As another year starts, many people have been thinking about New Year Resolutions. The number of overweight and obese individuals continues to skyrocket in epidemic proportions and as such many resolutions will evolve around the pursuit of an elusive weight loss goal.
As a fitness professional, for years I’ve seen the pendulum swing back and forth as to which “diet” works best for weight loss: low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, the fill-in-the-blank diet (rice diet, grapefruit diet, peanut butter diet), you name it. The diet rage of the day just leaves overweight individuals confused as to the best way to lose weight and keep unwanted pounds off. It turns out that we may just be better off forgetting the word “diet” altogether.
I’ve seen clients try different diets over an over, just to fall off the wagon, get discouraged, and then try a different diet. Which is why I am more concerned with helping clients stick with a plan they can follow while incorporating lifestyle changes they can stick with. One of the major problems with diets is adherence, which is so hard for so many overweight people struggling to shed unwanted pounds.
Reducing calories and exercising more are well known strategies to pursue. Here are some weight loss tips designed to help you jump start your new journey to a slimmer waistline.
Keep Moving Each Day
Research confirms that physical activity is essential to human health and is also an important catalyst in your weight loss efforts. Exercise doesn’t have to be in the form of a grueling 5 mile run or lifting heavy free weights. The key to using exercise to fuel your weight loss efforts is that you need to do something to stay moving each day.
Set 30 to 60 minutes aside each day for some type of aerobic or resistance activity. The best part is that your time can be broken down into convenient 10 or 15 minute segments and you’ll still receive the same health and weight loss benefits.
Keep a Detailed Food and Exercise Journal
This may be one of the most important tips that many people on a weight loss mission fail to undertake. Keep a detailed record of each bite of food and drink, including the time and amount consumed. Don’t cheat. Record every food item including between meals snacks and sneaking a bite of your favorite chocolate bar.
Write down your physical activity also, including type of exercise and the duration of each segment during the day. Many people are amazed to find out the number of calories eaten outside of normal meal times.
Set Realistic Goals
Often in our zest to reach an imaginary weight goal, we set an unrealistic target and timeframe. When it becomes clear that the goal can’t be met, our best intentions are forgotten and any lost weight returns with a few extra pounds to discourage us from trying again. Permanent weight loss must be accomplished slowly, with a plan to drop no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week. This allows our body time to adjust naturally and make the necessary metabolic changes to maintain our lower weight.
Set Specific Goals
Make a plan to achieve your weight loss goal. Chart your day to include 3 well-balanced meals and develop a calorie-controlled menu that will allow you to hit your target. Schedule physical activity at a specific time as you would a business appointment. Avoid generalizations about diet and exercise, and be specific with regard to intent and end result.
Allow Yourself Room for an Occasional Slip
Everybody is human and inevitably you will make a small slip in your dietary plan. Fortunately your body is very forgiving and does not assess caloric intake for a single meal or even an entire day. Allow yourself an occasional treat when you really need it to keep yourself moving forward toward your weight loss goal.
Practice portion control
As an advocate for portion control, watching how much you eat is one of the best ways to lose weight. I have been counseling clients for years, and I have seen in my practice that when clients watch the sizes of their portions (aka eat less), they shave hundreds of calories daily, and lose weight effortlessly. While it may seem obvious that larger portions have more calories than smaller portions, most people don’t recognize just how many more calories a large portion contains.
Another advantage to practicing portion control is that you do not have to cut out entire food groups to get thin and you get to indulge in your favorite treat every now and then. No dieting and no deprivation.
Instead of dwelling on the foods you cannot eat, try instead to focus on what you can have. I tell my clients that there is no restaurant that is completely off limits. You can always find something healthy to eat. For example, when going to an Italian restaurant, instead of dwelling on the fact that you shouldn’t eat fettuccine alfredo, called a “heart attack on a plate” by the Center of Science for the Public Interest, think instead of what you can eat: whole wheat pasta with veggies and fresh tomato sauce or fresh grilled fish with sautéed spinach.
Eat structured meals and snacks
Speaking of nibbling and mindless munching, one advantage to eating structured meals and snacks is that you tend to get famished less often. And when we are famished, we tend to just grab whatever food is in sight. And, we also often end up grabbing junk food. Planning in advance is also important. Keep healthy foods at arms reach and bring along a fruit and yogurt if you know that it will be hard to buy something healthy mid-afternoon.
Do Something Different
Remember the feeling you last had when you did something different? We are creatures of habit and although most habits keep us safe they don’t always challenge us. Have some fun by changing a habit and doing something you haven’t done before. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or waking up in the middle of the night and looking at the stars. The challenge is to experience something new.
Spend 5 minutes looking through Google for something new. Try a new sport, join a new club, start a new business, try a new hobby, reconnect with an old friend, go to the theatre, book a weekend break.
Life is short. It’s amazing what happens when you try something new. With new experiences come more new experiences. Without change you get the same results so get out there and explore.
Happy New Year!!