Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Weight Loss 101
Sometimes we start losing weight, but we never finish. We ditch another diet. We throw in the towel on our exercise efforts. Maybe it's from outside pressure; sometimes we aren't ready to lose weight. Whatever the cause, it is not at all uncommon.
That doesn't mean you're destined for failure. Even if you've started and stopped 100 times before, this time doesn't have to end the same way.
By putting some important skills to use, you will find it a little easier to stick to your weight loss efforts than if you rely on sheer will alone.
Skill One: Reward Yourself
One of the best ways to stay motivated throughout your weight loss journey is to reward yourself with non-food rewards that you will look forward to and enjoy. It can be something tangible (a new book) or something intangible (no less important), such as a lazy Saturday of watching movies in bed.
By marking a goal -- say, each five pound loss -- you will begin to correlate reaching your goals with a pleasurable experience. When simply seeing the scale numbers change loses its "buzz," that special treat will keep you going.
Skill Two: Track Your Progress and Portions
Whether you keep a spreadsheet on your computer or simply jot down your stats in a notebook, keeping an eye on your progress will keep you motivated. You can track your weight, measurements, or BMI -- it is up to you. By looking back at how far you've come, you're less likely to revert to old habits.
Additionally, if you keep careful records, you will be able to catch slip-ups in your calorie counting or exercise habits that, left unchecked, could cause a major plateau or weight gain.
Careful record-keeping includes closely monitoring portion sizes -- what many say is the most important long-term weight management key. Over-doing portions of even healthier foods can mean the difference between long-term weight loss success and eventual failure. Keeping a food diary is the best way to keep on top of what you're eating.
Skill Three: Master Emotional Eating
To achieve long-term weight loss success, you will have to come face-to-face with any emotional eating habits by asking some important questions: Do you overeat when you're angry? Do you splurge on an extra serving of dessert when you're feeling frustrated?
Being honest with yourself is the only way to get the true measure of your emotional eating triggers. Without facing them, you will always be less likely to be in control of your weight.
Skill Four: Prepare for the Pushers
There will always be people who encourage you to go off your diet "just this once." That's not really a problem until "this once" becomes time and time again. If every time you see someone you go off the rails at their suggestion, it may mean you need to distance yourself or have a serious talk with about your weight loss efforts.
Peer pressure doesn't end when you get older; it's ever-present if your friends and family correlate enjoying time with you to eating with you. Plan non-food activities with loved ones and work hard to resist temptation when you're in an environment where food is part of the festivities.
Skill Five: Remember, It's About Health, Too
In a Web poll, 65% of our site's visitors said they were losing weight for appearance's sake; only 35% said they were doing it for their health. To be honest, that surprised me quite a bit, considering how great an impact weight loss has on health and overall quality of life.
The thing is, your slimmer self will become your norm. The compliments about your weight loss will die down. Once you've worn that "new and improved" size for a while, the thrill of trying on the clothes in your new wardrobe will start to fade. Shopping outside a plus size store, if you're doing so for the first time, will be exciting only for so long (or until your credit cards are maxed out). So, if you ask me, it's not all about looks.
When motivation to stick to your new eating and exercise habits wanes, and a quick glance in the mirror doesn't do the trick, considering the many health risks of obesity probably will get you going. By maintaining a healthier weight, you are more likely to live a longer life with fewer medical problems. Wearing a smaller size is just the icing on the cake; a happier, healthier life is the ultimate reward.
Source: About.com Health's Disease and Condition, Jennifer R. Scott