10 Tips to start your weight loss transformation

Are you trying to lose weight?

If so, this blog is for you. I’ve learned so much in the past 2 years throughout my weight loss transformation. This summary will give you a jump start versus having to recognize and learn it all for yourself. Save yourself time and maximize results through my experience.

Losing weight and transforming my body has helped me in all aspects of my life. Yes, I have a great, fit body now but it goes far beyond that. My mindset completely shifted after setting a goal and accomplishing it. My anxiety and depression decreased and I have libido again for the first time in 10 years. I am the happiest I’ve been in my adult life and my energy is more consistent. My mental health dramatically improved and this has been the best unintended consequence of my weight loss.

Here are 10 tips and learnings to expedite your journey.

#1 Establish a goal, make a plan and be consistent

1. set your goal 2. make your plan 3. execute daily

Step 1 is to set your goal. My original goal was get in the “best shape possible” because I didn’t want an arbitrary scale number assigned to it. My plan was to lift 5x a week. I did this for 90 days and lost 6lbs so I had to revise my plan. I added counting macros and walking on an incline for 20 minutes, 5x a week (3.2 mph / 8%) in October 2021. The triple whammy yielded tremendous results. 20 lbs if my weight loss occurred in 4 months after changing my nutritional intake and adding steps to ensure that I was at a deficit (video here).

weight loss chart showing dramatic decrease after 3 months and consistent loss

#2 Nutrition is the key to weight loss and abs

I refused to accept this my entire life. I could always “out exercise” my poor diet. False. False. False.

Accept it immediately and save yourself time. Nutrition is the number one component of making that scale number decrease.

Most of us, don’t eat enough protein and overindulge in carbs and fat. We think we are eating healthy by skipping breakfast and having one meal a day. Here’s the issue with the one or two meal strategy. Your body cannot digest all of those carbs so it stores the excess. You may only eat 1600 calories between those two meals but it’s not the same plan as eating 5 meals a day and splitting up your macro nutrient intake (Don’t know what a macro is- here are more blogs link to macro article 1 and # 2). You cannot eat all of your daily calories in ONE MEAL.

This is why you aren’t losing weight. And quite frankly, I don’t believe that it works for most people. If it’s working for you I would guess you’re not consuming many carbs which likely isn’t sustainable. I’m not a registered dietitian or nutritionist but I speak from several decades of experience. If I only eat 2 meals, I

  1. Overeat

  2. Crave fats and high carb foods

  3. Experience low energy and my mood suffers(always need more caffeine)

The KEY is to eat small meals frequently. Yes, this is unfamiliar for most of us and it requires planning but this is life changing. Meals should include 4 -5 oz of protein, 20-35g carbs and some fat (avocado, olive oil, dairy).

Changing your nutrition requires you to change your habits. Cooking at home and meal prep are critical. Going out to eat becomes a treat again. Eating often requires planning but if you want it, you will figure it out and adapt. “Where there is a will, there is a way.” If you’re not ready to change (it took me years), you’ll make up excuses until you are ready for actual change.

Until you have programmed your brain to understand volume, you need to weigh and log your food. You measure so you can visually understand volume to avoid overeating.

Abs are made in the kitchen. You need to do reps 5x a week but ab lines won’t show unless your body fat decreases. Here is the ab chart I used (ab video)

ab chart

#3 Follow a specific lifting program

I’m sure you’ve heard you should constantly be changing your lifts to get results. This isn’t true. I followed the same program for 9 months with excellent results (purchase here).

Find a lifting program that targets specific muscle groups and follow it consistently. Focus on slow reps, feeling the contraction and increasing weight over time. Most sets should be 3-4 sets with 10-15 reps depending on the exercise.

Reminder that if you don’t “feel it” in the muscle you are targeting, you likely need to make adjustments.

If you have resources, hire a trainer to ensure proper form and tailor a program to your needs.

#4 It doesn’t have to be high impact to be effective

When I started on my journey I was almost 170 lbs at 5’6.” I was about 2 years post-knee surgery for a torn meniscus and 3 years postpartum. When I hired my coach, I made sure he understood anatomy and could provide low impact options.

I didn’t leg press, traditionally squat or jump in any exercise my entire transformation. The program involved modifications but still yielded results. We focused on hypertrophy training. A lot of exercises involved bands or body weight. The focus was always “slow and controlled” versus super heavy.

# 5 Muscle mind connection- feeling the exercise

For months into my journey, I went through the motions on some exercises. I didn’t know what muscle group I was targeting. I didn’t know the difference between my lats and traps or my hamstrings and quads.

When you do an exercise:

  1. Learn the primary muscle being worked (then focus on secondary)

  2. When performing the exercise, if you don’t feel it in the targeted area, you know something is wrong. Do you need to adjust your form? The weight? Speed of the rep?

  3. It’s good to make adjustments to form or make small tweaks with a safe weight. For example, I now leg press. If you point your toes outward, you’ll feel it more in your glutes. If you keep your feet straight on, you’ll feel your quads activated. Don’t be scared to make slight adjustments and see where you “feel it” on a rep. Doing this helped me better understand what muscles are being worked.

  4. You’ll find that exercises may feel differently on your right or left side. This may also require a tweak to activate a muscle. I notice this mostly on my glutes.

#6 Eat carbs 20 - 35g at a time

Carbs give us energy to burn.

Carbs are good.

Eat carbs.

Please do not listen to those that say you should eliminate carbs. This is not a long-term sustainable strategy.

The trick is eating them all throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be precise but 20-35g or carbs at a time is a good threshold for a woman.

Examples you ask? Here you go:

Rice cake with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is 12-13g carbs

1/2 rice = 22g carbs

1 packet oatmeal = 31-33g carbs

1 cup of vegetables = 7-12g depending on veg

Focus on eating carbs and protein together as each macronutrient has a different function.

#7 Protein intake is mandatory

Protein keeps us full and helps build muscle.

Before my weight loss, I would guess my protein intake was less than 50g a day. During my weight loss, I consumed 120g per day. I try to target 100-120g while I maintain.

I get that it feels overwhelming but please remember I learned all of this and you only need to understand the basics. It is the practice and daily implementation that makes it “click.”

What does 100g of protein look like?

1 protein shake (25g)

1 cup egg whites (26g)

4 oz chicken (25g)

4 oz fish (22-25g)

To get to 120g…

Add a Starbucks turkey bacon egg white sandwich for 16g.

1 tablespoon of peanut butter is ~6g

Protein bars usually have 10-15g protein which is not a full serving. They often are higher in carbs and fat. Make sure to review the nutritional label but always good in a pinch. I had a RX bar every day of my weight loss until I realized I could eat more volume for the same macros.

You have to identify shortcuts and quick solutions that work for you. Grill or bake chicken in bulk so you have servings for multiple days. Eat a serving of Greek yogurt plus protein powder for a quick meal.

#8 Cardio - walking incline

I never used the stair stepper and your girl didn’t run. I walked on an incline at 8%, 3.2 mph for 20 minutes 5 days a week.

To lose weight, you must be at a caloric deficit. Some use cardio to achieve a deficit but this light cardio is the icing on the cake. If you are properly feeding your body and counting macros, you’ll be at a deficit. The walking simply ensures it.

Use this time to scroll on social media, text with friends, get organized or even write a blog.

20 minutes goes fast! I promise.

Walk after your lift. The only time to do cardio before is if you are doing it fasted in the morning (I didn’t do this during my weight loss but it’s an option depending on your schedule and preference).

#9 Cheat meal

Good news, bad news. To successfully lose weight, you will have to be disciplined and make sacrifices. The bad news is that you don’t get to eat or drink what you want for every meal.

Here’s the first bit of good news so you don’t throw in the towel. You get ONE cheat meal (refeed) a week. So pick a day that aligns best with your social calendar and emotional/mental needs. I typically used Friday night as my cheat meal.

Rules of the cheat meal:

Eat what you want

Don’t need to log it

Yes, you can drink if you want

The catch? It’s ONE MEAL. I am not granting you permission to go wild on the weekend. One meal sends your body the message that you will not starve it. A weekend erodes your progress. Please don’t self-sabotage. If you want to do this, don’t torture yourself by putting in the work Monday to Thursday and throw it away. Or at minimum understand that’s what will happen. Progress will be slower but this is your journey. You must do it your way (I’m simply telling you why it’s not the best strategy).

For the extreme readers wondering if you have to have a cheat meal… yes. You need to provide your body a surplus of calories to avoid plateauing.

ONE MEAL a week during your weight loss (video here).

Once you’ve lost the weight, you get to enjoy more flexibility and meals out. I have continued to live my life focused on these principles and live more freely with little consequence. And if I deviate too far, I know exactly what I need to do: return to “regular scheduled programming.


#10 Mindset - job mentality, prioritize YOU

I often say “treat it like a job” when it comes to your weight loss.

Why? Well, it took me years to accept that I was overweight and over a year to accept that I would need to change my lifestyle to fix it. I got into this position because I had prioritized everything and everyone else but me. I took so much pride in taking care of my family and my work. It was finally time to prioritize ME (video here).

“Treat it like a job” is me saying

  1. Prioritize it 

  2. Take pride in your journey; devote your time to it. We take so much pride in our work and our families; this process is worthy of the same energy.

  3. Express your commitment and need for change to your loved ones so that they can support you

It’s easy to take our bodies for granted until we have health issues or we’ve gained a significant amount of weight. It’s natural to prioritize everyone around you, especially as a mom, but there comes a time when kids are older and it’s time to refocus.

I assure you that you will be a happier woman once you’re truly taking care of yourself. You deserve to be happy, to be properly fed, to feel confident in your body, to have good energy and libido.

Remember that the newly developed discipline changes your life in all aspects. Honoring the commitment you make to yourself changes your mindset and this is actually the highlight of my transformation. Taking small daily actions that compound to yield a big result is life changing. You don’t get instant results when you change your lifestyle. Consistency is the magic.

The mindset shift made me a better mom, partner and professional. I’ve learned to live in the moment and enjoy the process. I set healthy boundaries and enjoy a better work life balance. I truly believe I can do anything because I successfully completed my goal.

Do not forget that the sacrifices are short-term. Put in the work for some months and enjoy flexibility later.

Once you’re ready, you are capable of achieving far more than you can you imagine. You got this video!


Aurora Cristiano

aka Bicep Blonde

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