With the dawn of a new year, I'm sure many of us have a weight loss goal in mind. Again. For the umpteenth year in a row. How can we actually make that goal happen this year instead of letting it fall to the wayside yet again?
Simple - changing our mindset to one of sustainable weight loss, removing the idea of extremes or quick fixes from our mentality. Obviously, those don't work AT ALL, otherwise I would be out of a job, and you wouldn't be reading this blog.
When it comes down to sustainable weight loss that happens slowly in a controlled manner, there are several key points that we want to consider.
1. Dietary changes need to be made, but extremes aren't always the answer.
While yes, from the outside, my approach to nutrition might seem extreme (personally, I don't eat grains, dairy, legumes, nuts, eggs, and a myriad of other foods for a variety off issues we won't dive into today), what I recommend to my clients isn't necessarily considered extreme. For sustainable weight loss, we need to eat in a manner that balanced our blood sugars, focusing on real, WHOLE foods (not some health bar masquerading as a health food). Blood sugar management is the KEY to unlocking sustainable and, most importantly, long term weight loss. You can read more about my PFC Balanced approach to nutrition here and more about the importance of blood sugar here.
In addition to eating real, whole foods, we also need to eradicate the idea that low-calorie and low-fat and a low food intake in general are the answer. This is rarely the case. Instead, focusing on nourishing our body, as opposed to depriving our body, is a mental and physical game-changer. You are not meant to survive on 1200-1500 calories a day, no matter what the stupid magazine proclaims in bold print. You were meant to have energy and life from nourishing your body with vitamins, minerals, and calories from real, whole foods.
2. You must address the emotional factors that have led you to gain weight in the first place.
Stress, emotional trauma from our past, anxiety - these are all issues that must be dealt with in order for weight loss to occur. Stress is one of the biggest factors in causing the body to hold onto weight, especially in the mid-section, and as we know, stress comes in a variety of factors. Something a simple as our alarm clock going off in the morning or as complex as a divorce can be huge stressors on our bodies which are trying to exist in a chronically stressed out world. Getting to the root of your issues might require professional help in the form of a therapist, and that's okay. I've always been a huge proponent of talk therapy, especially when it can allow you to start to heal from issues that are holding you back.
3. For sustainable weight loss, movement has to be a part of your daily life.
Notice I didn't say exercise; I said movement. We think that in order to lose weight, we need to do "Biggest Loser" style and workout 6-8 hours a day, every day. Not only is this NOT sustainable, but this sets our metabolism up for failure. Instead, finding ways to incorporate movement into your daily life is key. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalators (I absolutely ABHOR escalators), parking further away than you need to, going on a 10 minute walk over your lunch break - these are all HUGE steps that will go a long way in helping you sustain a healthy weight. Adding in structured exercise like resistance training is awesome too, but the movement itself must come first.
4. Ditch the scale.
This one may seem counter intuitive, especially with a weight loss goal, but what I've found in my professional experience is that when we rely only on the scale to determine whether or not we are doing "good," we are setting ourselves up for failure. The scale takes control and starts to determine our mood for the day. Go up a pound? Now it's a bad day and you need to deprive and punish yourself. Go down a pound? Let's celebrate! You deserve that extra dessert at dinner. This mentality gets us nowhere. Instead, focus on other metrics beyond the scale. How are your clothes fitting? How is your energy? How about your blood markers? Do you have chronic pain anymore? Those are the things that truly matter.
5. Remember it's a marathon not a sprint.
As much as I hate running (even more than how much I hate escalators), this metaphor works perfectly. Sustainable weight loss needs to be just that - sustainable. At first, you might lose 2+ pounds the first week or two, but after that .5-2lbs a week is a healthy amount of weight to lose. Sometimes you might not lose any weight at all for a few weeks. The key is to stick with the journey, trust the process, and realize that you are going to have ups and downs along the way. The key to sustainable weight loss is leading a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
When it comes down to it, just remember - your weight doesn't need to consume your entire life. There is so much more to life than constantly falling on or jumping on the wagon, Lead a healthy, sustainable life, and the weight loss will come in time.