (if any) you drink, on average, each week. 

My point is – while it is impossible to know exactly how many calories you’ve been eating without tracking and measuring, almost everyone has a pretty good idea of how they are currently and have been eating for the last several weeks/months. So, assuming you’ve been gaining or maintaining weight, to create the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss, all you have to do is adjust your intake, track, and then modify accordingly. 

I say this because I have seen a lot of people get stuck and held back because of this process of figuring out target calorie intake, translating that number to macros, and then finally figuring out how to hit those targets from meal to meal, day to day, and week to week. Sure, figuring out your daily calorie target can be helpful, and even necessary, for some people but if it adds another layer of complexity that becomes a barrier or obstacle to making initial changes then it may be best to skip the step. Simplicity, remember?

A simple analogy to explain this would be driving your car. If you have a routine (most of us do) and you’ve been driving the same routes and covering the same average distance from day to day for the last several weeks then you should have an idea of how much fuel/gas you need each day/week. If a time comes when you want to reduce your weekly gas expense then you should know to cut your total weekly drive time or distance. To do this, you don’t have to calculate how many milliliters of fuel you use for each mile you cover. You just take shorter routes and drive less. Simple. 

Note: if you are one of those rare people who don’t have an idea of how you’ve been eating then you need to figure out your target daily calorie intake and then work to hit it every day. Otherwise, since you can’t estimate how you’ve been eating, you might just be eating the same (or even more) total calories, therefore not creating a deficit (assuming physical activity stays the same) and ultimately not losing any weight. 

Did you have to calculate your target daily calorie intake every time you’ve lost weight in the past? I bet not. 

Eating smaller portions: I literally know what my regular portions look like on a plate so I made the switch to eating about half of my regular portions for most meals.. For instance, I know I typically eat about 4 handfuls (I know its a lot, focus) each time I eat rice, so I ‘downgraded’ to just 2 handfuls and saved almost half of the calories from each of these meals. 

A couple more examples …  

Bread – I love bread. On more than one occasion I have finished an entire loaf of bread in one sitting. Boy, those were the good ol days when we felt invisible. I can feel you judging me. Continue. 

Anyway, as I have gotten older, I realized I just can’t keep eating bread (or any other food for that matter) like my life depended on it. I went from eating 5-6 slices of bread 2-3 times each week to capping it at 6 slices weekly. It didn’t matter if I had those 6 slices one time or spread over 2-3 meals, I wasn’t going over 6 slices per week. That’s a few hundred calories saved each week.

Pasta (Indomie) – Before my 30-day challenge, I typically ate 1 pack of the medium sized indomie (super pack = 600 calories) about twice each week. I ‘downgraded’ to the smallest pack (300 calories). This switch alone help me cut about 600 weekly calories.  

Skipping meals: I went from eating 2-3 meals each day to 1-2 meals daily. I did this mostly by skipping dinner. I am typically hungrier during the day (maybe because I do significant amount of work 10am on most days or that’s just my natural hunger drive) and less hungry in the evenings so skipping dinner was not a big deal. However, I ate my lunch a little later (sometimes 6pm). This helped put hunger at bay and supply the energy my body needs for my early morning strength workouts. 

I went from eating 14-21 meals each week (2-3 per day) to 7-14 (1-2 per day) weekly. This means I ate about 7 fewer meals each week – resulting in a couple thousand calories deficit weekly. If you are like me and you are not as hungry at night as you are during the day then this strategy might work for you too.
 

Side Note: I know you’ve heard or read that you shouldn’t skip meals if you are trying to lose weight. Not true. There is no evidence in the scientific literature (and my data from coaching 100s of clients in real life) that skipping meals alone (with a resonable calorie deficit and sufficient protein intake) can be disadvantageous for long term weight loss. Unfortunately, this is one of those fitness myths that just won’t die. Well, that’s why you have me – to help debunk these lies and provide you with the most up-to-date research backed information on all things fitness and weight loss. Think of me as your non-cape wearing bread-loving fitness super hero – here to save you from villians ….. But, if you are one of those people (and you know for sure) that skipping a meal will cause you to overconsume calories during the rest of the day then this strategy is not for you. We will unpack meal skipping in a future article. 

Eating slow: I used to eat so fast that I have been told, on more than one occasion, that it’s almost like I just inhale the food. I am not proud of myself but this is one habit I am working hard to crack. Eating slow is one of the foundational nutritional habits we encourage our clients to practice because it’s been shown to help reduce the total amount of food and calories consume in one meal. 

Every time we eat, there is back and forth communication between our brains and stomach – signaling how much we’ve eaten, how stuffed we are, how stretched our stomach walls are, and how much more we can eat. Unfortunately, there is a time lag and delay in this process as the brain doesn’t immediately interpret and transmit the ‘you are almost full, stop eating now’ signal in real time. I bet you have experienced this yourself a few times too – feeling stuffed and overfed (to the point of discomfort) a few minutes after finishing a meal. It’s likely because you ate a little fast and your brain didn’t get a chance to say ‘stop eating, your stomach is stretched more than your pants’ (oouch, stray bullet, shots fired. Do something) – causing you to eat a few more calories than necessary. If this continues from meal to meal and week to week then you can see how we can ruin our weight loss efforts just by eating fast. If you struggle with this then I encourage you to try slowing down when you sit down to eat. Depending on what you are eating, you can do this by – chewing a little longer and more thoroughly, taking longer breaks between bites (gist, reply a message, or do whatever during these short breaks), using a different tool (fork instead of spoon, left hand instead of right, etc), and setting a timer for 15-20 mins.  

When you try eating slower (using the tips above), you’ll find that you are not able to finish the typical portion of food you could previously plow through. This is because your brain gets a chance to stop you long before you overeat and stuff yourself. 

Obviously, you don’t have to try all the eating slow strategies at once – just pick the one that resonates with you and implement. For me, I used the ‘break between bites’ system and it worked alright, and my belly felt just as ‘full’ compared to my previous lighting-speed eating style only with no discomfort and significantly less calories. You also don’t have to do this for all your meals when you first start out as it can quickly get exhausting and boring. Start with eating slowly for just 1 meal a day and then progress from there.     

We will cover this concept of eating slowly in more detail in a future post. 

On the flip side, if you are trying to gain weight then eat fast love. Eat fast, eat often. 

No soda drinks or alcoholic beverages: I don’t usually take soda drinks or alcoholic beverages, not anymore. Heck, I am not even a social drinker – I have not had even a sip of a drink in maybe 3 years. I just don’t enjoy it and it doesn’t taste good, in my opinion. I can just hear all the liquor lovers saying – ‘this one doesn’t know what he is missing’. I am almost certain if alcohol was as tasty as icecream I would be an alcoholic. Or maybe not. I don’t know jo. The point is – the only liquid calorie foods and beverages I took during 30 day period was milk, yogurt, fresh fruit juice, and smoothies. 

I am not saying you have to completely eliminate alcohol or other drinks but if you are currently taking a lot of it then consider reducing your intake. Most alcoholic beverages are considered empty calorie or energy dense foods – because they provide a lot of calories and almost no nutrients. 

Meal Planning & Prepping: while this did not directly create a calorie deficit it definitely helped me with compliance and consistency. I did the meal planning mostly on saturdays and then, with plenty of help, did minimal meal prepping on sunday. My household already had a set weekly food menu, courtesy of my wife, so all I had to do was figure out how many total meals I wanted to eat each week and then prep or add a couple of ‘goal compliant’ meals to rotate throughout the week. For instance, I had oatmeal or overnight oats twice each week and plantain (unripe) porridge twice each week. I split my week into 2 parts – monday, tuesday, wednesday, and thursday, friday, saturday – and then rotated the same meals over those days. For instance, I had unripe plantain porridge breakfast on mondays and thursdays and then I had oatmeal or overnight oats for breakfast on wednesdays and friday. 

Meal planning and prepping can range from simple (relatively easy to do) to complex (requiring lots of time, energy, tools, and hands). Obviously I lean towards simplification for myself and my clients.     

My workout and physical activity approach: 

Strength training –  I only resumed my gym workouts about 4 weeks before my 30-day challenge – so my goals were modest – improve overall fitness, improve strength, maintain lean tissue while dieting, and just be consistent. I set a target for 6 workouts each week, using a push-pull-legs split. Thankfully I was able to pull that off and stay compliant. 

Side note – eventhough you won’t burn a lot of calories with strength training (compared to some other forms of exercise) you should still prioritize it. 

Also, 6 workouts each week may seem like a lot for some people and to them I’ll say 3 things – (1) I am not beating myself to a pulp in these workouts. There are designed to produce maximum stimulus with minimum fatigue. Sure, you’ll train relatively hard but recover well enough to go through the rest of your day even more energized (2) it’s only for a set period, 1 month in this case. You don’t have to workout 6 days a week for the rest of your life. At the time of writing this article (March 28th) I am only averaging about 4 workouts a week (3) I actually enjoy working out, particularly strength training, so for me this was more than just an exercise session. 

Walking – my goal was to increase my daily and weekly calorie expenditure (in addition to the strength training sessions) with another form of exercise/cardio that won’t create extra fatigue and I can easily recover from – even in high volumes. Enter walking. I set out to complete 300,000 steps that month so the plan was to average 10k steps each day. I ended up averaging about 12k steps each day (I added about 20% to make up for any potential errors on the app I was using) because over-sabi used to worry me sometimes. I split my walking into morning and evening sessions as it would have being difficult to consistently get 10k steps in one stretch. For the morning sessions – I sometimes, unintentionally, walked with at least 5kg in my back pack – water, laptop, small exercise equipment, and some garri & groundnut to stop and soak on the road when I was tired – when logging myself/going/traveling to and from personal training sessions. By the way, I am joking about the garri part, obviously. Or am I? I typically did the evening walking sessions after dinner. If you are looking for an easy way to increase your weekly calorie expenditure, without additional stress and fatigue that you have to recover from, then I recommend walking. Use a weighted vest or backpack for some of your walking sessions to burn a few more calories. 

My Tracking & Monitoring Approach: you’ve heard it before – you can’t change what you don’t measure. 

Daily weigh-in – I checked and recorded my weight everyday. And then, to measure progress, I compared weekly averages. For instance, at the end of the week I would sum up each daily weigh-in and divide that number by the total number of weigh-ins for that week to get my average weight for that week. So if I checked my weight 7 days of the week and got – 85.9kg, 86.1kg, 86.1kg, 85.9kg, 85.7kg, 86kg, 85.2kg respectively, then I would sum up these numbers (507.xkg) and then divide by 7 (the number of days I checked that week) to get my average weight for the week = 85.xkg. I did the same for each week and compared my average weight from one week to the next to see progress. So if my average weight in week 1 and 2 are 85.7kg and 84.7kg, respectively, then I know I have lost about 1kg in that time period. 

This is very different from what most people do. The average person, when they are actively trying to lose weight, checks their weight once a week (or even less frequently) and then compares the results. This is a flawed approach and a big mistake even I made for a long time with my clients. This article is already long enough, so I have no intention of extending it with details on why daily (or at least more frequent) weigh-in may be better than weekly/monthly weigh-ins, read this article for that. For now, this is the approach I used and have being using with clients to keep them on track and progressing. 

I kept a journal of my workouts – I recorded the sets, reps, weight, reps in reserve, and volume for each workout and tracked my performance from week to week. Although this may not have directly contributed to my results it definitely helped me adjust my workouts and stay consistent. So, yeah, journaling my workouts helped. 

Hunger & Appetite – I paid attention to my hunger levels and appetite cues throughout the day and week. Surprisingly, and considering how much I like food, I only had a few minor hunger bouts (nothing intense) for the first couple of days and that was it. My appetite was pretty level too so I guess I lucked out. 

MY MINDSET APPROAH: just like any other endeavour, the right mindset and attitude can make it more likely that you will achieve the desired results. From jump I adopted the mindset that I would finish the 30 days even if I wasn’t seeing results. Sure, I was measuring and tracking to make sure I was headed in the right direction but the only thing that was going to stop me completely was an avengers-level threat. 

Also, adopting the ‘next best thing’ approach meant that anytime I couldn’t do a planned workout or meal prep for whatever reason, I would ‘downgrade’ to the next best thing instead of doing nothing at all. This meant that I would do less of the planned tasks (prep 2 meals instead of 3) or a different activity – with the same general outcome – (do a home bodyweight workout instead of a gym workout). Lastly, I had self compassion. If I slipped up (ate something I shouldn’t have, ate a little too much, didn’t try my best with a workout) I forgave myself and moved on guilt free. Change is more likely to happen from feeling good and not feeling bad.  

MY GENERAL STRATEGY APPROACH: as I already mentioned, I focused more on the process than the outcome. I knew that if I executed the plan the results would follow. 

Another great thing I did, and this is game changing, was set and focus more on weekly totals vs daily numbers. For instance, instead of focusing on getting 10k steps each day, I aimed for a total of 70k+ steps by the end of each week. This way, if something happens and I am not able to hit the target for a day or 2 then, I can just make up with the remaining days of the week to help me hit the weekly target. 

Obviously you don’t want to overdo this and carry over so much work that it becomes impossible to consistently hit your weekly target. This flexible approach helps me, and my clients, work around changing schedules, responsibilities, and other complexities that life will inadvertedly throw at you. 

What I should have done: for some reason I failed to take ‘before’ photos, take body measuements (particularly belly), and check my bodyfat at the beginning of this challenge. I knew better. A few other things I should have done better – eat more protein, take more fruits and vegetables, drink more water and prioritize sleep. 

What I am doing now and current status:  at the time of writing this article (march 28) my weight is about 78.5kg. Recall I started at 85.9kg in december so I have dropped a total of around xxkg (xxlbs) since then. I dialed it back with my nutrition for most of january, february, and march – though, I am still eating smaller portions and about 2 meals per day. As per workouts, I strength train 4 days a week and try to walk at least 5k steps each day. 

What is my end game: ultimately the goal is to get and stay healthy, fit, and strong enough to move and live as I want – hopefully without pain, assistance, and medication – for as long as possible.  

Nana

In fact, you may be so concerned about the rapid weight gain that  

Weight loss, or any kind of physique improvement

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