When we severely restrict calorie intake our metabolism slows down and our body holds on to its fat to protect itself from a perceived famine situation.
According to Martha Beck, author of The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace, "When you diet in a highly restrictive way, or even when you mentally attack yourself for being fat, your body may go into 'emergency' mode. Your metabolism drops, while the brain increases production of hormones that tell your body to store fat, especially around your middle." Which is the LAST Thing we want when trying to lose weight!
NO PAIN NO GAIN IS A BIG FAT LIE When it Comes to Weight Loss!!! If it hurts, there's a good chance you are working against your biochemistry. If you don't believe me, check out this NYT Article which exposes how former Biggest Losers Competitors Bodies Fought to Regain the Weight.
The key is to figure out how to lose weight in a way that doesn't feel stressful to your mind or body. As I look back and reflect on my years of struggle with weight loss and weight maintenance, now more than 7 years living at or below goal, it all seems so simple. I guess "Hindsight is 20/20" is a cliche for a reason.
You may read this and say, "Martha, this is all so basic. There is nothing new here. We've heard it all before." I get it. I do. The basics are the basics for a reason. When all else fails, get back to the basics. I'm so glad I finally decided to accept and embrace them.
7 Sensible Weight Loss Strategies for Weight Watchers Everywhere
They may not be particularly innovative or sexy, but here are seven sensible easy tips for sustainable weight loss:
Be Realistic With Your Goals
Make your goals measurable, achievable and sustainable. How long did it take you to gain the weight? I am guessing you gained it a pound at a time over months or years. That's how I did it. The best way to take it off is the same way–gradually. I know it's the last thing you want to hear, but trust me on this. The faster you lose it, the more likely it will boomerang back. Aim for between 1-2 pounds a week and 2-3 pounds a month. Maybe even less. I have a successful friend who lost between .25 and .33 pounds per week and had a much easier time transitioning to maintenance. Slow and steady is the best way to achieve lasting results. Track your progress by how you feel and how your clothes fit, rather than fixating on a number on the scale. (Click here to read more about The Step by Step Approach to Weight Loss Success.)
Gradually Replace Old Habits With Healthier New Ones
There is no magic bullet. A quick fix just doesn’t exist. You have heard it all before and for a reason, because it’s true. If you want to change a habit you need to do it gradually and for a period for 28 days, maybe more and maybe less, to get it to stick. Don’t get radical. Make one or two changes at a time.
Some of my favorites include:
- Eat an extra serving of fruits and veggies each day
- Have a salad instead of fries
- Drink alcohol only on the weekends and keep the count to 1-2
- Have popcorn instead of chips and sparkling water instead of soda
- Clear away the processed foods, transfats, and sugar laden stuff
- Be picky and quality conscious. Don’t eat it if it isn’t delicious
- Act as if and change your self talk
- Don’t have tempting snacks around, Weight Watchers calls them trigger foods for a reason
- Always order the small size
- Don’t clean your plate--stop when you are no longer hungry
- Seek Support
Find a weight loss coach - a friend, family member, or support group - who can be there for you. Studies confirm that those trying to lose weight who are aided by support, in person, on line or over the phone, enjoy more success than those who try to go it alone.
- Reward Yourself With Things Other Than Food
Treat yourself to a movie, massage or a manicure when you reach a goal. This can seem unusual, if like me, you are used to celebrating with food.
- Increase Your Activity and Engage In Enjoyable Exercise
- Walk more
- Find ways to take more steps each day
- Do sit-ups before bed or while watching tv
- Stretch for a few minutes each morning
- Take the stairs, not the elevator
- Take a ten minute walk at lunchtime and again after dinner
- Find an activity you enjoy and engage in it often. Think of exercise as Play.
- Try yoga, pilates or tai chi for the mind-body benefits (Click here to read why I think yoga is the best exercise for Weight Watchers)
- Keep a Journal
Journaling works for weight loss. It will increase your awareness and accountability. Most of us underestimate how much we eat and this is a great way to get real with ourselves. Record what you eat, how much, when, where and with whom. You will become more knowledgeable about your choices and eating patterns. Studies confirm the effectiveness of this approach. You identify unhealthy habits and can begin to substitute more healthy ones. Simply knowing you’re tracking your food can help you avoid that unnecessary snack because you just don’t want to write it down!
- Practice Mindful Eating--Pay Attention
Eat only when sitting down. Cut down on the mindless snacking. Give up drive-thrus and eating while watching television. One of my major offenses is snacking while I am getting meals ready. I keep reminding myself to only eat while sitting down and sometimes chew mint gum to avoid temptation.
Do you have an easy, healthy weight loss tip to share? I'd love for you to leave it in the comments!
More Easy and Sensible Weight Loss Tips
- Create an Environment to Support Easy Weight Loss
- 11 Healthy Easy Ways to Lose Weight
- 8 Ways to Avoid Being Hungry All The Time
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