Losing Weight the Healthy Way: Top Ten Tips
Losing weight is a common topic of conversation these days, which is not surprising when you consider the problem of obesity in modern societies. Having said that, many people consider being overweight to be simply an issue of appearance. Without minimizing the importance of our appearance, we need to realize that being overweight can have a major impact on our physical health and well-being. Losing weight can make us feel better about the way we look, but it can achieve far more than that. It can improve our health, increase our energy levels, give us a better quality of life, improve our self-esteem, and help us to live longer.
Once someone has decided to lose weight, they often search around for a quick diet plan to help them to slim. Whilst the desire to act decisively is highly commendable, the methods adopted are often unsuitable for attaining and maintaining long-term weight-loss. Enthusiastic slimmers often employ a quick-fix approach to diet. Sadly, the outcome of such strategies is that, within a short space of time, their victims can be trapped in a vicious cycle, whereby they lose weight quickly only to put it all on again. This yo-yo effect offers no long-term benefits and is not good for your metabolism.
If you want to lose weight, it is far better to follow a long-term plan. Wait until you can really commit yourself to a sensible approach. The following ten tips will give you a framework for losing weight the healthy way.
1. Adopt a Policy of Conscious Eating
Conscious eating is about awareness of how food affects our body, mind, emotions, identity and general sense of well-being. Our food choices have an impact on our lifestyle and on who we are. To eat in a healthy way we actually need to have a better understanding of ourselves. Take a bit of time to do some proper research into the right kind of diet to follow, one that has been approved by the government or a recognized authority of some kind. You should choose a balanced diet that suits you at this point in time, not some idealistic dream diet. Follow your chosen approach in a conscious, sensible way.
2. Keep a Diet Diary
One good way of becoming more conscious about your food intake is by keeping a diary of everything you eat and drink, especially if you tend to nibble during the day. This diary will provide a permanent record of where you are going right and where you are going wrong. If, at the end of a week or two, you find that you have not lost any weight you should be able to check the diary and decide where to take action.
3. Set realistic targets
When someone decides to lose weight they are often anxious to do it as soon as possible. This leads to unrealistic expectations which are counter-productive. The average man needs about 2,500 calories a day and the average woman needs about 2,000 calories. For gradual weight loss these averages can be safely reduced by about 500 calories. Therefore, if you reduce your calorie intake to 2,000 and 1,500, according to gender, you will lose approximately 0.5kg per week and you should be able to sustain this, even if you have an active job.
4. Make Small Changes to Your Diet
Steady weight loss is far better than the rapid weight loss promised by fad diets. You will never learn how to eat sensibly or overcome bad habits with such diets. Making smaller changes enables you to adapt your eating patterns and lifestyle gradually. This can be far more effective in the long-term. To put this in context, if you cut out one digestive biscuit (which is about 70 calories) a day then you will lose about 3kg in weight over a year, provided you do not replace it with something else that has a similar calorie content.
5. Eat Foods that Satisfy Your Hunger
Satiety is the sense of being full or satisfied. Some foods make you feel more full, whilst others leave you with a feeling of still being hungry. Research by Dr. Susanne Holt at the University of Sydney has demonstrated, for example, that white bread satisfies your hunger twice as much as croissants. Boiled potatoes are apparently three times more satisfying. Wholemeal bread is twice as satisfying as white bread. Apples, porridge and brown pasta are good examples of foods with a high satiety rating.
6. Restrict Your Use of Fats and Oils in Cooking or Salads
It is important to realize that there is more to losing weight than just choosing the right kind of foods. What you actually do with these foods has a major bearing on the overall calorific value. Try to avoid using too much fat or oil in cooking. Cutting out one tablespoon of oil saves you about 140 calories. Think of the difference it will make if you do this on a regular basis. Similarly, you may think that a salad will give you a low-calorie meal. However, using oil-based salad dressings will add a large amount of calories.
7. Limit Your Intake of High-Fat Foods
It is a good idea to limit the number of high-fat foods you eat. Many of these are obvious, such as cream, pastries, and pies. Others are perhaps less obvious, such as cheese, nuts, and crisps. You do not need to avoid these foods altogether, but high-fat foods will generally slow down your weight reduction program.
8. Limit Your Intake of High-Sugar Foods
The same principle applies to high-sugar foods, such as sweets, chocolate, and full-sugar fizzy drinks. Most people know that high-sugar foods are high in calories, but unfortunately for us they are often the most tempting foods too. If you really do need something like a chocolate-fix, it is best to use it as a reward for progress every once in a while. Watch out for things like smoothies too, since they contain a lot of natural fruit sugar and can significantly increase your calorie intake.
9. Do Not Get Discouraged
If you overindulge once or twice, it is vitally important not to get discouraged. Anyone can have a bad day when they are desperate for a favourite food that they crave. It is difficult enough to follow a strict diet without beating yourself up for a bout of gluttony. Simply write that incident off and start again, taking one step at a time.
10. Introduce an Exercise Plan
Research has shown that diets are far more effective in conjunction with regular exercise. This could mean going to the gym or swimming three times a week. For many people a brisk daily half-hour walk, or doing gardening or housework, can be as beneficial as anything else. The important thing is to find a form of exercise that works for you and fits into your lifestyle. Exercise will also make you feel better about yourself because it releases feel-good hormones.
If you want to lose weight, make sure you do it the healthy way. That means gradual weight-loss over the long-term, following a balanced diet and exercise routine. The more aware you are of what you eat, the more likely you are to choose the right foods and avoid the wrong foods. This is your route to a new sense of health and well-being, as well as a more appropriate lifestyle.
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