Lots of people are trying to shed pounds at one time or another. Modern lifestyles, characterized by an abundance of food and primarily sedentary occupations and habits, make it easy to carry more weight. The statistics are alarming.
According to the World Health Organization:
- Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, (18 years and older), were overweight, including 650 million that were obese
- 39% of adults (18 years and over) were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese
While gaining weight is easy, losing weight can be a challenge, as many of us know. Admittedly, there is a vast amount of information on this subject, which can sometimes be conflicting and confusing – not to mention, tough to successfully implement.
Tips for Losing Weight
So we consolidated some of the best tips for losing weight here, in a simple format to make it easier for you to understand, implement and reach your goal. We broke down these tips for losing weight into Dos and Don’ts to showcase best practices and common obstacles.
What NOT to do: The Don’ts
- Don’t be unrealistic. The weight loss industry is rife with what amounts to false advertising. As tempting as those promises are to lose 5-10 pounds in a week, or to drop weight by only exercising four minutes per day, they typically aren’t reasonable. If it sounds too good to be true, generally it is. Don’t waste your time or money on programs or diets that may be unhealthy and unsuccessful. The reality is that you must put in hard work to drop pounds, and there really are no shortcuts that are effective long-term.
At the same time, don’t set yourself up for failure by establishing a goal that is impractical, like losing 25 pounds in one or two months. This can be very demotivating right from the start if you aren’t able to progress or even stay on track to accomplish a target that is out of reach or unhealthy. Experts recommend a loss of 1-2 pounds weekly to maximize fat loss and preserve muscle tissue, which helps keep your metabolism humming.
- Don’t go to extremes. It’s tempting to adopt an all-or-nothing approach with weight loss in order to hit your goal faster. But this can lead to unhealthy, unsafe, and generally unsustainable practices. Plans like only eating grapefruit, fasting every other day, consuming only 800 calories per day or exercising more than two hours daily may provide initial results quickly, but are too extreme so maintain over the long haul. Motivation is good, but common sense must rule when it comes to losing weight.
- Don’t give up. Losing weight is a process, and it can be filled with some successes and setbacks along the way. If you miss a week’s worth of workouts or binge on pizza and ice cream, don’t just quit. Whether you are at the start, middle or toward the end of your weight loss journey, accept the momentary derailment, learn what you can do differently to prevent this from happening again and then get back on track immediately.
Don’t let one night of eating with abandon turn into an entire weekend, or a few skipped workouts make you a couch potato. Lose the self-defeating thoughts such as, “I’ll never lose weight,” or “I have no discipline,” as these will ultimately destroy your ability to succeed. Think positive, like “I’ve got this!”
Focus on your end goal, and resolve to move forward. Don’t wallow in self-pity or beat yourself up, but shore up your confidence and take smart steps to get the results you want.
Recommendations to Follow: Dos
Moving on to what you definitely SHOULD do, these tips for losing weight can keep you making progress, feeling good and seeing your body change.
- Decrease caloric intake. To lose one pound, you must create a deficit of 3500 calories, which starts with reducing how many calories you are taking in. You can find tons of diets online and in books, or work with a dietitian who can create a customized plan.
To cut calories, you’ll need to decrease consumption of processed and fried foods, sugar, high-fat meats, soda, juice and alcohol. In their place, you should substitute fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources (like fish and legumes), whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lots of water.
You’ll also need to measure servings, reduce portion sizes and choose low-calorie, healthy snacks as necessary to keep you satisfied and not succumbing to temptation with foods you shouldn’t have.
- Exercise regularly. No surprise, but this is an important part of the calorie deficit formula. While walking the dog, cleaning the house and working in the garden all provide physical activity, to lose weight, you must step up the intensity for results. That means cardio and strength training several times per week, at an intensity that is challenging so that you have to work to maintain it. Cardio burns calories and fat, and weight workouts build muscle and boost metabolism.
Being part of a health club provides lots of options and can boost motivation, but you can exercise at home on your own as well. Take classes, hire a trainer if you like to set up a customized program or provide workout guidance or follow streaming workouts at home.
For even better results, embrace interval training, which alternates periods of moderate intensity with high-intensity bursts where you push hard. This is a very efficient, effective way to exercise. And if your weight loss plateaus, change your workouts to kick-start results again.
- Move, move, move – Formal exercise is essential to losing weight, but also incorporating regular physical activity into each day increases caloric expenditure. Stand more and sit less, get a standing desk, use the stairs, take your bike versus the car, walk after dinner, play at the park with the kids, do core exercises during commercials, swim instead of lounging at the pool, go bowling versus to the movies, etc. You get the idea. Every little bit adds up.
- Adopt what works best for you. Everyone is different, so figure out what will help you succeed and put it in place. Some people love diet apps or programs like Weight Watchers that provide support and keep them tracking their food intake; others need a workout buddy to stay accountable and diligent. Intermittent fasting is a workable weight loss solution for some, but others may prefer 5 mini-meals throughout the day.
But everyone should establish a plan for how to deal with temptations at restaurants, parties or when traveling, and enlist help from family and friends if necessary. Plus, setting and celebrating milestones along the way to your ultimate goal can help you persevere, including rewarding yourself with a new workout outfit, exercise accessory or fitness tracker, for instance.
- Embrace a new lifestyle. Once you’ve lost weight, you can’t just go back to your old eating habits and inactivity, or the pounds will return. Then you’ll end up in a vicious cycle of weight gain and weight loss, which is hard on the body and the mind. For best success, resolve to make healthy eating and exercise your daily way of living.