There seems to be a bit of confusion when it comes to what the best strategy for weight loss is. “If I try a new diet, will I lose weight rapidly and keep it off?” “What about cutting out certain nutrients, such as carbs, with that make a difference?” I, myself, have never been a proponent of fad dieting. I have found from my own experience they just don’t quite cut it in the long term arena. I feel like unless you have an allergy or an underlying medical condition, there is no reason to cut anything completely out of your diet (When I say diet I am referring to the things you consume on a daily basis as sustenance). There has to be a balance. Included in that balance should be a minimum amount of activity. When I say minimum amount I mean extra things added to your regular routine of daily living. You have to be able to add some exercise to your routine of work/school. Walking from your desk to the company breakroom is not considered extra.
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both, every week (Laskowski, 2016). That easily translates into 30 minutes a day of aerobic (cardio) activity. If you want to throw in some strength training, do exercises on the four major muscle groups at least twice a week (Laskowski, 2016). Those are the minimums to maintain your current condition.
So we have grazed over the minimum exercise recommendations and now see why just “dieting” won’t help in the long run. You may be wondering, what else contributes to unsuccessful shedding of pounds? Mostly it is our inability to set realistic goals. The good people at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have laid out what will make you successful.
Setting the right kind of goals is important. If you focus on your ultimate goal, losing weight, you’re being too general. Specific goals are easier to meet and add milestones. Making a chart with your goals might be a good way to stay on track. Start out with your ultimate goal, losing weight. Then move on to two or three diet and exercise goals at a time, be specific! For example, “exercise more” does not meet specifics, but “walk five miles every day,” is not only specific, but measurable (WebMD, 2014). However, what if you’re a beginner? Walking five miles a day is something you have to build to, unless you are Superman, you are not going to meet that goal. So an even more specific goal would be, “walk thirty minutes, five days a week” (WebMD, 2014).
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2014), knowing your triggers is another important element to successful weight loss. For example, I am a carb junkie. I am Oprah, “I love bread!” I know if I was left to my own devices I would live on carbs alone. So a trigger for me is the bakery at the grocery store and shopping while I’m hungry. To avoid slipping up and going on a carb binge, I now make sure I have had a snack before I plan a significant grocery shopping excursion.
When you sit down to eat, make sure you fill up. Spend time eating your meal, don’t scarf it down like a soldier in a basic training dining facility. It is suggested that 15 minutes is the amount of time you should spend eating in order to feel full and give your brain time to recognize you have eaten (WebMD, 2014). What you fill up on is important too. Foods with a good amount of fiber (fruits and vegetables) are what you want to fill up on (WebMD, 2014). Smaller plates help smaller portions not look too small (think of tricking your brain into thinking you are eating more) and making a change to your eating schedule to closer increments will help keep you feeling full (WebMD, 2014).
Nothing in life seems to be worth it unless there is some kind of reward. We as humans do things that make us happy. The release of endorphins (hormones responsible for pleasure) is why we are motivated to do complete tasks and projects. This is also true when maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Reward your progress and meeting of your goals by going to a movie or getting a mani/pedi. It is important to keep in mind that several smaller rewards that you give yourself for meeting small goals, tend to work better than bigger rewards for difficult goals (WebMD, 2014).
Finally, keeping track of your progress will open your eyes to what you have accomplished (WebMD, 2014). There are several ways to do this, you can download a fitness app (for free!), make a daily or weekly progress chart, or just use old fashion note taking kept in a journal. Record what you are eating for your meals and what exercises you have done, including sets and repetitions. You might also want to record the amount of weight you are working with and see your gains over a set period of time
Working towards a healthy lifestyle is not something that can be achieved over night, it takes time. Even after you have achieved your weight loss goals you still need to maintain or all that hard work will have been for nothing. Set goals for maintaining your weight. The hard part is done, by the time you have reached your fitness and weight goals you should have established a regular routine, now all you have to do is stick with it. Good luck!
Here is the link to my article on Health and Fitness published on Medium.com:
Long-term Weight Loss: 5 Tips. (2014, October). Retrieved September 19, 2016 from www.m.webmd.com/diet/losing-weight-long-term
Laskowski, E.R., M.D. (2016, August 20). Fitness. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916