Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 10 Best Weight Loss and Diet Tips

I have some experience in the area of weight loss and dieting. Much of what I have learned has come the hard way through trial and error - success and regression. Regrettably, I've went from obese (literally) to ideal weight and back to obese more than once over the past several years. I've lost 50 pounds or more on three different occasions.

The good news is that I have now managed to lose the weight and keep it off. I am currently in the best physical shape of my life and am finding it relatively easy to maintain it. So, it appears I have learned a few things.

I have been quizzed by many friends and acquaintances regarding how I have been able to lose weight and get fit. Those who know me well know that when I am interested in something I have a tendency to immerse myself in learning about it. So, I have done quite a bit of reading and research involving weight loss, dieting, nutrition, health, and so forth.

What follows is my Top 10 Tips concerning dieting and weight loss. These are the best things that have worked and continue to work for me. This is just a brief list and summary, but perhaps I will expound upon some of these items in future writings.

Tip #1 - Think "Lifestyle" not "Diet"
The first couple times I lost significant weight, I slowly fell back into bad habits after I had reached my goals.  My mindset was geared towards temporary, short-term, changes.  But, what I really needed was permanent modifications in my lifestyle.  When my perspective changed and my primary motivation became maintaining life-long health everything became easier.  I don't merely want to look better (although that's fine), I want to be healthy and stay healthy.  When I got to a point where I honestly felt this way things fell into place.

Tip #2 - Slow Down
In the past I have been guilty of being in a huge hurry to lose as much weight as I could as fast as possible.  That's a bad idea that usually leads to unhealthy habits.  What's the rush?  If one's goal is to become healthy and fit the best approach is a gradual one that promotes permanent adoption of good habits.  When one is in a hurry it is easy to become frustrated and lose motivation.  Setting goals is generally okay, but they should be realistic and practical.  Studies show that when people lose weight gradually over time the are far more likely to keep it off.  Those who are in a hurry often gain it back eventually.

Tip #3 - Track Every Calorie
It is virtually impossible to lose weight in a healthy fashion without keeping a detailed record of what you eat.  I've watched many people fail to lose weight because they thought they could do so by merely by eating "light", reducing portions, eliminating certain things, and so forth.  They failed because they had no comprehension of how many calories they were actually consuming!  Know how many calories you should be eating in a day and keep track.  You have got to read those labels, count those calories, and keep an accurate record.  There is simply no way around it.  It can be a hassle at first for some.  But, it can also help challenge and motivate.  Most people are creatures of habit and routinely eat a lot of the same things (even when not on a diet).  It gets much easier to keep track once you learn about certain foods and become accustomed to eating them regularly.

Tip #4 - Allow for an Occasional Indulgence
It is not really practical to expect oneself to eat absolutely healthy one hundred percent of the time.  Forbidding yourself of your favorite foods indefinitely can trigger rebound overeating and is, therefore, ultimately counterproductive.  Allowing for an occasional splurge will give you something to look forward to and can often help one stay on track the rest of the time.  Some say it will also have the effect of resetting or "kick-starting" your metabolism.  But be reasonable.  Don't go crazy.  My personal approach is to enjoy a meal out once a week with my family and/or friends.  I also don't fret over holidays and special occasions as long as I keep things reasonable.  Don't try to find a reason to celebrate every day!

Tip #5 - Avoid Eating Out
With the exception of the occasional splurge (as mentioned above), resolve to say good-bye to eating out.  With very few rare exceptions, restaurant food is bad news.  On those occasions where you must eat out - plan ahead.  Do some checking on the restaurants in your area in advance.  Find out what are the best, low-calorie, healthier choices on the menu of a few places you are likely to find yourself.  But be forewarned, most are shocked to find out how unhealthy eating out really is - and "regular" restaurants are generally as bad as "fast food" establishments.  Often "Light" menu choices are not much better.  A good online resource is DWLZ.com (find the "Restaurants" section).  Also, find alternatives to eating out to help kick the habit.  Pack your lunch (this can also save money).  Discover activities to do with family and friends instead of eating out with them for fun.

Tip #6 - Keep Convenient Food on Hand
Often people dread being "on a diet" because it requires a lot of work and planning to eat healthy.  You don't have to cook a special recipe every night.  Stock up on convenience foods that are low-calorie and good for you.  Also, keep healthy snacks on hand including no-calorie beverages.  Eliminate the excuse that there is nothing healthy to eat and/or it will take too long to prepare.  Unless you live alone, you may have other food in the house that will not be good for you.  Keep your healthy snacks and convenience foods in a special area (a different cupboard or a separate shelf in the pantry).  If you simply "must" satisfy your sweet tooth now and then keep better choices on hand so you wont' give in to worse options.

Tip #7 - Eat for Volume
One of the biggest challenges one will face when attempting to lose weight is going from eating anything you want whenever you want to trying to regulate your caloric intake.  For many, it feels as though you are always hungry.  The best way to combat this is to identify and consume foods that are low-calorie but high-volume.  In other words, find foods that you can eat a lot of without consuming a lot of calories.  Not surprisingly, these foods are generally going to be the most healthy for you - such as most vegetables and fruits.  For example, a fairly small piece of beef may have more calories than a huge vegetable stir-fry.  Identifying the right foods and figuring out the calories is the hardest part.  But once you get a few options that you like you'll be able to eat a lot of food and feel full and satisfied without consuming a ton of calories.

Tip #8 - Spread Out Your Eating
Another tip to combating hunger is to eat more often than the traditional three meals a day.  Spread your daily calorie intake over the course of the day by eating four or five "mini-meals" or by incorporating snacks into your daily eating plan.  Studies have shown that people who do this are more successful at controlling their appetite and weight.  Eating more frequently keeps hunger in check and offsets the urge to overeat.  Personally, I typically eat a light breakfast, a late-morning snack, a light late-lunch, a reasonable dinner, and an evening snack. 

Tip #9 - Don't Go It Alone
If you are the only person in your home trying to lose weight and/or eat healthy it is going to be more difficult - and probably more expensive.  Hopefully your spouse (if you're married) and others will join you in adopting healthier eating habits - or at least support you in your endeavor.  But if this is not an option, find others with whom you can share the adventure.  You can recruit a friend, join a group (in person or online), take a class, and so forth.  It is much easier - and even fun - when you have others with whom you can share ideas, tips, and experiences.  It also helps to have someone with whom you can give and receive motivation and encouragement.

Tip #10 - Enjoy Exercise
The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories one consumes.  The only way to maintain a healthy weight it so balance the amount of calories burned with those that are consumed.  There are only two ways to accomplish this - either burn more calories through physical activity, or consume fewer calories.  It's that simple.  Studies have shown that it is easier for most people to burn off extra calories than it is to regularly refrain from consuming the extra calories in the first place.  I have personally found this to be true.  Exercise was critical to helping me lose weight, and has proven to be my main key to maintaining a healthy weight.  My initial attempts to keep weight off did not include regular exercise and were not successful.  It was just not realistic for me to consistently eat few enough calories.  I need to burn the excess.  Of course, exercise has many additional benefits in addition to weight control.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It takes -3500 calories to loose a pound, which means you need to both burn calories by working out & take less calories in by eating in order to loose weight.

Eat fruits & veggies of course. It's typical to eat a small breakfast and a big dinner, but my health teacher said you actually want to do the opposite. And never skip breakfast, it helps you loose weight. I stopped drinking pop and lost 50 pounds in 1 year!! Don't drink juice. You'd think fruit juice is good for you, but its not. It has alot of sugar and extra calories. People say dont eat carbs' not true, 60% of your diet is supposed to be from some type of carbs... just make sure you eat whole grain or whole wheat bread. And drink only skim milk, all others aren't so great for you. Just watch what you eat and pay attention to nutrition labels!

Make sure you do some weight bearing activities along with cardio, it'll help build muscle and burn fat! If you cant buy a gym membership try going for a walk or run outside, doing jumping jacks, jump rope, running up & down your stairs, lifting weights, doings situps & pushups.. those are just some ideas that'll help! Click Here to visit my blog Strategies You MUST Know if You Ever Want to Lose Weight