Reaching Healthy Weight-Loss Goals
by Jeanne Rhodes
In January every year, most Americans resolve to lose weight - the quicker the better. The method for this weight loss is usually a restrictive diet of some kind. Each year by March 1, 99 percent of these resolutions have been broken.
Motivation is hard to come by and is, at best, a short term solution for a long term problem. Add to that our general lack of understanding about the necessity of exercise and healthful eating habits and it’s no wonder we are so frustrated and confused.
Many people become discouraged in starting an exercise plan by focusing entirely on weight loss. Focusing on “getting rid of fat” rather than “becoming healthier” sends a message that we are not acceptable as we are. When we view exercise as punishment for overindulging, why are we surprised when our “punishment” makes us feel resentful and resistant?
OK, so you know healthful eating habits. Here’s how to make changes that will last beyond the first of March:
First, don’t punish yourself if you have overindulged over the holidays. Some of the weight gain will be fluid. Whatever is not fluid will be gone in a few weeks with moderate exercise and healthier eating.
There is no magic pill, drink or piece of equipment. The diet industry makes billions during this time of year knowing that 99 percent of all diets fail. Steer clear of any diet based on calorie restriction or elimination of any food group. Not only will the diet fail, but, your health will be impaired each time. Making small lifestyle changes in a healthful way is the only proven method to lasting weight loss.
How to make changes:
Make one choice from each of the following three to begin. Continue on and add one more choice from #Two and #Three every two weeks. Make these your goals on a weekly basis.
One: Emotional and spiritual health. Find time to relax for at least 10 minutes every day in a quiet place. Stress reduction plays a major role in weight loss and disease prevention. Increase to 15-20 minutes gradually.
Two: Eating habits. Resolve to make changes in your eating habits:
1. Begin eating a healthful breakfast, even if you don’t feel hungry. Breakfast should include some protein, such as egg whites, cheese, lean meat or yogurt with some whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole grain breads, pancakes or cereals.
A balanced breakfast like this will keep your blood sugar levels constant, eliminating 10 a.m. sugar cravings.
2. Add fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lots of water to your diet. Fruits and vegetables should be eaten whole, and grains should be eaten as close to natural as possible.
3. Have healthy snacks between each meal and gradually increase your water intake to reach 64 ounces daily.
4. Eat a larger lunch and a smaller, lighter dinner. As your body prepares for rest, metabolism is slower in the evening. If you have eaten well during the day, you will not want a large evening meal.
5. Allow one day every week to indulge yourself in a small portion of your favorite food. Enjoy every bite. In a healthful week of food intake, one day will not make a difference.
Three: Exercise regularly and moderately and in a way that is convenient for you.
1. Take several short walks on morning and afternoon breaks each day.
2. Exercise with a friend. It helps both of you to stay motivated.
3. If you are already exercising, vary your exercise. Your body adapts to an exercise plan in eight to 12 weeks and will continue to improve only if you add small changes in intensity, duration or frequency.
4. Join a group program of exercise in a form that interests you.
5. Get up early to walk once a week and watch the sun rise.
Making changes in your life is difficult. But a poor quality of life will be the alternative. Think of these changes as necessary to enable you to live the quality of life you so deserve!
Jeanne Rhodes, B.A.,M.A., is a Nutritionist, Lifestyle Strategist, Author, and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.