Under the best circumstances, trying to lose weight can be stressful and challenging. There are numerous obstacles that always seem to lie in wait, hoping to derail your best efforts.
Fortunately, you can alleviate many of these hazards if you start developing a weight loss strategy, an overall approach to the new, healthier you!
There are seven critical elements that all successful weight loss strategies will encompass. It is important to note that the term successful applies to long term, sustained weight loss where you are able to maintain a healthy weight through a healthy lifestyle.
#1. Ditch the diet mentality. Diets do NOT work. If they did, no one would be overweight. Instead of thinking in terms of deprivation and restriction (diets), start shifting your mindset to adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Embrace the idea of feeding your body the nutrition it needs. By giving your body what it wants in the form of healthy, nutrient rich foods, you will see how quickly it will respond by shedding the extra weight.
#2. Drink plenty of water. The reasons we need to drink water are numerous — entire books have been written on this subject. What is important to understand at this point is that our bodies, and the cells within them, need water to function properly.
Every major organ, and system, in our body is dependent on water in order to operate properly and efficiently. It is especially important when we are losing weight because water is crucial in aiding the body’s ability to flush out excess fat and toxins.
#3. Fruits and vegetables are your friend. Whether you eat meat, you’re are a vegetarian (eat no meat), a pescetarian (eat fish but not meat), or a vegan (eat no animal products), every healthy eating plan must include generous servings of fruits and vegetables–every day!!
In addition to containing numerous anti-oxidants, they are an essential source of key vitamins and minerals your body needs to operate efficiently. Fruits and veggies are an excellent source of fiber and many contain high levels of water, so they are also naturally hydrating.
Fruits and veggies will give you the biggest bang for your buck on the nutritional side, meaning you can eat a far greater amount of a green, leafy salad than you can a bowl of pasta with sauce.
#4. Fats are not the enemy. Contrary to many popular beliefs, fat is not a foe; in fact, it is actually necessary for your body to have certain types of fat in order for your cells to function properly.
However, not all fats are created equal. The key is knowing which fats are good for you (healthy) and which ones are not (unhealthy).
Examples of healthy fats include nuts, avocados and cold pressed olive oil. Unhealthy fats (saturated fats) would include butter, cheese and ice cream.
#5. Limit alcohol consumption. You have no doubt heard the saying that liquor is filled with empty calories.
Unfortunately, it’s even worse than that. Not only is there absolutely no nutritional value in alcohol, once consumed it is broken down into sugar, which hits our blood stream immediately and causes severe spikes in our body’s blood sugar levels.
Alcohol consumption packs a “double-whammy” punch: on top of the calories being nutritionally empty, it reduces your inhibitions and can cloud your judgement. This can lead to poor food choices and/or a late-night binge on foods that will sabotage your long term health goals.
#6. Movement is a must. Rigorous exercise is not necessary in order to lose weight; in fact, technically no exercise at all is necessary.
Weight loss is strictly a function of taking in less calories than your body uses, thereby forcing your body to burn extra fat for fuel.
However, that having been said, some form of exercise plays a key role in maintaining the overall health of our body. Living and being healthy are not simply about losing weight.
Walking is a great way to start. Even if you walk for 5 minutes in the morning, or at lunch, or after dinner, it is better than doing nothing. Keep track of how many minutes you do each day, and then increase it by a minute or two every 3-4 days.
#7. Stress management is critical to the success of any healthy lifestyle. While there are numerous reasons why, perhaps the most important for those who struggle with losing weight revolves around emotional eating.
Eating rich, creamy delectable foods gives us immediate satisfaction, and also gives us immediate comfort. When something upsets us, or stresses us, it is not a comfortable feeling. It is unpleasant, and we seek a way to get rid of feeling bad.
For many of us, that way is emotional eating. Without finding a healthy way to handle our daily stresses, we increase the chance that when they do occur, we will turn to the one thing we have used in the past – food.
All too often we try to tackle everything at once, radically changing our eating and our lifestyle and our routines. It is too overwhelming; it causes our systems too much stress. This is why most people do not find success with this approach.
The best approach to making these changes stick is to pick one and start incorporating that into your daily life. The most important thing is to DO SOMETHING!! Success is much more likely if you make small changes and do it consistently.
Eating an apple a day, adding that five minute walk, drinking an extra glass of water–those may seem like very small things to do, but you will be amazed at how fast those small successes will give you the momentum to achieve the big success you want!