Most of us have some type of weight loss goal in mind, whether it’s ten pounds or one hundred. And it seems as if no matter what we do we’re always at the same weight or worse, we gain. Here are some simple ideas to keep you going and reach that goal weight without the pain of over the top diets or dangerous pills. This is not one of those diets that claim great weight loss within a few weeks. Genuine weight loss takes time and it involves some basic lifestyle changes. But once you start implementing these ideas you will feel better, be healthier and make a lasting difference in your life.
The first thing to do is to note what you eat, how much you eat and at what times. Keep a food journal for at least two weeks, writing down everything you consume including coffee, snacks, and meals. Take note the date, time, and the total calories. It is imperative you note the calories of each meal for the first two weeks. You are gathering information about yourself and your eating habits. Most of us consume more calories than we realize. A lot of those calories come from drinks alone. After you have gathered that information, analyze the worst habits and cut out some of the things you can live without. Note at what times you are most active during the day. This is when you should have a larger meal, usually lunch. Dinner should actually be smaller portions as most people are winding down at this time. Fit your needs into your schedule. This is not about punishing yourself; it’s about taking control of your life and improving your health. Our health is one of the most important assets we have; we must learn to take care of ourselves.
Take note of how many calories your favorite fast food meal is, including sides and a drink. You will be surprised at how much it is. You should be eating around 1500 calories a day, but talk to your doctor for your personal goal. A fast food meal will often take up more than half of these calories. Since we are trying to lose weight, we should consume less than we normally do and add exercise to speed things along and get healthy. We must both eat healthy and exercise. You cannot do one without the other and be successful.
One of the most important things about food and meals is to enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty about eating, but also don’t gorge on unhealthy fast foods or high-calorie snacks. Find healthy recipes with the food you love and cook your own meals as much as possible. If you love fried chicken, try baked chicken instead. You will still get great flavor and won’t leave the table feeling hungry. Add soups, vegetables and plenty of water to your diet. You can still eat the things you enjoy as long as you practice portion control. Portion control is just as important as what you are eating. Ask your doctor and look up nutritional information to find out what portions are correct for you. As you lose weight, you will be able to live on smaller portions.
Listen to your body. When you are hungry, it is an indication that your body needs energy. Don’t try to starve yourself. This will only backfire because binging on your cravings will occur later on that day. Plan your meals around the time your body normally is hungry. However, if you are eating at midnight, it’s time to curb this habit unless you work graveyards. We eat to use up its energy and midnight is a time most of us are sleeping. Kick that habit!
Along with portion control and eating healthier, the next thing to focus on is exercise. It’s hard for most of us to want to exercise, so you must find something you enjoy. Walking and running are the best exercise. Go to the park with your kids, your dog, or even just your camera. This will be both enjoyable and relaxing. It will relieve a lot of stress and get you started. We need at least a thirty minute block of solid exercise to start losing weight. Although getting 10 or 15 minutes of exercise at a time helps, it won’t be enough. Find a time each day to devote entirely to physical activity. Make sure it’s something you enjoy. Dance for thirty minutes to your favorite music, go for a swim or try kickboxing. Whatever it is, commit yourself every day to do this. At first it might be hard to get motivated. (Who wants to exercise, really?) But keep it up. Once you start losing weight, you will be excited. Use that excitement to buoy yourself up and motivate you. Post pictures of someone whose figure you admire or keeps you motivated, such as Marilyn Monroe or Oprah. These women are curvy and beautiful, allowing us to feel good about our curves. Embrace your body the way it is now and see your inner beauty. Once you are more accepting of yourself, your goals will become easier. Now you don’t need to stress about that perfect weight because you are already beautiful! It’s not about becoming the perfect size, it’s about being healthy so you can be more active and accomplish what you want without health issues getting in the way. It’s harder to accomplish things when we are bogged down with heart problems, diabetes and other weight-related health risks. Take control of your health!
It takes at least two weeks for your body to register that something has changed. It takes time for your body to react to healthier eating and exercise. Don’t be discouraged within those first two weeks. Those are the hardest, but once you get into the routine it will become almost automatic. Soon you won’t have to think about fitting exercise and portion control into your life because it will already be routine. On that note, you will need to add new exercises to your routine to keep your body losing weight. This is where those 10 or 15 minutes of extra exercises will help. Now you can add those extra ten minutes climbing the stairs or walking around the mall. But you must keep up the thirty minute block. Add weights, add some new moves and intensify the exercises you already do. If you walk thirty minutes, add a few minutes of running into, gradually adding more time as you progress. Your body becomes used to physical activity and will reach a plateau. So make sure you to kick it up a notch about every two or three weeks.
As you’re changing your habits, your first impulse might be to check the scale every day to see how you’re doing. Ignore this impulse. For the first two weeks don’t even bother looking at the scale. You probably won’t have lost anything at this point and it’s discouraging. As I’ve said, it takes time for your body to adjust and it begins on a small scale. Typically you will lose about a pound a week if you’re practicing portion control and exercise. But this is by no means a guarantee. Some weeks we won’t lose anything. Only check the scale once a week or better yet, once every two weeks. This way you won’t get discouraged when you step on the scale and see your same weight every day. This is self-defeating. Remember, our goals are to become healthy. This takes time and effort. It took me about a year to lose seventeen pounds. Although that sounds disappointing (we all want to lose weight right now!) you can use that to motivate yourself even more. Just make sure that what you’re doing is something you can keep doing for the rest of your life. Don’t try those diets that drive you crazy or overdo the exercise. Go at a pace you feel comfortable with, but also push yourself past that comfort limit a little bit every time. Talk to your doctor or fitness counselor for correct exercises. They can tell you how to prevent injury and get the maximum out of your workouts.
Real weight loss takes time. As you’re going through this journey, remember to keep your spirit alive. You are beautiful for who you are, not what you weigh. Each of us has a unique gift we have for the world. Our body houses our soul and both are gifts given to us. Take care of yourself so you’re your soul can continue its journey through this life. None of us want our lives to be cut short because we ignored our health. Take control now while we still can. Let your spirit shine! Onward and Upward!