With diet books aplenty, gyms springing up in profusion, weight loss supplements galore, and more weight loss resources than ever, you would think we'd have obesity tackled by now. On the contrary, in the past two decades obesity rates have risen almost threefold in many parts of America, Britain, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. Clearly, we have yet to find a weight loss panacea to bring us down to healthy weights again. However, research and information in the area of weight loss, and what works and what doesn't is abundant.
The unfortunate side of weight loss trends is that most people are still on the search for the "quick fix" all the while ignoring the timeless weight loss advice that isn't a magic bullet, but ultimately, does work. In order to get healthy and smaller again, we need to work hard, give up the idea of the quick fix or the next diet, and get to know our minds and bodies again. Time consuming? Yes. Hard to deal with in our fast paced society? Yes. Easy? No. Does it work? Yes. And the benefits of following the timeless adages of weight loss will spill over into your psyche as well, making you feel energized, competent, and capable. Start following these steps and you'll be well on your way to the realization that your hard work and dedication can change not just your shape, but also your life.
- Give up the quick fixes! This applies to pills, supplements, and fad diets (unless, of course, you are on a medication or remedy under a medical doctor's supervision). I cringed the other day when I heard a woman talking about how she needs to go back on a low carb diet, because she gained all the weight back that she lost by following one. "They really work" she said to her friend. I can't count the number of times I've heard that from clients and friends who've since returned to their previous weights. If they really worked, then why did you gain your weight back?
The overwhelming evidence with quick fixes and fad diets is that they may work short term for weight loss, but ultimately people tire of them, go off and gain everything back. Just a note - if you tried something and then gained your weight back - this is not a plan that "works"!
- Consume less calories than your body burns each day. OK, now onto the crux of it. There's nothing magical about weight loss. In order to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than your body burns each day. First, you need to get a good idea of how many calories your body does burn daily. Find this out by checking here. In order to lose one pound per week, subtract 500 calories per day from this number. In order to lose two pounds per week, subtract 1000 calories per day from this number. Make sure whatever "diet" you choose that you eat a variety of foods from all food groups, particularly, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Do your best to eliminate processed foods and sugary and fatty snacks.
- Do not lose more than two pounds per week. Your body can kick into "starvation mode" when you feed it too few calories and this will significantly reduce your metabolism. When you lose more than two pounds per week your body is burning muscle for energy, not fat!
- Exercise is not optional. Dieting alone to lose weight will lower your metabolism, no matter how slowly you lose the weight. Adding exercise to the mix will ensure that your body's metabolism will stay charged up and become a calorie burning machine. If you're new to exercise, start small and get your physician's approval. Walking is a great exercise. Your goal is to increase your time and your days. Your ultimate goal is 5 days of exercise weekly for an hour. When you feel more competent about exercise, add some weight training to your routine - your body will burn 50 more calories daily for every pound of muscle you add. If you need assistance, save up for a couple of sessions with a personal trainer who can show you how to train each major muscle group in your body. Over time, you will need to vary your routine and increase your intensity in order to keep your metabolism charged. Regular exercise is the single greatest predictor of whether lost weight stays off.
- You must become an expert at analyzing your eating, activity and behaviors. Another huge predictor in successful weight loss is keeping food and activity records. Start writing down what you eat each day. It's important to note your hunger level and whether you're eating out of emotions, stress or boredom instead. Record your exercise and activities also. Take your food record very seriously. Use it to analyze where your problem areas are and to create new solutions and goals to tackle those specific issues. You are your best counselor because you know you best! Start keeping a food record today with a complimentary printout from The Diet Channel.
- Exercise partners work wonders. Group weight loss programs like Weight Watchers or your local hospital's program do too. This is because being held accountable to someone is a great motivating factor to keep you focused on your goals. Look into creating as many diet and exercise support resources as you can.
- Go easy on yourself. Expect imperfection and slip-ups. Perfection is not success. Learning from mistakes and digging right in again is. Good luck!