So, your goal in life right now is for weight loss, but you're not having a whole lot of success keeping it off? Maybe it's time for a paradigm shift in your mindset, or a shift to making weight management your goal. Think of the latter as a more reasoned way to not only lose the weight but to keep it off, and keep it off for the long haul.
Some Oversized NumbersAn estimated 45 million Americans go on a weight-loss diet each year, per Boston Medical Center (BMC), and Americans spend $33 billion a year on weight-loss products. Yet it is estimated that close to two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, with obesity tabbed as a chronic disease that necessitates lifelong treatment and medical care. Here's a sobering thought from those numbers. It's old news that bears repeating: overweight people run a heightened risk of developing serious health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, arthritis, and gallbladder disease. If you want to know if you are in that overweight category, stepping on the scale might not be your best indicator. Choose instead to be measured for body mass index (BMI), as suggested by BMC. If you are in the overweight/obese range, it's time for some sincere soul searching, weight-management counseling from a licensed health-care professional, and taking action both in terms of what you eat and how you exercise. Faulty thinking can also be hazardous to your self-esteem, if not your health – faulty thinking as in thinking that it's inevitable that once you lose weight, you're going to gain it all back. That doesn't have to be inevitable. Don't let it be.
10 Tips for Managing Your WeightDon't think of achieving a healthy weight as a process that has a finish line – that once you reach your goal weight, your work is done and now you can sit back and cruise for years to come. No weigh. Here are 10 tips and strategies to help you manage your weight for a lifetime – not just losing it, but keeping it off as well as feeling in control the whole time:
- Build more lean muscle. Muscle has a higher metabolism than fat, and a better metabolism usually translates into easier weight loss. Working with weights (barbells, dumbbells, etc.), under proper supervision, is a good place to start in building lean muscle.
- Eat filling foods. And make it healthy food as well. Eating the right kind of filling foods shouldn't mean extra calories, but they can make you feel fuller longer, effectively suppressing your appetite. Think foods high in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, per everydayhealth.com.
- Don't skip meals. That includes eating a healthy breakfast vs. denying yourself until lunchtime. Keep some healthy low-fat snacks on hand to help you get past the cravings without making the mistake of getting the wrong stuff out of a vending machine or tempting yourself by walking into a nearby donut shop. Per medicinenet.com, you are more likely to overeat and make poor food choices when you skip/starve yourself.
- Don't compare yourself to others. Everybody is different – that includes metabolic rates, variances in how efficiently they burn calories, and in how much exercise is right for different people. Measure your weight-loss numbers against yourself, not your next-cubicle neighbor.
- If you slip up, don't give up. You‘re only human, and you will make mistakes. Don't feel you have to do something drastic or stupid to make up for that untimely feast. Just get back to what you were doing, and learn from your slip-up.
- Adhere to a basic formula. It goes like this: to lose weight and keep it off, reduce the number of calories you eat while increasing the number of calories you burn through purposeful physical activity, like walking or swimming. Per medicinenet.com, you need to expend about 3,500 calories to lose one pound. If you can cut your calories intake by 250 daily while increasing your exercise-induced expenditure by 250 calories a day, that's seven times 500 calories, of 3,500 for the week. Congrats, you lost a pound – maybe more. And you can only lose weight one pound at a time.
- Individualized behavioral therapy. Get online and Google or seek a referral from your physician, trainer, or a friend to find a health-care provider who specializes in the psychology of eating and weight management. In fact, this might be your best bet for long-term, weight-management success.
- Physical activity/exercise. One common number is 150 – that's 150 minutes a week of planned physical activity, such as walking, jogging or biking. Maybe it's five days a week at 30 minutes a pop. Or go for more - more minutes a day PLUS more days a week. Caution, though: always discuss a new exercise regimen with your personal physician first. Let's be careful out there.
- Watch less TV. In this day and age, that also means less of being glued to your laptop or smartphone. This is a no-brainer (just like much of that junk content that melts away your brain cells).
- Include dairy in your diet. According to a study of 338 adults cited at everydayhealth.com, those who consumed three or more servings of low-fat dairy daily were more likely to keep the weight off than those who consumed one such serving or less a day. For women, especially, that also helps with bone health.