Decide how much you need to change. Depending on your personal preference, you may choose to make radical or gradual changes in your lifestyle. Gradual adjustments to things you already do may make changes more palatable and easier for you to make into habits. However, some people argue that a radical change to a healthy diet and exercise has rapid benefits and gives you encouragement to stay the course. Ultimately, the best approach is the one that works for you.
Some smaller changes might include using low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk, buying leaner cuts of beef like round, or investigating alternatives to beef such as ground turkey, soy products, or even vegetarianism. To increase your fruit and vegetable intake, add strawberries or a banana to your cereal, put some spinach in your sandwiches, or consider replacing side dishes like French fries with a salad. Choose low-fat alternatives to spreads like cream cheese, or have the restaurant “hold the mayo.” If your diet is already balanced and nutritious as is, you may simply want to reduce the size of your food portions, particularly if you’re still eating as much as when you were in college. Despite what your mother may have taught you about eating everything on your plate, your body often knows its needs, so stop eating when you’re full, even if there’s still food left on your plate.
To get support for these changes from others in similar shoes, you may want to make time in your life to attend a support group. Some people find it helpful to attend a group such as Overeaters Anonymous or TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) to share thoughts and experiences with people who are also trying to lose weight.
Set helpful, not hindering, goals. While goals are important, unrealistic expectations can be potential obstacles to weight loss. Generally, health providers recommend aiming for a weight loss of 10% of your weight over six months and then maintaining that weight loss for another six months. Studies have shown that this recommendation is a realistic goal and that continuing to lose weight after the initial six months can be difficult. Weight may plateau despite maintenance of the new lifestyle because of changes in the body. After an initial weight loss, a new regimen of calorie reduction and increased physical activity needs to be formulated since your body has different requirements at its lower weight.
Even if losing 10% of your body weight is all you need and want, you must still continue your healthy eating and exercising habits indefinitely to maintain your new weight. Weight loss and maintenance is not a quick or temporary fix; it often entails a dramatic change in your lifestyle. Attempting or expecting a large loss of weight quickly can lead to disappointment, health problems, and a rebound in your weight.
Be flexible and forgiving. A good diet is governed by a set of guidelines rather than rigid lists of foods that you can or cannot eat. The days of the so-called “diabetic diet,” in which only certain sugars were restricted and meals had to be weighed, have gone, and so has the time of thinking about certain foods as inherently “good” or “bad.” It’s still a good idea (for everyone) to limit simple sugars, processed foods, and saturated fats in the diet, but you should not be overly discouraged or feel like a bad person for occasionally eating too much of something or eating a food you usually avoid.
Don’t knock nutrition
Although weight loss may be the objective, try to attain it in a healthful manner. Even as you reduce what you eat, carefully choose what you cut out of your diet, since eating a variety of foods helps ensure that you’re meeting your body’s need for essential nutrients. For example, if you lower your dairy intake to remove some calories and saturated fat from your diet, find another way to get enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent problems like osteoporosis. Keep in mind also that people who are overweight have been shown to have reduced levels of vitamin D in their blood. The reduced level of vitamin D could become a full-blown deficiency if all milk — one of the few foods that is enriched with vitamin D — is eliminated from the diet and nothing is done to find another source.