By Kathy Smith
Being a Little Less Serious About Weight Loss Can Help You Lose Weight
Have you ever hopped on the scale during your annual checkup with your doctor and noticed that your weight hasn’t changed a bit over the past year? But when you think about it, you realize that your weight has, in fact, gone up and down and up and down since your last visit? This is exactly what happened to a friend of mine, Tom, who lost 31 pounds, but then gained 33 back! When Tom stepped on the scale in his doctor’s office, the doc said, “Your weight has remained constant.” Then it hit him. All the hard work he’d been putting in . . . day in, day out, falling off the wagon and getting back on . . . had been summed up nicely by his doctor telling him, “Your weight has remained constant.” For Tom, this was a huge disappointment. I wasn’t necessarily surprised, though, because he always seemed to be on some sort of ambitious diet that left little room for error (in his latest attempt, he’d hired a personal trainer for daily sessions and greatly modified his eating habits). I know from experience that such an approach is usually a setup for failure because let’s be honest: a vast change from your everyday routine isn’t easy to sustain. This is what culminates in that vicious yo-yo dieting cycle.
If Tom’s experience sounds familiar and you’ve also been a victim of the yo-yo . . . it’s time to shift your focus and take the weight loss game a little less seriously. Instead of going all out on a diet that severely restricts your calories and has you schlepping to the gym at 4 AM to get a private session with a personal trainer, I want you to focus on the bigger picture. Go about it a bit more slowly, more progressively, more sensibly. First, see the entire year in front of you. Then concentrate on just the next 8 to 12 weeks. Commit to a plan that honors your weight and your health. Here are some ideas. . . some focuses to consider week by week:
Cut out refined and processed sugar; go for whole grain instead of starchy “white” carbs.
Eat more veggies, paying particular attention to leafy greens rich in vitamins and minerals; do 30 minutes of physical activity at least 3-4 times a week, even if that entails just a brisk walk.
Eat more omega-3-fatty acids in the form of flax (seed or oil) and fresh wild salmon.
Get more antioxidants in the form of whole fresh fruit, berries, and even green tea.
Eliminate trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated fats; choose healthy oils like olive, walnut, canola, and flaxseed.
Pay attention to getting enough fiber and calcium; boost exercise commitment to 60 minutes a session at least 3 to 4 times a week.
Focus on sources of hydration (eliminate sodas and curb caffeine and alcohol; drink lots of water).
Create your Survivor Kit (a small lunch or tote bag that has the right foods you can eat when you’re on the go, or can’t eat lunch or dinner on time, etc.
Identify foods you can’t control portion-wise and completely eliminate them from your diet.
These ideas don’t have to go in this order. Habitually eating right and making time for exercise is the only secret to lifelong health. Just remember: You can split up your workouts into two 30-minute sessions or three 20-minute sessions on a given day. It all adds up and it all counts!