10 TIPS TO START YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY: LOSING THE WEIGHT AND KEEPING IT OFFReading Time: 7 minutes
Greater than 1.4 billion of adults worldwide are reported to be overweight or obese. Weight loss has become a popular topic and a great number of people have had unsuccessful attempts in the past and even consider it unattainable.
Weight loss plans should emphasize realistic lifestyle modifications involving diet and exercise. Any plan you opt for should take your proclivities into consideration; if you are person who eats breakfast every morning, you should not skip breakfast, you may just need to change the kind of food you eat in the morning.
Review your previous weight loss plans to find out what worked and what didn’t. Incorporate only what worked for you in the past into your new weight loss plan for better results.
Remember putting on weight takes a while, so give yourself some time to lose it!
1. Visit Your Doctor
Embarking on a weight loss journey is life changing. Being overweight carries the risk of several health conditions such as high blood pressure and may limit your ability to follow certain weight loss plans.
Therefore, before making any drastic change to your diet and activity level, especially for anyone who is overweight or obese, or if you have heart problems, you may need to pay a visit to your doctor. The doctor will confirm if you are fit to start your weight loss program.
2. Get A Scale
The scale can motivate and help you lose weight, and on the flip side the results may be depressing. If you are thinking of starting your weight loss program but procrastinating, getting on a scale and seeing how much you really weigh might give you a jolt in the right direction.
While dieting, your weight may fluctuate from day to day and weighing yourself daily may leave you disappointed. If checking your weight often gets you easily disappointed, you may need to reduce the frequency.
According to a study comparing the association between frequent self-weighing and weight loss maintenance, weighing yourself frequently will help you lose weight and keep it off. Weighing yourself frequently helps you identify certain patterns of weight gain that would have gone unnoticed, so you are able to make the necessary changes to get back on track.
The best time to weigh yourself is in the morning right after you wake up.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Set easy to achieve milestones. Start small. If you plan to run about 30 miles per week, start with 5-10 miles/week and work your way up.
Setting hard to reach goals and failing to attain them may leave you frustrated and likely to abandon the weight loss program.
Be specific, make realistic plans. For example, you may cross off unhealthy food items from your grocery list, plan a food menu, schedule specific times and days to exercise.
4. Keep A Food Journal
Keeping a food journal can help you lose weight. According to a study published by American Journal of Preventive Medicine, study participants that logged their daily food intake lost twice the weight as those in the same study that did not.
Logging every bite or drink you consume each day, can help you discover an unhealthy eating pattern that you may not be aware has been impeding on your ability to lose weight.
Stress, emotions, an individual’s mood and the environment can influence one’s appetite. Therefore, when logging food, also include how you feel, your environment at the time, how much you are eating and so on.
These information help you identify specific triggers. For example, if you reach for the candy jar each time you are stressed, your journal may point this out.
It can also identify the class of food you eat often and show if you are getting adequate nutrients.
Logging your food can also identify certain foods you may not be tolerating well or may be allergic to.
Paper journals are as effective as downloading a mobile application on your phone, it’s up to you.
5. Calorie Counting And Portion Control
The body’s energy requirement depend on one’s activity level, basal metabolic rate, age, gender, height, and environment.
Depending on an individual’s eating habits, the body becomes used to getting certain amount of food and calories everyday. Therefore, making significant reduction to your daily caloric intake or food portion may not be well tolerated and may cause you to abandon your weight loss program.
Instead, taper down on food portions and daily caloric intake to give your body time to adjust to the new plan. For instance, if you eat 1 cup of rice at a time, you may reduce it to 2/3 cup for about 4 days and after, to about 1/2 cup for some days and so on.
It is also important that you replace carbs with low carbs foods, vegetables and foods rich in protein. This method has been shown to be more effective and easier to adhere to than making sudden changes to your food portions.
6. Don’t Eat For At Least 3-4 Hours Before Bed
Eating late at night or shortly before bed is associated with being overweight and obesity. Several hours after eating, the body begins to expend energy in response to the food, this is known as the ‘thermic effect of food’.
Eating late at night decreases the thermic effect of food and its duration. This means that you are more likely to burn calories from a snack consumed earlier in the evening faster, than when the same quantity is consumed at midnight.
Studies have found that consuming more than 33% of one’s required daily energy intake by 12:00 pm, reduced the risk of obesity. On the flip side, those who consume more than 33% required daily energy intake around dinner, are at risk of being overweight and metabolic syndrome.
In individuals with peptic ulcer and acid reflux, eating earlier in the evening helps to reduce symptoms of acid reflux.
7. Eat Foods That Increase Your Rate Of Metabolism
Metabolic rate refers to the rate at which your body uses up calories consumed in form of food. If you have high metabolic rate it means you burn more calories and are able to lose weight faster.
Incorporating foods that increase body metabolism into your diet will help you lose weight. These include;
- Red pepper: Eat spicy food to rev up your metabolism. Red pepper contains capsaicin which increases metabolism by increasing fat oxidation. It also curbs cravings. Note: it is hot and some people find it intolerable. Introduce it to your diets incrementally as tolerated.
- Consume protein-rich foods: Protein foods like meat, fish, legumes, eggs and nuts, increase the thermic effect of food (TEF) hours after their consumption. Proteins show the highest TEF of all food classes. It also increases muscle mass and high muscle mass in turn increase metabolic rate.
- Consume foods rich in iron, Zinc, Selenium. These micronutrients increase your thyroid activity by boosting thyroid hormones and these hormones in turn, increase basal metabolic rate.
- Drink green tea or coffee: Green tea is low in calories and increases metabolic rate. Green tea and coffee contain caffeine which increases metabolism. It converts stored fat into free fatty acids that gets used up by the body.
8. Increase Your Physical Activity Level
Increasing your activity level will increase your metabolic rate, help you burn fat, build muscles and lose weight.
Aim for at least 2-3 hours of moderate intensity exercise every week.
It is best to work your way up the exercise ladder. Start small, incorporate walks into your daily routine. Get a pedometer, this will show you how many steps you take each day, increase your target steps in small increments.
Take stairs instead of escalators and elevators. Park your car a little farther in the car park and walk the rest of the way to your destination.
Take a walk break from sitting after 2 hours of sitting in a place.
9. Make Changes To Your Diet
Have a diet plan that you can easily adhere to. Eat about 2-3 cups of fruits and vegetables daily. Replace the foods you like with healthier alternatives, you may not need cut them off entirely, except when not practical. Replace high glycemic index carbs with lower ones.
Avoid soda, high energy drinks and fast foods such as french fries, pizza, hamburgers, hash browns. Replace soda with unsweetened fruit juice and low calorie drinks.
10. Sleep Well and Destress
Stress and sleep deprivation can increase your appetite and risk of weight gain, according to a study. In the study people who were sleep deprived were more likely to consume nightly snacks. Nightly snack consumption has been shown to cause weight gain.
Destress with body massage, yoga, or meditation. Identify the stressor and eliminate it.
Adults require 7-8 hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed. Cultivate healthy sleep habits, switch off the lights while sleeping, don’t sleep with the television on in the background, listen to soothing music before bed if it relaxes you.
Remember to reward yourself and celebrate your milestones, however big or small!