In this day and age, many Americans battle with their weight. Whether they’re in the “normal” weight range striving to maintain, or overweight and fighting for significant weight loss, or maybe underweight striving to put on muscle. Whatever the case, body weight and health are major topics in America and many feel they need improvement these areas.
In this article we will focus on weight loss, as it is one of the most prevalent health goals among Americans. Business Insider’s article “America’s Obsession with Losing Weight Fast: Analyzing Google Search Data” revealed that there is an estimated 88 billion Google searches each month, and MILLIONS of those are about losing weight. That’s astonishing. Millions of people have questions about weight loss every month! The article also discussed how the majority of people researching weight loss want to lose weight fast.
While “fast” and instant results are desirable, when it comes to weight loss by diet and exercise, long term commitment is key. There are many diet and exercise programs out there, but they will not be effective for you if you cannot sustain it.
The first step in losing weight by diet and exercise is: you must find what works for you. If the diet starves you, you cannot maintain that. If the exercise program completely depletes you, it will not last. In order to find lasting weight loss results, your main priority should be health. After all, keeping your body healthy and alive is the most important thing when all is said and done.
We will talk about six safe dietary changes that could help achieve long term weight loss.
1. Eat Regularly. One of the most important “rules” of ongoing weight loss through diet is: do not skip meals. This sounds contradictory, because dieting is often associated with eating less. But skipping meals will almost definitely set you up to over eat later. Additionally, going extended periods of time without eating will eventually slow your metabolism, causing you to store more fat the next time you eat. Eating regularly will increase metabolism and stabilize blood sugar levels, which will greatly benefit your efforts in healthy eating. Try three moderate meals a day, with two or three small snacks in between.
2. Portions. Eating regularly is extremely important, but if you are not controlling your portions every time you eat, it will devastate your efforts at weight loss. Learn to control the amount you eat. If you’re dying for chocolate, use one of your three snacks and have a small portion of dark chocolate covered almonds. Do not deprive yourself. But use self-control and remember your goal: long term weight loss through healthier habits.
3. Balance. Many “diets” today are overloaded by limitations. No sugar, no carbs, low fat, only protein, and so on. But for most people, that is not viable for the long term. Our bodies need certain amounts of different nutrients. Our bodies need protein, fat AND carbohydrates. Our bodies need that balance to function correctly. A balanced diet often encourages longevity and success in weight loss. But remember, portions!
4. Breakfast. Protein shakes and smoothies for breakfast are growing in popularity, and for good reason. Many have greater success in weight loss efforts if they start their day with a high protein breakfast or a protein shake! Find something you like and that works for you and try to incorporate it into your morning routine.
5. Avoid Emotional and Mindless Eating. Mindless and/or emotional eating is never ok. When you eat, you should sit down, focus on eating and enjoy every bit. If you are focused on what you are eating and how much you are eating, you are much more likely to make good eating decisions. Mindless snacking in front of the TV at night or at your desk at work, will only harm your weight loss efforts. Your snacks and meals should be planned. You can no longer seek comfort from food either. If you are nervous, sad, scared, or stressed, it is crucial for your health that you find appropriate ways to cope. Never use food for comfort.
Exercise is just as important as a healthy diet if you want to achieve optimum health and weight loss. Consistent exercise will burn calories and fat and will also build muscle and increase metabolism, which will continue to burn calories and fat when you are resting. Exercise is shown to improve health, self-esteem, brain function, sleep, and emotional stability. For best results, you should have consistent amount of cardio and strength exercises. Cardio will burn calories and raise your heart rate, and strength exercises will build muscle and burn fat.
In order to adopt an active lifestyle, it is critical that you find ways to enjoy it. If you hate the treadmill, try the elliptical! If you hate gyms, try outdoor activities. Jogging, biking, walking, hiking, swimming, dancing, yoga, rock climbing, pilates, sports…there are countless ways to have a active lifestyle. Find what you enjoy and make it a regular part of your life.
Another essential part to exercising regularly is to set specific goals. In the beginning, take it a week at a time and commit yourself to walking 30 minutes, 5 days a week (or whatever you choose to do). Setting specific goals will encourage commitment and will also enable you to better track your progress. If you have a goal to meet, you are much more likely to stay on track.
And lastly, find a community of people that will encourage your efforts. If you are surrounded by people who are healthy and exercising regularly, you are much more likely to do the same. If you like swimming, find a swimming class and build relationships there. Join a jogging club. Find a yoga class. Ask friends to walk with you every morning. Welcome people into your journey and it will keep you accountable when you want to give up or “slack”.
Dieting and exercise is the most natural way to lose weight and is also critical for our over all health. It might not give instant results on the scale, but with commitment and patience, you could achieve the long term weight loss you need.
#1 Diet and Exercise