Want to lose weight and get fit? You’re not alone. A recent study showed that 45 million Americans are on a diet each year. Unfortunately, 42% of those people drop out of their diet plan. And for the ones that are successful in losing the initial weight, the news is still grim. 90% of dieters regain that weight within three to five years.
We like quick results, forgetting that it probably took us awhile to get into this physical condition. We get impatient or the regimen we’re on is too restrictive, so we quit.
I know what it’s like. Although I’ve always been athletic, I found myself 25 pounds overweight when I was just in my late 20s. Over the years, I spent a lot of time and money on weight loss supplements and diet pills, without the results I wanted. When I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (a chronic inflammation and stiffening of the spine), I realized I had to make some changes for good. I did make those changes and now I am fitter and healthier than ever before.
I found these 6 tips to be pivotal in my journey. Unlike the latest fad diets, these are smart, sensible ideas that you can easily add to whatever nutrition or exercise plan you’re on.
1. Eat And Drink More
Most diets focus on what you cannot have, which leads us to a feeling of deprivation. Focus instead on some of the things you want to increase. One thing to have more of: water. You’ve no doubt heard it before, but have you really done it? Diets across the board recommend drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Why? It does add to the feeling of fullness, so you may eat less and it does help with digestion and is good for the skin. A feeling of hunger is also a disguise for thirst, so quenching the thirst can satisfy you without the need for food. Another thing to have more of: breakfast. Studies show that many dieters skip breakfast in an effort to decrease calories. However, they tend to intake more calories later in the day. Instead, start with a healthy breakfast that wakes up both you and your metabolism.
Bet you’ve heard that one too. But here’s the thing: Don’t do too much. Many people who want to lose weight feel that the only way to lose weight is to spend hours in the gym. That thought is so daunting; they give up on exercise entirely. If you’re looking to drop 30 pounds before your high school reunion this summer, you might rev up the gym workouts, but if you want to begin a healthy lifestyle that keeps you physically active for years to come, you’ll need a different plan. The American Heart Association recommends most adults get 30 minutes of moderately intense activity 5 days a week. You may be able to do more, or desire more, but the idea of a 30 minute brisk walk around the neighborhood, or a ballroom dancing class or a mixed doubles tennis match don’t sound so much like a grind, but maybe even… fun.
So many efforts at dieting are derailed due to lack of planning, and it happens so easily. The co-workers go out for an after work celebration, and suddenly your baggie of baby carrots doesn’t look so inviting, and you go out too and indulge in the menu. A little more planning might keep that train from derailing. Let’s backtrack the scenario for a moment. Say you eat the carrots (and drink a nice big cup of water) before you go out with your co-workers. Then, before you leave the office, you jump on the website for the restaurant you’re going to. Look at the menu and pick out a healthy choice. Maybe ask a co-worker to split an order with you. You’ll get to mingle with your buddies and eat without as much guilt. Planning where and what you are going to eat will help you stay in control and on track.
The dictionary definition of a commitment is a promise or an obligation. When you decide to improve your life through better nutrition and exercise, you are making a promise to yourself. When you commit yourself to marriage, you typically wouldn’t say “I’ll stay married for two weeks, and if I don’t see the results I want, I’ll end it.” No, in most marriages people enter it with the idea that it is a change that is going to last. The same goes with your nutrition and fitness changes. When you commit to healthy improvements, it’s important to think of that promise as a lifelong commitment, and don’t give up.
Whenever you are trying to make a positive change, it’s important to get reinforcement. Find people who want to see you succeed, and who accept the changes you want to implement. This could be the support of a weight loss center, or a registered dietician. It could be a personal trainer, or your best friend who gets up at 6 in the morning to walk with you.
We’ve determined that getting fit is a long-term process, one that can discourage people who want quick results. The way to stay motivated is to reframe the idea of successful results. While you may want to lose 20 pounds, it’s going to take awhile. And sometimes the scale doesn’t register your hard work. So you need to look at other advancements. Look for how your clothes fit and look, increased strength at the gym, decreased breathlessness going up stairs, increased energy….these are healthy signs that you’re moving toward your goal. Reward yourself when you see these accomplishments, whether it’s with a new song for your iPod or a new gym clothes.
Dieting is different from quitting other behaviors. When a person quits smoking, the line is clear: don’t smoke anymore. (It may be difficult to do, but the rule is simple.) Same as when an alcoholic stops drinking. However, you can’t “just say no” to all food. You end up constantly evaluating the best choices and facing down temptation. No wonder it’s tough. But these tips will give you the information and ideas you need to be tougher.