Build long-term habits with practical lifestyle changes for successful weight loss
Eating healthy food is a challenge when you live in a sly, highly processed food world. The temptations to eat seem to be everywhere. And forget about tricky diets when trying to achieve a healthier body weight. Just like buying shoes, there is no one size fits all when it comes to losing weight.
The latest statistics show that more than 70 percent of Americans are overweight to obese. This is particularly worrying during the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Several studies have shown a direct link to obesity as the main risk factor for developing more severe illness, hospital stays, and deaths from infection with this virus.
When it comes to weight loss, scientific, evidence-based guidelines are the more appropriate direction. It is well documented that two main components to success in losing weight are choosing healthier foods while reducing calories and increasing physical activity. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Not really. We are human and sometimes our best plans can fail for various reasons.
But there is a third component that is just as important as the first two. This third component often makes or breaks your success if you not only achieve weight loss goals but also prevent you from slipping and gaining back weight that you previously lost.
What is this third component? It’s called behavior change. Think of them as little tricks of the trade when it comes to weight loss. Behavior change boils down to focusing on healthy behaviors. If you lead with these behaviors, weight loss usually follows. By prioritizing this third component, you have armed yourself with essential weight loss tools and can focus on your path to achieving a healthy weight.
Below are various tools for changing behavior; You can choose which ones to work on the most:
Eliminate inappropriate eating tips
- Don’t buy tempting, problematic foods out of sight, out of mind.
- Designate only one room to eat in.
- Shop when you are not hungry.
- Replace large plates, cups, and utensils with smaller ones – eat from a plate no more than nine inches in diameter.
- Avoid vending machines, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores as much as possible.
- When eating a meal or snack, make a rule that no electronic devices – cell phones, tablets, laptops – are allowed at the table to prevent pointless eating.
Suppress the clues that you cannot remove
- Serve individual plates; don’t serve “family style”.
- Measure your servings; avoid large servings or packets of food.
- Remove food from the table after you’ve eaten a meal – excess food sitting around only leads to overeating.
- Create barriers to eating problematic foods – wrap and freeze them to make them less accessible.
- Loss of control; plan and eat regular meals.
- Limit sedentary activities as much as possible, such as walking. B. Watching TV or using an electronic device.
- Get up and exercise for at least five minutes (preferably longer) every hour.
Reinforce the evidence of adequate diet and exercise
- Store healthy foods in clear containers on the front of the refrigerator and place a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter.
- Learn suitable portion sizes.
- Plan high protein, high fiber meals to help control hunger and appetite.
- Plan on healthy, filling snacks.
- Eat fruits and / or vegetables with every meal.
- Keep sports equipment and sports shoes ready in front of the door at all times.
Repeat the desired eating and exercise behavior
- Slow down the food – put utensils between bites.
- Eat only until you feel full, but not full.
- Get More Exercise – Find ways to incorporate more physical activity into your life.
- Join groups of active people and take part – maybe a hiking club, a yoga class or aqua aerobics.
- If you set yourself weight loss goals instead of saying, “Lose two pounds a week,” replace them with certain mini-goals like “Eat a cup of vegetables with dinner” or “Walk 20 minutes a day”. This will help you focus on a specific, sustainable habit that will point you in the right direction.
Reward yourself for achieving health goals
- Buy tickets to sporting events, movies, concerts, and other non-food entertainment.
- Treat yourself to a small purchase.
- Getting a massage; buy some flowers.
- Take a hot bath; read a good book.
- Treat yourself to a lesson in a new active occupation such as horse riding, handball or tennis.
- Praise yourself; Visit friends.
- Take a nap; Relax.
Take the message home with you
Your health is a lifelong journey. Just like a garden, in order to thrive it needs consistent watering, weeding, and fertilizing. Consistency is the key. By adopting and consistently following lifestyle or behavior changes, you are more inclined to achieve weight loss goals, as well as other health goals in general. The more these habits are practiced, the more they become part of your lifestyle.
And that’s when you’ve started feeling good about yourself, your choices, and your health for a lifetime.
Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered nutritionist with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and institutional management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical nutritionist for local clinics, an associate professor at a community college teaching basic nutrition, and a freelance health and nutrition writer. She is the author of The Nourished Brain: The Latest Science on Food’s Power For Protecting The Brain from Alzheimers and Demenz and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook. Visit her website at www.eatwelltobewellrd.com.