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Natural Remedies and General Health

How To Lose Weight Sustainably for the Long Term

lose-weightEveryone wants to know how to lose weight fast but often that is not sustainable, so we thought we would parody that topic with “how to lose weight sustainably”. Building a more sustainable dietary regime can be achieved by making lots of small changes incrementally over time. The key to a healthy lifestyle is good diet and exercise, this applies to general health but also to maintaining a healthy weight, and the most important thing to keep in mind here is that changes need to be permanent and sustainable. No more yoyo diets or good intentions that only last until January 13th each year!

Take Small Incremental Steps

Trying to “revolutionize” your lifestyle works for some people, but for many others it becomes nothing but a fad. It is far better to make one small change that you can maintain than it is to try and make many changes which only last a few weeks. One way to approach this is to draw up a plan of where you would like to be in terms of your eating habits and exercise levels and look for ways to implement these changes one at a time over a period of time starting with the easiest first.

Why easiest first? Success improves motivation, if you tackle the biggest challenges first you are more likely to fail which can be demoralizing, whereas each small success is likely to motivate you further and drive your success. Also as your lifestyle becomes more healthy you are likely to generally start feeling better physically, and feeling better about yourself in terms of self image. This is particularly relevant when it comes to exercise as having established a better diet allows you to exercise more effectively, and having increased fitness levels through smaller changes makes it a lot easier to tackle the bigger challenges.

Start Trading!

A proven method for making lifestyle improvements is a process of “trading” that being swapping out less healthy habits for more healthy ones. A good place to start is simply by trying to cut out lazy habit’s:

  • Walk or Cycle rather than Driving or Taking the Bus
  • Take the stairs not the elevator
  • Eat fruit rather than candy
  • Drink juice rather than soda
  • Grill rather than fry

The list of tweaks you can make to your lifestyle is endless, and once you have achieved one goal you can take it further.

Draw up your “Life Plan”

As we mentioned above drawing out a plan is always a good idea. It gives you measurable targets. One approach is this:

  1. Draw up plan of where you would like to be in terms of diet and exercise. This plan should be in the format of your ideal week, or bi weekly “regime”. Be realistic!
  2. Draw up a plan outlining your current lifestyle over the same kind of time-frame used in the ideal plan. Be Honest!
  3. Define “trades” you can make in your lifestyle by comparing the two outline plans
  4. Mark on a calendar when you plan to implement each “trade” over a period of time. Be realistic!

Frequency and speed of implementation really depend on how drastic the changes you plan to make are and how good your self discipline is. The best approach is to organize your “trades” in terms of difficulty. More difficult changes should be implemented with less frequency, for example one change every two or three months. Intersperse these with other intermediate level changes once a month, and intersperse those with the really easy wins once a fortnight. That is just an example, the idea is to be able to make measurable progress without pushing yourself to hard and failing. Aim for wins rather than big challenges, at least in the early stages.

Record Your Progress

Using your “Life Plan” record your progress and successes. Measure your progress as you go along in terms of the number of changes you made that you were able to adhere to. Also record any setbacks so you can catch these back, and importantly learn from them. Try to ensure you are always moving forward i.e. make changes as you feel ready to thus reducing the number of setbacks you are likely to suffer. Always try to maintain an upward trajectory even if it is a shallower one, rather than going for steep rate of change you cannot maintain. So, if you were to track your success in terms of number of changes made and adhered to onto a line diagram you would be aiming for slow and steady progress like the blue line below vs an erratic “saw tooth” effect.

steady-progress

The kind of pattern shown in the red line above is what you would typically see when someone takes on too much too soon, and in fact our diagram above is probably too generous in that it does show progress, whereas all too often the net effect of these “bursts” is a flat ZERO, just a continual cycle of dramatic changes followed by dramatic reversals.

Take Up Activities

Some people exercise for the sake of exercise at the gym, however if you are not that kind of person take up an activity that gives you some enjoyment in its own right. Swimming, cycling, walking (dogs are great motivation for walking!) are all accessible forms of exercise that can be taken at your own pace. Even sports you may not think as being particularly excerpting like table tennis are actually pretty good for exercise too once you get into them. Anything you can incorporate into your lifestyle that gets you up and moving more than you do currently should be considered a success.

If you get bored then “trade” out that activity for something else, do not simply drop it. Swapping out an activity is not a failure, and swapping out an activity for a more excerpting one is a success. Dropping one in favor of watching the TV is a step backwards!

Not so Faddy Diets!

We have covered a few so called “Fad Diets” on this site such as that cabbage soup diet, water diet and juice diets. One thing to consider when looking at fad diets is that it does not have to be an all or nothing approach. For example drinking water before meals has been shown in studies to reduce calorie intake in overweight adults, particularly older people. You do not have to go on an extreme diet to benefit from this, just drink a glass of water before meals. Now, that does not sound too bad does it!

Similarly juicing or drinking smoothies is a great way to improve your diet and does not have to be part of a “fad” or crash diet, you can easily incorporate one smoothie per day into your regular lifestyle without it being “painful”.

Even less pleasant sounding things like the Cabbage Soup diet can be used in more moderate circumstances. Instead of swapping all your meals for a bowl of the green stuff for an entire week, just swap out one meal per week for a few months. Longer term this will yield far more benefit and be far more tolerable for you too!

 

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