Best strategies for losing weight and keeping it off
Losing weight is challenging. Even more challenging is keeping weight lost off for good. But, don’t despair. Even though there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are certain lifestyle/behavior changes that can be a tremendous boost to achieving your weight loss goal.
Of course, change is hard especially when it involves one of life’s greatest pleasures – food. Food is not the problem; sometimes it’s our approach to how we view food and eating that can be part of the baggage in your struggle to lose weight. To make this process easier and less of a burden, here are valuable strategies you can begin today. Choose one at a time and before you know it, you will be well on your way to living in a healthier body.
· Focus on what you can eat
Ditch any “diet” that says you must stay away from certain foods or food groups. Instead turn your attention to all the wonderful food you can eat, physical activities you can participate in and how that benefits you.
· Assess your hunger before and after meals
There is a useful tool called the hunger/fullness scale that assesses hunger on a scale of 0 to 10 and is meant to help you measure hunger and fullness levels at the beginning, during and even after a meal. The point of it is to help you become more aware of your hunger cues and to make sure you are not always eating to the point of feeling stuffed. Start your meal at a hunger level at about a 3 or 4 and stop at a fullness level of a 6 or 7.
· Eat breakfast and make it the biggest meal of the day
Maybe you’re not a breakfast eater but maybe it’s also time to reconsider that. Research shows consuming a protein-rich breakfast increases satiety curbing hunger which leads to an overall reduced calorie intake throughout the day. Plus when the bulk of your calories are consumed by the afternoon it can prevent evening snacking which can add up to a significant number of calories.
· Eat all meals away from electronic distractions
Each time you sit down to eat a meal, do not have any electronic devices in sight. Eating is an event meant to bring pleasure and nourishment. If you are viewing your computer, watching TV, checking emails or engaging in social media, these are distractions taking away this experience. When electronic devices are brought to the kitchen table, it interferes with your ability to sense fullness and satiety which, in turn, often leads to overeating.
· Make at least half your plate filled with fruits and or vegetables
Every day, plan to fill your plate at each meal with colorful fruits and veggies – at least 5 to 9 servings daily. Plant-based foods are full of fiber which keeps you feeling full longer.
· Drink a glass of water before each meal
Those who do this practice swear by this concept – drinking water before a meal has the same effect as eating a water-rich plate of salad filling you up helping you to eat less.
· Eat at least every 3-5 hours throughout the day
Eating only once or twice a day may seem a logical approach for weight loss, however it’s not. Infrequent meals and long stretches throughout the day without eating can cause you blood sugar to tank, leading to excessive hunger. Likely you’ll be so famished by the end of the day that you end up eating too much and perhaps not the best food choices. Instead, plan to eat about every 3 to 5 hours to keep you fueled and your blood glucose stable.
· Serve meals on smaller dinner plates
Measure your dinner plate. If it’s more than 10 inches in diameter, use a salad plate or find a smaller dinner plate. Visual cues like a smaller plate trick your mind into thinking you are eating more while actually eating smaller portions. And smaller portions mean less calories.
Putting it all together
The truth is weight loss takes time. It won’t happen overnight. Plus, losing weight too quickly – more than 2 pounds a week – means you are losing mainly water weight along with muscle mass which can backfire if you go back to old eating habits. It also helps to look beyond the number on a weight scale. If your clothes are fitting better, that’s a good sign. If you can walk a little farther without getting winded, good for you. If you are able to get off a medication due to some weight loss, give yourself a pat on the back.
Most of all treat yourself with compassion. You’re worth it and deserve to be healthy and happy. Every step you take towards improving your health is one step closer to reaching the best you possible.