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Losing weight is a process. It takes time, hard work, and yes, some sacrifices. You have to train consistently, maintain a balanced diet (and ultimately eat fewer calories), and make healthy lifestyle changes including getting enough sleep and reducing stress in your life. When you commit to losing weight you're also committing to doing something good for yourself, and each step is another chance to do just that. And all of those steps add up to big results.
While there isn't a quick fix for lasting weight-loss results, you can make sure the efforts you're extending are the most effective things you can be doing. We tapped a few trainers to share the best fitness tips they share with their weight-loss clients.
1. Be consistent.
Losing weight isn't just a physical transformation, and the process can be stressful emotionally, too. "Sometimes when people feel they aren't losing weight as quickly as they would like, they get upset and can lose motivation. Everyone's body is different and for some people it takes a lot longer to lose weight than others," explains Tamara Pridgett, personal trainer specializing in sports performance and pre-/post-natal training. "I truly believe that if you are consistent and being honest about whatever program you're using the results will happen." Set realistic goals about your weight loss and continue to stick with your training even if you aren't seeing immediate results. "Don't beat yourself and stay true to your training," Pridgett adds.
2. Don't take on too much too quickly.
"Too often when you are trying to lose weight, clients will go 0-60 miles per hour, taking on too much too soon," explains fitness expert Astrid Swan. A good starting point is four workouts per week. "You do not get overwhelmed, you do not burn out, and you can move things around to accomplish the goal," Swan explains. And when you're not in the gym, make sure you're doing things you enjoy, she adds. "It is not about spending hours in the gym, it is about training smart and efficiently. Make sure the four days that you commit to your workout, you commit to yourself and you really put in the work."
3. Train smart, train hard.
Grab something heavy and carry it — it's a simple move you can do that has significant weight-loss benefits, explains Ashleigh Kast certified strength and conditioning coach, track coach, and founder of Sophisticated Strength. "At Drive495, my clients do heavy carries every session. Taking some heavy stuff for a walk has multiple benefits including increased stability (think core strength!) and increased fat loss. Additionally, your grip will get super strong for heavy traditional lifts down the line like deadlifts and pull-ups." Of course you want to do heavy carries the right way; here's a quick video showing a two-arm carry. "Choose heavy weights, something you wouldn't be able to do much with except walk, and walk for 30 seconds then break for one minute. Complete as many rounds as you can," Kast explains.
4. Continue to challenge yourself.
"A lot of people have the misconception that just because they want something it should happen instantly and be easy. For most people, especially when they are trying to lose weight, that's not the case," explains Pridgett. So understand that the journey comes with hard work and try to consistently challenge yourself along the way — that's how you'll start to see the results you want. "Evaluate the work your doing daily or weekly to make sure that you're challenging yourself. If you're still using 10-pound dumbbells for bicep curls even though it's easy for you, it's time to make that change. Nothing is always going to be easy, but allowing yourself to be as good as you can is so worth it."
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5. But don't stress too much about your workouts.
Exercising consistently is important, no one is going to argue that. But, if you miss a session because you have to travel for work or can't fit it into your already busy schedule, that's OK. You're still on track! "Losing weight is about 85 percent diet," explains NYC-based trainer Diana Mitrea, co-founder of Stronger With Time. "Focus on creating meal plans that work for you and squeeze your workouts in when you get the chance. Don't disregard a day and give up on your plan just because you missed your workout."
6. And make sure you're taking time to recover.
"I find that people get sometimes get competitive with friends and family about the amount of times they've worked out in a day or week," explains Pridgett. It's great to be proud of the time you're spending at the gym, but don't let someone else's fitness program interfere with yours. Every body is different and everyone has different goals that require different training regimes. When you're trying to lose weight it's important to take time to recover fully — so don't feel bad for taking a day or two off! "It's so imperative that you allow your body to rest to prevent injuries and to ensure you're workouts are being executed at a quality level. Remember quality over quantity," she adds.
This article originally appeared on SELF.