All too often, when you think of a diet, you imagine practically starving yourself for a period of time, in order to erase those extra pounds. Perhaps you think that starting off with a juice fast, eating nothing but raw fruits and vegetables, or removing all sugar and white flour from your diet is a great way to shed extra inches and help you get the body you’ve always wanted. Unfortunately, those quick-solution diets often fail just as quickly when you return to your former eating habits. If you’re trying to lose a few pounds just for a special event or drop down to fit into a specific dress just once, it’s one thing. If you want to maintain your goal weight, however, you don’t need another diet. You need a lifestyle change that will revamp your eating habits and allow you to lose weight, while still enjoying the food you eat.
Start with Clear Goals
Do you want to drop five or ten pounds, or do you have sweeping weight loss goals that include being down thirty, forty, or even more pounds? Understanding your ultimate goal will make it easier for you to develop a lifestyle change that will work for you long-term. If you just need to lose a little weight, simple lifestyle changes will be enough to reap big rewards. On the other hand, if you have a lot of excess weight to lose, you may need to take a harder look at your eating habits. No matter how active you are, it’s impossible to out-exercise the food that you take into your body. So if you have big goals, you’re going to have to make big changes to get the results you want. Make sure you understand those goals from the beginning, so you can use them to guide your weight loss journey.
Start with Small Changes
There are plenty of sources out there that will tell you that small changes can yield big results over time–and they’re right! From drinking more water to adding more protein to your diet or even simply avoiding artificial sweetener, small changes can make a big difference in your overall weight. As an added bonus, small changes often seem much more manageable than drastic diet plans. You can get behind the idea, for example, of exchanging your daily soda with lunch for water or tea instead. Trying to limit yourself too much, on the other hand, will only lead to frustration.
Be Aware of What You’re Eating
One of the first things many fitness gurus will tell you is that it’s not necessarily what you eat, it’s how much of it you eat. For example, one cup of air popped popcorn comes in at only about 31 calories. Chowing down on a huge bowl, on the other hand, can make those calories add up fast; a mixing bowl-sized portion can have as many as 10 to 12 cups in it. That might not matter much when you’re talking about 31-calorie-a-cup popcorn, but it matters a lot more when you’re dealing with sweet treats, heavy fats, and other high-calorie items.
Learn to manage portions effectively to keep your diet on track. While you’re thinking portion control, keep this in mind: you need to pay attention to what’s on your plate, not on what’s on your spouse’s, your kids’, or your friends’ plates. Men, in particular, tend to naturally burn more calories than women, which means their caloric needs are greater. Learn to stop eating when you’re full, not when everyone at the table is finished.
Focus on What You Can Eat, Not on What You Can’t
If you focus too much on the fact that you’re not allowed to have a piece of the delicious chocolate cake your coworker brought into the office yesterday, you’re going to slowly drive yourself insane. Before you know it, you’ll be having “just a tiny sliver” that will turn into a full-out binge as you promise yourself you’ll go back on your diet tomorrow…or the day after…or maybe the day after that. Instead of thinking about all the things you can’t have on your new diet, think about the delicious things you can have. Take the time to look up healthy recipes that are keeping with your new lifestyle, but that incorporate foods that you know you’ll love to eat. Dieting doesn’t have to be all about so-called rabbit food! Think about the wonderful smoothies, lean proteins, and other exciting things that you’re going to get to try on your new healthy eating plan.
Celebrate Small Victories Along the Way
When you’re making big lifestyle changes, it can take time to see the results you’re really waiting for. Remember that it’s a journey and give yourself permission to celebrate those small victories along the way. Whether it’s suddenly noticing that your skinny jeans have more room at the waistband than they ever have before or realizing that the scale has dipped those first ten pounds, give yourself permission to celebrate! You’re one step closer to a new, healthier you. Don’t forget to pay attention to changes that have nothing to do with the scale, either. Because muscle weighs more than fat, if you’re exercising hard along with your diet, you may discover that the scale creeps up even as your waistline decreases. Take note of all of the changes in your body, not just the ones that can be measured in terms of weight.
If you’re ready to take off on your new healthy eating journey, contact us. We’ll help you find the weight loss strategy that will work for you, changing your lifestyle to help change the way you look and the way you feel about yourself. Dieting is challenging, but you can develop a style of healthy eating that will still leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied.