TEN RULES FOR WEIGHT LOSS THAT LASTS

 

When it comes to dropping pounds, you need to know the hard facts about how diets work: why certain habits will help you in the long run and others will come back to haunt you.  Slimming down isn’t fun, but it doesn’t have to be miserable either if you stick to some smart, legit strategies. 

 

 

Before you start, remember this: You are not fat.  You have fat.  Losing weight isn’t about blame or shame; it’s simply another of your achievements to accomplish.  Getting emotional about it or putting too much pressure on yourself makes the process even harder and ends up sabotaging your efforts.  Dieting is like any other skill: you have to buckle down and work at it.  As long as you act in a smart, reasonable way, you’ll ultimately get where you want to be.  Once you stop beating yourself up about the extra pounds you’ve put on and ditch the dream of unrealistic expectations, you can focus all your energy on getting the job done.  Use these 10 weight loss tenets to help reach your goals.

 

 

  • It’s not a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.  Thinking of a diet as something you’re on and suffering through only for the short term doesn’t work.  To shed weight and keep it off, you need to make permanent changes to the way you eat.  It’s ok to indulge occasionally, of course, but if you cut calories temporarily, and then revert to your old way of eating, you’ll gain back the weight quicker than you can say yo-yo.
  • There is a right way to exercise.  Working out boosts your metabolism by building muscle.  But those trying to lose weight are notorious for overestimating the number of calories they burn and underestimating the amount they take in.  Your body is programmed to hold onto extra pounds.  That means when you start exercising, your body senses the deficit and ramps up its hunger signals.  If you’re not diligent, you’ll eat everything you burn and then some.  Additionally, it’s important to use resistant training (weights or bands, or your body weight) and HITT, or high-intensity interval training (instead of long cardiovascular bouts) so that you will build muscle.  This will increase your calorie-burning ability, making it easier to lose the weight AND keep it off.
  • Don’t overreact to mild hunger.  Some women have a difficult time losing weight because of hunger anxiety.  To some, being hungry is bad: something that should be avoided at all costs.  Others eat because they’re stressed out or bored.  While you never want to get to the point of being ravenous (that’s when bingeing is likely to happen), a twinge of hunger should not have you obsessing about eating.  Instead, plan your meals and snacks and eat accordingly.  If your stomach is growling and it’s difficult to concentrate, you know it’s time to eat something.
  • Not all calories are equal.  The mechanics of weight loss are pretty simple: Take in fewer calories than you use for energy.  But the kind of food you eat makes all the difference!  A calorie is not just a calorie.  Processed food that is high in partially hydrogenated oils and concentrated carbohydrates can cause inflammation that disrupts the hormone signals that tell your brain you’re full.  The result: You eat a lot more.  Plus, junk food can be addictive; the more you eat the more you need to get the same feel-good effects.  One handful of potato chips won’t cut it any longer so you keep eating and eating.
  • Protein, produce and plant-based fats are your weight-loss trinity.  Here is why eating the three P’s will help you drop pounds.  Protein fills you up.  You need it to build lean muscle, which keeps your metabolism humming so that you can torch more fat.   Individuals who meet their protein needs lose more weight and keep it off!   Produce is packed with filling fiber.  It’s very difficult to consume too many calories if you’re eating a lot of vegetables.  Three cups of broccoli is a lot of food, yet only 93 calories.  (Fruit is another story.  It can be easy to overeat and can contain a lot of calories from fructose, or fruit sugar, so limit your intake to 2-3 servings per day depending upon your goals).  Plant-based fats like olive oil and those in avocados and nuts are healthy and extra satiating.  Low-fats diets make people irritable and feel deprived because fat tastes good and keeps you full.
  • Meal skipping, juice fasts and crash diets will backfire.  Always.  When you lose weight on a fast or a crash diet, you don’t learn to eat healthier, adjust your portion sizes, or deal with whatever is triggering your overeating in the first place, so the pounds quickly return.  The physical damage goes much deeper.  The worse the quality of a diet or the more restrictive it is, the more you end up burning precious muscle to supply energy.  You’re losing muscle instead of fat, so the weight loss is just an illusion of success.
  • How you eat is as important as what you eat. In order for your brain to register that you’re full, you need to focus on what you’re eating.  Physical satiety is closely tied to psychological satisfaction.   People note how difficult it is for them to lose weight because they love to eat, yet they never concentrate on their food: they eat while watching TV, reading, driving, and working.  No wonder that eating when you’re distracted results in consuming a significant number of extra calories a day.
  • Weighing yourself really works.  The scale provides the best evidence about whether your efforts are paying off.  Seeing the numbers tick down or up (or not moving) is motivation to keep going, or to rethink your approach.  For most people, daily weights can help people lose more weight, keep it off, and maintain that loss for years.
  • Too much stress and too little sleep are your enemies.  When you’re tired and frazzled, your body cranks up the production of cortisol, the stress hormone that can cause carbohydrate cravings.  Not getting enough sleep also boosts your levels of ghrelin, one of the hormones associated with hunger, while suppressing leptin, a hormone that signals satiety.    Shoot for sleeping 7.5-8 hours per night. 
  • You will hit a plateau, and you can bust through it.  As you slim down, your body releases much less leptin, the fullness hormone.  If you lose 10% of your body weight, leptin drops by about 50%.  Your brain is programmed to think you’ve shed more pounds than you actually have, and it tells your body it needs more food and should burn fewer calories.  This is why plateaus happen and what makes maintaining weight loss so difficult.  In addition, when you’re lighter, you require fewer calories for energy.  You might have burned 100 calories taking a walk before, but now your body needs only 80 calories to go the same distance.  So, to repeat, if you’re not strength training, start right now.  Building muscle can raise your metabolism to help you overcome a plateau.  To keep your body challenged and burning calories, incorporate new moves and more intense intervals into your workouts.  Also, try eating carbohydrates last at each meal, after your protein and vegetables.  Doing this will reduce your blood sugar 40%.  This in turn will reduce your need for insulin, reducing your body’s ability to hang on to weight.

 

Beth Janes