Dr. Maria D. Reyes
The health risks associated with being overweight include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, high LDL cholesterol, gallbladder disease, some cancers, osteoarthritis, diabetes, gout, and breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, to name a few. By addressing weight issues, you provide yourself an opportunity to enjoy life with a reduced risk of having these problems now and in the future.
Trying to lose weight can be a battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting because of the benefits that result from it and the risks of not doing it. Though willpower is a definite element in this, there are emotional and mental obstacles that can make the journey more complicated.
Effective Ways to Lose Weight
In order to find effective ways to lose weight, these elements need to be addressed, and so a multi-pronged approach is needed that meets you where you are and provides you the tools you need. Below are a few suggestions for things you can do both by themselves and in combination, to help you lose weight.
Get moving! Exercise helps
Most Americans turn to working out to get fit and lose weight. Whatever type of movement you enjoy, doing it 3-5 times a week for about thirty minutes will go a long way to helping you reduce your weight. Speak with your doctor to see what types of activities you’re cleared for, and then go for it. With exercise, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
Consistency is key. When you’re sporadic, that isn’t as helpful and can create a mental block toward working out. Consistency can suffer because we’re doing something we don’t enjoy. You don’t come back to exercise you don’t like, or you do so grudgingly, and that makes the whole experience unpleasant.
Consistency can also suffer if you do too much and either injure yourself or scare yourself off. Doing a little bit every day goes further than doing too much every other month. Make sure you have rest days or active recovery days so that your body gets a chance to reset.
Find accountability. More than merely doing something you enjoy, doing something you enjoy with like-minded people who can keep you accountable can be a real help. The encouragement from hearing other people’s stories and witnessing their journey can push you to meet your goals. Nowadays, there are fitness tracking apps and groups you can connect with to share progress, struggles, victories, and everything in between.
Be careful with the scale. Weighing yourself gives you hard facts to work with, but you should remember to weigh yourself at the same time every day because you can get different results throughout any given day. Additionally, if your weight isn’t falling even though you’re putting in the work, remember that the weight might be remaining steady because you’re gaining muscle.
Ask yourself if you’re feeling fitter, more flexible, more energetic, and better able to do things that may have been difficult before. If that’s the case, whatever you’re doing is working. You can ask your doctor if they can measure your percentage of body fat. You may find that it’s gone down.
Mix it up. Doing several types of activities helps you become stronger, more flexible, more cardio fit, and so on. Throw in some stretches at the end of your walk or run; push yourself a little every so often so that your heart pumps a bit harder (if your doctor gives you the okay).
Exercise works well for most people in meeting their weight reduction goals, but getting good sleep is also critical. When we sleep well, it helps us to fight cravings and make healthy choices in the kitchen. Not only does poor sleep increase your calorie intake and decrease your resting metabolism, but good sleep enhances your capacity for physical activity.Ever try to work out when you’re feeling tired? Good sleep allows our bodies to rest and recover, which allows them to better deal with stress. When we’re feeling stressed, our bodies get the signal from the stress hormone cortisol to conserve energy during our waking hours, and that means we’ll more likely hold onto fat.
Sleeping well will help your body with the physical activities you undertake, but it also helps you to make good choices in the kitchen. A sleep-deprived brain is less able to resist cravings and make healthy food choices. Set a consistent bedtime and waking routine so your body gets the sleep it needs. Put away electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed and do some stretches before bed and avoid stimulants such as coffee too late in the day.
Where most of the work happens
Apart from the spaces where you sleep and do your exercise, the most important room in your house is the kitchen, because it’s there that many of the battles to lose weight happen. What’s in your kitchen cupboards and fridge will either support what you’re trying to do or undermine it.
Healthy snacks like nuts, having fresh vegetables and fruit, and so on will support your weight loss journey. Avoid stocking up on snacks like chips, chocolate, and cookies which may taste great and are easy to reach for and eat, because they may set you back considerably. The choices you make in the kitchen (and at the grocery store) will make a dramatic difference.Eating healthy doesn’t mean you don’t eat anything tasty, or that you can’t have your favorite snack ever again. You can have cheat days and permit yourself to have that slice of cake. It’s all right because the consistency with which you’re cooking and eating healthy food in good proportions will help you stay on course for your weight loss goals.
Eating healthy food is the engine for the rest of your weight loss journey – it fuels your exercise and gives you energy for the rest of the day; it makes you feel great. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that healthy food is tasteless and uninteresting. Many recipes and programs provide tasty, healthy alternatives.
Our relationship with food is sometimes complex. We often use food to soothe our feelings or otherwise deal with stress, when we’re feeling anxious, or low. If we’re not careful, we can develop compulsive behaviors around eating that work against moderating what we eat and how much. Binge eating doesn’t always result in weight gain, but it often does.
Instead of turning to food for comfort, we need to find healthier ways to address the uncomfortable feelings we experience. Instead of eating to deal with stress, consider addressing the source of the stress. Adjusting things in your relationships or at work, planning, avoiding procrastination, reducing your workload and commitments, and working out are all ways you can address stress that don’t involve eating.
If you’re feeling anxious, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and in some cases, medication can help to address those feelings. If you find yourself feeling low, instead of eating to soothe that and feelings of loneliness, consider reaching out to a friend or other loved one, doing a bit of movement which can boost your mood via the release of neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, or creating and reminiscing through a gratitude journal.
Going for therapy to address the sources of any compulsions regarding food and developing savviness about what we eat can go a long way to resolving issues that contribute to overeating and weight gain. Your treatment plan and weight-loss team may include a nutritionist who can help you figure out the healthiest ways to eat and build good eating habits.
Therapy, along with effective coaching, can also help you address any mental blocks you may have that prevent you from thinking you can succeed at losing weight. Sometimes, negative self-talk undermines enthusiasm and the willingness to keep going despite setbacks.
“Light Lunch”, Courtesy of Birgith, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Post Workout”, Courtesy of Derick McKinney, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Measuring Tape”, Courtesy of Siora Photography, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Remember why you started.”, Courtesy of Cristofer Jeschke, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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