By: Karyl Landeau
Are you tired of diet trends? Rather than dieting, you should try to implement lifestyle changes that are sustainable. Most diets do not work because they are short term in nature. A sustainable lifestyle change is a better way to approach weight management. Rather than starting a diet, follow some of these tips instead:
1. Commit to a healthy eating lifestyle – not a diet.
Don’t start a diet. Instead, start a healthy eating lifestyle…something you can reasonably expect to follow for the rest of your life. And, yes, it’s okay to modify it over time as necessary…whether due to availability of food choices by season or location…changes in your taste…or the advice of a healthcare professional.
If you’re serious about losing weight, eat 10% less than what you normally eat to maintain your current weight. If your weight plateaus and you want to lose more, increase your activity level, decrease your calorie intake by 10%, or do a combination of both.
When it’s time to shop for food, check your refrigerator and your pantry. Then, before you leave home, make a list of the items you need. When you get to the grocery store, stick to your list. You want to minimize the risk of making impulsive purchases. Wandering down one aisle and up the other is a surefire way to end up with more items in your grocery cart than you need – not to mention items that aren’t part of a healthy eating lifestyle.
2. Commit to being active every day doing what you enjoy.
Everyone knows that weight management is a combination of eating healthy and staying active. But let’s face it…not everyone is up for long, intense work-outs at a gym. So, find something you like to do…whether it’s walking, biking, lifting weights, yoga, tai chi, dancing or something else entirely. What matters is that you move every day – preferably for at least 30 minutes.
And switch it up. Your body – as well as your mind – will benefit from variety. Your body will be worked in different ways…toning and strengthening different muscles on different days. Your mind will be less likely to get bored. And you know what that means…you’ll be more likely to stick to your commitment and move every day.
If working and commuting leave you with little time for exercise, commit to bursts of activity throughout the day. For example, while at work, take five-minute activity breaks – hourly, if you are able. Walk briskly, climb stairs, do calf raises, or stretch. It really doesn’t matter what you do – just move. You might be surprised to find that frequent bursts of activity can be better than drinking caffeinated beverages all day. Added benefits include boosting your mood and stoking your metabolism.
3. Eat your meal on a smaller plate.
Food on a smaller plate looks like more food than the same amount of food on a larger plate. This may seem silly because, after all, you know it’s the same amount of food. But plate size is all about the messages your eyes are sending to your brain while you’re eating.
4. Sit down to eat your meal and savor every bite.
When it’s time to eat, sit down and eat slowly. Chew every bite thoroughly. Savor the flavors. Keep your taste buds awake by alternating bites between different foods.
Having trouble slowing down? Set your fork or spoon down between bites and focus on chewing every bite thoroughly.
In other words, don’t snarf your food. Dine. Your body needs time to figure out when it’s full. Eating slowly is an effective way to guard against overeating.
5. Avoid temptation at home and at work.
Inevitably someone will bring sweets to work. In order to avoid temptation, keep some healthy snacks on hand. Then, when others are munching on donuts, cookies, or cake, you can snack on something that’s good for you.
Don’t keep unhealthy snack foods at home. If it’s not there, you won’t be tempted. If you are craving something, just thinking about leaving the house and driving to the store and back to get it might be enough to curtail your craving. If not, go get it but then consider it your “treat meal” for the week.
6. Have a “treat meal” once a week.
Once a week, have whatever you want to eat for one meal. Allowing yourself to take an occasional break from your healthy eating lifestyle will help you stick with it long-term. Just don’t go overboard. If you want ice cream for dessert, for example, have 1 or 2 scoops – not an entire pint.
7. Reward yourself.
Occasionally reward yourself – with something other than food – for sticking with your healthy eating and active lifestyle. Whether it’s going to a sporting event, attending the theater, or an afternoon at the spa, be good to yourself…for being good!
In summary, commit to a healthy eating lifestyle and being active every day. You can lose weight…and keep it off…by committing to reasonable, sustainable changes. While others are drastically cutting back their calorie intake on the latest diet and exercising like crazy…only to quit because they just can’t keep it up…be a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.