Weight loss: a strictly personal affair
The secret to successfully losing weight is to look into all its parameters and then tailor them to our measures. That’s how to be effective. And there are several ways to do so.
Our reasons for losing weight
The reasons for going on a diet vary. The most important of those concern our health. Normal body weight is a key condition in being healthy now, and in the future. However there others, like the desire to alter our lifestyle or improve our fitness level.
No matter which those reasons are, it suffices that they’re important to us. And their importance lies at the fact that they motivate us. A dietary programme isn’t enough, personal and persistent effort is required in order to lose weight.
Hence, to keep that desire active, we make use of those reasons. How we do that? By clearly writing them down on a piece of paper, and keeping that paper throughout the time we’re trying to lose weight. This way, we remind ourselves why we’re presently tested, and keep the reward that awaits us alive in our imagination.
Personal motivation usually proves to be the most resilient.
Successful weight loss depends on how high we’ve set the bar. It’s better to set smaller and easier goals.
One may react impatiently: “If I move forward inch by inch, it’ll take me ages to lose the weight I want to lose”. However, one cannot lose a lot of weight abruptly, if he/she wishes to be healthy on the one hand, and wish to maintain the lower weight long term on the other. Weight lost in record time comes back in record time.
As far away our main objective is, we must be patient, accept the facts and learn to be satisfied with the small steps we’ve taken.
Also, it would be wrong to think of small goals as inconsequential, since a weight loss of about 10% can significantly reduce cholesterol, glucose levels in the blood as well as the risk of heart disease.
Don’t spread your efforts on many fronts
Partial goals may help us stay focused. If we’re preoccupied with our ultimate objective, things may start to look too difficult to overcome, and we could quit trying. If, though, we keep setting small daily bets and win them, maybe time will pass less “painfully”.
What characteristics should those small bets have? They should be Specific, Measurable, Feasible, Realistic and Time Constrained.
Let’s list a couple of such bets/goals:
- I’ll work out for 20’ per day
- I’ll eat red meat once per week.
In a food journal we take down everything we eat. Even what we consider as negligible, like a caramel, should be recorded. This way, we’ll be able to refer to the journal over time, and therefore get a better grip of our daily food consumption. In addition, we gain a better understanding of what and in which degree to change.
Apart from foods though, in the journal it’s useful to record our emotions. In this manner we form a more complete image of how we feel towards food, body weight and the difficulties of weight loss.
The journal will aid us to discover dietary and behavioural patterns which affect our weight. Once we spot and evaluate them, we may “regulate” them. If we judge them positively, meaning if they favor our weight loss, we keep pursuing them. If not, we avoid them.
Furthermore, increased awareness which result from this systematic recording leads to “holding ourselves accountable” and may work as further motivation.
Challenges are lessons
It’s useful to be prepared for certain challenges. The journal will allow us to locate the most “rutty” points and comprehend how and why they make us struggle.
Examples of such points are: post work fatigue which leads to us turning to food, vacations period when we eat out more, holiday period when sweets are in abound.
It would be very useful to prepare for those challenges and come up with solutions, which will aid us no to slip. If, for instance, we expect that the coming period we’ll eat out more, we may do the following:
- We ask for appetizers to arrive with the main course or not at all.
- We avoid eating bread or eat less than usual.
- We share the main course with someone.
- We only drink a specific quantity of alcohol.
- We avoid dessert.
- We eat slowly and savor food.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget that every challenge, even if it was insufficiently dealt with, is a lesson and valuable experience for future challenges.
Pleasant ways to exercise
Exercise, too, is a decisive factor for those who wish to lose weight.
Today several ways to exercise and a vast amount of information are available. We just have to see what it is we want to do. Do we feel like going at the gym or doing a martial art, dance lessons or maybe start running? We shouldn’t make this choice lightly.
By finding something we truly like, we are more likely to do it consistently, and therefore to enjoy its full benefits.
Beyond the obvious gain, which is calorie burning, there is another very important one. Exercise makes feel better. In other words, it’ll help us face challenges, diet stress, frustration and fatigue.
Let us not forget that as crucial as it is to hold ourselves accountable for any slip-ups, it is equally important to learn to forgive him/her for those. Just like everything else, self-criticism needs moderation. It’s not useful to criticize ourselves too harshly or paralyze by self-pity. On the contrary, we must correct what isn’t well-made and carry on. Seeking help from a professional may prove critical, if we feel the need to do so.