How to Lose Weight The Healthy Way
So, you want to lose weight…?
It’s January, and chances are either you, or someone you know is trying to lose weight this year. With so much misinformation about weight loss out there it can be daunting to know where to start or how to set a realistic weight loss goal.
Everything from extreme diets, pills, potions, exercise routines, cleanses and detoxes… SO MUCH MISINFORMATION! The diet and weight loss industry has taken advantage of people who are desperate to lose weight and made a fortune off of them. Most people will go to extreme lengths to lose weight, and the industry knows this, so they create plans, gimmick and unsafe products that don’t actually help a person to lose weight safely.
But I am here to tell you that real, sustainable, healthy weight loss is possible! And it’s not as complex or confusing as the diet industry makes it out to be and doesn’t involve any crazy gimmicks, fad diets or pills.
In my opinion, weight loss should not be seen as the ultimate goal. As counter-intuitive as this sounds, health and optimal function of the body should come first, and as a result weight loss will most likely occur. Weight loss is a side-effect of good health. This is why when many people ask for my advice and tips to lose weight I will first direct them to establish a solid foundation of health first. What does this mean? What is a solid foundation of health? A great starting place is focusing on stable blood sugar levels, healthy hormone levels, proper gut health, and low levels of inflammation throughout the body. All of these aspects of health influence our overall body weight, and when a body or organ system is not functioning optimally, this can have a cascading effect that may lead to weight gain or stubborn weight loss.
So, how do we get our blood sugar stable, balance our hormones, establish good gut health and control inflammation levels so we can lose weight? I’m glad you asked! It all starts with healthy, whole, nutrient dense, real food.
There’s some practical steps I recommend however, to start you on your weight loss journey.
1. Adjust your mindset. First, you must adjust your mindset and prepare mentally for the journey ahead of you. Know that it will probably take longer than you think, and it will require more patience than you expect. It will require work, effort and thought. Adjusting your lifestyle, what you eat and how you approach health is hard! Knowing what you’re getting yourself into before you commit can be a wise choice. Approach this goal knowing that every struggle and every setback will be worth it in the long run if you can achieve greater health, feel better and live a longer life!
2. Focus on getting protein, fat and carbohydrates in every meal. This is so important when it comes to balancing blood sugar, in turn influencing weight loss. We need all these macro nutrients and cutting out any one of them is a bad idea. Don’t eliminate fat, or carbohydrates. Focus on the sources of these macro nutrients instead. For example, instead getting your carbohydrates from a plate of pasta, opt for starchy vegetables instead! Fat is essential to slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, so we can use the energy from the carbohydrates longer and feel more full!
3. Eliminate sugar. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I how I feel about sugar! I don’t like it! Sugar causes inflammation in the body, disrupts our hormones, causes gut imbalances and promotes weight gain! All the things we are trying to avoid when losing weight! Watch for hidden sugar in places you wouldn’t normally expect there to be sugar, too… which brings me to my next point…
4. Read labels. Read labels on EVERYTHING. Remember, EVERYTHING. If you’re considering putting something in your mouth and it has a nutrition label on it, then skip over the portion that tells you how many calories, nutrients etc are in a product and go straight to the ingredients list. The ingredients list is way more information and important than the calories in a product. Watch out for added sugars, oils, preservatives, thickeners, food dyes, artificial flavors, or chemicals that you have no idea what they are! Food should be just that…food. Not a chemical storm of ingredients the body has no idea what to do with.
5. Eat more vegetables. This is a tip that all nutritionists and health experts agree on! Eat more veggies and you can’t go wrong! Eat a variety of vegetables, focusing on those that are in season to offer up the best variety of nutrients. Experiment with the vegetables you eat, try something new! Go for the darker colored vegetables, too. My favorite way to eat vegetables is roasted. Place your veggies on a cookie sheet, drizzle them with a healthy amount of olive oil or butter, load up on the seasoning like salt, garlic, onion powder, rosemary, paprika, then bake them for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
6. Eat enough. How can you expect your body to perform optimally and healthfully if you don’t give it the fuel it needs to function?! This is the number one mistake people make when trying to lose weight. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF! This puts undue stress on your body, creates disordered eating, and can even work against you when trying to lose weight. If you skip meals regularly and don’t eat, your body is smart enough to know that it might not get food again for a while and can store up calories in case of a famine. That means you won’t lose weight! The common misconception that calories in vs. calories out is at play here and it’s simply not true. There is SO much more that goes on in the body besides a simple equation of calories. So feed your body the food it needs and it will thank you!
7. Exercise. Notice how I didn’t put exercise at the top of this list? That’s because despite what you may hear, you absolutely cannot out exercise a bad diet. Exercise is an important part of weight loss, yes, but it is not the most important component. You can’t exercise off the results of a blood sugar rollercoaster ride from a sugary, high carbohydrate diet. Exercise is important in the aspect that it helps our body do its job to metabolize calories more efficiently. Exercise is not a way to balance out every calorie we eat. For example, one cookie is equal to about 250 calories. That’s about thirty minutes running on the treadmill. If we tried to exercise off every calorie we ate, we’d spend almost all of our time exercising. And who has time for that?! Aim to find a type of exercise you enjoy and will keep you coming back.
8. Get excited about cooking. This is a perfect time to start experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes and cooking techniques. You will inevitably be spending more time in the kitchen preparing meals, so why not make it enjoyable and tasty?! “Diet food” in the traditional sense is disgusting and is no way to live! No wonder dieting has such a bad rap, because diet food is awful! Don’t subject yourself to fake food, reward your body with fresh, whole food that you prepare at home. The best place to learn some new cooking tips or get excited about cooking is to visit the library and browse some cook books!
9. Be nice to yourself. Weight loss can be a difficult journey. It’s hard to adjust our habits and commit to change. Be gentle with yourself, and realize you are your own harshest critic. Chances are you will not be 100% perfect on this quest, and that’s OK! Do not let perfect be the enemy of good! Don’t beat yourself up if you stumble and eat something that isn’t 100% healthy. It happens to everyone and in order to make this journey sustainable and long-lasting you must find a balance. Don’t attach guilt or shame to food, and when you do eat something that doesn’t bring you closer to your weight loss goals move on, and realize your next meal is a chance feel great about your choices again.
10. Find external accountability. Many people find it a lot easier to commit to a dietary and lifestyle change when they have someone to encourage, support and cheer them on! Find a family member, co-worker or friend to help you. Tell them your goals! Maybe they’ll even decide to join you and change their health as well. Setup a time each week to check in with them and tell them about what you’re eating, how you’re feeling and some recipes you tried. Reach out to me for your external accountability and I will encourage and support you on this journey!
If you’re looking for specific diet programs or protocols, you all know I often recommend the Whole 30 and the 21 Day Sugar Detox. The book Practical Paleo is a great resource as well and has a specific meal plan for weight loss. Chris Kresser’s guide to Effortless Paleo Weight Loss is wonderful too.
What I absolutely do not recommend to someone looking to lose weight is diet pills, extreme diets, juice cleanses, starvation diets, meal replacement shakes or juices or any other weight loss tactic that seems too good to be true. Because chances are, it is.
Do you have any tips for weight loss that have worked for you? Questions about anything you saw in this blog? Let me know...I am here to help! Thanks for reading and best of luck to you on your weight loss endeavor!