How many times do you see unrealistic articles flying around the internet that guarantee weight loss in just 21 days, or a detox to magically melt away cellulite? The fact of the matter is: there is no magic pill for weight loss. What does exist is evidence-based proof of strategies that allow you to adopt a sustainable and effective approach to lose weight for the long-term.
1. Fuel Your Machine (that’s you!!)
Every time you take a bite of food, ask yourself, will this add value to your body? Eat foods that will add nutrient value. For example, choose whole foods rather than highly processed foods. This will also allow you to eat more, not less. Nutrient-rich foods-let’s use vegetables for instance-will provide you with so many benefits and will allow you to eat huge volumes compared to eating a bag of chips. Both are carbohydrates, but from a nutritional standpoint, these foods are so very different. So ask yourself before each meal, does this food fit in with my nutritional goals, values, and culture?
2. Cueing into Body Signals
Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for the brain to send a message to your gut that you’re full? Next time you sit down to eat, try this strategy: eat slowly and stop eating when you are 80% full. You will be surprised that you will feel satiated without overeating. This really works, try it!
3. Treat Yourself to Treats
Do not feel guilty if you enjoy a treat! The fact is: if you indulge too often, you will not meet your nutritional goals (see number 1) so plan to treat yourself to “treats.” It’s quite simple. Think of the perfect treat for yourself, and set time aside to really enjoy it, making it an act of self-indulgence and wholehearted enjoyment. After all, isn’t that what treats are all about? Then, move on, and get back on track!
4. Pick Protein
Typically if you look at most people’s plates, you will find that protein is under-consumed, especially amongst women. There are so many benefits to eating protein; including it as an important nutrient in your diet is a must! One of the main benefits is that it will keep you satiated longer than a carbohydrate. Eating protein will prevent that midday low that you experience when your blood sugar drops because it helps to regulate your blood sugar. Try adding protein to every single meal you eat it should make up approx. 30% of the meal or for a visual aid, the equivalent of a fist size portion for women.
5. Good Stress, Bad Stress
We experience stress in many forms including mental, emotional, and physical challenges. Whether you realize it or not, good and bad stress both have a profound effect on your body. “Good stress” helps to keep us alert, serves as a positive influence, and motivates us to give our all. We can really thrive with the right amount of good stress to show us what we’re made of. On the other hand, living with “bad stress” can be very detrimental to our health. Producing high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) can affect our quality of sleep and can lead to weight gain. Allow yourself to feel good stress by accepting a new challenge, an intense workout, or doing something thrilling. Try to incorporate relaxing activities to prevent bad stress from taking over. It’s important to understand your limits for good and bad stress. Be good to yourself, and realize your capabilities and tolerances.
6. Celebrate Your Strengths
How many times have you looked in the mirror and focused on your flaws, rather than your strengths? It is all too easy to be negative about yourself, so next time you look in the mirror, find something you LOVE about yourself. It’s empowering to change your perspective when you look at your positive traits. Negative talk can be contagious, so return these compliments to a friend too.
7. Plan for the Unexpected
You can have all the willpower in the world, but the key to success will come with successful strategies. When the unexpected occurs, be ready with a plan that will help you cope with the situation and move forward. An example of this might be snacking. Plan ahead of time, go shopping, and make sure you have all your healthy favorites at hand, so you don’t go reaching for the chocolate bars. Remember that your chocolate bars can be planned for your treats! Planning for the unexpected will help you become more resilient, and will make you less likely to ditch your plan.
8. Catch Some Zzzzz’s
Part of a successful weight loss journey must include sleep, so your body can recover and rebuild. Ideally, you should be sleeping for 6-8 hours each night. Lack of sleep will increase your cortisol levels (stress), and decrease your growth hormone, which helps your metabolism burn fat. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat 56% than those who were sleep deprived.
9. Surround Yourself with Love
People are creatures of habit, so when you start something that is a change to your norm, like adopting a new healthy lifestyle, some people are going to critcize your choices. It’s human nature, but this can be destructive to your journey, and you need to know how to cope with these situations. Try to remember the acronym- ‘I AM’ which will remind you that you are entitled to make your own choices.
It will probably come as no surprise to learn that these people are secretly admiring you, and once you succeed, they will end up following your example to make positive lifestyle changes.
A wonderful response is, ‘that certainly is one point of view’. This response shows respect for the other’s opinion, you haven’t proved them wrong, it shows an alternative view exists, and it also makes it clear that you don’t share their views.
Move on. You can change the topic of conversation, distance yourself, and end the relationship. If evolving into a fit and healthy person disrupts your relationship and undermines your achievements, then you may need to find a new and healthier one.
Hopefully these strategies will help you weed out any negative energy in your life. Use the naysayers of negativity to strengthen your commitment.
10. Ditch the Scale
What if I told you that you could drop 3 dress sizes, but your weight wouldn’t change by much? Could you shift your focus away from the scales? Once you start to eat nutritious foods and move your body, I guarantee that a more confident YOU will step out of that baggy t-shirt.
Now you have all the tools to get started on your health and wellness journey!
Amanda Thebe is the creator of Fit n’ Chips, a company created to promote fitness and life balance for people of every age and fitness level. She is a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach with over 20 years experience in the industry based in Toronto.