12 Tips to Lose a Stone Safely & How to Keep the Weight Off

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12 Tips to Lose a Stone Safely, While Still Being Kind to Yourself and Your Mental Health

Daily tweaks for lasting results

lose a stone, women's health uk

Trying to lose a stone when you could still get to the gym and stick to a steady routine was one thing but now, after months of fluctuating coronavirus lockdowns, it's a whole different kettle of fish.

However, just because self-isolation has changed what your daily life looks like, your health journey doesn't necessarily need to grind to a screeching halt too. Promise.

If you are carrying an extra stone of fat and it's affecting your health or happiness then don't please don't panic or feel you need to make drastic changes. Even in these bizarre times, there are often simple ways to improve your health: such as tweaking habits or fine-tuning others.

Whether your goal is to maintain a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn), keep your metabolism happy and humming, lose body fat or get out for more exercise, let us help you get to a healthy weight safely and sustainably.

What is a stone?

A stone is a unit of measurement and is equal to 14lbs (pounds) or 6.36kgs. To 'lose a stone' your weight would be 14 lbs or 6.35kgs lighter than your previous weight.

12 tips to lose a stone safely and sustainably

Whilst a change in body composition might be what you're hoping for, doing it safely is the most important thing. That means no crash diets or overly restrictive eating designed to shed fat quickly.

Blanket rule: if you feel restricted or experience a feeling of loss of control around food, ease off your weight loss efforts and focus on your mental health, instead. Your fitness journey is fundamentally un-failable – it's about making healthy choices when and where you can.

1. Maintain a calorie deficit

While there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to knowing how to lose weight, nutritionist Jenna Hope suggests losing no more than 1-2 pounds per week to reach your target weight.

'In order to achieve that, you’d need a daily deficit of around ~500 calories,' she advises, but the equation is individual to each person, so that number could be higher or lower. You can find out how many calories your body needs daily by using the Harris-Benedict method below.

(Once you've calculated your daily amount of calories, you can subtract ~200-500 calories to find your daily calorie deficit amount. Once you've done this it's possible to find the best macros for fat loss, too.)

how to calculate macros, women's health uk

2. Up your water intake

You know you have to stay hydrated – we don't need to tell you that. But getting the right amount of aqua on the reg can actually make your weight loss efforts a touch easier too.

Adequate water consumption has been shown to improve mood, brain function and also keep your digestive tract happy – all factors in how you feel overall in your body.

Whilst staying permanently attached to your water bottle won't necessarily be the thing to shift the scale down, it'll keep your metabolism humming along happily and bodily functions in equilibrium in the background so you can focus on nutrition, sleep and exercise.

3. Stick to a steady weight loss pace

Following nutritionist Hope's advice, the maximum amount of weight you should be looking to lose in a month is anywhere between four and eight pounds, which averages out to about half a stone a month or one to two pounds per week.

Any more than this and you may be losing weight in an unsustainable way that you find it difficult to keep off.

4. Adopt healthy habits slowly

Making too many drastic changes all at once can also be the thing to undermine your best efforts:

'Start with small things, such as introducing one additional portion of fruit or vegetables into your daily diet, or removing sugar from your tea and coffee,' advises Hope. 'From there, you can start to swap your high sugar snacks for those high protein foods and healthy fats to keep you fuller for longer, like hummus and carrots, a boiled egg or peanut butter on oatcakes.'

Perhaps you use your lunch break to get outside and walk for 45 minutes to get some LISS (low-intensity steady-state) exercise in and increase your NEAT for the day too.

What's NEAT?

NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) is the term for everything you do that uses up calories but isn't exercise, sleeping or eating. For example, commuting, household chores, walking upstairs, gardening and even fidgeting count as NEAT.

5. Avoid crash diets

While cutting calories to a sustainable deficit level will help you to lose a stone, if you’re cutting your daily calorie intake by more than 500 calories (e.g. crash dieting) there’s a good chance you’ll regain the weight back and more quickly too.

'The majority of diets follow the same cycle of ‘restrict, crave, binge, restrict’,' says Hope. 'During the restriction phase you may lose weight as you’re significantly limiting your calorie intake, or in some cases, your carbohydrate intake (in which case you’re losing water rather than fat mass). However, as the cycle continues you begin to regain the weight plus more due to the bingeing.'

Binge eating disorder is categorised by a loss of control around food with those affected eating large quantity of food on a regular basis: the disorder can affect anyone of any age or gender.

While most people won't categorise themselves as having a binge eating disorder, the restrict and binge mentality is ingrained into many diets and can have a similar impact on your relationship with food.

'As you limit your calorie intake, the metabolism slows in order to conserve energy. As a result, over a prolonged period of crash dieting the rate at which you burn energy is significantly reduced,' Hope says. So, if you've been doing this in an attempt to speed up your metabolism, steer clear.

6. Be aware of external stressors

If this anxiety-inducing period of time has had you experiencing added stress (understandable and relatable) try not to get too down on yourself, especially if it's stalled your weight loss journey or translated into a little extra weight gain.

According to Hope, stressful periods can cause our bodies to produce high levels of cortisol: 'Cortisol can impair your body’s ability to lose weight through several ways and increase fat storage largely around the middle, alternatively, it may stimulate consumption of higher fat, higher sugar foods,' she explains.

So, make healthy choices where you can and accept that your body works best when it's less stressed. Nothing to get too down about, just something to be aware of.

7. Focus on how healthy eating makes you feel

If you're looking for more positive reinforcement, tuning into how healthy eating makes you feel can be a way to remind yourself why you started your fitness journey in the first place.

Instead of depriving yourself, Dr Sheri Jacobson, clinical director at Harley Therapy recommends focussing on how healthy eating makes you feel. Seek a qualified trainer or nutritionist to help you discern your required daily calorie intake, and provide a meal plan with a healthy calorie deficit that won’t see you devouring an entire pack of digestives come evening.

8. Invest in a smart scale

Just because the number on the scale is going down doesn't necessarily mean you're achieving the aesthetic goal you're after: losing a stone could mean losing hard-earned muscle mass too if you go too hard, too fast.

A smart scale measures your weight as well as your body fat percentage, muscle mass and water weight – all numbers that can better inform how your body's responding to your fat loss efforts.

Here are a few of our favourites:

9. Remember muscle is more dense than fat

Once you've got yourself a smart scale – or, if you're sticking to the old school version, all good – it can be disheartening to not see the number shift for a while, especially if you're putting your best effort in. This is because muscle is denser than fat.

In other words a pound of muscle takes up less space in the body than a pound of fat. Try tracking your weight loss by taking body measurements, weekly progress pics and calculating body fat percentage instead. You'll be stunned by how much of a difference it makes!

10. Make exercise something you enjoy

Spoiler: exercise doesn't need to feel like a chore set by that PE teacher you always hated. Setting a routine that allows you to sweat it out in a way that boosts endorphins and joy can be the secret to sticking with your fitness routine:

'Find ways of exercising that are fun for you personally, whatever that may be – dance, long walks in nature or climbing,' says Jacobson. 'It's when we do things from a place of wanting ourselves to feel good that we start to form habits that last.'

11. Consider a strength-building plan

While building muscle might not be at the top of your to-do list if your goal is to lose a stone, it could prove to be your secret weight-loss weapon. Yes, really. For starters, more muscle means a faster metabolism which means that your body burns more calories at rest.

If you're into weight training as your exercise of choice, focusing on progressive overload will improve your strength and build your body's ability to work at higher intensities for longer, advises Leigh Clayton, PT at Embody Fitness.

'It'll easily give the best bang for buck in terms of longevity,' Clayton says. Working at a higher intensity for longer = greater calorie burn as your heart rate spends longer in the sweet fat-burning zone.

What's 'progressive overload'?

Progressive overload is the process of continually challenging your body by increasing the strain you put upon it.

For example, increasing the number of reps, the amount of weight or the speed an exercise is performed are all ways to apply more strain to your muscles and force them to work harder. Exercising in this way helps to build strength, burn fat and grow muscle.

Need a month-long at-home plan to build strength at home? Look no further: PT Alice Liveing's 28-day Kickstart Challenge will have you sculpting lean muscle and working hard in no time.

12. Go virtual

Just because you're exercising at home, doesn't mean you need to resign yourself to half-hearted workouts and sub-par sessions. From home workout apps to HIIT plans, there's something to get everyone feeling endorphin-ised. (Not a word? Ok, moving on.)

Whether your jam is doing Barre or Pilates every day, yoga or cardio home workouts, there really is an app or streaming option for it. Don't believe us? Take a gander through our top picks.


    Should you be trying to lose weight while sick?

    If you've been unfortunate enough to contract coronavirus or any other bug that's floored you, trying to lose weight through a calorie deficit needs to go to the very bottom of your priority list. The most important thing is providing your body with adequate nutrients and fuel that it can focus on recovery rather than fat loss.

    'Recovery will look different for everyone and it can take a while to get back to your normal healthy routines. It’s essential that you listen to your body and try not to jump in with your diet and exercise too soon,' explains nutritionist Hope.

    'Tune in to your cues and if you’re struggling through a workout or experience changes in your appetite go with it until you feel your normal self again.' Sound advice – make sure you take it.


    How to maintain a stable body weight

    It’s one thing losing the weight, but keeping it off is a whole different ball game. Try to keep these tips front of mind.

    Practice mindful eating

        One culprit of weight regain can be mindless overeating:

        'Psychologically speaking, the biggest reason people eat when they aren't hungry is because overeating has become a coping mechanism,' says Jacobson. 'We overeat to stave off overwhelming emotional pain or to avoid facing how bored and unhappy we are.

        A good way to prevent habitual eating when you aren't hungry is by taking a two-minute‘ mindfulness break’ whenever you feel the urge to eat, suggest Jacobson. 'This will help you tap into whether it's an emotion you need to deal with, or you actually are hungry,' she says.

        Remember your body is constantly in flux

        Just because you weighed 'X' on Monday doesn't mean you'll weigh the same on Tuesday or Wednesday. Your body is constantly reacting to internal and external stressors – such as your menstrual cycle hormones or the huge week at work you've just had.

        Focus on controlling the controllable: sleep, nutrition, exercise and hydration. Your body will do the rest.

        Focus on the big picture

        Other lifestyle changes, such as ensuring you get enough sleep, reducing stress and simply following a realistic diet and fitness plan – that is enjoyable and not laborious – will help keep the weight from returning.

        Most importantly, try not to hone in on indulgences. If you want to keep weight off permanently, it isn’t about living a ‘perfect’ life, it’s about living a mostly healthy life that’s sustainable for the long-term.


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