Have you noticed how people are always talking about weight loss?
It seems to have taken quite the front seat in many people’s thoughts these days. And, it has escalated from the slightly obsessive, to the barking, raving, and completely insane.
Do a quick internet search, and you’ll undoubtedly notice some of the commercial pitches popping up — “Lose 10 pounds in 1 week,“How to lose stubborn belly fat,” or my personal favourite, “No cellulite in 30 days!”
I imagine, for some people their weight loss plan is worked out a little like this…
“Hello, yes, can you sign me up for your diet plan where I get to eat pizza, chocolate cake, and ice cream all day long, while the pounds miraculously melt away please? Can you also send me your promotional “fat-loss exercise DVD?” Thanks!
Oh wait one second, I don’t really feel much like exercising. Do you have something in pill form? You do? That’s awesome! Now, let me go grab my credit card.“
In case you hadn’t noticed, that kind of stuff doesn’t work.
Sure, you may lose a few pounds here and there, but will you be able to keep it off long-term? I very much doubt it.
In case you hadn’t noticed already, I’m not much into “diets.” Some may call me a little too safe, and I’ll admit it, I like a more sensible approach. Sensible advice, well, it makes sense!
If you’re after real weight loss, I’m sorry to tell you, but it can’t be purchased in a bottle.
So, now that we know what doesn’t work, what does work?
(You’re still hankering after those jaw-dropping “before” and “after” photos aren’t you? Well, unfortunately — oh wait, let me just check — nope, sorry, I don’t have any! ;-) )
So, let me remind you of all the things you probably already know, but it’s the stuff that actually works…
#1 Add healthy food to your diet
Perhaps that seems contradictory, you want to lose weight, not gain it.
But, if you’re eating like most people these days, your diet is probably filled with processed, salty, sugary, fatty foods, with far too much refined grains, and too little fresh, whole goodness.
When your aim is to lose weight, it’s tempting to focus solely on calories, rather than eating healthier foods.
Maybe you’ve been there before, where you plot how you can replicate all your favourite treats in 100 calorie portion-controlled versions.
I’m guessing last time it didn’t really work out, or you wouldn’t be here reading this post.
So, how about this time, putting that determination of yours to good use by slowly, but surely, attempting to acquire a taste for healthier foods, rather than rubbish so-called “diet” and “light” foods?
When you do that you’ll feel healthier, you won’t be so likely to crave the unhealthy stuff, and you’ll lose weight as a result.
#2 Make use of your kitchen
Don’t hate me for saying that — I know, lots of people don’t like cooking. But, it’s fact that no matter how healthy a takeout place claims to be, you can’t really trust them, and you could make better, cheaper, and healthier yourself at home.
On top of that, having to eat isn’t really an issue that’s going to go away, and I figure you can’t always be heading out for takeaway food.
So, I’m opting for my old favourite piece of advice once again — menu planning.
If you want to give it a go, write down a list of healthy meals for the week ahead, get a shopping list put together of all the things you need, remember to stock up on healthy staples, and then get cooking.
The easiest thing to do is make a really big pot of something, like soup or stew, to keep you going for a couple nights and lunch, too.
Need some inspiration? Check out my 5 ingredients or less recipe suggestions.
That’s a good place to begin, since there are only 5 main ingredients in each recipe. That means you won’t feel overwhelmed with having to look for “diakon,” when you don’t even know what aisle it’s in… I didn’t know either!
#3 Be accountable
If you can get eating healthy down to a tee, that’s a huge big step in the right direction for weight loss. But, let’s be honest, portion control is also really important.
This is where using a food journal can be really helpful.
Tracking what you eat is one of the best ways to make yourself accountable. It will help you stop and think before you overeat, because you know you’ll have to make a record later in your food journal.
For some people that’s all the motivation they need.
I recommend using a calorie tracking system such as Calorie Count, which is free and really easy to use.
I know keeping a food journal can be a huge pain in the neck, but it’s incredibly helpful for many people, so give it a try.
#4 Know that exercise isn’t optional
Many people believe exercise is an optional step in losing weight. Well, sorry to burst that big ol’ bubble — no it ain’t!
Not exercising whilst losing weight can lead to a loss in muscle mass. And, I’m pretty sure that most people who lose weight and keep it off long-term, have some kind of exercise plan going on in their weekly routine.
Also, if you’re already thinking, “Well, I could never exercise enough to lose weight,” seriously, all that advice you already know about taking the stairs, and walking to the shops rather than driving — do it, it works!
If exercise is new to you starting gradually is absolutely fine. However, your long-term goal should be to eventually add some strength training and aerobic workouts.
The key — the more you exercise, the better you feel, which then spurs you on to workout a little harder the next time, and so on goes the cycle.
If you’re overwhelmed about where to begin, check out my article on obesity exercise for more tips.
5. Stay cool, calm and collected
In my experience, the people who are most successful at losing weight and keeping it off, are those who don’t freak out if they “mess” their diet up one day.
Take a leaf out of their book, know that it’s inevitable you will overeat some days or skip your exercise routine. But, just keep moving forward. Don’t begin “tomorrow,” instead get right back on track immediately.
I’m sure everyone has setbacks, or times when they can’t find inspiration to go on.
Don’t feel like you’re the only one who falls off the weight loss wagon. You can lose weight in a healthy way. Put your mind to it, and be strong! :-)
What’s the best advice you would give to someone struggling with healthy ways to lose weight?