Many people start the new year, month, or week with a promise to themselves to lose weight. In most cases, aesthetic goals drive these resolutions to slim down. However, excess weight is also a medical issue. It may contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, sleep apnea, and other life-threatening conditions. For those reasons, weight loss is an important goal.
However, as experience shows, losing and managing weight isn’t easy.
This article aims to encourage you on your weight loss journey and help you reach your goals with 13 practical, proven tips. It’s crucial to incorporate most of them on your path to a healthier, slimmer you.
Common reasons for failing to lose weight are lack of clear motivation and applying one-size-fits-all solutions (e.g., quick fad diets).
If you want to succeed, the best way to start your weight loss journey is to first determine a clear strategy that begins by answering the question: Why do I want to lose weight?
Create a list of all the “whys” that come to mind. These can range from the desire to feel confident in a swimsuit to the wish to lower the level of triglycerides in your bloodstream or to be able to walk without gasping for breath. Make sure that your reasons for losing weight are yours alone and not a reflection of other people’s expectations.
Once you have a clear vision for your weight loss journey, establish a day-to-day or a week-to-week baseline. A structured plan will guide you to the more specific steps of your weight loss journey.
Don’t waste time on quick, universal diets because in most cases they are not sustainable. Use the following recommendations when you create your personal weight loss plan.
Fast, modern living doesn’t favor calm, extended family meals at the dining table. Instead, people often eat in front of their work computer, a TV, in the car, or on their feet. People who are preoccupied with other things during their meals often eat quickly and overeat.
Aim to break this habit and start practicing mindful eating. By paying attention to what you eat and reserving at least 15 minutes per meal for a calm, focused experience, away from electronic devices, you can come closer to your weight loss goals.
Some of the typical processed foods that many people consume daily include store-bought bread, cereals, deli meats, snacks, sweets, canned vegetables, and microwave meals. These products are full of sugar, salt, trans fats, artificial flavors, and other ingredients that not only cause weight gain but also create a dependency. Especially harmful in this respect is sugar because the more you consume, the more you crave. Processed foods are rich in calories and low in nutrients, so your body stays hungry for the resources it needs while accumulating fat.
To ensure your meals are well balanced, replace take-out and processed foods with home-cooked meals. Try incorporating more leafy greens, fibrous vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and whole grains into your diet. If you like snacks between meals, switch to quick and healthy snacks such as homemade peanut butter on a few apple slices, carrots and cucumbers with hummus, berries, and bananas with plain yogurt, and similar delicious treats. A healthy diet is generally less caloric than junk food and will create the caloric deficit necessary for weight loss.
Some people think that skipping breakfast will help them lose weight. The plan often backfires because they get hungry and make up for the uneaten breakfast later in the day when the body becomes less active and there are fewer chances of spending those calories. Rather than skipping the first meal, eat a healthy, filling breakfast that will give you enough energy throughout the day and help you cut back on calories in the evening.
Fifty years ago, people were slimmer in part because portion sizes were smaller. As portions got bigger, so did people. The simple rule for healthy portion size is to fill half of your plate with leafy greens, one quarter with lean protein, and one quarter with whole grains, brown rice, or other complex carbs. Even if you decrease your portion size a little (e.g., eat one bread slice less or eliminate the mayo salad dressing), the reduction in calories will show on your figure after a month or two.
Dehydration can lead to excessive eating because people often misinterpret thirst for hunger. Drinking at least eight glasses of water every day will curb your appetite, improve your complexion, and provide more benefits to your overall wellbeing.
Physical activity is almost as important for weight loss as a calorie-restricted diet. It is also beneficial for improving overall health, decreasing the chances of cardiovascular problems, and improving sleep.
Cardio and aerobic activities are the best for burning calories. Try to incorporate cardio exercises or a jog at least two or three times a week, with some muscle training and lower intensity exercises on the other days. If you haven’t exercised before, start with a brisk walk every day for half an hour and build towards more intense workouts.
Medical weight loss programs have a much higher success rate than popular diets. They involve working with experienced medical professionals who create customized plans for patients based on their unique metabolism, hormonal activity, and lifestyle habits.
For example, Vibrant Vitality Clinic’s medical weight loss program employs a team of medical professionals who work together to discover which factors may be hindering the patient’s progress towards optimal weight.
Here is a peek at what a weight loss program at Vibrant Vitality Clinic may include:
Having a deadline may trigger your stress hormone, especially if you set an unrealistic period to reach your target weight. If you feel stressed in an attempt to lose weight, it may be difficult to control the urge to eat.
Don’t be impatient. Research shows it takes about two months for new habits to form, so expect your weight loss journey to last at least 60 days and possibly much longer, depending on how many pounds you need to lose.
Don’t weigh yourself every day because weight fluctuates depending on your water intake, hormonal activity, how much you’ve slept, and other factors. If you see that you’ve gained weight after a few days, it may undermine your motivation to continue. Track your weight on a bi-weekly or monthly basis for more objective results.
Even better, don’t use the scale but track your progress using the clothes you wore before gaining weight.
Research shows lack of sleep is connected to increased hunger and appetite, especially sugar and carb cravings. Sleep deprivation may negatively affect hormones that regulate hunger, and it also causes stress that leads to overeating. To minimize the chances of sleep-related weight gain, aim for at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.
Stress is a great contributor to comfort eating, so help yourself manage stress using proven strategies:
Don’t be too strict on yourself. If you get sidetracked from your carefully planned regime, go back to your list of “whys” and reassure yourself that it is important to achieve your weight loss goals.
To help yourself move on, introduce a rewards program for each milestone. Treat yourself to a special non-food item or activity after your first day without any sweets, your first pound off, your first clothes you can fit in after a while, etc.
Weight loss isn’t only about looking better but also about feeling better and being healthy. Continue your efforts to eat healthily and exercise until the new habits stick, and you start feeling you can’t live without them. Shedding excess pounds will naturally follow.
Whether you embark on this journey on your own or with the help of medical professionals, be patient and you will reach your goals.
Read our article and find out more practical weight loss tips.
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