Weight loss requires a well-thought out plan that includes a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and stress management. Factors such as age, sex, body type, underlying health conditions, medication, and food preferences all play a role in successful weight loss.
A balanced diet should include 10 portions of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Many apps and websites are available to help track your meals and exercise.
Healthy weight loss isn’t about a diet, but rather a lifestyle of healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity. Getting started can be the hardest part, but it is possible to make positive changes. A good place to start is with a health care provider who can help clarify what a healthy weight for you should be, give tips on how to lose weight, and suggest healthy eating patterns and a range of exercise options. Understanding your current eating habits is also important, so try keeping a food and beverage diary for a few days to see how much you are consuming and how many calories you are burning. Also consider factors that may impact your health and weight management, such as sleep, age, genes, diseases and medications.
Tracking your food
Whether you write in a notebook or use a food tracking app, recording what you consume provides valuable insights. It can help you identify habits that may need improvement, such as mindlessly snacking or skipping meals. It can also reinforce and celebrate your healthy habits.
As Registered Dietitians, we encourage clients to utilize food tracking if it’s an effective strategy for meeting their goals. However, it’s important to recognize that food tracking is not a life-long strategy for managing one’s nutrition and that other strategies can support a long-term shift towards an intuitive eating approach.
Many people who have a history of dieting can see food tracking as a way to restrict calories. When this mindset is used, it can lead to a negative relationship with food. This is why it’s critical to work with a Registered Dietitian who can teach you how to eat in a manner that supports your health, body and lifestyle.
Having a support system can be key to staying motivated. People who lose weight with friends are more likely to stick to their goals, research shows. Find a friend who can take a walk with you or cook healthy meals together. You could even set a challenge to see who can hit their goal first!
Finding a unique ‘why’ is essential to keeping your motivation up. The reason may be as simple as wanting to look great at your 10-year school reunion or a more personal one, such as wanting to be fit enough to play tag with your kids. Whatever your reasons, make sure they are deep and meaningful enough to keep you on track when the going gets tough.
It can also help to include goals that are not related to weight loss, like improving your mood or lowering your blood pressure. This can provide another way to measure your success, so you don’t get discouraged if the scale doesn’t move in the direction you want it to.
There are many ways to be physically active, and you should always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Once you get the go-ahead, try to incorporate aerobic and strength training exercises into your regular workouts. Aerobic exercise, also called cardiovascular exercise, can include walking fast, jogging, swimming, biking, or taking aerobic classes. It gets your heart rate up into the fat-burning zone for a prolonged period of time.
Regular exercise also increases resting energy expenditure, which burns calories even when you’re not exercising. Combined with proper diet, this can help you stay on track with your weight loss goals. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you struggle to find motivation, try finding an exercise class that’s fun and social or exercising with a friend. It can make exercise more enjoyable and help you stick with it longer. You can also join an online weight loss community to keep you motivated and accountable.