How to Achieve Healthy Weight Loss With Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

You can achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss with long-term lifestyle changes, including a diet low in calories and fat. Choose nutrient-rich foods, such as whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meats.

Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of illness, so see your GP if you’ve noticed significant change in your weight.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is the foundation for good health, lower risk of disease and a more stable weight. It is important to eat foods that are whole, natural and low in added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats (like saturated and industrially-produced trans fats).

A healthy diet consists of nutrient-rich foods from the five major food groups: vegetables, fruit, dairy, protein and grains. Choose a variety of foods from each group and aim to eat a moderate amount of calories, based on your individual needs.

Try to avoid processed foods and instead focus on whole, unprocessed, high-fiber foods (think dark green vegetables, brightly colored fruits, beans, peas and other legumes, nuts and seeds). Limit sodium intake, as excess salt can contribute to high blood pressure, and cut back on ‘discretionary choices’, which are those not necessary to your overall eating plan, such as soda or cookies. Use the USDA’s MyPlate plan to find out what a healthy diet looks like for you.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise provides numerous health benefits, including increased energy and a lower risk of chronic disease. It also helps people lose weight by burning calories and creating a calorie deficit.

Ideally, exercising regularly should include cardio activity, such as walking, swimming, or jogging, as well as strength training exercises that target all major muscle groups. Exercise should be performed at a moderate intensity for 20-30 minutes each day.

Those who struggle to exercise consistently may benefit from hiring a personal trainer or attending group classes. Additionally, it’s important to vary exercise routines to avoid boredom and to focus on different muscle groups. It’s also important to frame exercise as a positive, rather than a penance—those who view physical activity as something to be endured are less likely to stick with it. Getting into a regular exercise routine typically takes two to six weeks, and once it becomes habit, the results become evident. (Image Credit: Getty Images).

Get Enough Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important for losing weight as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Research shows that sleeping less than seven to nine hours per night actually disrupts the balance of hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. Insufficient sleep increases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases levels of leptin, leading to higher caloric intake and food cravings for high-calorie foods. It also decreases muscle protein synthesis and boosts production of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to weight gain and belly fat.

Lack of sleep may also cause you to become more distracted and less likely to make healthy choices, so be sure to prioritize sleep just as much as you would a good meal or daily workout. Contact CCMH’s Center for Sleep Medicine to schedule an appointment. Our team will help you optimize your sleep and reach your weight loss goals. Visit us today! CCMH is committed to improving community health.

Stay Stress-Free

Stress can affect how the body functions, including the metabolism and appetite. During times of high stress, people tend to eat more and to reach for comfort foods, which are often high in sugar, fat, and salt, contributing to weight gain. Learning to manage your stress levels can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you identify sources of stress in your life and learn new coping skills. At Pritikin, you can work with a team of clinical physicians and therapists to create a stress management plan that works for you.