5 Ways to Live Healthier After a Weight Loss Challenge
24, 30 or 90 Day Challenge
Lately, there seems to be an abundance of weight loss challenges offered by the various health companies out there. To name a few of the more popular ones there is the P90X 90 day challenge, Herbalife’s weight loss challenge and Advocare’s 24 day challenge.
These challenges all have a similar formula. You purchase a bundle of their products (meal replacement shakes, protein, metabolism boosters, pre/post workout, DVDs etc…) they provide you with supplemental nutrition guides and workout schedules and at the end of the given time period you are guaranteed to see results relating to the weight loss goals that you set out for yourself at the start.
In a perfect world this is all well and good, but lets be honest, we do not live in a perfect world. For many people completing the challenge is not the problem, the problem arises when the challenge is over and people are left to fend for themselves. No more scheduled workouts, or pills or shakes to take.
Where many people go wrong is they work their tails off for a month or two (or three in the case of P90X) and they see great results and then they figure their work is done. That approach could not be further from the truth.
Doing one of these challenges where you push yourself to your limits for a few months is absolutely a great way to kick start a healthy lifestyle, but the truth is, once the challenge is over, if you do not find ways to change your your entire lifestyle from what is was before, then it is inevitable that you will eventually put weight on again and fall back into your old ways.
1. Dump the Junk Food
When we think of Junk food we typically think of fast food such as McDonald's, Burger King, KFC etc. When it comes to weight loss and living a healthier lifestyle, the classification of “junk” food will have to be broadened. Many highly processed foods should be cut out or significantly reduced and healthier options should be implemented. For example, white bread should be replaced with brown bread, white rice with brown rice, instead of regular pasta, think about whole wheat pasta as an alternative. Any food that contains whole grains are generally a smarter choice at this point. As a rule of thumb, it should be noted that the more processed the food is the worse it is for your body.
2. Drink Water by the Gallon
When attempting to change your lifestyle, one of the first practices that should be implemented and made into a habit is the drinking of water. Water has so many benefits in regards to your health and well being. A few of the benefits of water are:
Water flushes out your system and helps maintain the balance of fluids in your body
At 0 calories, when you substitute water for higher calorie drinks throughout the day, the result is a lower daily calorie intake which will in turn help keep weight off
Water lubricates joints and energizes muscles
Drinking a glass of water before a meal will prevent you from overeating
Water prevents dehydration and is also great for the skin
There is no doubt that during the intense workouts required in these challenges that you probably found yourself drinking more water anyway, but don’t underestimate the value of continued consumption of water. You should aim to drink a gallon a day.
3. Invest In a Bicycle
Substituting one of your daily car trips with a bike ride could significantly increase the amount of calories that you burn in a day. Do you live in a city and take public transportation to work, or drive your car and find yourself sitting in rush hour traffic? Riding a bike to work does not only have health benefits, but in the long run it could also prove to be quite cost effective in terms of gas or money spent each week/month/year on public transport. Maybe your commute to work is not not within a reasonable cycling distance, no problem, when you get home from work after a long day, why not take your bike and ride a few miles a couple nights a week, not only would this have health benefits, but it could be a way to relax and wind down after a long day at work before taking a bath.
4. Don’t Stop Working Out
This should go without saying, but often times people feel that they put in their hard for for 24, 30 or 90 days and now they have earned the right to just relax. Of course you should congratulate yourself for sticking with something challenging to the end, but the end of a weight loss challenge should be the beginning of the challenge of living a healthy lifestyle. You should try to get to the gym a minimum 3 times a week for 45 mins to an hour each session. Lifting weights if done correctly and with minimal rest time in between sets will keep your heart rate elevated therefore acting as not only a resistance workout but also a cardio workout, which means you can spend less time being a treadmill warrior and more time toning and shaping your body whilst at the same time improving your cardiovascular fitness.
5. Stress Less, Sleep More
This one is pretty self explanatory. It has been scientifically proven that elevated levels of emotional stress in a person causes the body to increase its production of a hormone known as Cortisol. An increase in the level of Cortisol in the body is known to increase blood sugar and promote weight gain as well as suppress the immune system. You also should aim to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted (REM) sleep each night. allowing your body to rest and recover is essential to healthy living. Among other things, sleep is the period in which muscles work to repair themselves from the micro tears that are created during weightlifting and resistance training.
It is one thing to make the decision to start and stick with a health or weight loss challenge. Doing so shows that you are serious about your health and changing the way your body looks. However, one needs to keep in mind that the real test comes at the end of the challenge. Will you make the necessary changes in your lifestyle to maintain the changes and progress that have made or will you slip back into your old ways and ultimately reverse all that you have worked so hard for?