People always want advice on how to lose weight. The one key message I try to get across it is that weight loss requires a long term commitment to a healthy lifestyle focused on eating healthy foods and keeping physically active.
Don't get sucked into starting fad diet- they don't work! Fad diets typically involve drastic dietary changes (e.g. banning major food groups) and are often endorsed by celebrities. Common fad diets include the Dukan Diet, the Lemon-Detox Diet and the Atkins Diet. These diets do result in weight loss, but only in the initial period. The diets are so difficult to maintain so you are likely to regain the lost weight, and some extra. They can also be dangerous for your health as you may be missing essential nutrients.
Instead, you should aim for a sustainable balanced approach to healthy eating. We've put together the ABC of weight loss.
A. Set realistic goals.
If you are the sort of person who needs a weight loss goal to aim for make sure that you set a realistic target. Your initial weight loss goal should be no more than 5-10% of your body weight. Review your current eating and activity levels to see what you can improve and set yourself up to five lifestyle goals. These need to be achievable too- you can make them more challenging later on. Examples of good lifestyle goals are:
- I will go for a 45 minute walk four times a week.
- I will have breakfast every weekday.
- My dinner plate will be at least half vegetables five nights a week.
B. Take a balanced approach
Weight loss happens when your overall energy intake (from food and drinks) is less than the energy your body burns off (physical functioning and activity). One meal or even one day is not going to sabotage your weight loss. It is the combination of many days, weeks and months that lead to weight loss. This means it is OK to have the occasional treat or to go out for an indulgent meal with friends. Don't beat yourself up- Enjoy it. Just be sure to do some additional exercise or eat well either side of the treat. Food should still be something to enjoy.
C. Reward yourself
Weight loss requires patience and long term commitment. Don't let the scales rule your life. Don't weigh yourself more than once a week and look out for other changes such as how your clothes fit, how energetic you are feeling or how you are sleeping. Reward yourself when you achieve goals by doing something that doesn't involve food. Good rewards include treating yourself to a ticket to a show, a manicure or buying a magazine and taking the time out to relax while reading it. As you achieve and celebrate your goals continue to set new more challenging ones to keep your weight loss on track.
Forget unrealistic fad diets that leave you feeling starved. Take a balanced approach that allows you to lose weight and still enjoy food and your new healthy active lifestyle.