In this day and age, weight loss is something that many people struggle with. We see commercials and billboards advertising the hundreds of “guaranteed” weight loss approaches. We hear about the latest shakes and bars that claim to melt the extra weight away. It seems like every week there is a new diet that a friend of a friend used to lose huge amounts of weight.
The reality is weight loss is not as great a mystery as the media would make it seem. It’s quite simple really. Just remember to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in. For many of us that is easier said than done. With our hectic lifestyles and the demand from us daily, it can be hard to know how much you take in verses what you are burning. While it is always more convenient to stop at a drive through at lunch or grab something with your morning coffee, often times these “convenient” meals carry more calories, sodium and fat than one person would really need in one sitting.
The word diet gets throws around a lot. The meaning of the word has gotten lost somewhere in the societal need to lose the maximum amount of weight in the most minimal amount of time. A diet is not meant to be a quick fix to losing weight. Often times the miracle diets that we hear of are short term, not sustainable, not realistic and can even be dangerous to our overall health.
A real diet, is one that does not focus on weight loss per say, but on an overall healthy eating plan that we can maintain for a lifetime. A diet should be rich in whole foods that are good for you in more ways than one. Fresh fruit, fresh veggies, lean proteins and whole grains are all part of a healthy and sustainable diet. A diet should never leave you feeling deprived or very hungry. Most of all, a diet should never cause you feel or become ill.
Portions are another way to control weight and overall health. The reality is that the portions that we are used to seeing in some restaurants are much too large and pack more calories than most of us will burn in a day.
Being aware of what you eat is only half the battle. We also need to be aware of how we eat. Our stomach needs to deliver the message to our brain that we are full. This happens when signals are received by the brain from digestive hormones that are released in the digestive tract. By eating slower, we allow time for the message to be received to our brain. Sips of water, taking time to chew our food or even putting our cutlery down after every few bites can aid in controlling how quickly we eat our meals. When we eat slower, we notice that we are full faster, limiting the portion of food we consume.
Weight loss is 75% what we eat, and 25% how active we are. If we are following a healthy diet, and are watching our portion sizes we will begin to see and feel our bodies change. Physical activity pushes our body to burn the extra calories that we consume. When we lead sedentary lives, we are limiting the amount of calories that we burn. A brisk walk can be a great way to burn those extra calories and a great excuse to get outdoors with friends and family.
Fitting in some extra physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator everyday or walking instead of driving are ways to sneak some extra activity into your busy day. If you work at a desk, try standing up every once in a while and taking a walk around the office. This may not seem like much, but any physical activity is progress.
Diet and exercise are the keys to not only weight loss, but overall health. If your health is negatively affected by your weight, or if you are simply not happy in your own skin, eating right and getting active are the best ways to shed the extra weight and feel good in the process. It may not happen overnight, but with time, patience and commitment, the weight loss will come and it will be easily maintained.