Successfully managing your weight comes down to a simple equation: if you eat more than you burn, you gain weight, and if you eat less than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds easy right? Then why is losing weight so hard?
Weight loss isn't a linear event over time. When you reduce the amount of food intake you may drop some weight each week for the first few weeks but then something changes. You eat the same over a period of time but you lose less weight till it comes to a point where you don't lose any weight. The reason for this is because when you lose weight you are losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue to drop weight each week, you have to continue to reduce the amount of food you are eating.
Secondly, your body acts differently to different types of food. So it might be the same calories intake but will have a different effect on your body, for example eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup will have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick to sustained weight loss is to ditch high calorie foods such as candy and replace them with foods that will make you feel fuller for longer like vegetables.
Thirdly, losing weight in a healthy, sustainable way often takes time. It requires patience and commitment. Extreme diets may promise rapid results but they are more likely to leave you feeling cranky and starving and losing more cash than weight. Finally, there are emotional aspects of eating that can trip you up. Most of us don't eat to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort or to relieve stress - which can derail any weight loss goals.
By making smarter choices every day, adopting healthy lifestyle changes and developing new eating habits, you will not only lose weight and be able to keep it off; you will also improve your outlook and mood to have more energy.
While there is no "one size fits all "solution to permanent healthy weight loss, the following guidelines are a great place to START:
- Think lifestyle change, not short-term diet: permanent weight loss is not something that a "quick-fix" diet can achieve. Instead think about weight loss as a permanent lifestyle change-a commitment to be eating healthier foods, reducing your portion sizes, and become more active. Permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices are what will work in the long run.
- Find a great circle of influence: seek out support - whether in the form of family, friends or a support group/gym environment-to get the encouragement you need. Join a community like Vision that are going through the same or similar journeys that understand your needs-influencing you to make better choices and change your habits.
- Slow and steady wins the race: slow and consistent weight loss is the key to success. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your mind, making you feel sluggish, drained and sick. When you drop a lot of weight quickly, you are actually losing mostly water and muscle, rather than fat.
- Set goals to keep you motivated: short-term goals, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, don't usually work as well as wanting to feel more confident, boost your mood or become healthier for your children's sakes. When frustration and temptation strike, concentrate on the many benefits you will reap from being healthier and leaner. Set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic and are time-bound.
- Use tools that help you track your progress: keep a food diary and weight yourself regularly, keeping track of each kg and cm you lose. By keeping track of your weight loss efforts, you will see the results in black and white, which will help you stay motivated and keep you accountable.