Leaving all the political correctness aside, we’re getting fatter each day. If you look back into your past you’ll recall those days when from 30-40 kids maybe 2-3 were slightly overweight. We take a look around now and see many obese people and too few who are still looking healthy.
We’ve changed our diets, we are eating more and worse foods, we’re having sedentary lives (which is really one of the worst things we could do). Most of us barely find time to get to and from work, go through an entire work day (with all the stress and issues we face on a daily basis), have no time to cook, grab something to eat, maybe spend 2 hours in front of the TV and that’s it. Recipe for disaster. We’re seeing it all around us and we’re feeling it ourselves.
This is when many people try to undo years of unhealthy living by taking drastic measures. This is how many diets appeared, weight loss pills, all kinds of ‘special’ meals etc. We’re taking these drastic measures for few days/weeks, drop some kilos and then get back to our ‘normal selves’. It’s annoying, but it’s what happens when we fail to address the CAUSE. It’s useless to try all kinds of quick fixes, when our lifestyles are as unhealthy as before.
Here are few tips that would help you lose some weight and do it in a healthy way. Not to mention that it will allow you to keep the weight off and enjoy life more.
1. Understand it’s not a quick fix.
Stop expecting immediate results. I understand our society is only looking for immediate rewards. It’s not the case here. You are not losing weight, you are changing YOURSELF, learning new habits, getting new experiences, embarking on a LIFETIME journey. Stop obsessing over the weight you have and try to drop if off tomorrow. You don’t need a quick fix, you need to re-learn how to live, how to listen to your body and love it as if it was the best thing in the world for you (which it is). So make provisions of patience and start your weight loss journey.
2. Start TODAY!
I really love that new slogan “yesterday you said tomorrow”. Don’t wait for the New Year’s Eve to make a resolution. Don’t wait until Monday. If you’re reading this, finish the article (it would be a pity not to), then go out for a walk. Take an apple and snack on it instead of that big bowl of icecream. Make a salad and don’t eat junk-food this evening. Start making small changes EVEN TODAY. You won’t solve all your problems by evening and it’s not really a good idea to turn your life upside down if you know you won’t be able to keep your promises. Just make small adjustments, but start NOW!
3. Watch what you drink.
A lot of the people who try to watch their diet, fail to understand that drinks can add up a lot of calories in a day. A LOT. We’ve already written an article about how unhealthy drinks can ‘help’ you put on the pounds: lose weight by drinking the right stuff. Getting into a diet and drinking sodas doesn’t seem too smart now, does it. Start drinking water (mineral ‘fizzy’ water if you’re like me and dislike plain water), make yourself some juice (get a blender and put some oranges, apples, strawberries etc.) – believe me it’s sooo good you’ll probably want to drink this all day long, drink milk (if you’re not allergic), start making tea etc.
It’s not that difficult to hydrate with good stuff. Fruits are not that expensive and making yourself a healthy drink takes 3 minutes. And you’ll have ONLY the ingredients you should have. No sugar, no preservatives, no 50 other chemical elements we cannot even pronounce.
If you’re addicted to Coke, quit cold turkey. And replace it with mineral water or freshly squeezed fruit juice. Don’t buy ‘natural juice’ from the store. You’ll notice that your fresh home made juice goes bad in a matter of hours. So the one you buy from the store is either pasteurized (boiled) or filled with all kinds of crap to make its shelf-life longer. Why buy that expensive junk, when you can make your own stuff at home, drink it fresh and take in all the vitamins and not fill your body with more chemicals.
4. Start snaking on fruits
I am a HUGE chocolate fan. I mean I could eat this stuff all day long and not get sick of it. But I found I’m pretty happy with some fruits too. I like eating cherries, bananas, kiwi, grapes. I could eat 4 lbs of grapes (sure, I’d get sick, but I really love them a lot). Start eating fruits you’re more attracted to. I’m sure that, even if you weren’t always too thrilled to eat them, you can find at least 5 you enjoy eating. Buy them fresh and eat them between the meals. When you feel like eating a Snickers bar, take a banana instead. Your taste buds need a bit of getting used to it, but believe me you’ll really love them in few weeks.
5. Start eating salads
Not all salads are ‘plain’ and boring. If you cannot make a good tasty salad, learn. We’re pretty ‘carnivorous’ ourselves, but we do eat salads, too, and they’re amazing. Instead of some heavy side dishes, you can throw in a fast salad (and believe me it tastes amazingly): lettuce, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, radishes (i don’t like them, but you might).
Cut them into bits and put them into a big salad bowl. The dressing is really easy to make: crush some garlic, put some salt on it, add a little balsamic vinegar and a bit of olive oil. Mix it carefully and put it on your salad. Sure, you can choose other ingredients, but this is an easy salad and it’s done in few minutes. It doesn’t have mayo on it or ‘heavy’ dressings, just few ingredients that are full of flavour. You could replace your fries with this from time to time and your meal will still be good, not to mention way healhier.
6. Start cooking at home
One of the best things you can do for your family is to stop buying all that frozen crap you put into the microwave or eat out all the time. Since most of you are not millionaires, I presume you’re not eating at some very fancy restaurants with a lot of fresh food. So you’re probably eating at Wendy’s or Burger King (or any similar restaurant).
I’m not a huge fan of cooking, till few days I was a menace in the kitchen. If left unattended I could surely start a fire back then and wipe out half the neighbourhood. But I did try to cook and now I can whip out a meal without putting anyone in danger. Start with easy meals and work your way up from there. You’ll soon discover that cooking is not difficult and that your meals taste amazing. You’ll then dine out and realize your soup is WAY better than that or that your barbecue is sooo much tastier than what they’re serving you.
7. Cook with fresh ingredients as much as possible
If you’re already starting cooking, don’t go for the ‘pre-made’ meals you can buy from the store. You can make a soup from a nasty pack in the supermarket or you can make it by boiling some chicken meat with veggies. The second version is better.
Even if I wasn’t too thrilled with cooking at first, having all those fresh ingredients really made me realize it’s actually pretty nice. Buy your veggies fresh and you’ll just love cooking with them. Nothing beats having some fresh garlic to cook with, the smell of some wonderful spices, the green of the parsley or the amazing colours your veggies have. It’s a pleasure to look at these ingredients and cook with them.
8. Less or no junk-food
I cannot advise anyone to never eat a hamburger or a hotdog, even if it would be the ideal way to go. They are filled with calories and are not healthy, but let’s say that not all of us are built to never eat them again. I love pizza to death and, if you told me to never eat it again, I’d have a problem with it. There are people who, after starting eating healthier, cannot touch junk food anymore, since it makes them physically ill. Many of us are not that sensitive and do enjoy the occasional fast food meal. Let’s stress OCCASIONAL.
A lot of the people who have to deal with obesity eat junk food every day (sometimes almost all the meals are ‘junk’). This is why it’s impossible to keep the weight off, since many of them, after ending their diet, start eating every day at McDonalds again.
Make it a habit to eat at home and not at Burger King anymore. Sure, you’ll want to eat some pizza from time to time, but make sure it’s something that happens maybe once a month, not once a day. If you can ditch all this crap altogether, that’s great. If not, make sure you don’t visit these ‘places’ often.
9. Watch out for your calories
Weight loss is pure math: calories you ‘eat’ and calories you burn. Subtract them and you can either get fat (by eating more calories than you burn) or lose weight by having a calorie deficit (you burn more than your intake). Even if you’re not too good with math or dread keeping track of your calories, make an effort. Start writing down your meals and see how many calories there are in it. It’s not a difficult exercise and, even if you won’t be tracking each calorie for the rest of your life, you’ll at least understand how many of them are in most meals, what foods to keep away from etc.
Many people eat junk food, drink sodas and fail to understand that their meal just meant 2000 calories. Which is actually their normal DAILY intake if they’re females (many go for around 1500) and close to that if they’re males (since 2500 is about the recommended calorie intake for a man). So, just that meal kinda ‘filled’ you for the day. Add the sweets you’ll eat, the other meals, no exercise and you’ll double your normal calorie intake each day.
Most restaurants are now forced to display the calories and there are apps to help you determine them for many other ingredients. It might be weird at first, but keeping a small food journal and doing some simple math will help you understand where you go wrong and what can be tweaked. Not to mention that, seeing how your hamburger is 1000 calories might prevent you from eating it 3 times a day.
10. Learn to make healthier choices when you’re eating out
We’re taking here regular restaurants, where you might go out once in a while. It’s well known that most of them don’t have low-calorie meals, so don’t base your weight loss on their pursuit for healthier meals, since there’s not such thing in most cases. But you can still order meals that are less unhealthy and still very tasty. Not to mention that you don’t need to order desert all the time. Just by ordering some mineral water instead of soda and maybe skip desert (the portions are already huge, why do more damage anyway), you’ll be turning a calorie catastrophe into something closer to your lifestyle goals.
11. Do find ways to exercise
I know you dread it, but just keeping an eye on your meals is half the battle. You’ll tell me “but I don’t have the time”. Really? Do you spend an hour a day watching TV? Wasting time on Facebook? Then believe me YOU have time. If you can jog around the house, do it. Start small, with fast pacing and short runs and build up from there.
Join a local gym and go there at least once a week. I have recently started swimming. I go there on Mondays and Fridays. A great way to start and end my working week. It’s a bit expensive and it does ‘cost’ me 2 hours each of those days (1 hour is my class and one hour I spend driving there and preparing for the class, getting dressed to go home etc.). It makes me feel great though and I am so energized it’s crazy. I’m still a beginner, but I do try to work out as much as I can there and it starts showing.
You can go dancing, you can join aerobics/zumba classes, you can start taking martial arts classes. It doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as you move your butt there and work out. You’ll really come to enjoy it, make new friends and see your body tone up nicely.
12. Move your body as much as you can
Take the stairs, bike to work, play with your kids (and I mean play and run with them), take a walk, do a lot of sightseeing in your vacations, don’t just waste time by the pool, walk your dogs. There are many ways we can move outside our sport activities (you’re doing regular workouts at a gym already, as advised before), and not just limit our workout to the ones done with an instructor. If you have to go somewhere near your home, don’t take the car, walk. Maybe you can bike in the city (when it’s summer you’ll probably enjoy that more than your car), or just go crazy with the kids in the yard. They’ll love playing with them and you can burn some calories while bonding with your offspring.
13. Demand your family support
There’s nothing worse than trying to be healthy and have your spouse mess up your plans with unhealthy meals or making fun of you. Make sure you let your family know about these changes and get them on board little by little. It’s not easy to radically change lifetime habits, so do it slowly and you’ll get them to enjoy the new lifestyle with you. Your spouse should be 100% behind you. Probably you both face the same weight issues, so it’s just normal for them to start improving their lives too. Don’t accept mockery and be determined. Even if your spouse is unsupportive, do your thing. It’s YOUR LIFE. Ideally you should both work together, but, if it’s not possible, you’ll need to become more ‘selfish’. Stick to your exercise regime and make your healthy choices.
14. Pay it forward
There are many people who struggle with weight and can be inspired by your success. Discuss openly about your problems (chances are people already know your have weight issues), discuss what measures you started taking, how it all works for you, what your struggles are. You’ll find friends and relatives who are struggling too and could use some information or a push into the right direction. Don’t become a health nazi and don’t alienate people with your choices, but do be open about it. Accept tips and ideas, share your experience, be supportive.
Make sure your kids are having a healthy life. If you’re struggling with weight now as an adult and see how difficult all of this is, make sure you’re not preparing your kids for a life of misery. Implement healthier choices in the house, keep them away from sodas, cook them healthy and delicious meals. If you get your kids used to eating healthy, they’ll do it, if you take them to Burger King 3 times a day because it’s easier than to cook at home, they’ll become obese.
Kids are like sponges, so you can really shape them out as healthy people, who know how to make good decisions and love sports. Take them to sports: swimming, running, soccer, basketball etc. It doesn’t matter, just get them out of the house. Schedule time for small trips and WALK with them, play ball in the yard, go biking, involve them into such activities. It’s easier to just leave them in front of the TV, but you’ll love having active healthy kids. And trying to provide them with a healthy lifestyle will actually help you in your own journey.
The most important thing you can do as a parent is give your kids the chance for a good healthy life. If their bodies are in great shape, their lives will be easier.
15. Never give up
It’s not a sprint. We’re talking here about changing YOUR LIFE, not a 2 week diet. You’ll make mistakes on the way. You’ll fall off the ‘wagon’. What’s important is to understand the mechanism and put in the hard work. Start slow, start from now even and make small adjustments. A salad here, a cycling hour there, skipping desert and you’ll notice you’re already building a new you.