So, you want to lose 30 pounds and you need a 3-month weight loss plan to do it? In this post, I am going to walk you through a real-life scenario of one of my clients, Bill, and talk you through exactly how he did it.
For context, Bill is in his late 50’s, works a 9-5 job, and has two kids at home. He’s just like you and if you don’t have kids or don’t work a 9-5, you especially have no excuse to follow this plan.
So, without further adieu, let’s jump into it.
Okay, first things first, we gotta clean up your diet. Since you are reading this article, you are likely overeating food. You wouldn’t be overweight if that weren’t the case.
We need to address 4 major variables that make up your diet and how to change them:
- What kind of diet you’re currently following (no diet is a diet)
- How much do you need to eat
- What you are eating
- What you are drinking
Okay, I know that you have likely heard a million different stories about a million different diets, but for Bill what worked was intermittent fasting. For those of you who are not aware of what that is, intermittent fasting is when you split your day up into periods of eating and not eating. So, instead of the classical three square meals a day, you only eat during a specific window of time, typically the later half of the day.
In Bill’s scenario, he was only eating during an 8-hour window of time at the end of the day. So, he was not eating for 16 hours of the day and eating for 8 hours of the day. If you went to bed at 10 pm and got 8 hours of sleep, that means that you would wake up at 6 am, and not have your first meal until 2 pm. From 2 pm, you could have food up to 10 pm at which point you would not have any more food and the cycle would repeat itself.
The reason that this works is that during those 16 hours that you are not eating food, your body has to get energy from somewhere. Fortunately, all that stored fat on your body is an energy source that your body can pull from. The result is you burn fat during the period that you are not eating food to sustain your energy and you get to reload your body with fuel at night when you do start eating again.
How much do I need to eat?
According to Harvard Health, men should not cut their calories below 1,500/day and women should not cut their calories below 1,200/day, or else they may be at risk of nutritional deficiency.
If you really want to go for it, start at the lowest end for your gender, give yourself a few days to adjust to it (you will be hungry), and if you need to, add some calories in. As a general rule of thumb, I tell my clients that their level of hunger should not go above a 5/10; 10 being I am literally starving, 1 being I feel slightly peckish. If you can put up with being a little hungry, your body will adjust within a week and you will find that it isn’t so bad.
In Bill’s case, he ate right at 1,500 calories per day.
Here’s the thing, a lot of people underestimate how much they are eating in a day. If you set yourself a low goal, you’ll probably exceed it a little bit due to mismeasuring or forgetting about something that you’ve consumed.
Now, you may be wondering how much food is 1,200 or 1,500 per day. Especially if you are only eating between 2-10 pm.
Fortunately, I have put together two sample meal plans for both men and women that are 1,500 calories and 1,200 calories respectively.
Both of the above meal plans are set to be intermittent fasting meal plans. If you follow them exactly how they are laid out, you will have eaten within the limit of calories recommended.
What you are eating
I believe that the total calories consumed are going to get you 80% of the way there. If you are overeating, you will never get there because it is impossible to out-work a bad diet.
However, to get that extra 20% and really nail home the results, you should aim to eat as much of a high-protein, whole-foods diet as you possibly can. The reason for this is simple: the foods are more satiating, they have more nutritional value, and they are very hard to overeat.
This is really important because you want to give your body the best chances of success and filling it with food that will take a long time to sort through is one of the most sure-fire ways of helping it along. If you think about eating some highly-processed food, you will likely admit that it doesn’t keep you full for longer and has you coming back for more before you know it.
One of my favorite examples is potato chips. There are about 4 russet potatoes in a full bag of potato chips. Now, you can definitely eat a whole bag of lays in a sitting, but I would bet money that you wouldn’t be able to finish 4 whole russet potatoes. Those are just way too filling! The bag of potato chips though is filled with oil and salt that encourage your body to eat more.
So, when in doubt, lean on whole foods. If it didn’t come from the ground or an animal, just try to save it for a special occasion.
What you are drinking
Okay, this one is where I throw a lot of people off. When people talk about their diet and how many calories they consume, rarely do they discuss what they drink. However, for some people, a major portion of their caloric intake actually comes from the liquids that they drink, not the food they eat. I’ll give you an example, one time I had a man call me who was looking to be a client of mine. When we started talking about his diet, he was telling me everything that he was eating But he wasn’t telling me about anything that he was drinking. What came out of that question was startling. He admitted to me that he was drinking 2-3 IPAs a day and likely more than that on the weekend.
He thought that this was semi-normal until I explained to him the caloric impact that that had. If you take one IPA, you will usually get somewhere around 200 calories depending on the brand. If you are having 2-3 a night, that is upwards of 600 calories! If you multiply that out over the course of the week, that works out to be 4,200 calories in just alcohol! And that isn’t even including any extra alcohol he was drinking on the weekend!
For reference, a pound of fat is 3,500 calories. I explained to him that he was consuming the equivalent calories of a pound of fat each week before the week was out just by drinking alcohol. Needless to say, he was shocked by this revelation.
When you are thinking about your diet and how many calories you are consuming, it is imperative that you count liquid calories. The biggest culprits in this category are of course pop and alcohol.
I have two solutions for you to help you get over this. Obviously, best case scenario is not consuming either, but that isn’t realistic for everyone and I am a big believer in moderation. So, if pop is your thing, start to limit how many you have a day and try to start consuming lower-calorie varieties of pop. If beer is a big problem for you, start drinking liquor. As funny as it sounds to say, if you switch from beer to liquor, you will save yourself a ton of calories. The best choices in this variety are your clear liquors first: gin, tequila, and vodka. They have the lowest calories. After that, whiskey will be your next best alternative. Try to drink them straight or with soda water. If you order vodka and sprite, you are not helping yourself out, you are just changing where the calories are coming from.
No discussion on weight loss would be complete without discussing exercise and what you need to do to get your body to burn more calories. Chances are, you won’t get your diet 100% perfect, and that’s okay; that’s why we include exercise into the mix. Fortunately, you do not need to do anything wild in order to get phenomenal results!
We need to discuss the two major aspects of exercise:
- How much time
- What do we need to do
How much time and what do we do?
Over the summer, I had two clients go on a week-long vacation to Europe. One was on a Norweigan cruise and the other was in Italy. In both scenarios, you can throw the diet out of the window. On a cruise, you have unlimited free food all day long. In Italy, you would have to be a masochist to not dive face-first into pasta every day. Don’t worry, I get it.
However, when both of these clients came back, the one on the cruise lost 7 pounds and the one who went to Italy lost 9 pounds. How the hell did that happen if their diets were terrible?
The simple answer: they were both walking for 8-10 hours of the day. Now, if you expand out their weight loss numbers to 3 months, they would have lost 84 and 108 lbs respectively assuming all the variables stayed the same. That’s insane, right? Well, yes, yes it is. But it highlights a really important point: just start walking!
My client, Bill, who I referenced at the beginning lost his 30 lbs. by just walking 1 hour every day on a treadmill. He walked at 10 miles per hour and covered 5 miles every day.
Now, for those of you who are scoffing at walking on a treadmill, let me remind you that you can watch TV and walk at the same time. You are already watching TV every day for an hour if not more, so you might as well make it a productive hour.
For those of you who don’t want to drive to a gym just to walk on a treadmill, you have two options: 1. walk outside (which I highly recommend) or 2. buy a treadmill for your house.
You can buy a really nice Nordic Track treadmill for only $650 here:
If you are scoffing at $650, let me remind you that the cost of being overweight will exceed $650 easily as you get older and the effects of being overweight start to really weigh on you. Better to make an investment in yourself now than have to pay a doctor to fix you later on down the road.
Too long, didn’t read
Bill is one of my best examples of a weight loss client. He really did lose 30 pounds in 3 months and I talked with him directly about everything that he did so that I could copy it into this article and give it to you for free.
Weight loss is a simple process, but the discipline that is required to achieve is what will hang you up. You have to be consistent.
The steps that work are as follows:
- For men, drop your calories down to 1,500/day unless your hunger is exceeding 5/10. For women, 1,200/day, same rules with hunger.
- Try to make as much of your diet a whole foods diet. If it didn’t come from the ground or an animal, it’s best to just avoid it.
- Watch what you drink. So many people ruin their diets with liquids without evening knowing it. Pop and alcohol are the main culprits.
- Walk for at least 1 hour every day at a speed of 10 mph or more. If you couple that with a gym workout, bonus points to you!
Jordan Tank, Personal Trainer, Columbus, Ohio
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