Anyone who has ever wanted to lose weight typically pledges to diet-over and over again! If you are someone who has found a lifestyle that led to successful long-term weight management, Congratulations!
For anyone else who struggles to reach or maintain your goal weight, I can relate to your disappointments and challenges. If you are anything like I was in the past, you’ve probably adopted one or more fad diets; perhaps lost weight and then gained it back. In the past, my desire to lose weight was motivated by wanting to look better; not necessarily to be healthy.
Let’s face it, most fad and crash diets are not really satisfying and may be slowing down your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories). In both cases you are likely depriving your body of important nutrients.
As a teenager, I carried a healthy weight, but a few of my friends encouraged me to drink my meals as part of a liquid-protein fad. I remember becoming light headed one day and needing to sit down. I was smart enough to ditch that plan. I also took diet suppressants post-pregnancy and turned to the Atkins diet when I was told I was pre-diabetic. My success with all these “diets” was temporary and none of them provided my body with the nutrients it needed to function properly and aid in healthy weight loss.
Perspective on Weight Loss
Change is difficult, but it becomes even more challenging when someone associates a goal with having to give something up that he or she enjoys. Take the time now to think about what you may gain instead of lose by making different choices. Think of the positive things such what it means to make yourself a priority, finding new nutritious and delicious recipes to enjoy, the vision of more energy, and the enjoyment of buying new clothes for working out or to accommodate a changing body size. Changing your perspective is powerful. Your mind is a key motivator. If you think positive you are more likely to achieve positive results.
It took a diagnosis of poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes to change what motivated me. I became naturally concerned about my health and not how I looked. Instead of worrying about getting thin, I was worrying about how the foods I ate were affecting my body. I never counted calories. I focused on selecting healthier foods. Focusing on my weight and physical activity level came months later.
I lost an average of 5 pounds a month over two years. When I became closer to my weight loss goal, it was harder for me to lose my last few pounds. My health coach often reminded me of the following tips regarding plateaus in weight loss:
- Don’t eat the same foods all the time. Change it up!
- Don’t do the same exercises all the time. Change it up!
- Do treat yourself to larger portions on special occasions. Your body is no longer used to it, so it may actually speed up your metabolism to burn that excess energy. Change it up!
I was gifted a Wii Fit and enjoyed fun exercise routines outside of the gym to change it up! Running short sprints aided me to lose my last 20 pounds.
I am sensible about my choices, but I totally enjoy my holiday meals. I have teased my family stating that they are gaining weight when eating that large turkey dinner, while my body is burning unexpected energy (calories).
The next day, I return to my regular portion sizes and healthier food picks. I enjoy those special treats. It is a balanced and satisfying lifestyle. Healthy eating also does more than help you lose weight. Eating healthy can prevent chronic diseases, improve your skin, gums, heart, etc.
In the past, I believed healthier eating was about giving up the foods I loved. It is quite the opposite
- I still enjoy my favorite foods, like pizza and pasta, but I eat them in smaller portions because I have included more filling, tasty, and nutritious foods into my daily eating
- It is amazing how the word “diet” once meant to me the beginning of hunger and having to say no to people who offered me treats at parties. I now associate the word “diet” with balancing my intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy that my body needs to function properly
- I absolutely love searching for and choosing new recipes to try. I feel like a “high-end” eater delighting in quality foods; some that appear and taste a bit gourmet
- It is beyond a wonderful feeling to be eating foods I love every day; while feeling satisfied and experiencing the benefits of a healthy body
- I absolutely enjoy feeding my body what it needs to be strong and fit.
Portion Size Your Plate
This link will bring you to a printable portion size guide from Webmd.com that can help you with portion control. The food group portion size recommendations are consistent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s, Choose My Plate. This illustration also uses good comparisons for measuring portions. Remember, it is important to include all the food groups in your meal plans!
The Unexpected Gift
I continued to lose weight after achieving my healthy weight loss goal. My fitness routine had not changed so my calorie intake needed to increase! I had no desire to make drastic changes in my fitness program. Maintaining an active lifestyle is just as important as eating right. I needed to understand how many calories I should be consuming to maintain my weight and stop losing!!!
Weight Management Apps
My daughter introduced me to the MyFitnessPal app for my smart phone. The app tracks foods, beverages, and exercises and provides nutritional information on the foods entered with daily and weekly graphic reports.
To help consumers separate healthy, science-based tools from fads and misinformation, registered dietitians of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have reviewed and rated 13 of the most popular, free iPhone and Android apps for weight management: To read more click here: http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=6442467041
I used the MyFitnessPal app faithfully for one year post weight loss. When eating out, I searched the app for that restaurant’s foods and compared the calories of entrees. I made choices based on the types of foods I had already eaten that day. By using this app, I discovered that I was not getting the recommended values of certain vitamins and minerals. I searched the internet for foods containing those nutrients and incorporated more of them into my meals.
MyFitnessPal helped me determine that I had been eating on average 1,400 calories a day while losing weight. Based on my height, my post-weight loss calorie need is 1,600 for maintenance. It is important for you to know your calorie needs. If you eat too few calories, your body will slow down your metabolism because your body is trying to protect it from starvation, which is the same thing that occurs when you wait too long to eat between meals. Almost everything I had been told in the past about dieting was opposite of what I learned from health care professionals. I’m happy to be enjoying in between meal snacks!
If you are unable to determine your calorie needs, you may want to seek professional assistance. Factors usually considered to determine calorie needs for weight loss or maintenance are current weight, height, level of physical activity, age, etc.
So here is the math… if I eat 1,600 calories a day, but burn 400 calories that day through physical activity, my net calories are 1,200. I can eat 400 more calories that day or bank them for a special treat on another day. I actually consume about 2000 calories 3-4 days out of the week.
After one year of using MyFitnessPal I felt like a human encyclopedia because I could recall the calories of most foods and knew the best foods to select in restaurants I frequented. I no longer needed to track my food and exercise. I instinctively know about how much food I can consume based on what I’m eating that day.
The Art of Healthy Eating
Eating should be an enjoyable ritual that nourishes the body and the mind. An artist finds fun in selecting paint colors, delights in painting, and works carefully to create the picture he or she has in mind. Eating should be approached the same way. Think of your body as a work of art. Enjoy the processes of selecting healthy and colorful foods, preparing delicious meals, and creating a nourished body.
- Connect with the idea that you are choosing quality foods for yourself. Make stops at produce stands, and healthy and organic food stores
- Plan and design your meals. Search for tasty, healthy recipes, including those quick to prepare
- Treat yourself occasionally to small portions of your favorite treats or desserts
- Take pleasure in preparing and eating your meal knowing you are nourishing your body
- Be patient as you work toward creating a healthier body. Admire the outcome
Healthy Eating Tips
Prevention® provides 25 expert-backed tips for weight loss. This list summarizes the tips; however, visiting the site through via the link will provide you with the research behind the tip and how to integrate these activities into your lifestyle http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/25-best-weight-loss-tips-ever
- Never get hungry: it’s hard to hold off for healthy food when you are famished
- Be honest about your daily calorie allowance: know your calorie needs
- Eat right post workout: know how much you can eat based on the amount of energy (calories) burned during physical activities
- Use the red orange and green rule: add colorful fruits and veggies at meals
- Eat one less bite (per meal): save about 75 calories a day and 8 lbs. a year
- Be a heavy drinker (of water): keep hydrated and feel fuller
- Kick the salt habit: it makes you thirstier, heavier, and may make you hungrier
- Spice up your food: hot spices reduce feel-good endorphins
- Don’t think diet soda will help you lose weight: artificial sweeteners disrupt the body’s ability to regulate calorie intake
- Focus on nutrient balance instead of calorie counting: a combination of carbs, protein and fat delivers better energy and fat loss results
- Plate food away from where you are eating: Keep it out-of-sight and harder to reach for additional servings
- Keep a food record: track what you eat and drink, and how much to understand your pattern
- Start with soup: eat a low calorie veggie soup before your largest
- Take your time: it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you have eaten enough
- Outsmart your hunger hormone: it controls hunger and appetite so eat small balanced meals at every 3 hours; don’t neglect carbohydrates!
- Dine anytime: ditch the myth of not eating after dinner-it shuts down your metabolism and leads to overeating the next day
- Set a date with your kitchen: prep vegetables; pre-cook foods or food ingredients for easier meal preps during the week; eat out less
- Breathe away cravings: breathe deeply and consciously to oxygenate your brain and tissues, and help reduce stress hormones
- Eat before a party or event: a light snack will help moderate eating
- Be adventurous with chopsticks: eating takes concentration and time; savor and slow down
- Wear fitted clothing: ditch the elastic waistband
- Celebrate healthy talk: keep positive about weight management – positive words and an attitude
- Eat breakfast without fail: aim for minimum of 250 calories with a some protein
- Take 10 minutes to eat a treat: chew it slowly and savor the flavor
- Sleep away wait gain: turn in earlier-more sleep less weight
Sustaining Your Weight = Healthy Lifestyle:
Ask yourself: ARE YOU PROGRAMMED TO:
SHOP FOR THE SAME FOODS? – Change your grocery list: Add more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, reduced fat cheeses, and light salad dressings. Health reform starts in the kitchen! If you are hungry, and the only thing you have in the kitchen is chips, you will eat them.
SKIP MEALS OR EAT LARGE MEALS? – Change how much and how often you eat: Eat 5-6 small meals per day. Do not skip breakfast. Eat only when you are hungry; not because someone offers you food. Your body needs food to kick start your metabolism and keep it going. When you skip meals, your body responds by slowing down your metabolism to protect it. Also, when you eat often, you’re not as hungry; making it easier to limit portion during meals
DENY YOURSELF CERTAIN FOODS TO LOSE WEIGHT? – Change your outlook: Depriving yourself of foods that you love can make you miserable; often leading to binge eating or failure to learn and stick to healthy habits. If you are craving something sweet, eat a small portion of your favorite treat. If you’re at a buffet, take a small spoonful of everything you like, but perhaps skip the roll. If you want the roll, then don’t eat the potato salad, macaroni salad and chips too! If you are at a party, say yes to a small piece of cake, but don’t go back for seconds (at least not routinely!)
TAKE CARE OF OTHERS AND THINGS BEFORE YOURSELF? – Change your priorities: MAKE TIME for fitness or you will never FIND THE TIME. Every journey starts with the first step. Initially, carve out 10 minutes in your schedule to take a walk several times a week. Find a walking partner or bring along some music. Eventually, you will love the personal time, and you will find it easier to make the time because you want it!
EAT LARGE PORTIONS OF MEAT AND CARBOHYDRATES AT MEALS? – Change your plate: One half of your plate should include vegetables and fruit. Eat smaller portions. Meat or other protein foods should only fill only ¼ of your plate. Choose healthier carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grain bread, pasta or noodles for the other ¼ of your plate. Use a smaller plate to manage portions, and try to include a little protein at each meal to reduce your hunger, such as meats, eggs, nuts, and beans. Eat fatty meats like sausage and bacon less often. Exchange unhealthy fats like butter with olive oil or blended spreads that are part butter and part healthy oils. Don’t forget to incorporate dairy into you daily eating too, such as low fat cheeses, yogurt, or reduced fat or non-dairy milk, such as almond or soy milk.
WANT FAST RESULTS? Change your expectations: Making healthy fit is a journey without a destination. Losing weight will take you just as long as it did to gain it. Building stamina and toning muscles requires ongoing effort. A lifestyle is about consistency. If you feel unhealthy, it is because the consistent pattern in your life needs to change to a new pattern for the rest of your life. Do not starve yourself or workout so hard that you actually harm your body instead of improve it!
BELIEVE YOU CAN’T DO IT? Change your reasons. Excuses may be the way you protect yourself from fear of failure or because it seems too hard. Find reasons to want to do it and you can! First, do it for yourself because you are worth it. Imagine yourself with more energy, more confidence, doing things your body couldn’t do before, buying new clothes, and perhaps taking fewer medications and living longer to enjoy time with your family and friends. Whatever you need to motivate yourself, find it and keep it in the front of your mind every time you think “I can’t; even when it is hard to get off the couch and move! Whether your think you can or you can’t, you’re right!
The result is discovering a lifestyle that I describe as delicious, satisfying, empowering, energizing, and emotionally and physically rewarding