According to a Gallop poll in 2013, 51% of Americans want to lose weight but only half of those are taking steps toward their weight-loss goals. In today’s society we are almost paralyzed by the amount of information out there on weight loss. Where do you start? With diet, exercise or the latest fitness craze?
We are constantly exposed to a barrage of misleading marketing tactics. We want results to come at the speed of technology. We are always looking for the easiest possible solution that gives us the best possible result.
Just take a look at an internet search for “how to lose weight.” Ideally, the first results would point you to reputable authorities on the subject of weight loss. Instead, we see ads selling you weight loss supplements and listings where words “fast” and “easy” are common place.
No one diet works for everyone. Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Vegetarian, Fruitarian diets work for some, others have the ability to eat anything with which they come into contact. In the end making great decisions based on your ideal lifestyle is the answer. Diets are temporary; changing your lifestyle is forever. It is not easy; if it were, we’d all have perfectly defined bodies. Before you go jumping into changing your entire life, try taking some small steps for a couple months. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at the impact little changes to daily habits will bring.
#1: Take it slow.
Make your goal 1 pound a week. By setting a very reasonable goal, you’ll set yourself up for success. Weight loss TV shows, as great and inspiring as they are, they produce extreme results that few of us can actually attain. People on those shows spend all day and night working out with personal trainers, doctors and nutritionists. Rather than changing your whole lifestyle overnight, try to take it slow. Each Sunday review your choices from the last week, select one poor decision and replace it with a good decision this week. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. Increasing your activity and cutting just a couple of diet calories you can slash 500 calories a day fairly easily.
#2 Be accountable.
How many times have you made a goal and said “next week I’ll start?” You get to that next week and then you push it back again. Most of us are scared to start because it means we actually have to perform and risk failure. Leaving it up to ourselves, we’ll rationalize a way to push it back until the perfect time, which will never happen. Instead; I propose that you pick this Monday. Go to your computer today and type up three goals, one for next month, three months from now and another six months from now. Putting the goals to paper will help jumpstart the process. Now print out at least four pages with those goals on them. Tape one to your fridge door, tape one to your bathroom mirror, tape one to the middle of your steering wheel and the extra one can go wherever you are most susceptible to going off track from those goals (e.g. freezer, liquor cabinet, cookie jar etc.). Don’t underestimate the power of this process. You will be reminded constantly of the track you want to be on. In those precious seconds of weakness that we all have, those goal pages will pull you back from the edge.
#3 Drink up.
Water is key to weight loss and a healthy body; it flushes our system of toxins. Much of the time you feel hungry it is actually your body trying to remind you that you’re thirsty. Divide your body weight by three and that will give you a baseline in ounces for the amount of water you should be drinking daily. If you workout, you’ll need to drink even more.
Take a 24-32 ounce water bottle and divide it into thirds with tape marks. Make sure to drink the first third before you leave the house in the morning. Drink the second third before 10am, and finish the bottle off before lunch. You’ll be half way to your goal by noon! Try to drink 5-10 ounces of water at least 10 minutes before each meal to help get a jumpstart on satiation.
#4 Get Active.
You want to hit 30 minutes a day of activity at the very least. You don’t need to all of the sudden become a marathon runner or a gym rat. You don’t have to be engaged in a sport to become more active. Activity is constant movement. Get a step counting app for your phone and make a game out of increasing your steps each day. Stop spending five minutes every time you are in a parking lot trying to find the closest spot. Instead, save your car from door dings and park at the end of the parking lot so you are forced to walk further to the store. Take an extra loop around the grocery store after you have your groceries in the cart and voila! You are weight training.
Stop being so darn efficient at the office! Get up as often as possible to walk to the printer or, better yet the water cooler. Don’t text or email a coworker in the next room, walk over and talk to them. Walking for 30 minutes will burn anywhere from 100 to 200 calories depending on pace and your weight. Break it up into 10 minute increments to make it more manageable.
#5 Meal Planning.
It takes 10-20 minutes for your stomach to send signals to your brain telling it that you are full. Many times before we feel full, we have already eaten an extra serving of food. Plan your meals around this bit of knowledge. Drinking 5-10 ounces of water ten minutes before every meal will help with the portion size issues we all have. Slow down your chewing and always put the utensil back on the table in between bites. This will slow down your eating pace; hopefully by the time you get to the end of your meal you’ll feel full. If you still are hungry, try to wait ten minutes before going back for seconds. Chances are, you’ll no longer crave that second helping if you do.
The ideal scenario is to make breakfast your largest meal, and make the meals progressively smaller throughout the day. You’ll want to snack often and try not to go more than 3-4 hours without consuming calories. Realistically though, make breakfast or lunch your biggest meals and try to eat in between each “classic” meal. The worst thing you can do when trying to lose weight is making dinner your only or largest meal.
Try to eat a salad while dinner is cooking. By the time you get the main course on the plate you’ll already be half full. That dinner will stretch into lunch for the next day saving you time, money, and inches off your waistline.
Ditch the TV, Smart Phone, or Tablet at dinner; when your attention is on something other than what you are eating you stop being cognizant of how much you are putting into your mouth. The British researchers have found and found that eating while watching a digital device could mean an increase of 25% more calories than eating without one.
Switch up your plates. Most of us have those big dinner plates and their smaller counterparts that don’t get a lot of use. Instead; use the small 10 inch plates as your everyday plates. Placing the same amount of food on the smaller plate will trick your brain into thinking you are eating more.
Don’t feel the need to clean your plate like mom always said. You’ll already have leftovers because you are drinking water and having your salad well before the main course. Save a little bit from your plate and put it back with the leftovers.
#6 Get your Z’s.
While awake your metabolism is charging at full speed. Every hour you spend awake when you should be sleeping, is an hour you might be caving into those hunger pangs. Get seven to eight hours of sleep as often as you can. You are going to wake up in a better mood ready to take on the world.
The frontal lobe is the center of decision making in your brain. When you are tired, your frontal lobe is dulled, much like when you are drunk. Think of all the coffee, and caffeinated drinks you consume because you are tired. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were short on sleep, late-night snacking increased and in most instances those snacks were higher in carbs.
These are all relatively small steps compared to drastically changing one’s diet, exercise routine, and day to day lifestyle. Make it a point each Sunday to change one poor decision you made the week before and replace it with a better one. If you made three trips to fast food, make it two. If you gorged on that half gallon of ice cram, get yourself single serving cups and try to limit yourself to one a night. In the grand scheme of things, making small sustainable changes to our behavior will have a massive impact on our health six months down the line. Remember, one pound a week six months later is a new you; happier, healthier and 24 pounds lighter.
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