You’re comfortably seated on a cozy banquette at a restaurant, menu in hand. “Hmmm, what shall I have… a poutine or a health wrap with veggies and plain yogurt?” As you glance over at your better half to help you decide, he tells you sweetly that he’s already ordered for you. The wrap it is!
Are you at a healthy weight? Do you feel like everybody stares at you when you walk into a room, or do you simply feel unhappy in your own skin? Are you wondering when that “aha moment” will come and turn this “mission impossible” into “anything’s possible” to get back to your ideal weight?
Forget “miracle” diets
People love to believe in miracles. But unfortunately, when it comes to losing weight, it is best to stop hoping for one and see things realistically. Permanent weight loss requires time, effort and, most especially, self-evaluation and lifestyle changes.
Although they may seem appealing, crash diets are not only restrictive and difficult, but they are also ineffective in the long run. This is the case, for example, for high-protein diets, which can lead to spectacular results on a short-term basis and after painful efforts. In the most extreme forms, these diets can lead to health problems, such as nutritional deficiencies, fatigue and digestive problems. Also, weight loss is often followed by eventual weight gain as the body reacts to being denied the calories it requires.
This type of super-strict diet is not based on significant, long-lasting changes in eating habits. It also does not promote taking into account the signals for hunger and feeling full.
So let’s replace this notion of “miracle diet” with “effective diet.” And here it is: to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, you must permanently change your eating habits and increase your level of physical activity on a long-term basis. If you think that this is easier said than done, here are a few tips that may help you along your journey.
Establishing realistic goals
If you decide to start the process of losing weight, it might be helpful to establish goals. Some people make the mistake of aiming for significant weight loss every week, such as two or three kilos, for example. If you are seriously overweight, it is best that you aim for losing an average of one to two kilos a week, at first. Later on, you can aim for losing half to one kilo per week. This second option is quite reasonable if you are trying to lose a moderate amount of weight.
Chart your progress. Adopt the habit of weighing yourself every day or, at least, on a regular basis. This will allow you to make adjustments, if needed.
Changing your eating habits
To reach your dream weight, it is important that you make the commitment to eating less and eating better… for the long run, not only for the next few weeks or months.
Here are a few examples of changes that can lead to remarkable results:
- Learn to recognize the signs of hunger and fullness, and heed them.
- Drink a lot of water. It is recommended to drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day.
- Reduce portion sizes. If you’re still hungry after having eaten, you can always take a little more.
- Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods, such as eggs, nuts and legumes.
- Reduce your intake of sugar and fat.
- Don’t skip meals. Eat healthy snacks if you are hungry between meals.
As much as possible, eat when you are moderately hungry. Don’t wait until you are starving to have a meal because you may overeat.
- Eliminate beverages and foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. For example: soft drinks, chips, chocolate, baked goods, etc. Get into the habit of replacing them with beverages and foods that you like, but that are healthier in terms of calories and nutrition. Blueberries, raspberries and yogurt drinks are some examples of excellent choices.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you cheat a little, but not too often. For example, at a birthday party, treat yourself to a piece of cake. But avoid temptation in your own pantry or refrigerator.
- Follow the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide.
- Drink less alcohol.
Promoting physical activity
Exercising regularly contributes to weight loss, helps to maintain good health and provides you with a general sense of well-being, as well as improved sleep. So, what are you waiting for? Put on your running shoes and follow these steps to bring exercise back into your life:
- Move as much as possible! Walk a little more each day. For instance, use stairs instead of the elevator at work, or park your car a little further from the door. Note that you only need 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day to lose weight and stay in shape.
- Discover new physical activities that require more muscle and aerobic capacity, such as cycling, hiking, dancing, swimming, etc.
- Join your nearest fitness centre. Consider using the services of a professional trainer.
- If you suffer from an illness or disease, see your doctor before starting a more intense exercise program.
Unfortunately, you can’t magically lose weight with a snap of the fingers. The golden rule is quite simple: patience and consistency. A healthy weight is a commitment to well-being and self-worth!