The healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off isn't with crash diets or crazy exercise programs. It's by permanently changing your eating habits and activity levels so that you can reach a healthy weight and maintain it.
A crash diet that severely restricts your calorie intake will deprive you of valuable nutrients. Plus, it will make you weak and irritable -- which leads to binge eating. If you don't want your weight to yoyo up and down, you need to make dietary changes that you can stick to over the course of your lifetime, not just a couple weeks.
You shouldn't rush into a new exercise routine either -- especially if you haven't gotten off the couch for months. You'll likely struggle early on and get unmotivated. And, if you rush into extreme exercise, you drastically increase the likelihood of injuring yourself. Instead, ease your way into fitness by gradually increasing your activity levels.
Easy ways to reduce calories
Instead of jumping into a drastic diet plan, start cutting calories the easy way.
- Drink only water: You'd be surprised how easily the calories in beverages add up. Ditch the soft drinks and alcohol, and try to only drink water.
- Use smaller plates: We tend to eat as much food as is on our plates (and then some). You can start eating less by using smaller plates, and never going back for second helpings.
- Skip dessert: Eliminate sugary and fatty desserts from your diet. If you crave something sweet, try a piece of fruit.
- Eat veggies first: Fill half your plate with vegetables and eat them first to fill up. Most vegetables are high in nutrition and low in calories and fat.
- Eat more often: Skipping breakfast or other meals won't help you lose weight the right way. You'll just end up overeating later to compensate. Additionally, skipping meals can disrupt your body's metabolism -- making it even more difficult to lose weight. Have three meals a day plus a few healthy snacks.
Simple ways to get moving
You don't need to start running 10 kilometres a day instantly to lose weight. If your life has been extremely sedentary, begin by gradually adding more movement into your daily routine.
- Take the stairs: Every extra step you take will help you lose weight. Instead of always using the stairs, use the lift. Instead of driving everywhere you need to go, walk or bike.
- Exercise while watching TV: Put an exercise bicycle or treadmill in your living room and start exercising while watching your favourite programs. If you don't have the equipment, at least get up during commercial breaks and do calisthenics.
- Walk after dinner: Make it a habit to take a walk every evening after dinner. The whole family can walk together. It's great for bonding and a lot of fun. If you have a baby, bring him or her along in the pram -- you'll get a little extra exercise from pushing.
- Make it fun: Not everyone enjoys jogging or working out in the gym. Experiment with different activities until you find a workout routine or sport that you enjoy. It might be basketball, swimming, tennis or Zumba.
Write it down
Keep track of your weight, diet and exercise by writing it down in a journal. You can also use online food logs and nutrition/fitness tracking software like CalorieKing.au. Keeping track of your progress is a good motivating tool, plus you'll be able to see where you could still use improvement.
By taking your health seriously, you can get the weight off and keep it off. Over time, continue to increase your activity levels with longer, more difficult workouts while also eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet.
Strive to eat whole foods (rather than processed or fast food) 80 per cent of the time. Soon you'll find yourself craving a salad rather than a candy bar.
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