DosDo think long-term
If you're thinking about dieting, it's likely because you're searching for an effective solution to help
But restriction isn't sustainable.
Consider contestants on the popular show The Biggest Loser: With the help of calorie restriction and extreme exercise, contestants consistently lose hundreds of pounds in just a few months. The idea behind such extreme weight loss is that your weight will be easier to maintain and you'll feel much more motivated once you're nearer your goal weight. The truth is, extreme diets will alter your metabolism and make it nearly impossible for you to maintain your weight over time.
According to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, 65 percent of dieters don't maintain their weight once they've lost it.
If you're serious about changing, we recommend eliminating the word "diet" from your vocabulary immediately. Your lifestyle today should be sustainable for the rest of your life. Only then will you stop struggling with the ups and downs of weight loss.
Do incorporate exercise
No, we're not talking about hitting the gym six days a week here. Just like with food intake, setting extreme workout expectations for yourself can only lead to failure. An extreme workout regimen simply isn't sustainable for most people, particularly if you're not enjoying it.
That being said, exercise has a wide range of benefits that you should be reaping. Aside from the extra calories you'll burn each time you're on the move, exercising has been proven to improve mood and balance while decreasing the risks of chronic pain and injuries.
First, find something you like. Whether that's walking, swimming or bowling, do it regularly. Remember that just because you’ve committed to trying a new activity doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. If you find yourself having a hard time getting off the couch to enjoy your daily bike ride, perhaps bike riding just isn’t for you.
There is a wide range of exercises for you to explore, so don't give up too quickly. You might surprise yourself when you discover your new lifelong calling as a kite surfer.
Do cut yourself some slack
Your habits have been a part of you for many years, likely your entire lifetime. If your weight loss journey is rooted in a desire to undo every bad habit you've ever had, you'll probably feel pretty bad whenever you fail. But failing is part of the learning experience; learn to accept your failure and move on quickly.
Many people find it much easier to maintain healthy habits by focusing on the don't want to-aspects rather than the can't have-aspects of what they’re eating. Changing your perspective rather than forcing yourself into a new mindset about food will set you up for long-term success.
Don’t fall into the health food trap
This is a big one, because for decades, marketers in the food industry have been finding clever ways to mislead you about what's actually healthy. From low-fat crackers to diet ice cream, the resulting products have made it onto the shelves of nearly every grocery store around the globe.
Health foods aren't synonymous with healthy foods.
Healthy foods range from fruits, grains and natural fats to legumes, meats and vegetables. Health foods, on the other hand, are keen on pointing the finger at particular ingredients that might be the culprit of your love handles. Oftentimes, it’ll be fats, carbs and certain types of sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup that end up on the no-eat list.
The truth about health foods is that they aren’t ever healthy. Pasta made with colorful vegetables is still just pasta. Low-fat yoghurts contain an obscene amount of sugar to balance out the fat that's been removed. Diet meal replacements are oftentimes simply a mixture of artificial and highly-processed ingredients. Specialty low-carb breads tend to be so unfulfilling that you'll end up eating more just to feel like you’ve eaten something, and “raw” sugar is quite literally just sugar.
These food imposters are easily recognizable once you know what you're looking for, but they can be difficult to bypass when you're trying to make healthier choices for the first time. Clever marketing techniques prey on the consumer by using clever words like "natural" or "whole grain", and by wrapping up foods in packages that look healthful, clean and wholesome.
Your best bet for avoiding the health food trap is to purchase foods only from the perimeter of the grocery store. Avoid the isles containing crackers, cookies, canned goods, candies, sodas and read-to-make foods such as microwave dinners or pizzas.
Don’t have "cheat days"
We're not saying you can't ever have your favorite guilty meal again. But the whole idea of a "cheat
day" is guaranteed to set you up for failure. Not only do cheat days imply that you're depriving yourself of everything that makes you happy on all other days, it's also a sure-fire way to end up overeating and filled with remorse.
Your relationship with food will affect your weight loss journey every step of the way. Setting healthy and achievable boundaries for yourself will set you up for long-term success.
Don’t give the scale all of the power
One of the best feelings in the world is to step on the scale to find yourself five pounds lighter. Seeing that dial move to the left is a wonderful motivator, but what happens when you're bloated or retaining water or it's almost that time of the month? Weight fluctuations occur for all kinds of reasons, and they're completely normal. Although it may be tempting, don't give the scale all of the power.
Instead, measure your weight loss success by how well your pants fit. Dropping inches in your waist is a much more important and accurate indicator of how far you've come. The ideal waist size for women is 32 inches and 35 inches for men. Anything above this has been proven to increase your risk of chronic illness including heart disease and diabetes.
Your journey toward achieving a healthy weight should be long and steady.
Achieving and maintaining your goal weight will allow you to live longer without facing the debilitating diseases and injuries we commonly associate with aging.