How many times have you gone on a diet only to gain the weight right back when it’s over? Dieting almost always leads to some weight loss, but it doesn’t always last. In the end, the hunger pains, deprivation, hard work and possibly a lot of money were all for nothing. Diet and exercise are the best ways to lose weight, but if you’re not willing to make lasting lifestyle changes, the weight loss will only be temporary.
For those looking to lose weight and who are tired of fad diets, try making a few of these changes to your lifestyle. You may not lose as fast, but what you do lose will be gone for good.
Change one – be mindful.
Pay attention to your body. It’ll tell you when you’re full and when you’re hungry. Eat slowly and savour each bite. Rushing through meals, eating in front of the television, or letting your eyes decide if you’re hungry all lead to overeating. The moment you feel full, clear the table and put the food away so you’re not tempted to reach for another serving. If it helps, set a timer for 20 minutes. Then slowly eat for that long but no longer.
Change two – get more sleep.
In general, if you sleep less than seven hours at night you’ll be hungrier the next day. Sleep is regenerative to your body and helps to regulate your metabolism. In addition, when you sleep you can’t eat more calories. Fewer hours in your day means less time spent eating.
Change three – switch dishes.
Chances are, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’re eating more than you should. A simple way to eat proper portions is to use a smaller plate. Fill a salad plate rather than a dinner plate and you’ll easily skim 100–200 calories a day from your diet.
You can also drink fewer calories by replacing your short, fat tumbler with a tall, skinny glass when you’re drinking juice, soda or alcohol. Your eyes play tricks and you think a shorter glass means less volume, but it’s not always the case.
Change four – eat at home.
When you’re in control of the ingredients in your food, it’s much easier to eat healthy. Make a repertoire of simple, quick, low-calorie recipes and keep the ingredients on hand so you’re not tempted to grab fast food.
On the special occasions you do eat out, avoid buffet restaurants, split an entre with a friend, or place half of your food in a to-go box before your meal. Eat less by ordering off the kids’ menu or eating an appetizer for your main dish.
Change five – brush or chew.
Cut back on snacking by brushing your teeth after each meal. With clean, minty teeth you’ll be less likely to give in to snack foods. And chew gum between meals to keep your mouth busy – especially during those times when mindless eating is a temptation (at a party, browsing the Internet, or watching TV).
Change six – move more.
Add physical activity to your daily routine to burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight. So, get off the couch or up from your desk at regular intervals and move around. Take a walk on your lunch break, choose the stairs rather than the elevator, pace the floor while you’re talking on the phone, or work in the yard. Wear a pedometer for extra motivation to get your 10,000 steps a day. Small changes can make a big difference in your weight-loss efforts.
Health is your goal. To get there, you’ve got to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Include a source of fiber and protein at each meal and snack to provide lasting energy that fills you up.
When possible, switch to low-fat or light versions of your foods to save on calories. Combining these foods with other ingredients, you’ll never know the difference. This goes for mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, milk, and salad dressing.
Studies show people eat fewer calories when they eat slowly. How slow should you go? Consider this – it takes your brain 20 minutes to signal fullness. So if you’re eating too fast, you find out you’re full 20 minutes too late. So slow down and enjoy each bite.
Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.