Obesity is now a national epidemic. We are consuming more processed, refined and sugary foods than ever before, and this is taking its toll – both on our health and our waistlines! At any given time almost a third of us are on some sort of “diet.” Billions of dollars are spent each year on various diet aids. Yet only around 5% of those who attempt to lose weight actually succeed and keep it off. But if you want to learn how to lose weight quickly and permanently, it’s actually not that difficult. You just need to understand and implement a few basic principles. In order to lose weight, all you really need to do is take in fewer calories than you expend (i.e. eat at a calorie deficit).
- Be determined to succeed. If you enter into your weight loss program in a half-hearted manner, you’ll be unlikely to stick to it for long. So it’s essential to make a firm decision and be absolutely determined to follow it through. Focus on your ‘why’. What is the reason you want to lose weight? Remind yourself of this every day. It takes effort to change habits, so stay focused on your goal and be determined!
- Eat less processed, refined and sugary foods. Foods such as pizzas, pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits, candy bars, puddings etc. all tend to be calorie dense, and they are also very easy to overeat. So they tend to pack on the weight – as well as causing a lot of disease in the body. They also cause the body to hold on to its fat stores. If you do eat packaged foods of any sort, always check the labels for their sugar and fat content. And beware of foods labeled ‘low fat’, as these are usually high in sugar!
- Eat more natural, whole foods. Meat, fish, and eggs are high in essential protein and are very satiating. Fruits and vegetables contain a wide range of nutrients, as well as a good amount of healthy fiber. Nuts, seeds and dairy are also healthy and nutritious, but should not be eaten in excess. Whole grains (brown rice, oats etc.) and potatoes provide a healthy source of complex carbohydrates, as well as additional fiber, but again should only be eaten in moderation. Base your diet on these foods and you will lose weight easily, whilst also greatly improving your health.
- Drink plenty of water. This may seem like a minor point, but it’s actually very important. In today’s polluted environment, your fat cells act as ‘store houses’ for toxins. When your fat is used up it releases these toxins, and they need to be flushed out of your body as quickly as possible. Otherwise you could experience side effects such as headaches, nausea or skin irritations. So make sure you keep your fluid intake high.
- Find physical activities you enjoy. You don’t have to pump iron at the gym or run marathons. Do whatever you enjoy, whether it’s taking long walks, gardening, or playing Frisbee. Taking the stairs to your office instead of the elevator can burn a lot of calories if you do it daily. So can walking, rather than driving, to a store that’s 10 minutes away. If you begin a new and are not accustomed to physical exercise, or if you have health problems, check with your doctor before starting.
- Manage your stress. “Many of us use food to cope when we feel anxious, unhappy, or bored,” says Mindy Hermann, RD, a nutritionist and writer. Instead of eating when you’re stressed, write in a journal or talk with friends, family, or a therapist. Exercise may also help.
- Cut down on soda and other sugary drinks. Soft drinks provide a lot of hidden calories without making you feel full. For every cup of soda you replace with water, you’ll reduce your fat by about 100 calories.
- Keep track of your progress. People who keep records of their achievements are more likely to succeed, according to Jane Kirby, RD, author of Dieting for Dummies. Take time to celebrate not just every pound you lose, but every healthy decision you make.
- Gradually switch from whole milk to skim. You won’t miss it, and you’ll consume a whopping 70 fewer calories per cup. By drinking skim milk, you’ll spare your 5 grams of (the kind your heart doesn’t like) per 8-ounce serving of whole milk.
- Ensure you exercise regularly.
Although what you eat is the most important factor, true long term healthy weight loss is impossible without exercise. Cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking or running, helps to burn off additional fat, whilst strength training will help you maintain (or even increase) your muscle mass while you are losing fat.