January is most commonly associated with detoxes and diets as we enter a fresh, clean year and many tend to start over with their fitness goals, striving to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Over 48% of Americans say they want to lose weight in the New Year, 45% want to get in shape and 54% want to eat more healthily, a figure that’s likely to be even higher following the festive period of overindulgence.

If you’re looking to lose weight, tone up or get fit, it’s easy to be tempted by quick-fix diet fads, miracle pills and super-strict regimes which all promise rapid, sustainable results and rarely deliver. But success lies in simple, sensible guidance that can be applied all year round, whenever you feel ready and able to take that first step.

In this blog we’ve shared the four main dos (and don’ts) to be aware of as you embark on your weight loss journey.

Do: Take care of your gut

Eat plenty of fiber and protein and focus on a wholefoods diet, which in turn will help you to achieve your weight loss goals. Gut health is also closely influenced by stress – so be sure to practice some mindfulness and incorporate stress-busting activities into your daily life to keep it in the best possible condition.

Pre- and pro-biotics can also support a healthier gut when taken over time – but it’s best to ask your physician for tailored advice if you’re experiencing gut-related issues. Our Belly Fix blend incorporates a unique formula designed to soothe and reset the gut, featuring probiotics, collagen and coconut MCTs.

Do: Install sustainable new habits

Many diet plans out there do work – but only for a short time. They focus on fast results and simplistic techniques that can only be sustained for so long before you ‘break’ and start to let the old ways sneak back in. Most people who embark on a weight loss journey don’t want to have to cut carbs or only drink meal replacement shakes forever – and that’s where the issue lies.

Instead, consider what your life looks like now. How much do you eat, and when? What are your favorite foods? Which activities do you enjoy? Then sit down and make healthy swaps, thinking about new habits you might like to introduce that feel attainable to you. Most people fail before they start because they set the bar too high, or embark on unrealistic plans that are sold to them as ‘easy’. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss – so be sure to make a personalized plan that feels right for you before you begin.

Do: Get moving

Abs may be made in the kitchen – but you still need to move your body! Exercise is good for body and mind – and certain types such as strength training can also help to create lean muscle mass.

The key to sticking with exercise consistently is to make it fun – so be sure to make a list of things you enjoy rather than trying to force yourself into that morning run or post-work gym session.

Mix it up with a blend of strength training (this can be in the gym or exercise that involves using your own body weight as resistance, such as Pilates) and aerobics to get the heart rate pumping.

Do: Keep a food diary

Starting by keeping a track of your eating habits can be really helpful when thinking about changing your diet to aid weight loss. Noting down what you eat and when without judgement allows you to clearly see where you may be able to make some healthier swaps. Transparency and honesty is key here – the more you understand how you eat now, the more effective the information will be.

Once you’ve established any habits that may be holding you back, you can begin to put a new plan in place, ensuring that the food you eat is nourishing and balanced.

Don’t: Give up too easy

It can be tempting to become impatient when you’re on a weight loss journey. We get it – you want to fit into those skinny jeans or feel fabulous in that dress now! But most weight loss journeys, even those that start with a higher number on the scale, require a measured and sensible approach which focuses on long-term progress rather than short-term results.

Diet culture dictates that you can see ‘x’ amount of weight loss in ‘x’ amount of time – but this isn’t realistic or healthy. Be prepared for the long-haul and celebrate all your small wins along the way.

Don’t: Forget about hormones

Our hormones have a significant role to play when it comes to weight loss and the many different aspects of it including body composition, fat loss and metabolic rate. If you’re eating well and exercising frequently but struggle to see results, there may be hormonal imbalances at play in the background. Identifying whether key hormones are at high or low levels can help you to effectively treat and manage weight gain or persistent, hard-to-lose fat storage.

Ask your MD to run a full profile on hormones including thyroid function, leptin levels and insulin to determine if this could be the reason behind stubborn fat and prolonged weight gain.

Don’t: Starve yourself or crash diet

Skipping meals or replacing them with juices and shakes in an effort to lose weight (with no proper plan or professional support) has become a mainstream method for many people looking to reduce the number on the scale – but this methodology can do more harm than good. Unless under the supervision of a specialist, fasting in order to lose weight can be a risky and ineffective strategy.

Restricting food in this way can also cause issues with metabolism and the body’ natural detoxification process, as well as throwing hormones out of balance and increasing cortisol levels, which over time can lead to the body retaining more fat. Psychologically over-restricting foods has also been shown to increase cravings, often leading dieters into a ‘starve-and-binge’ cycle that becomes hard to break.

It’s better to plan your meals and eat real foods, making healthy swaps for your favorite treats along the way. There’s certainly a place for smoothies, shakes and juices if that’s what you enjoy – but don’t allow yourself to go hungry for hours on end.

Don’t: Obsess over calories

Numbers can become a strong focus when we’re trying to lose weight – but it’s not always helpful to track what we’re eating and how much weight we’re losing down to the last digit. Not all calories are created equal, and whilst calorie control can be important it’s crucial not to become obsessive over counting and instead eat intuitively, giving your body what it needs when it needs it. In the long-run becoming too attached to seeing food as numbers rather than nourishment can be counter-productive at best, or dangerous at worst.

For holistic weight loss support and advice you can find more accessible tips and tricks here.