How to lose weight in a realistic, simple and sustainable way

In this article I talk from both research and personal experience about:

✓ Common Weight loss mistakes

✓ How to make and maintain habits to lose weight and stay that way

✓ The exact habits you need to achieve your desired weight.

✓ Extra tips to make your weight loss journey easier

If there is anything that many people want and never get it is getting skinnier. When it comes to making money or getting love, there are some reasonable excuses that people give and you can even feel for them.

But, coming from a person who has tried and failed several times, when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, no excuses are valid. It comes down to self discipline. Something that a lot of us have very little of. 

Self indulgence feels good. You do not spend hours fighting off the urge to drive to the nearest Burger King and stuff yourself. You just do it. And it tastes great and the sleep that comes after you are full is even better.

I am a certified couch potato. A lot of my work is done with me sitting on a couch propping my computer on a pillow. The couch potato life is comfortable and convenient.

However, as you already know, it is soul crushing. Every time your old clothes stop fitting and new clothes make you look blotted and nothing near as attractive as the mannequin at the store, a little part of you dies.


Too little or to soon

I realized that all my previous attempts at weight loss were doomed from the get go because they were either:

A. Too ambitious (too soon)

This is where, because I want to see quick results, I take on a rigid diet that leaves me either constantly hungry or eating food that is bland enough for the ascetics. Coupled with or replaced by a gruelling exercise routine.

This approach never worked because I could never keep it up.

Habit change

Losing weight requires a series of different changes in habits. It is very difficult to make new habits especially ones that are not instantly gratifying.

On the other hands, it is almost impossible to break pleasurable habits, even if they are killing you slowly.

In Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits, he explains how we are better served introducing new habits slowly by slowly. 

Last year, I wanted to cultivate the habit of reading my Bible and praying every morning.

I also wanted to spend more time working than watching TV (struggles of working from home), drinking more water, working out more, doing my laundry every week as opposed to waiting until I had nothing else to wear, meditating and reading.

However, in the month of November, I focused on establishing a morning ritual of waking up, brushing my teeth, sitting down to read my Bible and pray then start working immediately.

In December, I starting spending more time working and added reading and meditating for 20 minutes with the Mindful Christian Meditation (this YouTube channel gets 5 starts from me) to my night routine.

Having established these habits, in January I am slowly adding the weight loss habits I will mention later on in the article.

Habit formation takes time and weight loss requires changing some core habits such as diet, activity and mindset.

It is tough so start with the least amount of resistance and build up slowly. Take baby steps until you fly (this is just too cheesy, sorry).

B. Not ambitious enough (too little)

Another mistakes I made all the time was doing the very least. This was an an overcorrection of the first mistake.

In an attempt to find something sustainable and simple that I could stick to and gradually build up, I would make minimal changes and get discouraged if I did not see any progress when I weighed in after a week.

You are not going to lose twenty pounds, even in six months, by simply cutting out soda from your diet unless you drink like six sodas every day. 

Do not believe people who say they saw dramatic results in a short period of time by making small changes or drinking some magical tea. 

Make gradual but meaningful lifestyle changes. Those will get you there but not quickly. Be patient. Slow and steady wins the race.

C. Eating healthy/ exercising (both not either or)

I used to kid myself that if I worked out for an hour, I could eat whatever I wanted.

A chart from the Royal Society for Public Health shows that if you eat a quarter slice of a large pizza of about 449 calories, it will take you about 43 minutes running to burn off all those calories.

It just takes too much time to burn off calories but we cannot starve ourselves. That is why the best approach is always a combo.

D. Eating more than I thought

I loved to complain that I just gain weight even though I barely eat anything. Anyone who knows me will swear that I eat like a rabbit. I rarely finish food on a 6 inch plate. 

But just like a rabbit, I may eat in smaller quantities than everybody else at a time but I eat ( or snack as I like to think of it) multiple times a day ( and a night if I am working late).

Also the foods I was eating were high calorie food that I convinced myself were okay like diet sodas and a lot of brown bread.

Sometimes I was eating small amounts of high calorie but unfilling food. Other times I was just drinking my calories. I am Kenyan, I love milk tea with two sugars.

The point is, I was lying to myself.


We all know what it takes to lose weight, eat less, be more active a.k.a. eat at a caloric deficit.

Whatever diet or weight loss plan you choose, the most important thing is that you eat less and work out more until you reach your ideal weight.

Because it is too hard to actually stick to the habits we need to lose weight (eat less, work out more) we prefer to spend a lot time, as Ramit Sethi puts it, debating the minutiae.

So we spend weeks, even months looking for a simpler or faster solution: a new diet, a new gym etc. What I will tell you is that you cannot, just as I have not been able to, avoid the simple weight loss equation: 

Less food + more exercise = weight loss

That is why, after researching and trying out a bunch of things, I have settled on the following four habits to help me lose 20 pounds.

At the time of me writing this article, it has been a week since I incorporated all four and I am very optimistic. I will fill you in every step of the way.

1. Calorie counting

Calorie counting is not sexy like keto or paleo diets but so far, I have seen that most people have long lasting success with it.

I use MyFitnessPal app to record everything I eat in a day and make sure I keep it under 1200 calories a day.

I did not want to pick a restrictive diet that I could not stick to in the long term and then gain all the weight back. I also did not want to starve and make it harder for me to see this through.

I know that in calorie counting, once my body gets used to a certain amount of food per day, I won’t even have to keep counting. It will become instinctive.

According to science, most people do not lose weight because they underestimate just how much they are eat.

I realized that as someone who generally ate food in small quantities multiple times a day and who enjoyed sweet drinks, my best shot at actually reducing the amount of food I was mindlessly eating would be to keep track.

I also did not want to do a diet or restrict myself from eating anything because I have a little bit of a rebellious streak. If I tell myself not to eat something, I will eat it but if I say I can eat bread so long it does not exceed my 1200 daily calorie limit, I tend to be more disciplines.

2. Intermittent fasting

I am not doing any crazy schedule but in order for me to stay within the 1200 calories limit, I decided to skip breakfast and eat dinner way earlier. 

I have been doing this for a week and I must admit I no longer wake up feeling bloated and I do enjoy eating all my 1200 Cals between 11 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. 

The only disadvantage is that I do feel hungry a lot especially from around 9:00 a.m. But I remember I just need to train my body to understand that meal time is between 11 and 5.

By next week I know that my body will begin to adapt and in 21 days I won’t even feel it. As for now, to be honest, those two hours leading up to 11 are the longest parts of my day.

3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

I do not have the time for hours and hours of cardio every single day and even though I love dancing, I do get bored of zumba or dance classes quite easily.

I am also too broke and time pressed to go to the gym so I have settled for home work outs. After researching, I have found that HIIT is the best option for me.

HIIT is very popular right now because research has shown that it produces the best results. HIIT basically involves doing periods of intense workouts followed by periods of rest. 

I decided to pick one video and stick to it for at least three months before switching. I have wasted a lot of time in the past trying to pick the right program, then switching form program to program before finally quitting.

I am now doing Natasha Oceane’s 15 minute fat burning workout three times a week. I found it on YouTube for free. 

It is really difficult but for now, I am just focused on learning the routines before really going for it (although even that is kicking my unhealthy ass).

4. Trying to be as plant based as possible

The final thing that I have decided to do is trying to be more plant based. I am not committing to veganism because that is too much too soon for me but I do not drink milk tea every morning anymore and I am not buying meat unless I have visitors in the house.

That ladies is my plan to lose 20 pounds in 6 months. I have tried to lose weight quickly, I have failed. I have tried to lose a little weight easy, I have failed.


Now I have decided to put in the necessary work and take the required time. I also have to mention a little small changes that I have made to increase my chances of being successful:

1. Focus on the process and not the results.

I have decided I will not look at a scale every day or even every other day. I am going to focus on building the healthy habits and showing up and I will only jump on a scale once every week or two weeks.

I will also not get discouraged if I do not see quick results so long as I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

2. I will be flexible

I have committed to lifestyle change 100% but I will be flexible. I do not have a cheat day but if I am out with friends (which is not often anyway), I will loosen up on counting the calories or not eating after 5. 

If I miss a workout, I will not beat myself up about it, I will just start again. So long as I don’t let an entire week pass by.

3. I will always take the healthiest alternative.

Water instead of soda. Small instead of medium burger. Smaller plate. Wholemeal instead of processed. 

I know it is the little changes that will go a long way so I have decided to always make the healthier choice even if it costs a little bit more or a lot more inconvenience (like cooking instead of ordering).

I am not an expert. These are the changes that I have decided to make in my life so that I can lose 20 pounds in six months.

I researched most of these things almost to death and then I made an informed decision based on how well I know myself.

I wish you all the best in your own weight loss journey. Stay healthy and sane. Comment down below if you can relate and share with your sisters.