Need to lose weight? Dreading the thought of another diet program? You don’t have to follow diets to lose weight. There are many people discovering this for themselves and they are the ones who are finding long term weight loss apposed to short term fixes. The key to weight loss is finding the right balance of what you eat, what you think, and what activity you do. It is not about following a perfect plan. It is impossible to be perfect every day! Finding the right balance helps you to decrease your calorie intake, increase your metabolism and keeps the self-sabotage at bay. Here are 8 steps to bring more balance into all corners of your life so you too can find weight loss success.
1. Eat more frequently during the day-
Skipping meals or waiting too long between meals can have a negative impact on your metabolism and results in overeating later in the day. It’s best to have 3 small meals and 1-2 snacks throughout the day. You will feel more satisfied and eat less. Plan to have a snack or meal every 4-5 hours.
2. Watch portion sizes-
Appropriate portion sizes are still quite misunderstood. Most Americans are eating 2-3 times the recommended portion sizes. Limit your grains, cereals, pastas, and rice to ½ – 1 cup serving sizes. Keep meat, poultry and fish to 4-ounce portion sizes. Restaurants are notorious for giving extremely large servings of food. Keep this in mind when eating out. Eat half of the food on your plate or take the rest home for lunch the next day. Studies show that when people are given large portion sizes, they eat up to 56% more calories without realizing it. To add insult to injury, our portion sizes are larger than they have ever been. Start to become more aware of the portions you are served wherever you are.
3. Eat the right fats-
Yes some fat is important. Omega 3 fatty acids are an important strategy for weight loss success and yet most Americans are not eating enough of these healthy fats. Some reports show these fatty acids may be helpful in increasing your metabolism. They are also shown to be a wonderful mood supporter and people report significantly less food cravings and triggers to eat when they incorporate omega 3 fatty acids on a daily basis. This is especially important for any emotional eaters out there. Omega 3’s are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, cod; they are also found in canola oil, walnuts, and ground flax seeds.
4. Increase fruits and vegetables-
Fruits and vegetables are not only packed with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they are also loaded in fiber and low in calories. Include 5-8 fruits and vegetables every day. This is one of the most important diet changes you can make. When you fill your plate up with fruits and vegetables you eat less of the higher calorie foods. For example, let’s take a sample steak dinner.
8 ounce steak
Whole baked potato with fixings
½ cup steamed broccoli
4 ounce steak
½ baked potato with fixings
½ cup steamed broccoli
Side salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and 1 tbsp light vinaigrette dressing
By changing the balance of this meal to include more vegetables while decreasing the steak and potato we saved approximately 350 calories. Saving 350 calories daily can result in almost a 1 pound weight loss per week. Small changes are the key.
5. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full-
Our bodies have an innate weight management mechanism. It performs this task by making you feel full when it is time to stop eating. Every time you eat past full you are taking in more calories than your body needs which will result in weight gain. Start to become more aware of your internal cues for hunger and satiety (fullness). You will be amazed how many times you wait too long to eat and how often you eat past full and enter into stuffed. It’s common for all of us to do this from time to time. However, it’s time to check in with yourself and see how often you are falling into these food patterns. Listen to your body, it will tell you when you are physically ready for food and when you are ready to stop.
6. Exercise regularly-
I know, this isn’t anything you haven’t heard before but it is a crucial part of weight management. It is important to engage in regular aerobic and weight bearing activity. The aerobic exercise helps you to burn the fat and weight bearing activity increases your metabolic rate. Muscle burns up to 90% more calories than fat. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn in a day. By adding three to five pounds of muscle you could actually burn 100 – 250 additional calories a day. This combination of aerobic and weight bearing activity is what really kicks weight loss into gear.
7. Limit sugar-
Sugar becomes a major issue for many people wanting to lose weight. Not only does it add calories, it also causes insulin spikes leading you to store more calories as fat, it stimulates your appetite, and is a major food trigger for emotional eaters. However, it doesn’t mean you need to go all or nothing. When people try to omit all sugar from their diet they can become obsessed about sugary foods and end up in a binge. Find the right balance for sugar. Avoid daily use of sugar and instead have some guiltless treats once in awhile. A little cake at a birthday party or some ice-cream with friends is a good way to incorporate sugar once in awhile to avoid the negative outcomes.
8. Pamper yourself regularly-
Who wants to argue with that?! The reality is many people eat for emotional reasons. Food makes us feel good on many levels. The problem occurs when eating becomes the only coping mechanism your subconscious knows of. This is why that pesky urge to emotionally eat is so strong. It is hard to reason your way out of it. For many people food is the only thing they know that makes them feel better. When you start to do other things that make you feel good on a regular basis such as taking a hot bath, going for a walk, having a hot cup of tea; then your subconscious starts to register these activities as coping mechanisms as well. Over time this will decrease the constant urge to use food. You can’t expect to have a bad day, go take a bath and not have an urge to eat. It is something you need to do regularly and something you truly enjoy so your subconscious starts to recognize it as a new choice.
© 2005, Meri Raffetto