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Two-step strategy keeps the weight off for good
If you go online to search how to lose weight, you get bombarded.
You’ll find 28 ways, 40 quick and easy tips, 25 changes you should make and 15 foods you should avoid if you want to drop a few pounds.
There’s certainly no shortage of available information, advice or products, likely because so many of us could use a little help with our weight — around two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
And you’ve likely heard that carrying excess weight contributes to the development of conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, breathing and sleeping problems, and even heart disease and stroke.
But you know what? Losing weight doesn’t have to be that complex…
The good news is, research has shown that losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of our body weight can significantly reduce your risk of getting any of those conditions. That means if you’re currently 200 pounds, losing as little as 10 to 20 pounds could actually save your life!
Even better, they say that just two factors (not 20 or 30) can not only help you get the weight off — but keep it off. Sounds like the closest you’ll ever get to a weight loss guarantee…
Two “must-dos” for permanent weight loss
When it comes to achieving permanent weight loss, researchers believe they’ve zeroed in on two factors that can help you experience weight loss success…
The first is calorie monitoring — not to be confused with the old fashioned practice of counting calories. In your previous weight loss pursuits, it might have been suggested that you keep a daily journal of what you eat. Unlike just counting the quantity of calories, you can use your journal to focus on the quality of the calories you take in so you can learn to make healthier food choices, be aware of the portion sizes you eat and the frequency of your meals and snacks.
The second factor is health literacy. This refers to your ability to obtain, process, and understand health information that can help you make informed decisions about the actions you take on an everyday basis.
For instance, your ability to read food labels can influence your food choices. Your understanding of how your food choices (what you see in your journal) translate to calories can also impact your weight loss results. Your ability to read health information and understand the way your body works can help guide you toward healthier behaviors.
Health literacy is all about your ability to be able to manage your health and prevent disease. And the best way to improve your health literacy is to continuing learning about ways to eat better, be fit and lose weight.
Both calorie monitoring and health literacy are part of a bigger process called dietary self-monitoring. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is the time (I’m going to show you how, step-by-step), because these factors are the reason it’s one of the best methods to get motivated and stay on track to lose weight.
That’s because researchers have found that self-monitoring keeps you engaged, aware and more accountable — and that leads to successful, permanent weight loss. Those who only monitor occasionally are the ones who struggle to lose weight the most. Here’s how to get started…
8 steps to make self-monitoring work for you
- Record everything. People who use self-monitoring lose at least twice the amount of weight as others. So if you want to lose weight, your first line of action is to start recording
Even if you’re not actively in a weight loss routine yet, start recording your food intake and exercise habits in a journal or online app such as Myfitnesspal. Use your journal as an accountability tool and as a method to learn more about yourself and your own habits.
As you move along your weight loss journey, use your journal to identify barriers and use problem solving to overcome those barriers so you continue making progress.
- Baseline measurements. Before getting started, log your height, weight and measurements (hips, waist, bust and thighs) so you have a record of your progress as time goes on.
- Set goals. Researchers suggest that setting a goal to lose 2.5 percent of your body weight every two months is realistic.
- Follow a program. Don’t just wing it or leave it to chance. You must follow a plan or program that helps you stick to your goals, otherwise it’s way too easy to slip back into old habits. There are lots of ways you can follow a program — purchase a book that guides you through, join an online program, or visit a health professional who can design a personalized program for you. And guess what happens when you follow a program? You continue learning!
- Use technology. Researchers have found that using technology devices such as the Fitbit Zip (a device that records physical activity and energy intake) helps people stay more focused.
- Move more. It goes without saying that exercise helps you lose weight. If you’re using a Fitbit, aim to increase your steps by 500 steps per day with the overall goal to build up to 10,000 steps (or more — like the people with the healthiest hearts in the world). On top of this, try to include 90 minutes or more of intense physical activity each week.
- Get help. If you can’t do it alone, don’t. Seeking help is one of the most effective ways to keep your motivation high. You could visit a qualified counsellor, life coach, dietitian, personal trainer or even recruit a friend or family member who will listen and support you and your permanent weight loss goals. Ask a friend to take this journey with you—sometimes a little healthy competition is the key to success.
- All of the above is going to force you to learn new things about yourself and about health. And that’s the key!
Learn something new everyday and keep taking small steps forward. If you take two steps forward and one step back, that’s okay. Don’t give up. Just keep learning and use what you learn to improve your actions and behaviors. It’s the best way to make things stick over the long term.
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