Weight Loss Advice, How to Achieve Lasting Losing Weight
Does the following scenario ring a bell? You want to lose weight so you start exercising and go on a diet. The first few weeks, you work out for a half hour every day and follow a sensible eating plan. By the second month, the exercise frequency drops you splurge on fast food. Eight weeks later you all but give up.
Unfortunately, this a similar story to anyone who has ever tried to lose weight. Research from the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that as many as half of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first I six months. Those numbers may sound I rather dismal, but consider this: For every person who gives up on a healthy lifestyle, throwing in the towel all too early in their quest, there’s one who commits to their weight loss program long term.
We asked three Experts to share their strategies for creating healthy weight loss habits that will last way beyond the six-month mark. I follow their tips and ensure your place in the long-term weight loss group.
SET SMART WEIGHT LOSS GOALS
Decide what you want to accomplish in the areas of fitness and nutrition, and set short-term action-oriented goals. Neva Avery MS, CSCS, a health and fitness I instructor at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center suggests you use the “SMART” process for goal setting. “Your goals should be specific, measurable, I achievable, rewarding and timely,” she 1 says. For example, if you’ve never exercised before, it’s not smart” to say, “I want to run a marathon.” Instead try saying “in six months, I want to run two miles in I less than 20 minutes.” See the difference? Small, “smart” goals will ultimately lead you to larger ones.
PUT IT ON PAPER
“Write down the goals and outcomes you want as well as the barriers [to achieving them],” says Julie Upton, MS, RD, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic I Association. Next, write down a strategy for overcoming each barrier to losing weight. You’ll find plenty of suggestions in the tips that follow) when you don’t feel motivated, or run into an obstacle, look at your list and follow the strategy for overcoming it.
Promise yourself something special – a facial, new shirt, night out – when you achieve a fitness or dietary goal. Set a weekly goal, such as “I will work out for 45 minutes four days this week” or you’ll eat a new vegetable every day this week,” and write down a non-food rewards you’ll give yourself for achieving it.
PLAN AND REPARE MEALS
It’s easy to get off the path of eating well when you’re late for a meeting or shuttling your kids around town. Eliminate the potential for careless eating by preparing your meals ahead of time. “Cook healthy meals for up to a week,” suggests Cindy Whitmarsh, personal trainer, nutrition counselor and president of UltraFit Nutrition.
Repackage them in single-serving portions so you can take them out and warm them up alter a busy day.” And don’t forget about travel time: If you spend a lot of time in your car, keep a cooler in it. Pack it with healthy foods and bottled water so you and your family always have meals on the go.
MAKE WORKOUTS A REGULAR APPOINTMENT
“For successful weight loss it is important to plan your exercise sessions at the beginning of the week” suggests Avery. “Write in your planner and treat them like you would any other appointment.” Be sure to include the time, location and activity you plan to do. Also try to exercise at the same time each day. Avery says that this will help it become a part of your regular routine.
PARTNER UP FOR MORE MOTIVATION
Add another body to the equation, and your chances of sticking with a regular exercise program double. Whitmarsh says the benefits of working out with a friend are twofold. “it’s more fun and it’s also more motivating,” she says. You might also want to seek out a personal trainer who can motivate you and structure an exercise program for losing the weight you need to lose.
Whoever you work out with, pairing up is a surefire way to stick with a program. ‘Accountability is one of the most important things that can keep people on track,” Whitmarsh says.
When you’re tempted to reach for junk food, stop and do something else. Whitmarsh suggests going for a walk, calling a friend or playing with your kids. For example, if junk food is a problem for you, make a list of five people to call when you feel the urge to binge. You may never have t0 dial a number; just knowing that list is by your phone may help redirect your mind until the craving passes.
HAVE FUN WHILE YOU’RE GETTING FIT
Just because you’re not in a gym doesn’t mean you’re not burning calories, so do activity you enjoy for exercise. The more you enjoy the activism Avery says, ‘The more likely you’ll stick with the program.” She suggests incorporating recreational interests such as tennis, golf and hiking into your fitness program.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO VEER OFF TRACED
If you’re not exposed to tempting situations, you can’t fall prey to them. “Everyone has red light foods or situations,” Upton explains. “You just need to manage your exposure to them.” For example, if your favorite fast-food restaurant is easily accessible on your way home from work, start taking a different route (especially after a stressful day). Likewise, if you can’t resist junk food, don’t keep it in your home or office, where it’s sure to call to you and eventually overpower your will.
MAKE A CHANGE
If your motivation to work out or eat well is lacking, maybe you’re just bored. “Try something new,” says Avery, Even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally try.” Experiment until you find activities you enjoy and when they stop being fun, try something new. You can also experiment with your diet by trying new fruits and vegetables, or healthy recipes. ‘Whitmarsh suggests buying a healthy cookbook and trying a recipe every week.
DINE OUT SMART
You don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite restaurants just because you’re eating more healthful, you just have to prepare. If you know you’re going to a restaurant for dinner, Upton suggests that make sure you eat throughout the day you’ll be less likely to overeat. If possible, scope out the menu beforehand and healthy options.
You might also want to increase your exercise to prepare for a big meal. Beef up exercise on the day before, during and after the night out,” Upton says, “That way you can account for extra calories.”
FORGIVE SLIPS AND GET BACK ON TRACK
Did you down a doughnut at your morning meeting or skip your afternoon workout? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Get right back on track the next day,” says Whitmarsh. “One bad day is okay, but a week of indulging can be disastrous.” In other words, resist the temptation to continue your binge and workout hiatus. Accept responsibility for your slip-up, and get back on schedule with your program the next day.