Managing weight – by which I mean achieving a healthy weight – is a realistic goal for nearly everyone. However, weight reduction strategies will vary according to the degree of overweight/obesity as well as accompanying conditions (comorbidities). In this article, I focus on managing overweight (< 40 pounds) rather than obesity.
Overweight Affects Quality of Life
Although significant overweight (or mild obesity) has fewer adverse health effects than morbid obesity, typically it causes loss of confidence as well as unnecessary fatigue and minor health complaints, and frequently affects quality of life. Successful weight management is therefore likely to have a range of emotional as well as physical benefits.
]]> ]]> No Short Cuts To Sustained Weight Reduction
The first rule of successful weight management is to accept that there are no short cuts. True, there are tons of fad diets that may cause you to lose weight, but few if any prepare you for the task of maintaining your weight reduction. Long term weight control requires the adoption of long term healthy eating habits. Nothing else suffices.
Learning Eating Habits Takes Time: Short Term Diets Can’t Work
Healthy people gain weight because their calorie intake exceeds their calorie expenditure. Typically, this occurs because they fall into bad habits: they eat too many calorie-dense foods and avoid physical exercise. It is not easy to correct this energy imbalance through short-term dietary solutions. Why not? Because the shorter (and usually more drastic) the diet plan, the less time there is to learn good eating habits. As a result, most dieters simply regain any weight lost, and (if this process is repeated), rapidly become disillusioned with their ability to lose weight by conventional methods. After several unsuccessful diet-attempts, they turn to pills, diet patches, supplements and any other quick-fix solution they can find. And the more weight they gain, the less patient they become. Instead of being content with losing 2 pounds a week, they demand to lose 5 pounds. Sadly no weight loss diet (and no healthy body) can meet this expectation.
Successful Weight Management Requires a Sustainable Diet
The only guaranteed way of normalizing weight is to follow a diet plan that teaches you the sort of healthy eating habits which you can sustain over the long term – meaning, not just for the period of the diet, but afterwards as well. These diets are likely to be in the calorie range 1200-1600 calories, with a strong focus on nutrient-dense foods, and incorporating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Point is, in practice, many bad eating habits develop as a result of eating insufficient fruit and veg, and too many highly refined sweet/fatty foods in meals and snacks. Learning to replace these refined foods with more natural, higher fiber foods, is an important step to controlling blood sugar, appetite and all sorts of cravings that lead to overeating. Unfortunately, swapping your regular muffin or bowl of ice cream for a piece of fruit, or your fries for basmati rice, is not an easy thing to do. It needs a certain amount of adjustment which takes time to achieve. And if you are constantly on the lookout for an “easy” weight loss solution or a “miracle” diet, it makes the whole process more difficult if not impossible. I know hundreds of young overweight women who spent a decade or more searching in vain for such weight loss gimmicks and who are now seriously obese.
Exercise is Crucial For Weight Management
Learning to enjoy physical exercise is critical for both weight loss and weight maintenance. Active individuals have a more efficient metabolism and a lower risk of ill-health, stress and overweight, than sedentary people. However, like changing our diet, it is not easy to change our sedentary habits overnight. Once again, it takes time to adjust. Indeed, in my experience, dieters who start a drastic exercise campaign rarely manage to maintain it for long. If you are unfit or unused to physical exercise, a good approach is to set aside (say) 20 minutes a day, then gradually increase this to 45-60 minutes a day. Slowly increasing exercise-intensity is also highly beneficial. Even if you lose weight without the need for exercise, don’t be fooled into thinking that physical activity is unnecessary. One of the big benefits of fitness training is that it minimizes the amount of muscle tissue we lose, which is crucial for long term weight control.
Does Conventional Diet and Exercise Lead to Long Term Weight Loss?
Yes. Adopting healthy eating and exercise habits is guaranteed to help you lose weight and then maintain it over the long term. Unfortunately, for the reasons outlined above, many dieters misunderstand the importance of changing their bad habits, and seek short term solutions to their weight problem. As a result, when they quit dieting they tend to revert to high-calorie foods and a sedentary lifestyle. This is why statistics show that less than 30 percent of people manage to reduce weight over the long term.
Question: Why do so many dieters stop dieting and stay overweight?
Answer: because they don’t get enough support.
Successful Weight Management Requires Support
In my opinion, the only way to develop the type of good eating and exercise habits that are needed for successful weight management, is to seek support from other people. Diet programs and fitness programs may tell us what to do, but only people can motivate us to do it. This is why my weight loss program is based on providing maximum weight loss support for all members. For example, my forum is home to thousands of successful dieters, many of whom are losing weight beyond all their expectations. How is this possible? Because they receive tremendous encouragement and motivation to keep going. It’s a real weight loss community with real people-power.
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