So many people are looking for the secret to losing weight. I don’t have a magical solution, but my advice is to stop dieting and worrying so much about the numbers on the scale. While you may want a quick fix, eventually, following a strict diet can get boring and restrictive. Most diets require you to avoid certain foods and just aren’t a realistic, long-term solution to weight loss. Sooner or later it’s easier just to fall back into your old eating habits, causing the weight to return.
So try a different approach: strive to achieve a healthier life. Since you won’t be following a specific diet, you don’t have to restrict yourself. Instead, eat a variety of whole foods that include vegetables, fruits, grains, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. And then add in these 10 lifestyle habits that will help you feel better and motivate you to keep up your efforts. If you stick with it, that excess weight will not only come off, it will stay off.
1. Start every day with a cup of warm lemon water. Wake up your digestive system and help your body flush out toxins by drinking a cup of warm water with fresh lemon in it each morning. Additionally, aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily to curb hunger and speed up your metabolism.
2. Move for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. Exercise not only helps you lose or maintain weight, but working up a sweat can help improve your mood and even fight various health conditions and diseases. Working out doesn’t have to be boring, miserable or confined to a gym. There are tons of ways to burn extra calories and tone your body, such as walking or running, weight training, Pilates, hiking, kickboxing, and more. Try to find two or three different activities you actually enjoy and alternate between them each week.
3 Consume more fiber. Fiber-rich foods keep you full longer, so you are less likely to overeat. They also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and aid in digestion, all of which contributes to a healthier you. Try to eat a variety of foods every day that include fiber, such as beans, nuts, whole grains, seeds, veggies and fruits.
4. Include healthy protein sources at each meal. Protein is important because it helps you stay satiated, and promotes muscle repair and growth. But make sure you’re eating clean sources of protein such as organic chicken, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, or pastured eggs. If you’re vegan, to get the complete protein your body needs, include hemp, chia, and flax seeds, along with healthy grains and beans.
5. Practice mindful eating. Think about what you’re eating at every meal, and how the ingredients are going to nourish your body. If you can’t find a good reason for how a food will help you achieve your health goals, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it in the first place! And try to be mindful as you eat. Put down the phone, turn off the TV, give thanks to your food, and actually chew your food. It’s easy to overeat and get indigestion if you don’t pay attention to how much you’re eating. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to realize it’s full, so take it slow.
6. Snack healthy. Smart snacking is just as important as your main meals, because healthy nibbles give you energy and help balance your blood sugar levels between meals. Just make sure your snacks aren’t labeled “Low fat,” “Fat free,” or “Diet.” The goal is eating fresh, real food: carrots with hummus, an apple with almond butter, or a green smoothie with hemp seeds are all nourishing choices.
7. Find healthier alternatives to your favorite indulgences. If you love pizza, don’t completely eliminate it as this can lead to overeating or binging, followed by guilt. Instead, allow yourself to have your favorite food once or twice a week, but make it at home, so you can control the ingredients that go into it. Use whole grains for the crust, less cheese, and add more vegetables to your pizza. Today, it’s so easy to find healthier recipes for meals that are considered unhealthy, so experiment and find a satisfying substitute.
8. De-stress daily. Managing your stress is essential to your health because the hormone related to stress, cortisol, causes food cravings, increased appetite, and belly fat. Do some type of stress-relieving activity for 10 to 15 minutes every day or whenever you start to feel overwhelmed. This can include yoga or meditating, breathing exercises, repeating a positive mantra, drinking tea, or writing in a journal. We all have to deal with daily pressures and difficulties, but the key to staying mentally and physically healthy is finding ways to relieve our stress on a regular basis.
9. Ditch your bad habits. Achieving a healthy lifestyle includes more than just eating nutritious foods. You could be sabotaging your health by smoking, or overdoing it on coffee, soda or alcoholic beverages. Anything in excess is not good for anyone! Take a look at your daily habits and limit or stop anything that may be holding you back from being a healthier version of yourself. This can be hard, so go slowly.
10. Plan to succeed. This may be one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy foods, plan and prep your meals on a weekly basis, and always have healthy snacks on hand. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to consistently eat and live healthy.
If you are just starting to get away from the dieting mindset and are now focusing on a healthier lifestyle, you may want to try making just one or two of these lifestyle shifts at a time. Once you have them down, add another, and so on. It’s important to remember that this is a long-term plan, so don’t get discouraged if you have a day where you slip-up. Just don’t dwell on it and, instead, continue moving forward towards the goals you want to achieve. Good luck on your long, healthy journey!
Read Dr. Fuhrman’s The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life for more tips on losing weight and keeping it off.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.