Are you looking to lose a little weight; maybe a lot of weight? Weight loss can seem like an impossible task, but it’s actually very simple! Check out our “do’s” and “don’ts” of weight loss to get started!
DO clean up your diet. Avoiding processed, chemical-filled foods detoxifies your body and helps it function optimally. Feeding your amazing body less-than-amazing ingredients (such as artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and artificial preservatives) can throw off your body’s balance and ultimately affect your metabolism.
Did you know your metabolism is not stagnant? It can be improved by eating wholesome foods (such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains)! Studies show that consuming clean, fiber-rich foods results in increased fat-burning after meals (post-prandial energy expenditure, to be scientific).1 To sum it up, eating processed foods lowers your metabolism and contributes to weight gain, while consuming fibrous, whole foods increases metabolism and creates energy for vital bodily functions.
DON’T avoid “treat” foods. While eating a clean diet is important, it’s also wise to incorporate treat foods into your life. Think about eating wholesome foods 90% of the time and treat foods 10% of the time. We all have our favorite foods and we should enjoy them in moderation.
It’s also helpful to “clean up” your favorite foods. For example, if your favorite snack is tortilla chips and queso dip, you may find that your queso dip contains partially-hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fat) and your tortilla chips contain BHT (a possibly carcinogenic chemical preservative).2 You could then choose a more natural or organic queso dip and chips. Though your chips and dip may not be the healthiest snacks, swapping processed products for cleaner ones can benefit your overall health and metabolic rate.
DO exercise regularly. Exercise is not only crucial to weight loss, but also to weight maintenance. According to the National Weight Control Registry (an organization that studies individuals who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than one year) routine physical activity (approximately 60 minutes per day) is a common attribute of successful participants.3
DON’T waste your time in the gym. While it’s tempting to get on the recumbent bike and read a for an hour, it’s not the most effective use of your time. Time is a precious commodity. Make it count! Try HIIT (high-intensity interval training), taking a group class, or hiring a personal trainer to help you make the most of your workouts.
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DO use technology to your advantage. There are tons of great apps and gadgets that can help you eat better and exercise more effectively. Wearable fitness technology (such as fitness trackers and heart-rate monitors) can help you track your calorie burn during workouts and at rest, as well as determine which types of exercise are most effective. For nutrition tracking, computer and smartphone apps are great for logging your calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fat intakes, helping you adjust your diet for maximum results.
DON’T let technology distract you. While smartphone apps and wearable gadgets are helpful, don’t let technology become a hindrance. Becoming too obsessive with logging every calorie and workout can cause excessive stress, which can lead to an increase in the stress-related hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol levels have been linked to food cravings, reduced muscle mass, and increased fat storage.4
Technology can also distract you. It’s tempting to spend your workout time catching up on social media or taking selfies, but these actions just delay your progress. Spend your workout time detoxing from social media and focusing on personal goals.
DO maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude is key to weight loss. Don’t think about restriction, deprivation, or even the word “diet’! Instead, focus on all the new foods you’ll get to try, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and how much better you’ll feel. Imagine yourself trying on jeans in a smaller size. Envision yourself running a 5K. By focusing on the positive aspects of change, you’ll see results much more quickly (and be happier in the process).
DON’T beat yourself up. Weight loss is not about perfection. You’ll likely make mistakes. Maybe you’ll miss a workout or eat something that’s less-than-healthy. It’s ok! Be kind to yourself. Weight loss is a life-long process. It’s about making healthy choices most of the time, not all of the time. If you’re kind to yourself, your weight loss journey will be successful (and infinitely more pleasurable).
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- Barr SB, Wright JC. Postprandial energy expenditure in whole-food and processed-food meals: implications for daily energy expenditure. Food Nutr Res. 2010;54(10).
- EWG’s dirty dozen guide to food additives: Generally recognized as safe – but is it? Environmental Working Group website. http://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives/generally-recognized-as-safe-but-is-it. Published November 12, 2014. Accessed August 7, 2016.
- Hill JO, Wyatt H, Phelan S, Wing R. The National Weight Control Registry: Is it useful in helping deal with our obesity epidemic? http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=kine_fac.
- Smith C. How stress affects weight loss. Livestrong website. http://www.livestrong.com/article/255134-how-stress-affects-weight-loss/. Published February 9, 2014. Accessed August 7, 2016.