If you were to ask several health experts what is the best way to lose weight, many would most likely say that most diets are futile for losing weight and keeping it off because 95% of dieters will gain back the weight they lost. Many of those same health experts would also likely argue that adopting a healthier lifestyle is the number one way to lose pounds and inches and keep them off.
A few of the first things you’re probably thinking is, “Okay, but how do I change my lifestyle? Where do I start?” Don’t let the idea of changing your lifestyle scare you. There are plenty of ways to help guide you through the process of changing unhealthy eating and exercise habits. One of the most important things that will lead to successful lifestyle changes is replacing potentially harmful habits with ones that promote good health.
Weight Loss Motivation
Before making any lifestyle changes, however, evaluate what’s motivating you. If you want to get slimmer because you think your spouse or partner will love you more, chances are you’re setting yourself up for failure. If on the other hand, you want to make changes to improve your health and increase your self-esteem, you’ll be much more likely to succeed. Lifestyle changes happen because you want to make them, not because someone else may benefit from them.
Instead of making an attempt to lose a specific number of pounds, make it a goal to adopt healthier, permanent eating and exercise habits. A lot of people go on a diet thinking it’s only temporary until they achieve their goal. That is they see a diet as a means to an end rather than a decision to permanently change unhealthy habits.
A lot of people assume that once they’ve lost a certain number of pounds, they won’t have to worry about diets anymore. Unfortunately, research reveals that most people who lose weight and don’t make permanent lifestyle changes usually gain back the dreaded pounds; many gain back more pounds than they had lost. The tendency to gain and lose over and over again is referred to as yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting is not the best way to lose weight. It can also lead to health problems like gallstones and metabolic syndrome.
Believing in Yourself is Best Way to Lose Weight
It’s important to focus on believing you have the ability to be successful rather than proving something to yourself or someone else. Believing that you can achieve something and develop the skills to be successful is more effective than only setting goals, which may set you up for failure.
Heidi Grant Halvorson in the Harvard Business Review article “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently,” says “Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.” Instead of focusing only on achieving a specific goal, think about the journey or process, which is going to have ups and downs but also is just as important as achieving the goal.
Make changes gradually instead of trying to make too many changes at once. Avoid cutting too many calories too quickly. According to the article “Lifestyle Changes for Weight Loss,” health experts believe that losing 0.5 to 2 pounds a week is a healthy goal for most people. Dieters who lose too many pounds too quickly are more likely to gain them back.
Instead, evaluate your current diet. Write down everything you’re eating. Write down what times you’re eating and note your mood. In general, people who are overweight tend to indulge in extra calories when they’re feeling lonely, stressed or bored. Some associate food with love and derive comfort from it. Keeping a food diary, especially if you’re eating too much, is one of the most important things you can do to lose weight and keep it off permanently.
Ease into exercise. For example, if you want to start a walking routine, walk for 10 to 15 minutes, and gradually increase the duration over several weeks. Choose specific times to workout. For example making a decision to exercise for 15 minutes after waking and before breakfast is more effective than deciding to exercise three to four times a week. Regular exercise will also help you feel better not only physically but emotionally too, which will help you deal with feelings that tend to make you turn to food for comfort.
The Best Diet for You
Fad diets–diets that promise you’ll lose weight fast and easy–come and go. It’s better to choose a diet that promotes healthy weight loss and a life maintenance plan. So if you find a diet that promises to easily melt the pounds away quickly, it’s probably not going to help you keep the weight off permanently.
There is no one best diet for everyone. Diets that work for others may not necessarily work for you. Ultimately, it’s important to find the best way to lose weight that makes you feel content– one that is usually found through trial and error. Just be sure to work on finding a food and exercise plan you can realistically live with for the rest of your life.
Halvorson, Heidi Grant Halvorson. “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently.” Harvard Business Review. February 25, 2011.
“Lifestyle Changes for Weight Loss.” Nutrition & Weight Control for Longevity. January 2007. pg. 59-71.