The key to successful, healthy weight loss
Your weight is a balancing act, but the equation is simple: If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. And if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.
Since 3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat, if you cut 500 calories from your typical diet each day, you’ll lose approximately one pound a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). Simple, right? Then why is weight loss so hard?
All too often, we make weight loss much more difficult than it needs to be with extreme diets that leave us cranky and starving, unhealthy lifestyle choices that undermine our dieting efforts, and emotional eating habits that stop us before we get started. But theres a better way! You can lose weight without feeling miserable. By making smart choices every day, you can develop new eating habits and preferences that will leave you feeling satisfiedand winning the battle of the bulge.
Training Your Brain to Crave Healthier Food
We arent born with an innate craving for French fries and donuts or an aversion to broccoli and whole grains. This conditioning happens over time as were exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. A recent pilot study at Tufts University, however, suggests that its possible to reprogram your brains food cravings so that you hanker for healthier foods instead of high-calorie diet busters. In the study, a small group of subjects enrolled in a behavioral weight management program that emphasizes portion-control and education to change eating habits. After six months, brain scans revealed increased reward and enjoyment of healthy, low-calorie foods, and a decrease in enjoyment of unhealthy, higher-calorie foods.
While more research is needed to be conclusive, this is encouraging news for anyone whose weight loss efforts have been sabotaged by unhealthy food cravings. You can learn to enjoy healthy food!
Getting started with healthy weight loss
While there is no one size fits all solution to permanent healthy weight loss, the following guidelines are a great place to start:
Think lifestyle change, not short-term diet. Permanent weight loss is not something that a quick-fix diet can achieve. Instead, think about weight loss as a permanent lifestyle changea commitment to your health for life. Various popular diets can help jumpstart your weight loss, but permanent changes in your lifestyle and food choices are what will work in the long run.
Find a cheering section. Social support means a lot. Programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to impact weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Seek out supportwhether in the form of family, friends, or a support groupto get the encouragement you need.
Slow and steady wins the race. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week to ensure healthy weight loss. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your mind and body, making you feel sluggish, drained, and sick. When you drop a lot of weight quickly, youre actually losing mostly water and muscle, rather than fat.
Set goals to keep you motivated. Short-term goals, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually dont work as well as wanting to feel more confident or become healthier for your childrens sakes. When frustration and temptation strike, concentrate on the many benefits you will reap from being healthier and leaner.
Use tools that help you track your progress. Keep a food journal and weigh yourself regularly, keeping track of each pound and inch you lose. By keeping track of your weight loss efforts, youll see the results in black and white, which will help you stay motivated.
Keep in mind it may take some experimenting to find the right diet for your individual body. Its important that you feel satisfied so that you can stick with it on a long-term basis. If one diet plan doesnt work, then try another one. There are many ways to lose weight. The key is to find what works for you.