Often, when you have a goal to lose weight, you get caught up in the details. Those details can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great to get down to the granular and specific. But on the other hand, focusing on micro details can lead to losing sight of the big picture.
If you have questions about losing weight, I’m here to help you zone in on what really matters because you might currently be asking questions that aren’t all that important. I’m sharing some of the most common questions I get asked that keep people stuck, and I’m contrasting those with the more useful questions that will come up on your weight loss journey.
Tune in this week to discover the most important questions to ask yourself as you make your weight loss plan. I’m addressing questions about carbs, protein, intermittent fasting, plant-based diets, and showing you how to avoid getting caught up in these details and instead bring your focus back to the bigger picture: losing weight.
Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.
Be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you!
What You Will Discover:
- Why focusing on small details can slow down your weight loss.
- The most common non-essential weight loss questions I get asked.
- Why losing weight means choosing habits that make sense for you.
- The most important weight loss questions you should be focusing on answering for yourself.
- How to zone in on and answer the most important questions when making a weight loss plan of your own.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Full Episode Transcript:
You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #52. If you have questions about losing weight, let me help you zone in on what really matters. You might be surprised.
Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.
Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, we are going to talk about the questions you should be asking when it comes to weight loss. Specifically, we’re going to be talking about the questions that do and don’t really matter when you’re coming up with your weight loss plan. And here’s where this comes from.
Often, when you have a goal to lose weight, you get caught up in the details. And those details are a double-edged sword. So, let me explain. If you know me at all by now, you know that I really love to get into the nitty gritty and get into the specific details of how you will go about losing weight. I really love getting granular about most things, whether it’s a weight loss plan, a summer trip, how to do a math problem. I really just like getting down to the micro level and parsing out details.
And while some people might think it’s annoying, I think it’s one of my gifts, because it helps me to coach you better. I think of it as covering all the bases. I don’t let you be vague, because being vague about your weight loss, or really any goal for that matter, generally does not get you anywhere.
So, sometimes when you’re trying to lose weight, you may get so caught up in answering certain questions and finding certain answers, that you lose sight of what really matters. And then, those answers that you’re looking so hard to find, don’t even matter because you’ve lost sight of the big picture. Yes, while, to some degree, getting specific and detailed absolutely does matter, what matters even more is looking for answers to the right questions.
What I’m going to do today, is share some of the questions you’ve asked that might be getting you stuck. And while these questions, while they may seem really important, I’m going to help you see that they’re not as essential as you might think. And then, we’re going to get into some of the questions that I would encourage you to really zone in on, and really spend some time thinking about and answering for yourself.
When you get very truthful and honest about your answers to those questions, you’ll be able to choose habits that make sense for you. So today, I’m giving you some key questions to consider when you’re putting together your weight loss plan. All right? So, let’s go.
I’m going to start out by sharing with you some of the questions you might think are super important when it comes to weight loss. These are questions either you have reached out and asked me, or questions I’ve been asked by my clients.
First and foremost, you may be wondering, should I eat carbs? So, you know I don’t have anything against carbs. I’ve talked about carbs a number of times on this podcast, and I’m not here to demonize any one macro group. I’m not here to tell you to buy Keto urine sticks and have you adopt a Keto lifestyle. If that is in fact your jam, no problem, but it honestly doesn’t matter.
Whether or not you eat carbs does not matter, it really doesn’t. If you decide to adopt a very low carb or Keto lifestyle, you will most likely lose weight. You will lose water weight from the get-go because as your body burns through all of its remaining glycogen stores you will also diurese the water that was binding those glycogen stores together in the first place. That’s why you might see a pretty rapid initial weight loss within the first week or two of starting Keto. But recognize that’s water weight, not fat loss.
The second you resume eating a higher level of carbs that water weight is going to come back. But beyond that initial water weight loss, once you are well into a Keto diet, your body then relies on fat stores as its primary form of energy. And that’s when you may see true weight loss.
But the point here is that whether or not you eat carbs to lose weight, does not matter. People have lost weight by eating carbs. People have lost weight by eliminating carbs. People have lost weight by cutting back on their carbs without eliminating them altogether. There is no one right way to approach carbs, no matter what anyone tells you.
So instead, let me share one of the more practical approaches you can take when it comes to carbs. The idea here is to get choosy with your carbs. I like this concept, I’ve shared it with my clients, and I’m going to explain it here. Being choosy about your carbs is simple. It just recognizes that all carbs are not created equally as far as quality is concerned.
Meaning, the carbs you get from a bagel are not going to be the same as the carbs you get from an apple. The processed carbs from the bagel will spike and then crash your blood sugar, and will likely cause you to go looking for more processed carbs to take the edge off that crash. I think of processed carbs, or things with flour in them, I think of it as if a machine has already done some of the digesting for you.
So, for foods made with white flour, the wheat has been pulverized and bleached and processed into flour, which is quickly digested by your body, because the work of breaking the wheat down, it’s already been largely done by the plant wherever it was processed.
The carbs from the apple come packaged with fiber and other nutrients, and will not have the same impact on your blood sugar as the bagel. Your body will take more time to digest the apple, and as a result, the apple won’t cause your blood sugar to spike and crash in the same way that something made from processed white flour would.
So, the point here is that the apple and the bagel, they’re both carbs, but their impact on you is very different. When you’re being choosy with your carbs, you’re choosing higher quality carbs, like the apple over their processed counterparts. That’s it. You don’t have to cut them out altogether. You’re not going Keto. But instead, you’re paying attention to the type of carbs you’re eating.
But again, here I go getting granular here. So, let me take it back out to the macro view. Whether or not you eat carbs, it does not matter. It really doesn’t. Okay?
All right, next. Another question that commonly comes up is about protein. Often, you want to know how to get more of it. And you know that I love to talk about protein. Of the three macros, it is my most favorite to talk about, because it has so many benefits. And I don’t feel that it gets as much love as carbs or fat.
Most of us have no trouble at all, taking in loads of carbs and fat, and it’s a little harder to get excited about protein. But in case you need a reminder, protein has multiple benefits in terms of your health and weight loss. It helps you to build and maintain muscle when you combine it with strength training.
It helps you to hold on to muscle while you lose weight. It keeps you full and satiated. It helps you regulate your hunger hormones; it reduces cravings. It takes the most calories to digest when compared to carbs or fat. It can also help reduce the typical midsection weight gain that comes with menopause.
I could go on here, but the point is, there are multiple benefits to paying attention to the protein you get in your diet. And while I just spent the last few minutes extolling the virtues of protein, and recognizing that I talk about protein whatever chance I get, know that at the end of the day, it really does not matter whether or not or how you get more protein in order to lose weight.
The absolute amount of protein you take in, it does not really matter. If you’re looking to build or maintain muscle, yes, it most definitely does matter. But from a strict weight loss perspective, the number of grams of protein you take in really does not matter. Okay?
So next, you may be wondering, is intermittent fasting worth a try? Intermittent fasting, or time restricted eating, it’s quite the rage currently. There are loads of ways to go about it, such as the 16-8 method, the 5-2 method, OMAD or One Meal a Day, EAT-STOP-EAT, and so many others.
The most popular route that people take when they adopt intermittent fasting is a 16-8 ratio. Meaning, you fast for 16 hours, and then you have an eating window of eight hours. And often, for many people who take on this approach, it means skipping breakfast. And then you break your fast with lunch.
Most people who do intermittent fasting choose a time period during the day when they will eat, like 11am to 7pm or noon to 8pm. That’s your eating window. And you may hear it referred to as “time restricted eating”. The thing I want to point out here is that I look at intermittent fasting through two lenses. Intermittent fasting can be used for the sole purpose of weight loss, and some people choose it for this reason alone.
But some people may choose to start intermittent fasting to improve insulin resistance and decrease the risk of certain diseases like diabetes. Following an intermittent fasting schedule can also reduce inflammation that’s been linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s and stroke, among others. There’s still quite a bit of research being done on intermittent fasting and its effects on preventing disease, and we’ll most certainly be seeing more on this in the future.
And my point by bringing this up, is to remind you that weight loss is not the same as health, those are two very different things. You may choose intermittent fasting for any number of reasons. But from a weight loss perspective, if your primary goal is to lose weight, it really does not matter whether or not you do intermittent fasting. At this point, we just don’t have enough evidence to support that intermittent fasting is the slam dunk option for people pursuing weight loss.
And I want to point this out because there are so many books and influencers and even other physicians who are making a boatload of money convincing people that intermittent fasting is the be-all end-all. And until we see powerful, repeatable quality evidence to support it over other diets. I am not on board. Based on what we currently know, it just does not matter from a sheer weight loss perspective, whether or not you do intermittent fasting. Okay?
Another question you might be considering, is whether you should adopt a plant-based diet, or some shade of grey in between being a carnivore or becoming a vegan. And there are certainly loads of benefits to adopting a plant-based diet. There’re the environmental and ethical impacts, if those are important to you.
But beyond that, there’s evidence linking a plant-based diet with lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, some cancers. But again, similar to the conversation we were just having about intermittent fasting, those are health factors, not weight loss factors. And remember, weight loss and health are not one and the same.
So, from a weight loss perspective, you may find that you lose weight by adopting a plant-based diet. And this will largely depend on how you go about it. If you are used to eating steak, eggs, cheese, and dark meat from poultry as an example, and then you switch to beans, legumes, tofu, and tempeh to replace those foods, then you will likely lose weight.
At the same time, if you adopt a plant-based diet and eat nothing but pasta and fried stuff, even if that fried stuff is made from soy, you may not lose weight. It depends on the approach that you take to your plant-based diet. Okay? Simply adopting a plant-based diet is not, in and of itself, going to cause you to lose weight. It most definitely depends on how you approach it. Again, from a weight loss perspective, it really does not matter if you go plant based or not. All right?
So, those are four of the most common questions that I have been asked, and some of the most common concepts I cover in coaching sessions with my clients when we’re talking about your individual weight loss plan. What I’m asking here is, do you notice anything about these questions? As I was sifting through my coaching notes and reflecting on this, I realized that all of these questions, in one way or another, address the “what”, the “when”, and the “how” of your eating.
Think about it, whether or not you choose to eat carbs, or maybe you’re still under the impression that fat is the enemy and you’re aiming for a low-fat diet; which again, that myth has been disproven. Fat is most definitely not your enemy here, okay? Or if you decide to turn all of your attention to protein, and you’re on a mission to get 120g/day, which is absolutely doable without supplements, by the way. However you approach this, recognize that this is addressing the “what”.
If you’re trying to answer the questions: Should I eat carbs? How much protein do I need? Or should I follow a low-fat diet? You’re answering for the “what”. You’re answering for, what should I eat?
Then when you consider intermittent fasting, and when you ask whether or not that’s the approach you need to take in order to lose weight. Now you’re looking at the “when”. Because when you boil it down, the principle behind intermittent fasting isn’t about what you’re eating, the main focus of intermittent fasting is when you’re eating.
When you choose an intermittent fasting method, you’re restricting the times at which you eat. Whether you follow a 16-8 split, a one meal a day approach, or alternate day fasting, however you slice it, you’re essentially deciding when you will eat.
So, while we’re on the subject of when to eat, let’s also just talk for a minute about snacks. Many of you have asked if it’s okay to snack or if it’s no good to snack, and is that messing with your weight loss, and so on. And the way I view it is this, snacking simply increases how often and how many times a day you’re eating.
And there may be benefits to snacking. Having a snack can keep you satisfied between meals, to prevent you from overeating. Depending on what you have, your snack may add more vitamins and minerals and fiber to your diet. If you have a snack before exercise, it can provide you with energy to fuel your workouts.
But on the flip side, snacking can have its drawbacks too. If your snacks are large, or if you have a hard time stopping yourself when you’re eating processed, hyper-palatable snacks like chips or cookies, you may end up taking in more food than your body needs.
And when you regularly have snacks that are processed foods like Oreos or Cheetos, you’re creating a neural pathway in your brain that tells you to keep having those foods, and it can be really easy to overdo it. So, you have to know yourself, and know how you intend to use those snacks, to decide whether or not to incorporate them into your diet.
Taking a step back here, the take-home is that answering the question of whether or not to try intermittent fasting, or whether or not snacking is okay, those questions are both looking to answer “when” and how often you will eat. All right?
Then last, let’s go back to the plant-based diet. If you decide to become vegan, or a lacto-ovo pescatarian, or if you decide to remain an omnivore and eat it all, you’re answering the question of “how” you will eat. And I will note that people get very passionate about this.
Some people treat how they eat as if it’s a religion and can get very focused on it. And if that’s you, by all means, go for it, you do you. But just recognize that how you eat is just one small piece of a much larger picture, and it really does not matter how you eat. Okay?
To summarize where we’re at so far, do you see what’s happening here? When you’re asking these questions, the focus is on the specifics, right? Should you eat carbs? How much protein? Is an eight-hour eating window, okay? What about snacks? Should you become vegan? All of those are pretty specific components to your weight loss plan.
And when you answer those questions, you’re answering for the “what”, the “when”, the “how often”, and the “how” of your eating. That’s it. And while I love, love, love getting specific, at the end of the day, none of this really matters. From a strict weight loss perspective, the answer to those questions really don’t matter.
I know, if you’re wondering, where am I going with all this? Hang with me and this will all make sense in a second. Let me explain what I mean when I say that none of those answers really matter, because I want to be very clear. What does really matter when it comes to losing weight? Having a plan. I truly believe that having a plan is absolutely essential if you’re going to lose weight.
And again, please reach out if you have done this, but I have yet to come across a single person who has lost a significant amount of weight by winging it. All right? No, you need a plan. So, from that perspective, if you want to be successful at losing weight, you need a plan. I think we can all mostly agree on that.
But the details of that plan, the “what”, the “when”, how often, and “how” that really, honestly does not matter. Do you see that? It really doesn’t. It does not matter if you eat carbs. It doesn’t matter if you get choosy about your carbs and cut out the processed ones. It doesn’t matter if you follow an intermittent fasting schedule, or if you decide to eat breakfast. It also doesn’t matter if you eat three meals and two snacks or if you forgo snacking altogether.
It also does not matter how you label yourself. To be fair, no one honestly cares if you’re whole food, plant based, vegan, pescatarian, or if you eat your steak still mooing, it doesn’t matter. At this point in time, what we know to matter if you want to lose weight, is establishing a calorie deficit. And everything I just went over ultimately comes down to that. Do you see that?
As an example, if you cut out an entire macro group, like carbs or fat, then chances are pretty good you’re putting yourself in a calorie deficit. If you focus on your protein, and substitute protein for some of the fat in your diet, you will create a calorie deficit. If you start intermittent fasting, and you take a 16-8 approach and essentially skip breakfast, as long as you don’t overdo it during your eating window, you are creating a calorie deficit.
If you give up snacking, or cut down on the number of snacks you have in a day, yeah, again, calorie deficit. If you trade your steak and eggs and cheese for tofu and tempeh, you guessed it; calorie deficit. So, at the end of the day, the answers to those questions really don’t matter.
If you eat in a way that puts you into a calorie deficit, and you are consistent, barring any medical issues, you will lose weight. How you get there doesn’t really matter, because all of those roads will lead to the same place; a calorie deficit. Let me be clear, I know full well that there are other components to weight loss. I know that your food quality matters, and that eating Pop-Tarts regularly is going to have a very different impact on your weight and your health, than eating apples or bananas.
I also recognize that your hormones matter. Your gut microbiome matters. Sleep, salt, water balance, all of these things play into your weight loss. I get that and I want to acknowledge that. But those things I just listed, minus sleep, are things that are out of your control. When it comes to weight loss, you don’t have ultimate control over your insulin or leptin or ghrelin levels.
You don’t control your gut microbiome. You can’t control how much water weight you retain. But you can control what, when, how often and how you eat. Do you see that? That’s an important thing to understand. Of the things that we currently know of that contribute to your weight, food is one of the things over which you’ve got control.
So have a plan. Make your choices. Decide for yourself what, when, how often, and how you’re going to eat. And recognize that while it kind of matters, it really doesn’t. At this time, based on what we know about weight loss, if you were eating in a way that results in a consistent calorie deficit, barring any medical issues, you should lose weight.
How you get into that calorie deficit really does not matter. Don’t get so caught up in looking for answers to those questions that you miss out on the most important ones. So now, here it is. I want to offer you the most important questions you should be asking yourself when you’re considering weight loss. It has nothing to do with carbs, or tofu, or hours of the day or how many snacks you’re having. Okay?
The first question I want you to ask about your weight loss plan is: Do I like this? And I know, that’s super basic. But for some of you, you overlook whether or not you like what you’re eating, and then it becomes really hard to stick with whatever weight loss plan you set out for yourself, because you just don’t like it. I don’t want you to eat food that you don’t like.
So, if the thought of starting Keto, and eating avocado or meat and cheese, among other things, does not sound palatable to you, you’ve got your answer. Or if you’ve decided that you want to eat a more plant-based diet, but you can’t stomach tempeh or lentils, don’t eat that way. Remember, if the plan you’re taking on sounds icky from the start, it is not going to sound any more appealing or appetizing when you’re six months in.
Do yourself a favor and make sure that the foods you have planned to eat are foods you actually like. And I know that sounds like I’m stating the obvious, of course you should like your food. But some of you have come to me after trying to force yourself to love packaged foods systems and bars. Or you force yourself to eat veggies that you just don’t like, and you don’t have to do that.
And here’s the other thing I want to add to this. While I most definitely want you to like the foods you’re eating, I also want to make it clear that not every meal has to dazzle you, okay? There’s a fine balance here. Every meal does not have to be exciting. Every meal does not have to wow you. Your food should taste good, but it doesn’t have to be the center of attention.
When you remove the pressure of getting excitement out of your food, it opens up your brain space for you to focus on other, more important things. There is a healthy balance here. I want you to like your food, but recognize that the food does not have to be exciting. Alright? So, the first question to ask yourself about your weight loss plan is: Do I like this?
Then, the next question you should be asking yourself is: Does this work for my life and my schedule? Again, another pretty basic, simple question. But one that I see gets so commonly overlooked, I think we need to talk about it. Whatever weight loss plan you decide to take on, it will only work if it can fit into your life.
I talk about the concept of “your house rhythm” with clients all the time. As I just said that I realized “house rhythm” sounds like the kind of music you’d hear in the club. But it’s actually much less fancy than that. Every home has its rhythm. So, maybe you have very young children who are not sleeping through the night.
Maybe those same children will not have anything to do with salmon or tofu, so you’re making separate meals for your kids. Maybe you’re a kid Uber and are taking your kids all over the place for activities and have very little time during the week to cook. Maybe you work crazy, erratic hours, so following a set eating schedule does not work for you. Maybe you’re just in a very busy phase with work that leaves you little time for much else.
Whatever your situation, consider what your house rhythm is, and decide how your weight loss plan fits into it. Notice I’m not asking you to fit your life into your eating, okay? And that’s an important distinction to make. However you decide to eat, whether that’s low or no carb, intermittent fasting, vegan, high protein, whatever it is, determine if that way of eating makes sense for your life and your schedule.
Do you have time to prepare the foods you need to stick to your plan? Do you have enough flexibility to accommodate late nights or early mornings? How will your partner and/or your kids be impacted by your plan, if at all? Before you commit to a way of eating, take a few minutes to determine how your plan fits into your life.
If it’s hard to stick to an eight-hour eating window because of your work schedule, then maybe a 16-8 intermittent fasting approach is not for you. If you find that you work out best when you eat carbs, then a low-carb or keto life is probably not going to cut it. Whatever plan you decide for yourself, ask the question: Does this fit into my life and schedule?
The last question I want you to ask yourself when you’re considering your weight loss plan: Can I do this for the long haul? Or is this sustainable? So, this one goes back to consistency. And I know we just talked about consistency last week, but I’m going to bring it up again here in just a slightly different context.
Before you get started on your weight loss plan, I’m encouraging you to get really honest with yourself and ask if the way you’re choosing to eat is something you can keep up for the long term? Is the plan you’re making for yourself something you can be consistent in following? Because you know that in order to succeed and have a change, especially when it comes to changing the way you eat to lose weight, consistency matters a lot.
If the idea of cutting out carbs doesn’t sound like something you can do for the long term, then maybe Keto isn’t right for you. Or if you really love breakfast, or if you love eating both in the morning and at night, then maybe intermittent fasting is not the right approach for you. If you love steak, don’t become a vegan. You see where I’m going here.
This is about knowing yourself and knowing what you are willing to commit to over the long term. Again, if the weight loss plan you’re starting seems complicated, tastes bad, or cuts out food or macro groups that you have no intention of quitting for the long term, then that plan is not sustainable.
Remember that when you’re starting on a weight loss plan, your motivation is highest at the beginning. But that motivation is unreliable and it won’t last.
So, if your plan is difficult to maintain from the get-go, it probably will not be any easier to stick to six months from now, when your motivation has long faded. If you can’t see yourself doing it a year from now, maybe it’s not the right way of eating for you.
So, before you commit to your weight loss plan, decide if it’s something you can sustain, and be honest with yourself. Of all the questions you can ask yourself about whatever weight loss plan you’re considering, I would argue that this one is most important: Is this sustainable?
Those are the three most important questions I want you to ask yourself when you consider your weight loss plan. Do I like this? Does this fit into my life and my schedule? And is this something I can sustain for the long haul? I get it, those questions, they’re a little hard to answer. It’s easier to get wrapped up in whether or not to eat carbs, or consider what eating window works best, or ponder if you should have three meals and two snacks, or no snacks at all.
And while those questions seem important, they honestly don’t really matter. Those answers do not matter if you don’t like what you’re doing, if it doesn’t fit into your life, and if you can’t sustain it. So often, I find that clients are looking for the right answer when it comes to weight loss.
It’s easy to get caught up in finding the “truth” that will make losing weight easier. And that’s when questions like, how many grams of protein? And when should I start my eating window? That’s when those questions come up.
But I’m here to remind you that there is no one right answer. Remember, there is no one diet truth. There probably never will be. There is no one slam dunk, right way, to lose weight. No matter what any influencer may tell you. So, instead of focusing on finding the right way of losing weight, because there isn’t one, imagine what it would be like if you focused on finding a way of eating that you’ve liked, that fit into your life, and was something you could keep up for the long term.
What would your weight loss journey look like if that was your focus? So, I’ll tell you what I’ve seen. When you focus on finding the answers to those questions, changing your lifestyle becomes much more pleasant and doable. And then, the weight loss follows.
So, instead of imposing all kinds of rules and restrictions on yourself that don’t fit into your life, because you think they’re the right answers, start by knowing who you are and how you operate. Then choose a weight loss plan that makes sense for you where you are right now. When you focus on finding your answers, instead of looking for the right answers, weight loss becomes less complicated. There’s less drama, and there’s more success. All right?
And if you want help finding your unique answers, let’s talk. When you coach with me, we find a way of eating and moving that you like, that fits into your life, and that you can sustain. Then we do the work to ensure you’ve got the mindset to back it up for the long haul.
Check out my website. Go to www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact and let’s talk about finding the answers that matter, your answers. All right? Thank you again for hanging out with me, and I will catch you again next week.
If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. And share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media. Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook, so I can follow along and engage with you.
This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong, inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up. And you know, making that change starts with how you think. And that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.
Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.
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