Many of us will try to lose weight this year and several will fail. This failure frequently occurs because of the difficulties of changing one's lifestyle. Lifestyle changes can be a great boost to one's self-esteem and it can be a simple process as long as the change is incremental. Changing your diet should also be a simple process as long as the dieting process is not so strict that you will have difficulties following through. Unless one is severely obese, strict diet and implementing dramatic changes tend to have little lasting success. One should focus on the concept of "being fit" instead of "being thin." Being fit means eating right with moderation, for example, not eating excessive amounts of sweets or carbohydrates, exercising or engaging in physical activities on a regular basis and having a happy and exuberant mental attitude. These are qualities that are commonly associated by-products of "being fit". In this "zone", one not only feels better, but also is likely to be less ill. "Being thin" can mean restricted eating, over exercising, and constantly worrying about weight. In this "zone", one not only feels anxious, but one tends to get sick more frequently. This is not a good model of well-being and should be avoided.
Over the years, we have been asked by thousands of patients how to properly lose weight. What we have realized is that each patient requires a different approach to weight loss. The following ten steps offer a simple approach to weight loss. Remember, your whole goal is not to look like the models on TV. Most of them are in the weight zone that is anorexic and downright unhealthy.
1. Do not try to be perfect - Better weight begins in our mind. We need to strive to feel good as opposed to calculating inches. Feeling good means being able to have the vitality to accomplish things and perform activities without feeling over exhausted.
2. Eat more vegetables - All right, for those veggie haters out there. You already know that veggies are very good for you (according to your mother). They contain fiber, are low-calorie and have enzymes that can help you digest that T-bone steak from last night. What you may not know is that many veggies actually contain ingredients that regulate hormone functions and have anti-aging and anti-cancer effects. There various kinds of vegetables, which mean you, don't have to settle with one kind. Try salads (make sure your veggies are not swimming in a pool of dressing). Try cooking veggies in with a wok and add a little low sodium soy sauce.
3. Watch that bread and pasta - Most meals in this country have bread and pasta. These are made from wheat. The U.S is the number one producer of wheat and has helped to feed the world. However, most of us in this country eat too many wheat products. You know there are more to grains than wheat. Try rice, barley, couscous or beans. While grains are very nutritious and an important part of our diet, cutting down to a small amount and eating them moderately can be helpful. Eating more grains during the day and less at the night can also be helpful in how we digest them.
4. Smart eating out - You know the standard dinner at a typical restaurant. It begins with an appetizer, then salad, an entrée, dessert, and coffee. We garble all these food down with wine or cocktails. It is amazing to me that we don't get heartburn more often. Visualize what you are going to eat before you begin. Order only what you are going to consume. Do not leave food on the table you do not intend to eat. We tend to be food addicts and eat everything in sight. Learn to say no. Eat on time on a regular basis and do not skip meals!If you eat on time and regularly, you won't be famished and therefore you will have less desire to overeat. Do not skip breakfast and lunch. If you do, this is a sure recipe for a whale size dinner. Eat dinner between 6-8 pm and not later. Our energy declines rapidly at night. At this time our digestive system is not as strong and won't digest the foods as well.
5. No time for exercise? Think again - A formalized exercise program is ideal but not necessary. Instead of thinking 'exercise', we should be thinking 'physical activity'. Some of us have high levels of physical activity in our occupation in which counts toward exercise. The problem comes when we have a sedentary job and sit for long hours during the day. We need to utilize our break time, lunchtime, before and after work to invigorate ourselves. This might be to intentionally park far away from work and walk to and from the office, or take the stairs, or bike to work. Try to engage in more physical work during the weekends such as gardening, walking, hiking, running, etc. Better yet, set a regular time a few times during the week to go the gym, take a class or hire a trainer. Just make sure to mark them down in your organizer. An exercise buddy is also motivating.
6. Reduce or modify dairy product intake - Some of the most nutritious foods are dairy products. In our younger years, dairy products are a good source of calcium used for our growth. As we grow older, we need to be more conscious of how we consume dairy products. Most dairy products are high in saturated fat, which is not very healthy for our cardiovascular system when consumed in larger amounts. Opt for the lower fat dairy products such as low-fat or non-fat milks, cheeses, and yogurt. Be very judicious with butter. It exists in many of our foods such as popcorn, restaurant entrées, fried and baked foods. Try to have more steamed and sautéed foods instead of fried and baked foods.
7. Sugar! Sugar! Sugar! - When I picked up a granola bar at the health food store, the label says it does not contain sugar, but it is sweetened by fruit juice only. When I took a bite I realized it was sweeter than the ones with sugar. Upon further examination of the label, I was right. It is sweetened by concentrated fruit juice and has more calories than the sugar kind. Do not fool yourself into thinking that one kind of sugar is better than the other. We simply have to be more conscious of what sweets we eat and keep them to a minimal. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and it is an essential part of our food group. More complex carbohydrates such as grains are healthier as opposed to simple carbohydrates such as sugar.
8. Use the right oil - In many parts of the world, lard (animal fats) and butter are the de facto standard oil for cooking. No wonder heart diseases are consistently the number one killers in the world. Fats are a good source for weight gain and plaque creation in our delicate plumbing system. Better oils for cooking are canola and olive oil. But regardless of what oil you decide to use in your cooking, always remember to use it moderately.
9. Don't compare - You are a unique individual and your proportions should be fitting to your own size. Don't expect yourself to become someone you will never become. It is a sure thing to invite failure and put you in a victimized mode. In this case, you would have an ample excuse to eat more and abuse yourself more a great setup for failure.
10. Most importantly - Learn to love and take care of yourself. By doing so you will help maintain a healthy body, mind and lifestyle.