Realistic Weight Loss and Weight Management - Part 1
Weight loss and weight management are struggles for millions of Americans. We are inundated with images in print, commercials, billboards, emails and pop-up ads on the next latest and greatest weight loss miracle.
The simple fact is that there is no miracle. There is no magic bullet, magic pill, magic shake, magic whatever that will “melt” off pounds of fat and keep them off. First and foremost, the goal of weight loss should be about health. We are all aware of the dangers of being overweight – higher risk of poor heart health; higher risk of diabetes, cancer; and on and on. We need to realize and accept that people come in all shapes and body types. Not all of us are meant to be stick-thin.
Some of us are meant to have curves; some of us are meant to be more muscular. We need to work within our own unique frames to achieve a realistic healthy weight. Healthy weight loss and healthy weight management takes work – it takes a lifestyle change. A healthy, balanced diet, exercise and stress management are the keys to maintaining a healthy weight. Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean completely overhauling your diet in one day. For any diet change to be successful, it needs to be realistic. The ultimate positive impact comes only if you can commit to the changes.
It’s ok if you make changes to your diet gradually, over time. But before you should make any changes, you should know what you need to change. You need to know where to start. So many of us lead incredibly busy, stressful lives and some of us honestly don’t know what we put into our bodies in a single day. We’re in a hurry. We grab whatever we can and wolf it down. Jot down everything you eat and everything you drink for 4 or 5 days. Be honest with yourself. If you run to Starbucks three times in one day, write it down. Somewhere in those days, you will find something you can and should change.
I gave that Starbucks example because I’ve done that. I love me some Starbucks! My goal for the month of January is to not completely eliminate my grande vanilla latte ritual, but to reduce to once a week. That will save me (dare I say?) 1500 calories per week. 1500 calories!!! That’s an entire day’s worth of calories from one simple change! OK.
So you know where you can start, but where to go from there? There are many, many well-balanced diet guides out there, and I’m not here to endorse or recommend just one of them. But here’s what I will tell you:
- Stay away from fast food and processed foods as much as you can. Eliminate the junk! There is nothing nutritious about these types of foods and they don’t belong in anyone’s diet.
- Do not starve yourself. Eating 500 calories a day is not only incredibly unhealthy, it will likely lead to your body consuming its own muscle tissue, which will lead to WEIGHT GAIN in the end.
- Eat fresh fruits and veggies. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily diet is important for many reasons. They are nutrient-dense foods. This means that they pack a ton of nutrition in a very small calorie package. That 5 oz tub of spring mix in the store – that’s ONE SERVING! They are a good source of fiber – which helps keep you feeling full.
- Trade refined grains for whole grains. Whole grains offer more complete nutrition and added fiber. They also have a lower impact on blood sugar levels.
- Eat fat –the right fat. Don’t be fat phobic. Our bodies need fat. You just need to eat the right kind of fat, such as the omega-3 fats found in cold water fish and the type of saturated fats found in coconuts. I’m not saying you should start cooking in lard, but don’t avoid high-fat foods simply because they are high in fat.
Weight loss and weight management has been and always will be more about what you put into your body. You must use more calories during the day than what you put in. It will be easier for you to cut calories if your daily diet focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains – as these foods are nutrient-dense and low in calories. This allows you to eat a bigger portion of them without adding a tremendous amount to your overall daily calorie intake.