Some of life’s lessons are learned over a short period of time through reading and talking to different people with experience. Other life lessons are learned in a more difficult manner, through difficult experiences. Stefan Nilsson learned about a balanced, healthy life through difficult experiences and now helps others set and reach their health goals.
After struggling through sports injuries, surgeries and rehabilitation, Stefan learned the importance of eating healthier and exercising to stay fit. He spent a great deal of time researching the science behind weight loss and fitness by reading scientific studies and studying up on the science behind the food we eat and how it affects our bodies.
Today, Stefan maintains an active blog to share his journey and spread the word about all the things he has learned over the years. He is dedicating his time to help others so they have a place to start caring about their bodies in a whole new light.
1.You have started a fitness blog online. Please briefly share your journey. What inspired you to start blogging and sharing your story?
I’ve actually had several different blogs during the last six years. The niches have varied from photography and TV series to football and gambling. The only commonality is that they are all are interests of mine. Some of them attracted a few visitors a day while others had thousands of subscribers.
So when I injured myself and my days revolved around exercise it just felt natural to start writing about it. As time went by, I realized that I’m not really interested in writing about the latest sitcoms or speculate about transfers. I want to help people to become healthy, get fit and reach their true potential.
2.What was the biggest lesson you learned while starting up your blog?
Focus on the basics! It’ll be tempting but don’t waste your time on forums trying to find new methods to market yourself. You’ll get more out of your time by reaching out to a handful of selected blog owners through blog commenting, social media (Twitter) and finally guest posts.
By becoming a recurring author on their blog you’ll build amazing trust and eventually all of their subscribers will know about you. Few people care about a random guest author but after 4-5 amazing posts they’ll definitely check you out.
Stop looking for new methods and take action!
3.How did you even begin to figure out how to help yourself through what you call the “dark period” in your life when you were facing many physical challenges? What motivated you?
I probably couldn’t have done it without my physiotherapist. He seemed to really care about my progress and asked me, several times a week, how my rehabilitation was going. I could neither lie to him nor stand the shame of skipping exercise while he did his best so I just went through with it. After a few weeks, I saw progress, which made me determined to continue.
Inspired by him, I realized how big impact one person can have on your life and this encouraged me to not only blog about my workouts but also help others become healthy, get fit and be able to do what they love.
4.You have spent a lot of time uncovering the science behind fitness and being healthy. Where do you go to find credible information?
I read books, subscribe on a few blogs, a popular fitness magazine and regularly visit a Swedish forum to keep up with the latest trends. Then I track down the detailed studies on PubMed and, based on my previous knowledge, draw conclusion on how well conducted the studies actually are and what we can learn from them.
It all comes down to being skeptical and regularly reading a ton of scientific studies to know what the latest research actually says, not what a press release or a badly informed journalist publishes.
5.You mentioned on your blog site that people have a hard time getting over their sugar addictions. What constitutes a sugar addiction? Are sugar substitutes any better than sugar itself?
Wikipedia defines it as the continued use of a mood altering substance or behaviour despite adverse consequences and I’ve met countless of people who have this relationship to sugar. You know you’ll regret eating it, you know you’ll feel awful and yet to can’t stop yourself.
The only solution, in my view, is to remove it from your home. Sugar substitutes might be useful on occasions when you know there’ll be plenty of sugar. Instead of being tempted and eventually eat sugar you’ll just keep to your substitutes. However, in the long run, it often comes down to bad habits you need to break. Remove sugar from your home and you’ll eventually break the bad habit of eating sugar whenever you get cravings, are tired, feeling restless or whatever.
6.What do you think is the best way to create a food diary and remember to log everything?
There’re mainly two reasons to having a food journal. First and foremost to grasp how much food you’re actually eating and studies has shown you actually can come a long way by just taking photos of every meal. Just to become aware and stop underestimating how much you’re eating and drinking.
The second reason is to be able to make changes. Then you need to track calories, which is really simple with the tools available today. By tracking calories you’ll learn exactly how much you eat every day, how much you need to reduce and you’ll learn if there is something skyrocketing the amounts. People often tend to consume a lot of calories through beverages such as soda and juice. Personally I ate a ton of white bread in my youth and I had no idea how calorie dense a few sandwiches really are.
There’s a chance you’ll be able to lose weight just by replacing your beverages and one or two meals such as breakfast with a less calorie dense alternative.
7.How do you suggest people best estimate their calorie intake as accurately as possible?
Weigh it and make short notes when putting the food on your plate. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds. Then you can eat, do the dishes and sit down in front of your computer or your phone and enter the data. Some people avoid scales as the plague but it’s pointless to track calories if you aren’t accurate.
8.What are your opinions about portion control? Do you think people can lose weight just by controlling their portions or does it have everything to do with what they eat?
Some can, others can’t. I, for an example, have tremendously difficulties to stop eating candy and cookies if I decide to take one or a few. If I, on the other hand, clean out the whole house and just buy home one small package I’m able to lose weight due to calorie restriction while eating somewhat unhealthy.
If they can resist cravings they’ll be able to lose weight while eating unhealthy. If they can’t, it’s a good idea to clean out the house from most calorie dense products. I’ve written more detailed about this in my free eBook on how to stop eating sugar. - https://www.stefannilsson.com/ebook-sugar-addiction/
9.What are the three most important things to do when developing a weight-loss plan?
It all comes down to your diet. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you consume even more calories so my top three focuses on the diet.
The first step is to figure out where you’re at today by creating a food journal while continuing eating just like before. Then you’ll know exactly how many calories you consume each week, from what and how much your daily calorie need is.
The second step is to think about your goal. How much weight do you want to lose and when should you be at the target weight? By calculating this you’ll know exactly how many calories you’re able to eat each day and still reach your target.
The third and last step is to compare your food journal and your daily calorie target. Think about how many meals a day you want to eat and if it’s possible to just cut out the beverages to reach it? Do you need to replace all your food with lower calorie alternatives or is it enough to just replace the breakfast? The reason people fail their diets is because they don’t enjoy it so make sure you choose a lifestyle you’ll be able to keep. As time goes by you can experiment more with different kinds of recipes, number of meals, etc.
10.What do you think is the biggest myth regarding weight loss and fitness? How do you go about dispelling that myth?
It has to be magic metabolism. The idea that some people can eat everything and stay skinny is just plain wrong. So far I haven’t read or heard about a single study showing slightly evidence for this but I’ve seen the contrary showing people with “magic metabolism” gain weight once they were asked to eat a specific amount of calories. There are, unfortunately, a ton of anecdotes in which people draw the wrong conclusions.
There are basically two reasons to why some people seems to be able to eat everything. One of them is they burn a ton of calories. They might exercise several times a week, constantly move when they’re at home, always trying to come up with new things to do or have a energy-consuming job.
The second reason is that they overestimate their intake. They might feel stuffed after eating one hamburger while an obese person can continue to eat two or three. Then they get hungry one hour later and to everyone else, it just looks like they eat all the time. Others might eat three hamburgers and then they feel full for the rest of the day while an obese person eats a few hours later. Often you can see a major difference in how much candy they eat. While an obese person can continue to eat past being full, a skinny person just stops. Studies have shown this difference as early as in kindergarten.
11.Some people say that the actual losing of weight is not as difficult as maintaining the lower weight once the excess is lost. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
I would say it depends on how satisfied you are with the new lifestyle. If every day is a struggle and you eat food you don’t like there’s a big chance you’ll fall back to your old habits. That’s why I always stress how important it is to make lifestyle changes you enjoy and not follow trends just because it works for others.
The good thing is that once you reach your target you can actually increase your daily intake since you don’t have to keep a calorie deficit anymore.
12.What are the next steps for you as you continue to help others lose weight and stay fit?
I’m currently working on a detailed action plan, following the steps above, on how to lose weight and get fit. No more guessing when trying to lose weight, it will show exactly how every person can create his or her own action plan. I have no dates yet but it will be available for free on my blog within a few weeks.
Once the action plan is published I’m planning to dedicate myself to a handful of people and help them with every step in their weight loss. It’s extremely fun but a bit difficult to be dedicated to thousands of people at the same time, so I’m hoping to learn from them and see where my action plan need to be updated so I can make sure everyone will benefit from it.