Let’s face it – losing weight is difficult. The sooner we can admit that the sooner we can get down to making the changes we all know are necessary to make. But does the end result always look the same? I would argue that no, it doesn’t. Why is that? Because we are all, in fact, individual, which is why there is not “one way” to eat healthier. There are, however, some basics to keep in mind. So let’s get started!
Here are some tips for improving your weight loss success but ultimately focusing more on improving your overall health. Because that’s the bottom line – the number on the scale is important as a tool to measure progress, but it is not the only benefit of improving our lifestyle choices.
- Be more mindful with what you are eating, how much you are eating and when you are eating. If you are “hungry all of the time,” then you are probably not eating often enough. You might need some extra healthy snacks such as a piece of fruit, a bag of 100 calorie popcorn or a small handful of nuts worked into your day to prevent you from feeling hungry so often. Also, more processed foods such as chips, cookies or candy won’t stick with you as long so you tend to get hungry quicker.
- Slow down! In many cases eating has become more of a race than a journey. We slam down breakfast so we can get out the door to work. We gobble up dinner so we can get the kids to practice. Our bodies aren’t designed to digest and process food at that frantic pace. Your stomach and your brain need time to communicate that there is food available and it’s time to get to work digesting it. It takes 20 minutes for that “connection” to occur and most people can eat quite a bit of food in 20 minutes!
- If you are a “stress eater” we need to work on other strategies to handle stress that don’t involve food. When we are feeling vulnerable, that is not the time to try and restrict eating, but having a plan in place for what you can do instead during those “stressful times” is helpful because it reduces the “impulse eating.” If we already feel like life isn’t going our way we don’t want to cause ourselves more stress. What else CAN we do? Talk to a friend, take a walk or get some form of movement, play with your dog, cat, hamster, or whatever furry friend is available, volunteer, or read. There are many options, but having them in place prior to needing them is key.
- Give yourself some time to really think about what you are willing to change. If you aren’t ready to give up dessert then start with something else like increasing vegetables daily. Incorporating healthier habits doesn’t always have to be about avoiding or eliminating. Sometimes it’s just as important to make sure we are including enough of the right things.
- Incorporate more movement into your day. Walk around the grocery store perimeter once before you start your grocery shopping. Walk the dog (or your neighbor’s dog if you don’t have one). Plant a garden. Play in the yard with kids or grandkids. Invest in an exercise tape that allows you to do what is most comfortable for you.
Taking care of yourself involves many areas with weight management being one of them. There is never a bad time to start something that will improve your health. What one thing can you do today to get started? Give it a try – the best version of YOU is waiting!
Jennifer Gilliland is an outpatient dietitian with ProMedica and a professional clinical counselor. She enjoys talking with people about the behavioral side of eating as well as educating people on the healthiest food choices.