Forget the pills, the high protein diets, the North Star Galaxy diet plan. Losing weight is all about portion control, good nutrition balance and expending more calories than you take in. Period.
Not included, of course are people with thyroid problems, weight gain that is the result of medication or other medical problems that impede weight loss. What I’m talking about is people who eat too much and sit too much. You follow that formula; you’re going to be overweight.
People think you go on a diet for a while and lose weight
Losing weight is not the hard part. Keeping it off once you’ve lost it is. You may think the last diet you were on was great because you lost weight. But if you weren’t able to adapt any of those changes in your everyday plan and you’ve gained the weight back, it was a lousy diet.
Most thin people do not go on diets all the time. They may cut back because a few pounds have crept back but they don’t go on a diet. The secret to staying thin is keeping it in check and not letting your weight get out of control. That means when you notice a tightening of the pants or a few pounds, you increase your exercise and start watching what you eat. That’s it. That’s the secret. It’s not food combos or the work of a magic genie. It’s being sensible about your eating.
So here’s the real secret
Long term determination. Don’t starve or deprive yourself of every treat you are used to. Don’t try to lose weight and get in shape in the span of 6 weeks. All you want within that time frame is to see some progress and make some positive dietary changes toward that goal.
For instance, let’s say that you do really well all day watching what you eat and then absolutely cave at 9pm. So start by ignoring the rest of the day and not worrying too much about it and simply tackle that after dinner snacking period.
If, during that 9pm cave in, you consume a half a large bag of potato chips, don’t buy the large bag. Instead substitute a smaller bag, half the size. It’s a start. From there you cut it back a little more until you are at small snack size bag and when you are ready to stop buying potato chips, substitute something with more nutritional value like 10 almonds. If you drink 4 sodas a day, cut back to 3, then 2, then 1. But don’t do it all in one week. So choose one thing you know is doing you in and cut back on it.
If you make small changes, you are more likely to incorporate the changes long term and more likely to lose weight permanently and be able to keep it off.
Get your butt off the couch
Start moving. Exercise will actually give you more energy and make you feel better. It says so on the back of the cereal box. That doesn’t mean you have to train for a marathon. Choose something you like to do. Kayaking, walking the dog, reading on the recumbent bike. If you incorporate exercise slowly and make it part of your lifestyle, it will come naturally and become a habit like brushing your teeth.
Don’t eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. If you do eat the same cereal day after day, it works like a drug and you’ll need more of that food to sustain you until lunch after a while. If you change things up, you stand a better chance of feeling full longer.
Let’s say you love cereal. Okay, so eat cereal every morning but get different kinds and mix them up. The bulk food bins are great for this. You get several granolas and cereals and make different combinations. If you love eggs, boil them one day and scramble them the next. When you scramble again, add dill and onion. Even little changes make a difference.
Some find it helpful to keep a food diary
This is the one thing people fight hardest. They do not want to take the time to write down what they eat. But you do not have to do this forever. Two weeks of keeping a food diary would help. It can be an enlightening experience and alert you to calories you consume that you weren’t really aware of. It helps you pinpoint the worst trouble spots in your diet and allows you to tackle those first. But as mentioned before, change things slowly. Drastic changes will leave you feeling deprived and set you up for failure. Think long term. You did not put it on overnight and it’s not going to come off overnight.
Success starts with the willingness to make changes
If you are totally in the dark about where to start then see a nutritionist; buy some sessions with a personal trainer. Find a workout buddy, a weight loss support group or an online support group to help you keep your focus over the long haul.
The first step is paying attention and taking initiative. And that just might start with actually paying attention to what it says on the back of that cereal box.