It's the beginning of the summer season and most of us want to lose those excess pounds and inches. Weight loss isn't easy to achieve or maintain. If it were, we wouldn't hear so much about it. It is about changing behaviors, which can be difficult, but not impossible. Don't fall for the quick fix fads that bombard us in the media. They may work in the short term, but don't last in long term weight loss and are not good for your health.
There are, however, some simple (but not necessarily easy) steps you can take to help you on your journey. Not every weight loss strategy is appropriate for everyone. Some people respond better to certain behavior changes or styles of eating than others. Choose one simple change to implement, stick with it, and assess the results to adjust your plan as needed. It's better to start with one change than try everything and fail.
Here are 5 simple changes that will help you lose the weight for good! It's not magic....it's about intentional wellness. Learning to be intentional with your choices can help you achieve a healthy body and mind.
1. Eat less sugar. The first step to weaning yourself off sugar is cutting down or eliminating sweetened beverages (soda, sweetened teas, sports drinks). If you consume a lot of these beverages in a day, start by eliminating one a day. Then begin decreasing more of those drinks. After that, work on limiting your intake of desserts. If you do have sweets wait until after dinner to avoid being on a blood sugar roller coaster throughout the day.
2. Eat more protein and vegetables. Protein is the number one nutrient that will make you feel full at a meal. Include a protein source at all your meals and snacks - organic meat, fish, beans or eggs. Pair the protein with non-starchy vegetables to ensure lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with few calories.
3. Eat fewer grains. Grains include breads, pasta, rice, quinoa, and millet, among others. The best grains are whole, organic grains. Limit your grains to 2-3 servings per day or less to help you lose weight. Grains are relatively high in carbohydrates which raise blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin triggers fat storage by the body, so if you have a very grain-rich (or sugar-rich) diet, your body is in constant fat storage mode. Instead, focus on getting more protein, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats into your diet.
4. Eat until you are satisfied, but not full. Many of us believe we should feel full after meals. That full feeling usually means feeling sluggish and tired. What we should feel is satisfied after a meal, meaning no longer hungry. This can be a radical shift for many of us who have spent much of our lives eating until we are full. The best way to learn when you are satisfied, is to eat slowly and mindfully. Take the time to taste each bite, chew slowly and avoid doing anything else while you eat, like watching TV or working. Mindful eating helps you pay attention to the signals your body is giving you that you have had enough to eat. This one simple shift can help the excess weight come off.
5. Get enough sleep. This may sound strange but sleep can is important to losing and maintaining healthy weight. When you are tired it's much harder to make good decisions. Lack of sleep also alters levels of hormones that regulate your appetite, leaving you hungrier and much more likely to overeat.