by Elena Sprick
Surely you or someone you know has tried following a fad diet at one time or another. You may have lost a little weight initially, but sticking with the diet and keeping off the weight likely didn’t happen. In fact, most people who go on restrictive diets end up gaining back more weight than they had originally lost!
Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most common health challenges faced by people today. In honor of Healthy Weight Week, we’re going to share some of our best tips for finding and maintaining your healthy weight.
1. Make small changes to add up to a new lifestyle.
If you want to make a lasting change in your life, you have to decide to change your lifestyle. By making slow, progressive changes over time you’ll find that you create a new way of living that you can stick with and that will leave a lifelong impact. So instead of jumping into a difficult-to-follow diet, or trying to switch from your daily soda to a daily green juice overnight, start with small steps that you can follow. If you usually drink soda everyday, cut back to only once or twice a week and focus on drinking more water. Instead of having chips with your sandwich at lunch, switch to some carrots or an apple. When eating out, choose a side salad instead of fries. Make it a point to have a serving of vegetables with every meal. As you get comfortable with these initial changes, keep adding in more small improvements, one at a time. Slowly, these changes will start to add up and over time you will see the results. Before you know it, you’ll be living a whole new lifestyle.
2. Eat real food.
One of the best things you can do for your health is to eat real food. By that I mean food that came straight from nature rather than being processed in a factory. Try this simple test: Can you picture how your food was grown or raised? If so, it’s probably a good choice. If not, maybe opt for something different. For example, we all know that a peach grows on a tree. But where does a peach lollipop come from? I don’t know, but it definitely wasn’t picked off a tree.
Do the bulk of your grocery shopping in the produce area and load up with fresh fruits and vegetables before entering the middle aisles of the store, which are filled with overly processed foods that are far from their natural state. By trying to eat as close to nature as you can, you’ll be ensuring that you’re getting the healthiest options possible.
3. Make eating healthy convenient.
Slipping up from eating well happens most often when we get hungry and don’t have healthy options easily accessible. Luckily, the simple solution is to prepare in advance so you’ll be ready when hunger strikes. Bring some healthy snacks to have on hand at work for when you hit that afternoon slump. Things like nuts & seeds, fruit or a small amount of dark chocolate can be good choices. At home, rather than reaching for chips or cookies, cut up some of your favorite vegetables (like carrots, bell peppers, celery or broccoli) and keep them ready to grab and dip in some hummus or salsa.
Another important step in making eating well convenient is taking the time to prepare your meals in advance. Plan out what you will make for dinner each night of the week and take a day to prep what you need. Sunday afternoons can be a great time to cook a big pot of brown rice, chop up vegetables, marinate some chicken or do whatever else you need to do to make your weeknight cooking as easy as possible.
4. Follow the 80/20 rule.
Strict diet guidelines can be difficult to follow and leave us feeling deprived and frustrated. Rather than telling yourself that you can NEVER have a piece of chocolate cake or bag of potato chips, follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time do your best to eat as healthy as possible. The other 20% of the time, eat whatever you want. Then when you have a craving for a cheeseburger or when someone brings birthday cake to the office, you can indulge a bit without beating yourself up about it later. And the best part is that, with time, the better you eat 80% of the time, the less you’ll find yourself craving junk food the other 20%.
5. Move it!
While maintaining a healthy weight is not possible without eating well, it is also important to get your exercise. Exercise is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing, so the key is to find what works best for you. While some people may feel right at home among the barbells and the elliptical machines at your neighborhood gym, that may not appeal to everyone. There are so many great options out there, so find something that will be enjoyable for you. Things like yoga, Pilates, Zumba, running, swimming, hiking, cycling, kickboxing, rock climbing or team sports are all great ways to stay in shape.
And if none of those options sound good to you, go for a walk! Studies show that walking lowers the rate of weight gain, improves energy and memory, reduces your risk for some cancers and more. Fitting in just 30 minutes of walking a day will leave you feeling great.
6. Find a buddy.
Tackling a challenge is more fun with a partner, so grab a coworker, spouse, family member or friend and work toward your goals together. Find someone who shares your commitment to a healthy lifestyle and who will take this as seriously as you do, so that you can support each other equally. You can hold each other accountable for working out and eating right, share recipes and exercise tips, and motivate each other to stick with it when you’re feeling down. Having a partner can provide some friendly competition, encouragement and motivation, plenty of ideas and inspiration, and make it all more fun.
If you don’t have someone in mind who is ready to make the same commitments as you, join a group! There are plenty of workout groups (like bootcamps, running groups, and social sports leagues) or healthy eating programs where you can connect with a community of people who support each other.
Elena Sprick is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Health Coach with experience in guiding people to choose healthy eating habits and make healthy lifestyle choices. Elena works on the Marketing team at HHS.