Why is it so hard?
We all know that feeling when you go to put on your jeans for the first time of the season and they seem to be snugger than you remember. Your first thought is you must’ve gain weight. So, you decide to go on a diet. It works…you lose a couple of pounds and your jeans fit better. This lasts for a while, but you can’t keep the weight off. This process is more common than you think. What can you do to make your weight loss permanent? Why is it so important to be at a healthy weight?
Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you are taking in. Recent studies have shown that the majority of weight is lost due to individuals having consumed less calories every day and it’s maintained by an increase in daily physical activity. Lately, there has been talk of how inappropriate fat shaming is. This is extremely important because no one deserves to judged based solely on their appearance. However, there is an obesity epidemic going on in our country and it is resulting in a huge increase in serious, life-threatening health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. So, instead of focusing on body image, we should be concerned about body health. We need make improvements that will result in a healthier lifestyle. The best way to do this is by concentrating on ourselves and developing better eating and exercise habits. It’s well documented that when you weigh less, your whole body is affected in a good way. Weight loss results in decreased blood pressure, arthritis pain, depression and anxiety. Also, it reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis and many types of cancer.
The only way to not only achieve, but maintain weight loss is through changing your day-to-day behavior. Quick fixes and fad diets are temporary and unrealistic to use for extended periods of time. They can actually be detrimental to your health. Therefore, you need to develop a plan that you’ll be able to sustain for the rest of your life. It can be helpful to not look at it as a diet, but as a life change centered on long-term weight management. The first thing you must do is make a commitment to the change itself because it’s not going to be easy and will take a significant amount of time and effort. In order to be successful, you need to be focused, which can take a great deal of mental and physical energy. So, before you start your weight loss program, it’s key to address any other areas of your life that are causing you stress because you’ll be less likely to be derailed that way. Since it will be challenging, it’s essential to find your inner motivation because this will be tremendously helpful in your moments of temptation. It can be beneficial to write down a list of your motivations prior to starting the program and carry it with you so you can refer to it when you are struggling.
The second thing you have to do is set realistic goals. It isn’t recommended to lose more than one to two pounds in a week, which means only burning 500 to 1000 calories more than you consume every day. It’s essential to note that when you are first starting your weight loss program, it is possible to lose more than the one to two pounds. However, it’s unhealthy for your body to sustain this type of weight loss for extended periods of time. When you are setting your goals, it’s vital to have both progress and outcome goals. A progress goal is something like walking for a total of 30 minutes every day; whereas, an outcome goal could be to lose 5% of your current weight. An easy way to remember this that progress goals help you to achieve your outcome goals. A great way to stay on track toward your goals is having accountability to yourself and others. You can do this by having regular weigh-ins, recording your progress in a journal and spending time with people who will encourage your efforts.
Once you are ready to make the change, it’s time to do it! An easy way to reduce the calories you are taking in is by eating foods that are low-energy-dense foods. This means that they have a small number of calories for a large volume of the food. A good example of these types of foods are those that are plant-based, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In order to help achieve this, make sure you are eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits every day. Also, it’s a good idea to switch from refined grains to whole grains. Overall, you should reduce the amount of sugar you ingest. It’s ok to have sweets, but limit them to 75 calories a day (it can be helpful to plan for them over the course of your week). Use modest quantities of healthy fats (olive oil, vegetable oil, avocados and nuts) and only have small amounts of low-fat dairy products and lean meats. You shouldn’t need to completely eliminate any foods from your diet because you’ll be less likely to stick to your weight loss program if you do. The key is small portions and less frequently than you are currently consuming them. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy more nutritious meals without feeling like you’re missing out on foods that you enjoy.
Besides diet, the other big component is physical activity. The number of calories you burn is dependent on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. The current recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or a combination of the two each week. Moderate activity is when your heart rate and breathing are elevated but you are still able to carry on a conversation while exercising. Vigorous activity is when your heart rate is elevated but your breathing is too hard and fast to carry on a conversation. Typically, if you are able to get 30 minutes of activity a day, you’ll be able to meet the requirement. If you are pressed for time, it doesn’t need to grouped altogether. Instead, it could be three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day. The key is to make sure that your heart rate is elevated. It’s also important to do strength training two to three times a week and stretch your muscles at least twice a week. By doing this, you’ll decrease your chances of getting injured, which would prevent you from being able to exercise at all. Remember, some exercise is always better than no exercise. This holds true for all activities in your life. So, when possible incorporate extra movement into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs or parking further away at the grocery store.
As you are going through the process, it’s essential to realize that you are going to experience setbacks. Remember, it’s a life change, so there are going to be times when it’s more challenging than others to maintain it. The key thing to remember is to not give up when you do have a setback. Instead, remember that each day is a new day.
If you aren’t overweight, that’s great! In order to stay that way, eat healthily and get enough physical activity. In order to meet these goals, follow the recommendations mentioned in the Treatment section. It’s essential to keep in mind that even if you’re healthy now, you easily can become unhealthy if you aren’t eating right and stop exercising. It’s ok to treat yourself, but that can’t be all the time.
Losing weight can be challenging, but each one of us has the ability to do it. The key is to find your motivation, set your goals and commit to making the change. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your doctor. If you would like more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Losing Weight page at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html