Losing weight is hard and keeping it off is even more challenging. It is essential to have a positive attitude and commitment if you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle and keep the weight off permanently . There are countless diet books and websites that claim to know the key to keeping weight off. The truth is that there is no one method that works for everyone – a diet that works for your friend may not work for you. Our bodies respond differently to different types of food thanks to our genetics and other factors. The best method to keep weight off is to combine a regular exercise routine with a healthy diet. Finding the right balance of diet and exercise for you will require patience, commitment and experimentation. Here are some tips to help keep weight off permanently.
- Move your body: staying physically active has more benefits than just burning calories. It increases your metabolism and improves outlook on life. Anything is better than doing nothing. Try going for a walk, doing a stretch, taking the dog outside. Do activities that you actually enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. Take up a dance class, yoga, cycling, hiking, or swimming.
- Control emotional eating: we all get stressed out sometimes, and we can turn to food for comfort. If you’re eating when stressed, find healthier alternatives such as taking a hot bath or meditating. If low energy triggers eating, take a quick walk, listen to upbeat music, or pause for a short nap. If you’re eating out of boredom or loneliness, then you may want to call up a friend or even going to the library…just head out to anywhere where there are people.
- Stay motivated: find your cheerleaders. Social support is important for staying motivated. Turn to your friends, family, or a support group to get positive reinforcement. Use tools to monitor your progress. These may include journals or smartphone apps that let you keep track of the food you eat, the calories you burn, and the weight you lose.
- Cut down on sugar and refined carbs: most people consume much more sugar and carbs than what is healthy. Sugar can be hidden in unexpected foods: bread, canned soups, pasta sauce, margarine, and “low fat” or “no fat” foods. These empty calories add up! Instead, use frozen or fresh ingredients instead of canned foods. Cut out soft drinks (soda, energy drinks, shakes) and opt for carbonated water. One can of soda has 10-12 teaspoons of added sugar, alone!
- Eat vegetables raw or steamed instead of fried or breaded. Dress them with herbs and spices or olive oil.
- Add fruit (raspberries, blueberries, sliced banana) to low sugar cereal. This is a great alternative to refined sugars and has more fiber too.
- Snack on carrots or celery with hummus.
- Start your meal with a soup or salad to help you fill in on healthy calories.
Things to avoid in order to keep the weight off:
- Permanently banning a food: we all have our favorite junk foods or our favorite mouth-watering, but unhealthy meals. Instead of banning these forever, allow yourself to consume them in moderation and in smaller quantities.
- Cutting down on sleep time – regularly: getting adequate sleep every night will help prevent you from consuming unhealthy snacks.
- Crash dieting: studies show that crash dieting can slow your metabolism and most people gain the weight back eventually. If you’re getting dizzy from hunger, reconsider the diet.
- Skipping meals: it seems like a quick solution – cut down on calories consumed by skipping breakfast, lunch, or dinner. However, depriving your body of food will throw your hunger and satiety hormones out of whack and can cause over-eating later. If you know you have a busy day coming up, try planning your meals ahead of time and packing extra healthy snacks.
- Eating fat-free foods: fat is a necessary part of our diet, not the culprit. Picking fat-free alternatives may lead to cravings and overeating.
Adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise can seem daunting. But with a plan, motivation, and support from friends and family it is possible. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your body also needs time to adjust to small and gradual changes. The more you incorporate healthy eating habits into your lifestyle permanently, the more likely you will keep the weight off for good!