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Becoming healthy and rethinking long-established patterns of eating and behaving is a learnable skill.
Complementary approaches to health stress the importance of diet and exercise. Diet improves overall health regardless of the health issue. Focusing on whole foods such as grains and fresh fruits and vegetables while minimizing processed foods, establishing and maintaining adequate hydration, and being aware of potential adverse reactions to food and food additives contributes to wellness. There is no magic potion involved to instantly make you slim and fit, only a little bit of learning and practice.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the accepted measure for assessing weight most accurately. The normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. A BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 equates with being overweight; 30.0 to 34.9 with obesity; and 35.0 and over with being extremely obese. As body fat increases and lean body mass decreases, the risk for cardiovascular disease increases. Waist/Hip Ratio is another helpful measure for assessing health status related to weight. This ratio is calculated by dividing the waist measurement in inches by the hip measurement in inches. For example, the optimal ratio should be 0.80 or under for women.
Please remember that your goal is not to get pencil thin or to look like someone else. Your goal should be to take your body and make it as healthy, strong, flexible and well-proportioned as you can. Thin or plump, young or old, you will be more beautiful, have a prouder carriage, healthier glow and a supple flow of movement which says that you are comfortable and confident about your physical self.
The fastest, healthiest, and most effective, interesting and rewarding way to lose weight is by combining 300 minutes of cardio exercise a week with a healthful diet. The key is to find the balance between the calories you take in and the ones you burn up. The best results come when you simultaneously cut down on caloric intake and increase the calories you burn up through exercise.
Some of what you'll learn is basic common sense, but hopefully you'll gain some insight into how you can change your bad eating habits into good eating habits so you can lose weight and keep it off.
Let's get one thing clear before I go any further. I'm not going to coddle you. But I'm also not going to make promises I can't keep. In this guide I'm going to give you straight talk about what it takes to rapidly lose weight and get fit in a healthy way. I'm going to show you exactly what you need to do, step-by-step, so you can reach your weight loss goal and keep that weight off for the long term.
Take before and after pictures. It's easy to get discouraged with your progress if you forget how far you've come. Pictures will tell your story.
Set realistic goals for yourself. If you have a lot of weight to lose, don't expect to reach your goal in a few weeks. You'll only get discouraged and quit when you don't succeed. Two pounds of weight loss per week is a healthy pace and is achievable.
Body weight is controlled by the number of calories you eat every day and the number of calories you burn.
The bottom line is this. If you are going to lose weight and stay fit, you have to think long term lifestyle changes. You can't eat a banana or a bowl of cabbage soup for three days and think you've succeeded in your weight loss goal. You haven't. You've only developed a nasty habit of Yo-Yo dieting.
I know that's probably not what you wanted to hear. Most people want instant gratification when they make that all important decision to get fit and lose weight. And while I will show you that can actually jump start your metabolism so you can lose weight faster, it's not instantaneous and it doesn't come without hard work and dedication.
...Obesity runs in my family
Well, no better time than now to make it stop! Granted, obesity does run in some families, but that doesn't mean you have to sit back and accept your overweight as a kind of family curse. More than likely it's simply the result of careless or naive eating habits and far too little physical activity - lazy habits passed on from generation to generation. Isn't about time you refused to accept your legacy?
...I love food too much to starve myself
Do you think that makes you unique? I positively adore food! And I never, but never, starve myself. So I'm afraid you'll have to find another excuse to hide behind - this one's far too feeble.
...Dieting would make me nervous, irritable
Sheer nonsense! It's just the other way around. Diet properly and you'll not only look better, but you'll eat better than you probably have in years. And as those pounds melt away, you'll positively bubble with happiness!
...My husband likes me this way
He does? In that case, he's either being overly kind, or he's overweight himself, or he's simply telling a big fat lie! Look at your wedding picture, and then look in a full-length mirror. Be honest. Do you really prefer you overweight? Of course you don't! (And neither does he.) So let's bring back the girl he married.
Now, if overweight isn't your problem, then use the recommended resources to learn how to maintain your ideal weight. Let it show you how to add not as much as a single pound though you add five, ten, twenty, even thirty candles to your birthday cake. The fatalistic (lazy) attitude that middle-aged spread is an inevitable companion to middle age was long ago disproved by some of the world's most famous women who have absolutely refused to surrender their slim figures and youthful vitality.
Why Most "Diets" Fail
If you're the one who is standing on the springboard of a new diet program, seeing a statement like 'most diets fail' can be deflating. It doesn't motivate many people to even try to lose weight because a vast majority of those who diet and lose even a little weight will eventually put all that weight (and many times more) back on as soon as they stop dieting.
Therin lies the problem. Diets are doomed to fail right from the start because most people view diets as a short term solution, something they can follow for a set period of time to get the desired results and then just stop. Sure, anyone can be motivated to follow a diet plan for a few weeks or even a few months. But unless it's a diet plan they can follow for life, they're doomed to fail.
It doesn't really matter if you believe it or not. But ask yourself this. Do you want to be in the percentage that fail? You wouldn't be reading this article if you did.
If you want to lose weight and keep that weight off, you need to stop thinking of a diet as a temporary fix. Everyone follows some form of a diet whether they know it or not. Unfortunately, most people follow an "unhealthy" diet which leads to weight gain, high blood sugar, and for some, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Weight gain is the product of not paying attention to what you put in your body, how often you do it and when. It's a bad habit to get into, even if you've never struggled with your weight. Bad eating habits don't always just promote weight gain. They also produce long term health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, constipation, fatty liver, heart disease and more.
You may be feeling great because you've lost a few pounds. Well, good for you. It's always good to celebrate your successes. But I guarantee you this - If you stop following that diet, and go back to your old eating habits, very soon you'll find yourself on the wrong side of that diet failure statistic.
When you crash diet, you put your metabolismon a roller coaster ride. Instead of speeding up and giving your body more energy, the lower calorie intake that normally goes with a crash diet puts your body in "famine" mode. Your body will hold onto whatever "energy" it has. That energy is stored in fat cells. That's why it takes more calories to lose weight than gain weight. Your body doesn't want to let go of what it knows it needs to survive.
You need to think long term, healthy eating that will help promote a healthy metabolism, not send it into shock. You also have to look at your lifestyle and learn how to incorporate fat burning exercises into your daily life so that you not only lose weight, but you maintain that weight loss for life.
Turn Your Metabolism into a Fat Burning Machine
We've already established that your old habits will have to go before you can finally reach your goal of losing weight. I know it's a struggle. You've lived your whole life cementing this way of life and now I'm asking you to kick it to the curb.These foods make it easier to shed those pounds by firing up your fat-burning furnace and controlling your appetite:
Chances are, the lifestyle that led you to gaining weight also gave you a sluggish metabolism. But that's okay, soon you will have a metabolism that works for you, not against you.
Make Sure You Eat Enough Healthy Foods
Yes, I know you're trying to lose weight and most people eat too much food, which leads to that weight gain. So it stands to reason that the first step in weight loss would be cutting back on your food intake. But not so fast. Cutting back too much can be as detrimental to weight loss as eating too much food. You don't want to starve your body.
When you don't eat enough food, your body will begin to take whatever it needs in the way of nutrients from other parts of your body in order to survive. That means taking nutrients from your bones, teeth, and vital organs, leaving your body depleted. Your metabolism will shut down in order to reserve energy and your body will only use enough energy to stay alive. So while you may think that by starving yourself you'll drop weight quicker, what you're actually doing is sabotaging your metabolism.
The operative word when thinking of food is "healthy". It's not enough to simply eat enough food to keep your metabolism running at optimal performance. You need foods that will give your body energy while allowing it to function with a minimal amount of effort.
It is true that there are no bad "foods" if you eat them in moderation and balance them with healthy foods. No one wants to feel deprived of having their favorite dessert or a fast food burger every so often. However, if you have that fast food burger every day of the week or eat that piece of triple chocolate cake before you go to bed every evening without giving a thought to how your body will react to it, you've established a bad eating habit.
The trick is to balance the amount of food you eat with whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, along with lean meats.
Eat Regularly, Without Skipping Meals
People who are busy and trying to lose weight very often fall into the habit of skipping meals in order to cut down on their overall calorie intake. They then eat more at a later meal thinking they can "catch up." The problem is that you may end up eating your daily requirement of calories by the end of the day, but the balance of when your body receives those calories is lopsided.
For instance, if you start the day out great by having a healthy breakfast of yogurt, eggs and toast but then skip lunch and eat a big dinner, you have thrown your body off balance by making the end of the day top heavy with calories. Most people are more sedentary at the end of the day and like to relax. That means that whatever it is you're eating is sitting in you while you relax rather than being burned off as you go about your day.
Furthermore, when you skip a meal, you're famished by the time you finally do get to eat later in the afternoon or early evening. You're body is only going to use what it needs at that particular moment and nothing more. By then end of the day, you've already burned most of the calories you are going to burn during the day. Your body ends up storing those excess calories in your body fat and keeps them in reserve for the next time you skip a meal.
This can become a vicious circle of you trying to desperately cut back calories by skipping meals and your body is desperately trying to hold on to whatever nourishment it can get. Not only will you fail in your quest to lose weight, you'll become frustrated because all your efforts aren't giving you the results you desire.
The best way to ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs to burn fat during the day when you're active and when your body needs it the most is to eat smaller partions more frequently. Instead of eating 3 big meals a day, eat 5 or 6 smaller meals.
Start your day with proteins and any carbohydrates you might want to have during the course of the day. Your body will burn those carbohydrates when you're most active. End the day with proteins and fresh vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. Avoid having lots of carbohydrates later in the day when you're winding down and not able to burn those carbohydrates off.
Eat Plenty Of "Good" Fat
The first thing people tend to think about cutting from their diets when they decide to lose weight is fat. It's true that most Americans eat way too much fat for their bodies to handle. That fat contributes not only to weight gain, but other health issues that are detrimental.
But not all fats are created equal. Think of a bicycle wheel. Too much heavy grease will gum up the wheel and prevent it from turning. On the flip side, no grease at all will keep the wheel from spinning properly as well. Herein lies the issue of good fat and bad fat in your diet. Not all fats are bad for you or will prevent you from losing weight. You just need to be able to identify which fats are good fats and which are fats you need to avoid.
There are two types of fats that are good for you: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can be found in foods like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, avocadoes, and olive oil. Not only are they good for weight loss, as an added health benefit they help to lower your bad LDL cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fats also help lower LDL cholesterol levels as well as aid in weight loss. Foods rich in polyunsaturated fat are salmon, cod, corn and sunflower oils, flaxseed and other fish oils. Foods that contain polyunsaturated fat also contain omega 3 fatty acids, which help aid the body in weight loss.
You want to avoid saturated fats such as foods fried in vegetable oil or prepackaged foods that add fat for flavoring. Whole dairy products also contain a high amount of saturated fat. But simply switching to low-fat yogurts, skim milk and low-fat cheeses will go a long way toward reducing your saturated fat intake.
You're probably thinking, "All that is well and good, but what can I eat?" We'll talk about foods that will not only aid you in weight loss, but will actually jump start your metabolism and turn it into a fat burning machine.
They say old habits die hard. That phrase was never more true than for adieter trying to change lifestyle habits. I say changing lifestyle habits instead of focusing on just the kind of food you eat and when you eat it because losing weight, getting fit, and staying that way is not a short term gig. It requires a whole change in the way you view your health and how to live your life. This may seem overwhelming when you think of it, but it's really not. You just need to know which steps to take and then take them. The simplest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new habit that is healthy.When you think of it that way, it doesn't feel like you're giving up something you like because you're filling that void with something else.
If you're one of those many people who love to feast on a bowl of popcorn while watching a midnight movie you need to seriously consider how that late-night snack is ruining your diet. Sure, popcorn has a high amount of fiber, something that is good when you're on a diet. It's not the actual food that is the problem, but the time of day. If you eat food late at night, any calories you consume will not be burned off. They'll be stored in your body as excess nutrition for your body to use later. Stored calories are held in fat cells.
Break this bad habit by replacing your sedentary lifestyle with exercise in the late afternoon or early evening. When you exercise, your body will continue to burn calories and fat for a few hours.
Another reason why exercising later in the day is good is because not everyone has the time during the morning before work or the day gets underway to do justice to a solid workout. Many times, when you miss a workout because of scheduling conflicts, you won't make up the time later on if you haven't planned for it.
Take this scenario. If you are a busy mom of two and need to get your kids off to school or to daycare before you head off to work, when is there time to get to the gym to workout? More times than not the workout gets bumped from the daily schedule and all the efforts at eating right and trying to lose weight are reduced significantly.
Get around this by scheduling your exercise at a time you know you won't have any conflicts that will interrupt you. If your spouse is home in the evening, schedule your workout time then. If you have little ones, wait for the kids to go to bed and then workout. One word of caution though. Don't exercise too late in the evening or it will prevent you from sleeping.
Pay Attention to What You Eat
This might seem like common sense. But if you take the time to write down everything you put in your mouth, you'll realize that you're actually taking a bite of food, whether it's a few M&Ms from a coworkers candy dish or a few bites of food while you're cutting a plate of food for your kids.
Everything you put in your mouth has calories. Most people make the mistake of only writing down the foods they eat during a planned meal. They may also write down a small snack. But they forget about the cream they put in their coffee, a spoonful of ice cream they snuck when serving dessert, a few crackers they popped in their mouth because they suddenly had a sugar craving.
Some people will find themselves disciplined enough to resist mindless eating. But if you're just starting out in your diet, or not sure how your willpower will hold out, the best thing you can do to kick this habit is to keep a small notebook tucked away in your pocket or in your purse. Every time you get the urge to bring food to your mouth, pull out that notebook and write down what you are about to eat. That one small move will snap you into the realization that you might be consuming calories that will negatively affect your diet.
There are a whole lot of reasons why people eat mindlessly. Sometimes it's because of depression. That depression can range from life changes or even frustration over your current health and happiness. For women, it could come at the time of the month when you're menstruating. Some women have strong cravings during that time and eat without even realizing it. Again, using the small notebook to break that habit will significantly improve your chances of staying on track and not consuming more calories than you want to in any given day.
Quit Making Excuses
You probably have a barrel full of excuses that you pull out every time you talk about why you haven't lost the weight you want to lose. It could be anything from a sluggish thyroid to faulty genetics to just not having enough time to think about weight loss.
I'm here to tell you to knock it off! The only way you will lose weight and keep it off is stop making excuses for why you're not succeeding. I'm not saying that any of those excuses aren't valid. Many are. In fact, having a sluggish thyroid or other genetic problem may be an additional barrier to how fast you can lose weight. But using that excuse as a crutch will only keep you from making any progress at all. People with "bad" genetics and even health problems do manage to lose weight when they put their mind to it. The thing that keeps them from losing weight is falling back on the reason it is so difficult for them.
Use symbols of physical activity to represent your new lifestyle. This takes your attention away from food and refocuses it on the new behaviors that will make you feel good. Put an apple, or a copy of diet books on your desk, put your walking shoes in a conspicuous place rather than in your closet. Buy some books on walking, yoga, or other physical activities and place them on tables in different rooms. Each time you lay your eyes on them, you can give yourself a quick pat on the back for all the changes you are making. A visible token of the new you in every room of the house will stimulate you to keep up the good work, keep your eating under control, and remind you to keep up the positive dialogue with yourself.
Deposit a certain sum of money to a savings account for the successful completion of your behavior change strategy each day. You will probably do better if you reward yourself for behavior rather than weight loss. This is a particularly good strategy to increase your activity behavior. If you deposit a dollar for every mile walked you will soon have enough to buy the new clothes you are going to need. Put another dollar in for each day you stick with your plan. You deserve a good new wardrobe.
Learn everything you possibly can about your "excuse" for not losing weight. For instance, if you have a sluggish thyroid, talk to your health care provider about being put on medication to regulate it, if needed. Learn what foods interfere with thyroid hormone production.
Allowing yourself to use excuses for why you are unable to lose weight will only be self-defeating. Why bother trying when you've already decided that you won't succeed? Empower yourself to change those excuses around and become proactive in your desire to lose weight.
You may not lose weight as fast as someone else who does not have the same issues you have. That's a fact of life. But that doesn't mean you won't lose weight. And I can guarantee that you won't lose any weight if you continue to use your excuses as a crutch.
If it were really that easy to lose weight then everyone would do it. We wouldn't be a society of overweight people.Weight loss takes dedication and a conscious effort to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. The only real way to lose weight safely, and continue to lose weight and keep it off for life, is a program that has steady progress.
Stop lying to yourself..."Me? Lie?"... Yes. It may not be intentional but most people underestimatethe amount of calories and fat they eat in any given day. They also stretch the truth a little as to how long they exercise. If you're supposed to exercise for 30 minutes and you only exercise for 20, you're not giving yourself the truth. Anyone would argue that 20 minutes of exercise is still better than zero minutes of exercise. But you will go further over the long haul and make more progress towards reaching your goal if you are honest about exactly what it is you are doing. This goes for portion sizes, too. When you are preparing food at home no one is policing the size of your portions. If you're eating something healthy like fresh garden greens and lean meats it may not make a difference. You might be able to have that extra piece of chicken to make you feel full. But there will come a time when you've reached your weight loss goal where you'll start introducing higher calorie foods occasionally. When that happens, every calorie will count or you will end up gaining weight back. It's best to keep it honest right from the beginning.
Foregoing Your Meal Plan for the Family's Wishes
Let's face it. Not everyone in your household will be on a diet and not everyone will want to eat the same foods you need to eat to lose weight. Does that mean they need to suffer or give up their favorite foods or snacks because you're trying to get yourself fit?
It's easy to cave to the pressure of family members who don't want or don't need to follow a strict diet. It's also tiring to have to make two different meals to satisfy different people.
Remember that no one is going to keep you on track but you. When there are differing menu choices for the family, make sure you incorporate your diet menu into the overall meal plan. For instance, if everyone else is having tacos for dinner, instead of using high calorie, high carbohydrate tortillas, make a taco salad for yourself. You'll get the fresh greens you need in high quantities but still be able to enjoy eating a special meal with your family.
Whenever possible try to look for ways to incorporate the types of food your family likes of the types of food you need to stay on your diet. You may even be able to convert them into enjoying some healthier foods with your example.
Male or female, if you are having trouble finding time to be physically active and feel that your work and family responsibilities are so great that nothing can be done to change the situation, do not give up yet.
Sit down in a full-family conference and inform everyone that you are all going to have to work together to make at least 45 minutes available to you to workout. Create a family calender. For every hour of the day, enter in what chores everyone in the family wants to do and needs to do for an entire week. Indicate how the needs will be met: who needs to do what, when, and with whom. You expect the collaboration of your family in making at least 45 minutes available to you... you, in turn, expect to collaborate with them in reaching their objectives.
We all have some since of fairness and justice. In families that care for each other, this kind of strategy always works. Get comfortable with your new freedom when it is offered. Give yourself a chance to succeed.
We're not perfect. Occasionally, you will find that you have cheated on your diet or skipped your exercise program and think you've blown it. Instead of getting right back on the wagon after you've fallen, you continue cheating and then decide to start back up eating right and exercising the next day.
While I applaud you for getting right back on that wagon and getting back into your weight loss and fitness program again, I need to caution you about the mindset of blowing it all the way. We're human and we make mistakes. But there are mistakes, and then there are disasters.
If you overindulge one evening or cheat on your diet, the best thing for you to do as soon as you realize your mistake is to stop right there and make yourself get right back on track. If you have a piece of chocolate cake and figure you've blown your calorie intake for the evening... so you have another piece of cake or worse, then you've not only added extra calories from the chocolate cake, but you have added even more calories that you'll have to work harder to get rid of when you do get back into the program.
Allow yourself to be human and don't beat yourself up if you do cheat on your diet or exercise program. But as soon as you recognize it, then make sure you stop and get right back on the program to prevent further damaging your momentum. It's not enough to say that you'll do an extra set of crunches or an additional 15 minutes of aerobics.
You want your body to be in balance, to lose fat and gain muscle in a slow and steady pace.
Remember, it takes two to three weeks to start a new habit, but it takes just one day to break it.