Okay, so obesity and its related diseases are epidemic now. We spend millions of dollars on quick-fix potions and pills and surgeries and support groups and gym memberships and still wake up weighing more than is healthy and more than we want to weigh. So, what’s the deal here?
I have personally struggled with weight loss a few times in my life—pregnancy, not exercising, being depressed, getting older, and quitting smoking have all piled on pounds for me. Quitting smoking lead to my highest-ever weight and since I was over 40, that was some of the hardest weight to lose. I substituted eating for smoking, knowing I’d gain some and then closing my eyes when some got to be too much. Happily, I’ve lost almost all of it now (and I celebrate two years without smoking in May.)
You probably have your own triggers for gaining weight, but if you are truly bewildered, see your doctor. There are a few medical reasons for weight issues that you should get checked out. You could have diabetes, thyroid issues, depression or other conditions that require medical attention. And, ask your doctor frankly if your weight is a factor in any health conditions you currently have or are at risk for developing. Are you headed for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis or other obesity-related diseases?
With your doctor’s okay, try these tips. These are the things that work for me (and for many others), and it’s not just about losing weight, but also about learning to live a more healthy, feel-good lifestyle.
1—Move your body. Of course, I recommend walking because most anyone can do it easily and conveniently. Plus, I enjoy it. I didn’t when I started, and you might not either. Give it a couple of months and you could change your mind. But, if another moving activity makes you happy, do that. Dancing, swimming, playing sports, biking, martial arts. . . Just do something. Start with three 20 minute workouts and increase a bit each week until you are exercising four or five days for about 30 minutes each.
2—Cut out simple carbs. You do not have to adopt any specific diet plan. Just stop eating sugar, cakes, cookies, white potatoes, white rice, pasta, crackers, bread, and the like. There’s tons of research supporting the fact that these foods increase your blood sugar in a bad way and except for a bit of low-grade fiber, they aren’t that nutritious. Brown rice and other whole grains are much better selections.
3—Eat more veggies. Find some you like and aim for at least 3 cups total per day. Easy on the high-fat sauces, but try those spray-on dressings on steamed veggies, or even a ranch-type dressing for dipping. Even a little butter or olive oil on some broccoli is way better for you than French fries.
4—Drink water. It increases your metabolism and helps flush out toxins. So, drink up. For more info on hydration and how to drink more water, read Water for Walkers.
5—Cheat once a week. Most “diets” or plans to lose weight fail because people cheat and having fallen off the wagon, they just give up and go back to their old eating habits. So, once a week, eat whatever you want for one meal. I usually try to choose veggies, salads and lean proteins for most meals, and nuts or occasionally cheese for snacks, but I will occasionally have a dessert (or a bite of someone else’s) or a bit of pasta, and once in a blue moon, I might even have a burger & fries or pizza. Then, I go right back to eating healthy. I think this makes me realize it’s about choices. However, if this makes you go on a bad-food binge that lasts more than one meal, don’t do it.
6—Reward yourself, but not with food. When you reach a goal, whether it’s 20 workouts in one month (or three in one week), walking 100 miles in two months, losing that first 10 pounds, or the big ones like achieving a healthy weight, lowering your blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol, celebrate! It’s a victory on many levels! Do a happy dance! And, reward yourself with something non-edible, like massage or other spa treatments, a manicure, a new playlist for your mp3 player ($10 will buy you a whole workout’s worth of tunes), or even new workout clothes or shoes.
Go for health, not a number on the scale or a size of clothing. Get your weight to a level that is healthy for you, and that makes you feel good. Get over the starved-supermodel fixation or anybody else’s idea of what you should look like. That is not an excuse to eat what you want and make peace with being fat, unhealthy and out of shape! There’s a happy medium where you can be healthy and fit and happy with who you are inside and out. Finding it will improve your overall quality and quantity of life!
For more information on healthy weight loss, I highly recommend You: On A Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management. This book is full of information on how being overweight works -- how it affects your body, and some realistic ways to eat and exercise for health.
And, if you are a fan of The Biggest Loser, you can get those amazing results with their program online. Join NBC's Biggest Loser Diet Club
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