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No Quick Fixes! What is the Healthy Way to Lose Weight?

I'm on diet #2photo © 2009 Michael Fludkov | more info (via: Wylio)The healthiest way to lose weight is neither crash diets nor bursts of exercise.

Remember this: THE BODY LIKES SLOW CHANGES.

For example, someone who hasn’t exercised for years shouldn’t (and wouldn’t) rush into running miles a day. Not only will you struggle with doing so and perhaps cause injury, but this will also leave you feeling disheartened with your goal.

As for food? The same concept applies for those who are fixated on starving themselves to lose weight. Diets that severely restrict calories can lead you to be deficient in the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs.

So, if you need to lose weight, what should you do?

Energy needs and weight loss

Your body uses food for energy. It stores any excess energy as fat. This means if you eat more food than your body needs for daily activities and cell maintenance, you’ll gain weight.

To lose weight, you need to get your body to use up these stores of fat. The most effective way to do this is to:

  • reduce the amount of calories you eat
  • increase your levels of activity.

This is why experts talk about weight loss in terms of diet and exercise. This should not be news to anyone anymore. There is no quick fix.

Why do some weight loss programs fail?

Diets, especially fad diets or “quick-fix” pills and plans, often set you up for failure because:

  • You feel deprived. All of these fad diets that cut out certain things, NO CARBS, Cookies ONLY, Veggies Only, do not make sense and will not provide you with a healthy way to manage nutrition for life.
  • You “plateau” after losing a few pounds. Often your body adjusts to a new way of eating which is why we support the constant change of activity like boot camp and small group. Surprising your body with new exercise and constant change will increase your weight loss.
  • You lose weight, but can’t keep it off. Diets that severely cut calories, restrict certain foods, or rely on ready-made meals might work in the short term. However, once you meet your weight loss goal, you have no means of lifelong, healthy diet maintenance, and the pounds quickly come back.
  • After your diet, you seem to put on weight more quickly. Restricting your food intake slows down your metabolism – another reason why starvation or “fasting” diets are counterproductive.
  • You break your diet and feel too discouraged to try again. Just because you gave in to temptation and overindulged, doesn’t mean all your hard work goes down the drain. Healthy eating is about the big picture – an occasional splurge won’t kill your efforts. You just need to learn the difference between constant “treating” yourself and truly treating yourself. It takes time!
  • You feel isolated and unable to enjoy social situations revolving around food. Without some practical, healthy diet strategies, you may feel lost when dining out or attending events like cocktail parties or weddings.

What to do?

Introduce changes gradually

Small changes can make a big difference. One extra biscuit a week can lead you to gain 5lb a year – cut that biscuit out of your diet and you’ll lose the same amount. So while that one biscuit, cookie, sandwich, cracker seems like nothing at the time… it adds up. Small changes!!!

You’re also more likely to stick to, say, swapping whole milk for 1%or making time for breakfast each morning than a diet that sets rules for all foods.

You should think of weight loss in terms of permanently changing your eating habits. While weight-loss goals are usually set in term of weeks, the end game is to sustain these changes over months and years, in other words, lifestyle change for life.

Increase your activity levels

Someone who increases the amount they exercise, but maintains the same diet and calorie intake, will almost certainly lose weight.

Every single time you exercise more than usual, you burn calories and fat. Achieve Personal Fitness offers a variety of options for you to do so. Not only do we follow the most ground-breaking fitness plans to date, we help you stay motivated and accountable to working out! Here is the difference… mindlessly walking on a treadmill at the gym and seeing very little change or having a program designed differently (daily!) that continues to surprise and shock your system and initiates change more quickly!

Reduce your calorie intake

If you’re overweight, you can’t continue with your current eating habits if you really want to lose weight.

It’s not possible to reduce body fat while eating lots of food, cakes and sweets. This doesn’t mean you can never have any treats, but you need to learn how to limit these foods to small quantities – say, for special occasions. Or, by giving yourself two treat meals a week.

In terms of weight-loss, you can get your body to use up existing stores of fat by eating less and making healthier choices.

This doesn’t mean crash diet (anything less than 1500 calories), which usually ends up with you either getting weaker or giving up in desperation. Quick-fix diets can lead to a yo-yoing effect of drastic weight loss followed by weight gain, resulting in a vicious cycle.

There are no shortcuts to losing weight in a healthy and reasonable way. Just accept that and take the time to learn a healthier way of life.

Weight loss bottom line

Your weight is a balancing act, but the equation is simple: If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Gaining and losing weight (W) comes down to the simple calculation of calories consumed (CC), or in other words, what you eat, minus calories burned (CB) through metabolism and physical activity.

W = CC – CB

If you eat more calories than you burn then you gain weight or if you eat fewer calories than you burn then you lose weight. In order to lose one pound of fat per week, you need to eat about 500 calories less than your typical diet. Since 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose approximately 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). Remember, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound.

This does not mean that you need to eat less food. Instead, you need to consume fewer calories. With smart choices this is very doable. The key is to choose “low density” foods, which means foods that allow you to eat a larger portion sizes but that is lower in calories. These foods, including many fruits and vegetables, tend to contain more water and fiber. Try starting your meal with a low-density salad or soup (just watch the dressings and sodium) to help fill you up, so you eat less of your entrée. See below for some more easy calorie saving ideas.

Item Calories* Substitute Calories* Calories* Saved
Starbucks grande café late (16 oz.) 190 16 oz. coffee or tea 5 185
12 oz. can of regular cola 137 club soda water with a squeeze of lemon or lime 2 135
1 medium glazed doughnut 239 1 apple 72 167
4-inch cinnamon-raisin bagel 243 2 pieces whole grain toast 138 105
3 oz. bag corn chips 441 2 large carrots with 2 tbsp. hummus 106 318
1 cup chocolate ice cream 285 1 cup strawberries 53 323
3 oz. bag plain salted potato chips 465 2 cups popcorn air-popped 62 403
Pancakes with butter & syrup 520 1 cup cooked oats 166 354

Sources: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 2007 and http://www.starbucks.com. *Actual calories may vary by brand.

Be patient and persevere

It might take a week or two before you notice any changes, but they will steadily appear. After the first month you’ll be able to see the results and measure them in terms of looser fitting clothes.

Keeping your motivation up is one of the most difficult aspects of dieting. There will be days when healthy eating goes out the window, and there will be weeks where you may not lose any weight – or put a little back on.

This is normal for everyone – dieters or not – so don’t let it undo your plans for a slimmer you.

The other side of this is to make sure you celebrate reaching your milestones along the way!

Sources: http://www.helpguide.org; http://www.netdoctor.com/uk

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