Here’s the Secret to Losing Weight
I have lots of good news, but I’ll start with the bad. If you came here expecting an easy secret to losing weight — something like a magic pill, a liquid cleanse or a plastic wrap that will melt the pounds off of you, I’m going to disappoint you. I wish it were different (BELIEVE ME), but there is NO getting around the fact that losing weight takes hard work and commitment.
The good news is that I am going to empower you with the REAL secret to losing weight — it’s creating a calorie deficit.
Being a 21 Day Fix specialist, I’ll be referencing this program throughout my discussion—but, the information in this post can be applied to ALL weight loss programs. And, even though we don’t have to count calories on the 21 Day Fix program, it’s VERY important for you to understand the process of creating a daily calorie deficit so you can be smarter AND successful on your weight loss journey. Knowledge IS power!!!
Creating a Calorie Deficit
Here’s a video where I explain the process of creating a calorie deficit—which is the REAL secret to losing weight:
The Science of Losing Weight
In order to lose ONE pound of fat, the average person must burn 3,500 calories.
To lose weight, you need to:
- Estimate your caloric baseline
- Add on your calorie burn from working out to calculate your caloric needs
- Deduct a healthy calorie deficit so you know how many calories you’re going to eat to lose weight
Nutrition is the most important component of your weight loss journey—another important thing I want you to understand is that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet!
Estimate Your Caloric Baseline
First, let me say that ALL of the numbers I’m going to use in this post are averages. Your actual numbers can be impacted by many things, including your level of normal activity, your metabolism, etc.
For instance, if you’re extremely sedentary, or you have damaged your metabolism by yo-yo dieting, you’ll have to work a bit harder. (The good news is that your broken metabolism is fixable!)
If you want to be more precise in your calculations, you’ll need to invest in a daily calorie tracker like FitBit.
So, let’s get started!
Your caloric baseline is the amount of calories your body needs just to survive—to make your blood pump, to breath, move around, etc. Autumn Calabrese, the fitness trainer behind the 21 Day Fix, estimates your caloric baseline by taking your current weight and multiplying it times 11. Another way is to use this Calorie Calculator.
Calculating Your Caloric Needs
To calculate your caloric needs, add the amount of calories you’re burning in your workout to your caloric baseline.
When you’re doing the 21 Day Fix workouts, you can figure you’re burning about 400 calories. Obviously, the actual number will be very impacted by how hard you push yourself during the workout.
If the calories you eat are equal to your caloric needs, you will maintain your weight. If you eat more, you will gain weight. In order to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories.
Determining Your Calorie Target
To calculate your calorie target, you take your caloric needs and deduct a calorie deficit.
Autumn has you deduct 750 calories from your caloric needs to determine which of the following 21 Day Fix calorie brackets you should use:
- 1,200-1,499 calories
- 1,500-1,799 calories
- 1,800-2,099 calories
- 2,100-2,300 calories
I want you to be clear that more is NOT always better when it comes to a calorie deficit!
If you create too much of a calories deficit, you’ll burn fat and muscle. No bueno!!! So, you really don’t want go higher than a 1,000 calorie deficit. I recommend sticking with Autumn’s 750 number because a lot of knowledge from many scientific professionals went into this program.
Determining Your Calorie Deficit Goal
Again, in order to lose ONE pound of fat, the average person has to burn 3,500 calories.
So, let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds. You will have to create a 70,000 total calorie deficit—that’s 20 (pounds) X 3,500 (calories).
In order to do this, you will have to do a minimum of two rounds of the 21 Day Fix, more likely three. Knowing this should help you be realistic with your goals and expectations!
Bear in mind that weight loss is also affected by other various factors, such as how much water you consume during the program, how long it takes for your muscles to recover, etc. (Quicker muscle recovery means more weight loss, which is why the trainers (and us!) recommend using the Performance Recover post-workout supplement.)
An Example of Calorie Deficit in Action
Here’s an example using my own calculations:
I need about 2,200 calories a day just to survive. If I add a workout where I figure I burn about 200 calories (based on how hard I personally push myself), I have a daily need for 2,400 calories.
If I consistently eat 1,400 calories from my containers, I will have a 1,000 calorie deficit for the day. This means I need about 3-1/2 days to reach a 3,500 calorie deficit and I can expect a 21,000 calorie deficit at the end of one round of the Fix.
I hope you are clear now that the secret to losing weight is factual science. In other words, if you follow the above guidelines to a T, you WILL lose weight. (This is the post I send to people who are skeptical about the 21 Day Fix—How Does the 21 Day Fix Work.)
Muscle Vs Fat
I want to mentally prepare you for a couple possible scenarios—1) you don’t lose weight as quick as you like OR 2) you gain weight.
Each of these scenarios may or may not be bad news.
One very positive reason this may happen is that you are gaining a significant amount of muscle, which is GREAT. One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same, right? However, there is a BIG difference in their volume.
One pound of muscle is roughly the size of a baseball and one pound of fat is about THREE times bigger. Also, muscle is denser while fat has the consistency of jello. You can read more about muscle vs fat HERE.
If you don’t think muscle gain is the reason you’re not losing weight as you had hoped, read my post on the possible reasons why you are not losing weight on the Fix. Again, much of this information can be applied to any weight loss program.
How to Maintain Weight Loss
Once you’ve learned the secret to losing weight and lost the weight, you want to keep it off, right???
Unfortunately, about 95% of dieters (key word) return to their original weight within five years of their weight loss. How does this happen???
Well, it become more understandable when you understand this—if you end each day with an overage of just 100 calories, you are very likely to gain 10 pounds per year. That’s 50 pounds in five years—definitely nothing to take lightly!
The good news is that once you reach your goal, you don’t have to end each day with such a large calorie deficit—but, you have to make sure you come VERY close to breaking even (calorie intake = calorie burn).
It’s extremely important for you to be self directed and disciplined to successfully maintain your weight loss.
I have eight tips on how to maintain weight loss:
The 21 Day Fix is a portion control eating plan that was not created to be a “diet.” Autumn’s vision was for the program to help people permanently change the way they ate.
In short, eating healthy whole foods using a simple portion control system is meant to be a lifestyle.
If you yo-yo Fix (or diet)—in other words, do a round (go on a diet), then fall back into old habits, do another round or diet, etc.—you’re MUCH more likely to gain back the weight you lose. It’s REALLY difficult to maintain weight loss under these conditions.
However, eating healthy foods in the correct portions for YOU makes it SIMPLE.
Now, simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. It takes a desire to be your best you and the discipline to keep up the great work. But, if you’re wondering how to maintain weight loss, this is a BIG one.
Many little actions lead to big results. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.
If you’re not going to follow a structured eating plan in your maintenance phase, and you want to know how to maintain weight loss, I highly suggest creating small NON-negotiable habits and sticking to them.
Here are some ideas:
- Stop drinking sugary drinks & diet soda (drink water or herbal teas instead)
- Leave the butter off your toast
- Skip the high calorie condiments (mustard is your friend!)
- Stay out of the employee lounge where all the treats are
- Don’t start your meal with wine or cocktail (You need ALL your judgment while you eat! Read this post to learn how alcohol will affect your weight loss—How Does Alcohol Affect Weight Loss?)
- Never go back for seconds
- Skip dessert
- Don’t eat after 8 p.m.
We ALL have “those” foods—the ones that we seem to have zero control over. For me, it’s salsa & chips, CHEESE, and charcuterie trays (with bread, lots of bread!).
I try (HARD) not to have any of these foods in my house. If you have only healthy foods in your kitchen, you WILL eat healthier!
If you stop being active, you’ll have to account for the burning of fewer calories in your calorie deficit calculation. You don’t have to keep up a hard core fitness regime, but you do need to exercise 30 minutes a day. This could be vigorous walking, taking bike rides, or anything that you enjoy so you stay consistent.
Combining fitness with your healthy diet is one of the most important ways to maintain your weight loss. (Click on this link to learn more about this!)
If you overeat, fix it immediately! The longer you wait, the more likely you will lose ground (and gain weight).
If you have just a small slip up, go exercise right away—take a couple vigorous walks or take a hike, go on a long bike ride, or use your Beachbody On Demand membership and do a workout on demand.
If you’ve had several bad days, maybe because of a vacation, or you’re just in a mental or physical slump, I recommend doing a three day cleanse. They are a perfect tool for getting re-centered and re-motivated!
You’ve probably noticed how important the people you surround yourself with are to your success.
It’s VERY important that you do not separate from your coach, your accountability partners (AKA Workout Wives), or anyone who has actively supported you on your journey. (If you’re in my 21 Day Fix Family group, I want you to stay active in the group and keep reading the daily posts!)
Consistent action brings consistent results!
How much is your good health worth to you? I mean, really. How much is the quality of your life worth?
There are so many places you can find wasted money to invest in keeping yourself healthy and maintaining your weight loss.
Do you really need 100 TV channels??? Or, do you think your money might give you a better return if you invest it in a subscription to on demand workouts or a supply of a clinically proven nutritional supplement?
Here are the ways I save money while eating healthy—Coach Monica’s Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget—so I have more to invest on the tools I need to keep me healthy.
When I finished my very first Beachbody program over a decade ago, I was on such a natural high and SO passionate about what Beachbody had to offer other moms that I decided to pay it forward and help others get healthy. This was BEFORE Beachbody coaches even existed—I didn’t get ANY monetary compensation. My reward was seeing others experience the great results I did.
At the time, this had the awesome side effect of helping me maintain my weight loss. It also resulted in some good karma.
I was eventually approached by Beachbody’s founder and CEO Carl Daikeler to be one of Beachbody’s founding coaches. (You can read the whole story HERE.)
Today, you can actually earn an income for helping others on their journey and keeping yourself healthy. If this interests you, please message me or start researching how to be a Beachbody coach by clicking here:
I hope these tips on how to maintain weight loss keep you on track. Be willing to do whatever it takes to hold tight to your weight loss win!
If you have any questions or need help with maintaining weight loss, connect with me below.
Free 21 Day Fix Coaching
So, now you know the secret to losing weight AND how to maintain weight loss!
If you haven't yet tried the 21 Day Fix, it's a super effective program that WILL enable you to reach your weight loss goals IF you do it right. I encourage you to give it a shot!
If you're not already working with a Beachbody coach, I'd love for you to be in my private Fix Family accountability Facebook group. One of the wonderful things about Beachbody is that coaching and support is included in the price of the program, so let's connect!