Losing weight is difficult and something many people struggle with. It involves changing significant aspects of your lifestyle and breaking habits that may have become ingrained over many years, so it takes a lot of motivation and self-control. If you’re significantly overweight, it’s necessary to overcome these difficulties for the sake of your health, and you should resist the urge to look for short cuts, which can sometimes do more harm than good. Here are some tips to help you lose weight the healthy way.
Introduce Changes Gradually to Lose Weight
When it comes to diet and exercise, the body responds best to slow changes. Avoid crash diets, quick-fix fads and pills which claim to shed the pounds. These unhealthy methods will only leave you feeling deprived and do nothing to help you keep off any weight you do lose. You may even find that after drastically reducing your food intake or making a similar extreme change, you start to gain weight faster once you return to your normal lifestyle.
Try to focus on long-term goals rather than short ones. The ultimate goal should be to permanently swap your current eating habits for healthier ones. If you work towards this bit by bit, you’ll eventually achieve a healthy weight and find it easier to maintain that weight.
Make Small, Manageable Changes to Your Diet
Reducing your calorie intake will get your body to use up existing stores of fat. However, drastically cutting down the amount of calories you consume is not the way to do this. This type of change only causes most people to periodically abandon their diet in desperation, causing a vicious cycle which results in their weight fluctuating.
Start by eating 300 calories less per day, or up to 500 less depending on how much you typically eat. This is a realistic target which should help you to lose weight at a sustainable rate of one or two pounds each week. There are a number of ways to reduce your calorie intake without significantly changing your diet. Try swapping fizzy drinks for fruit cordials, swapping whole milk for semi-skimmed or skimmed, or stop taking sugar in your tea or coffee. If you frequently drink alcohol, cutting down can have a significant impact on your weight.
You can continue to eat a lot of the meals you love – simply reduce your portion sizes. If you need to snack between meals, try to avoid sugary ones. You may find yourself tempted to skip breakfast, but this is likely to have more of a negative effect than a positive one. Skipping meals can disrupt your metabolism, and if you begin the day without eating, you’re likely to overcompensate later.
Put a Stop to Emotional Eating
Emotional eating can often be a source of weight gain. Many people turn to food for comfort or stress relief, or even use food as a reward when feeling positive emotions, but there are ways you can put a stop to this.
If you become stressed, try relieving it with exercise or meditation rather than food. Go for a run, get into yoga, try breathing exercises, or maybe just take a relaxing hot bath. Avoid eating out of boredom. Keep busy, whether that means socialising with friends or simply taking your dog for a walk. Try to recognise your emotional triggers so you can take action against them.
Sometimes people eat when they’re feeling low on energy, but food isn’t the only thing that can give you a boost. A brisk walk or a bit of energising music can give you just the mid-afternoon pick-me-up you need.
Steadily Increase Your Activity Levels
You may think that vigorous sessions at the gym are in order if you want to lose weight, but that isn’t necessary. There are many forms of exercise and you’ll be able to increase your activity levels most effectively if you find one you enjoy or is easy for you to do. Identify small ways you can become more active, incorporate them into your routine and build up your exercise regime from there.
Simply doing more walking will have a positive impact on your body. You can start by taking regular small walks and gradually making them longer, and those walks could eventually become jogs or runs. Swimming and cycling are also great forms of exercise, and joining a fitness class or sports team is a nice way to make exercise more fun because of the social aspect. Whatever form of exercise you do, don’t push your body to do more than it’s comfortable with. Take it step by step, starting off with small exercise sessions and making them longer over time.
Dedicated periods of exercise aren’t the only way to increase your activity. Little things like taking stairs instead of lifts or getting off the bus a stop earlier can make a difference too. Whenever such an opportunity to do a small amount of walking presents itself, take it.
Losing weight the healthy way is a slow process. It takes time to see the kind of visible results you’re aiming for, and this can sometimes be disheartening. Staying motivated is one of the most difficult aspects of dieting, but try to stay focused on the long-term benefits of sticking with a manageable weight loss plan. Celebrate meeting weekly or monthly goals to help you keep track of your progress. Reminding yourself how well you’re doing will offer some encouragement. In time, your hard work will pay off as you gradually shed excess weight and see the scales dip lower.
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