It is a new year. 2013. What will you do this year for yourself?
What will be your goals? How about working out more and eating well? How a out losing some weight?
How do you make those permanent changes? Six strategies for weight-loss success.
1. Make a commitment
Permanent weight loss takes time and effort — and a lifelong commitment. Make sure that you’re ready to make permanent changes and that you do so for the right reasons.
To stay committed to your weight loss, you need to be focused. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to change your habits. So as you’re planning new weight-loss-related lifestyle changes, make a plan to address other stresses in your life and don’t allow them to interfere in your personal needs.
2. Find your inner motivation
No one else can make you lose weight. You must undertake diet and exercise changes to please yourself. What’s going to give you the drive to stick to your weight-loss plan? Make a list of what’s important to you to help stay motivated and focused.
While you have to take responsibility for your own behavior for successful weight loss, it helps to have support — of the right kind. Pick people to support you who will encourage you in positive ways, without shame, embarrassment or sabotage. Ideally, find people who will listen to your concerns and feelings, spend time exercising with you or creating healthy menus, and who will share the priority you’ve placed on developing a healthier lifestyle. For addictive issues, comsider joining Overeater’s Anonymous. There are meetings everywhere and they are free. Your support group can also offer accountability, which can be a strong motivation to stick to your weight-loss goals. If you prefer to keep your weight-loss plans private, be accountable to yourself by having regular weigh-ins and recording your diet and exercise progress in a journal.
3. Set realistic goals
It may seem obvious to set realistic weight-loss goals. But do you really know what’s realistic? Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds per week, although initially you might lose weight more quickly than that if you make significant changes — just be sure the changes are health supporting. To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular exercise.
It isn’t essential that you have an outcome goal, but you should set process goals because changing your processes — your habits — is a key to weight loss. Also make sure that your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited. An example of a SMART goal is aiming to walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for the next three months, and logging your results.
Weight loss: 6 strategies for success
4. Enjoy healthier foods
Adopting a new eating style that promotes weight loss must include lowering your total calorie intake. But decreasing calories need not mean giving up taste, satisfaction or even ease of meal preparation. One way you can lower your calorie intake is by eating more plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without giving up taste or nutrition.
In particular, get your weight loss started by eating a healthy breakfast every day; eating at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits daily; and using healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oils and nut butters. In addition, cut back on sugar, choose low-fat dairy products and keep meat consumption to a 3-ounce portion (about the size of a deck of cards).
5. Get active, stay active
The key to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.5 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound. So if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’d lose about 1 pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).
While you can lose weight without exercise, exercise plus calorie restriction can help give you the weight-loss edge. Exercise can help burn off the excess calories you can’t cut through diet alone. Exercise also offers numerous health benefits, including boosting your mood, strengthening your cardiovascular system and reducing your blood pressure. Exercise can also help in maintaining weight loss. Studies show that people who maintain their weight loss over the long term get regular physical activity.
6. Change your perspective
It’s not enough to eat healthy foods and exercise for only a few weeks or even months if you want long-term, successful weight loss. These habits must become a way of life. Lifestyle changes start with taking an honest look at your eating patterns and daily routine. After assessing your personal challenges to weight loss, try working out a strategy to gradually change habits and attitudes that have sabotaged your past efforts. And you have to move beyond simply recognizing your challenges — you have to plan for how you’ll deal with them if you’re going to succeed in losing weight once and for all.
You may have an occasional setback. But instead of giving up entirely after a setback, simply start fresh the next day. Remember that you’re planning to change your life. It won’t happen all at once. Stick to your healthy lifestyle and the results will be worth it.