How to Lose Weight Quickly and Safely
Trying to lose weight is a struggle. It is hard to change your eating habits, but change them you must if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good.
For years I yo-yo dieted. I would cut out junk food, exercise and finally get to where I wanted to be. Then I would crave sweets, or I would have a bad day and need comfort food. Or I would have a good day and treat myself to an ice cream. One thing would lead to another. And the weight would come creeping back, like it never left.
These are my personal tips on how to lose weight and keep it off for good. It worked for me, it can work for you too.
Here are a few tips on how to shed those extra pounds and get healthy without going hungry.
You can track your food in a journal, or go to sparkpeople.com and do it there.
Keep track of what you eat
The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your lifestyle and diet for good. You need to break your bad eating habits. Forever.
The first step is to take a good look at what you are eating now. Many people do not realize how much they are really taking in. A bite here, a nibble there, it all adds up.
Track every little bite you take for a week. You need to see where your calories are coming from. How much protein, sugar and fat do you take in daily? You can jot down your meals and snacks in a journal, or use an online food tracker like sparkpeople.com. Spark people's food tracker will tell you how many calories, carbs, protein, fat and sodium you are taking in. It is easy to use. And best of all, its free.
After a week, you will should have a pretty good idea of what your eating habits are. Where are you going wrong? Maybe you are not getting enough fibre. Maybe you take in too many carbs. You now have a good starting point and you know what you need to change.
Set your goals
When you are ready for the next step, it is time to set some goals for yourself
I would avoid setting weight related goals. Your weight naturally fluctuates for many reasons so don't let the numbers on the scale discourage you.
Make your goal to eat as healthfully as you can. Find nutritious foods you love.
Learn what a balanced diet looks like. A nourishing eating plan is filled with whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and low fat milk products. And an occasional treat.
So take the junk out of your cupboards and fill them with wholesome food so you won't be tempted. Eat nutrient dense food often. Have treats filled with sugar and fat less often.
Here's what a healthy and balanced diet looks like:
- 3-5 cups of fruit and vegetables
- 6-8 grain servings
- 2-3 servings of meat or alternatives
- 2-3 servings of milk or alternatives
- 6-8 cups of water
If you eat all of this food in a day, do you think you will have much room left for junk food?
But what if I don't LIKE healthy food?
So you hate fruits and vegetables. You think whole grain crackers taste like cardboard. You NEED to eat a big greasy burger for dinner... or you won't feel full.
Don't worry- your tastes will change! Mine did. I used to eat sugar cubes and now I crave hummus and celery.
You just need to gradually switch unhealthy foods for healthier ones.
- Eat an extra serving of vegetables a day, When that becomes automatic, add another one.
- Drink water instead of juice or pop. If you don't like water, add lemon or lime slices. Or brew some herbal iced tea.
- Mix in a little brown rice with your white. Gradually, over time, add more brown and less white until you are eventually eating all brown.
- Do the same with whole and low fat milk.
Being organized is the key to diet success. Otherwise it is too easy to just zip to the drive thru on busy days. Here are a few ideas:
- use your crock pot
- on your days off, make a few meals and freeze them
- make a double batch and freeze the leftovers
- plan your meals for a week so you can shop once
Eat your meals slowly.
Once you start eating, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you are full. You can do a lot of overeating in 20 minutes! Here are some tips on how to slow it down:
- Chew slowly and thoroughly. This helps your digestion as well.
- Chat while you eat. Turn off screens and catch up with your family's day.
- If you are alone, read.
- Drink a sip of water between bites. The idea is to avoid scarfing down your meal in minutes and going back for more.
- If you do want more, have a second serving of vegetables first.
Avoid over eating at parties.
So you are invited to a birthday party. Or it is the Christmas season and you are attending functions galore. Mostly involving food. How do you stick to a healthy diet when temptations are all around you?
For starters, do not go famished to a dinner party. Some people starve themselves all day to save up calories so they can splurge at night. This makes it too easy to go way, way overboard.
Instead, have a snack an hour before the party. An apple or pear and a hard boiled egg has the perfect amount of fibre and protein to stave off hunger pangs so you can stick to your diet later on.
You can lose weight through diet alone, but exercise will kick it up a notch. You will burn fat and raise your metabolism.
For weight loss, it is recommended that you do 60-90 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise every day. If you are a beginner, start with ten minutes a day and work up from there.
Just remember you will be hungry when you are done. Have healthy snacks on hand, like bananas or yogurt, so you won't be tempted to raid the junk food drawer (if you still have one!). And stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your workout.
12 More Weight Loss Tips
- Have a serving of fruit or vegetables every time you eat a meal or snack. They are low in fat and high in fibre so you will feel full on fewer calories.
- Drink water all day long. Sometimes you think you are hungry when you are really thirsty. Do not go more than a couple of hours without having a drink.
- If you want a change from plain water, add a little lemon juice.
- Or make yourself some herbal tea, hot or iced, no sugar.
- When eating in restaurants, look for meals that are baked, broiled, fresh, grilled, poached or steamed. These will usually be lower in fat and calories.
- AVOID THESE MENU TERMS: breaded, au gratin, carbonara, creamy, sauteed, fried, or bisque. These meals will be loaded with fat.
- If you are craving crunchy or salty food, try air popped popcorn and go easy on the butter and salt. Four cups of plain air-popped popcorn has 120 calories and 4.8 grams of fibre.
- Nuts are great snack too. They have fibre, protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Don't overdo it though. They are high in calories, so watch your portion sizes. Eat them in the shell. It takes longer to eat them and is a little trickier to polish off the whole bowl.
- If you are craving something sweet, try berries or melon.
- If you want baked goods, make your own. Use whole wheat instead of white flour to add filling fibre. Substitute butter or shortening with fruit or veggie purees. Use raisins, craisins or dates instead of chocolate chips.
- Avoid sugar substitutes. They are terrible for you and actually make you crave more sugar. If you must, have small amounts of the real thing.
- If you tend to pick at your kid's leftovers, think about how clean their hands really are. Visualize creepy, crawly little germs all over their food. Do you really want to eat that?
I was losing weight... why did I stop?
After following your diet for a while, you may experience a weight loss plateau. You haven't changed what you are doing, you just simply have stopped making progress. Your body is used to what you are doing and you need to change things up.
- If you haven't started exercising, start now.
- If you have been, increase your intensity or duration.
- Try an entirely new exercise.
- Tweak your diet- if you generally eat 1800 calories a day, try eating 1600 one day and 2000 the next.
Plateaus can be frusterating, but do not start starving yourself! You will only start the viscious cycle of yo-yo dieting. You can't LIVE on a starvation diet. You will gain back what you lost, plus more. Your body will hang onto those pounds fiercely in fear of more starvation.
Follow a healthy diet, watch your serving sizes and get a little exercise, and you will get down to your ideal weight.
Notice I said IDEAL weight. Ignore what the scale says and do not compare yourself to anyone else. We are not all meant to be toothpicks. It is more important to be healthy. Eat foods that nourish you and give you energy.
This is the way to your healthiest self.