- Don’t call it a diet
Losing weight is as much about what you put in your head as you do in your mouth. The first thing to do is to ditch the idea you’re going on a diet. WebMD explains that diets have a beginning and an end. Successful weight-loss strategies must take a longer-term view; you should commit to a lifelong healthier lifestyle.
As the Mayo Clinic says, your diet needs to focus not just on losing weight, but becoming healthier overall.
The Mayo Clinic’s own diet, it says, focuses on “reshaping your body as well as your lifestyle by adopting healthy habits and breaking unhealthy ones.” Think of your diet as healthy eating; and making healthy food choices, not as dieting.
- Calories count
According to the American Heart Association, weight loss is a matter of changing the balance of calories. To lose weight you must burn more calories than you eat. 1 pound is equal to about 3,500 calories, so to lose 1pound per week, you consume 500 fewer calories a day.
However, if you consume too few calories, your weight-loss plan is doomed to fail since deprivation is unsustainable. You should become familiar with how many calories your favorite foods contain and start checking nutrition labels in stores.
Dietitians from WebMD and the Mayo Clinic advise you to eat a variety of foods to benefit from a wide range of nutrients. You can’t eat just cake and expect to lose weight, even if your calorie count is correct. They also advise that portion control is important. You don’t have to eat everything put in front of you. Remember it is always advisable to consult a dietitian or doctor before beginning on a calorie-restricted diet.
Sorry, you can’t get away from it. To burn calories, you must exercise. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you think of it as physical activity not as exercise. It can mean anything from taking a brisk walk around the block during your lunch hour to gardening or mowing the lawn ─ with a push mower not a tractor mower.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average healthy adult needs at least two hours and thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each day. A good plan, the association suggests, is thirty to sixty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every day. However, don’t go full throttle in the beginning. Start gently and slowly build up fitness.
If you start out at full speed, you’re likely to run out of fuel very quickly. It’s all about making small, incremental changes and incorporating them into your lifestyle. One useful tip from the AHA is to break up your physical activity in 10-minute chunks. It must also be about having fun. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to give up.
- Get friendly with your scale
According to the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks successful weight-loss maintenance among thousands of members across the US, the clear majority (75%) weigh themselves once a week.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agrees, saying that stepping on a scale is important for staying on track. WebMD advises you to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten anything and after you have emptied your bladder.
Almost every nutritional expert advises people who are beginning a weight-loss program to keep a food diary or journal. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says journaling encourages positive reinforcement, and keeping a food and activity log promotes mindfulness, provides accountability, and motivates making better food choices.
WebMD adds that journaling will help you detect your emotional triggers for eating. Moreover, according to the AHA, a food diary will help you understand when you overeat and why.